Were you okay taking two tires on the last pit stop?
“I was good with it man. I thought that was a great way to win the race. These guys do such a great job. I can’t thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough — he won the race today. We stole this one — it wasn’t ours. We were a third, fourth- place car — fourth-place on the shorter runs and a third-place car on the long runs. I don’t know why we had such a problem today getting going. This Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry really came to life there late in the runs. I can’t thank Toyota enough, NOS Energy Drink, Nationwide Insurance, Gillette, and the fans. It’s cool to come out here. I love California — I love the west coast. This is a cool win for us."
What happened on the final lap?
“I just got loose. I kept trying to run as high as I could because as high as I could get it the car would gain grip up there. I got up in the marbles too high off of turn two and got my right rear in the stuff. I got loose and got in the fence a little bit. It was a good thing it wasn’t one more lap because that’s all we needed right there. I can’t thank these guys enough. We didn’t have a winning car — we worked all day yesterday trying to get ready and do what we needed to do. I told them don’t worry and then we qualified seventh and I thought maybe we should worry a little bit. Today the 33 (Kevin Harvick) and the 60 (Carl Edwards) were gone — they were so fast. It took us a bit to get there, but we had a good enough car that we could keep with them at least where we could make that call and get two tires in order to win the deal."
How does it feel to win today’s race?
“This is so cool. You know why? It’s because we stole this one. We didn’t really deserve it. The guys made some great race calls. The car didn’t deserve it, but these guys worked hard and gave me a great race car today where I could keep pace and see the leaders. When we came down for that final pit stop, we were going to take four (tires) and we thought, ‘We’re not going to win this thing taking four tires, so we ought to gamble here and get two.’ That’s what we did. I can’t thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough. He made a great race call there. It’s cool to come out here and win in California — win in front of the west coast fans. Being from Vegas it’s extra special on this side."
How did you run the final race laps?
“I was running the middle and the bottom trying to keep the shortest way around and then my lap times fell off too bad so I had to go back to the top where I’d been running and making up most of my speed in the long runs. My lap times came back and then that last lap I got too high off of turn two and got in the marbles a little bit and got a little loose, barely tapped the fence there a little bit off of turn two. I had enough where I could give a little bit of space and still win the race. It was a good call — my guys did a great job on pit road. Having the amount of lead that we had, we knew we had enough to give up. Those guys were coming, it wasn’t going to be much longer before they got there. It doesn’t matter — the race was 150 (laps)."
Was taking two tires on the final pit stop the race-winning move?
“It was, it was a really good race. I thought it was pretty exciting from my vantage point watching the 33 (Kevin Harvick) and the 60 (Carl Edwards) duke it out all day. I wish we could have been a little bit closer to give them a run for their money. We kept them in our sites at least. I felt like we had a car that was better on the long run than the short run. We just struggled with the short run today, we couldn’t get the car to turn the way I needed it to there. We were making adjustments all day long, kind of gaining on it a little bit to keep up better than where we were in the beginning of the race. Never got to where it was a winning car by any means. The guys gave me a great race car that I could at least keep pace with those guys and there towards the end of the race, we didn’t really talk about it much. I thought four tires was going to be a consistent call and give us a third-place run today. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) surprised all of us and pulled one out of the hat with two tires on pit road and did an awesome job making the call and committing to it. The guys did a good job being able to change the tires quick and get us out there. We had just enough room that was all that mattered."