THE MODERATOR: Let’s now hear from our winning race team. Our winning driver was the No. 15 driven by Clint Bowyer, team owner Michael Waltrip, crew chief Brian Pattie.
Clint, talk about the win and the significance of getting in the Chase driving for the first year for Michael Waltrip racing.
CLINT BOWYER: Unbelievable. To win tonight, the way we won it, we got the left rear knocked down, that ultimately ended up winning us the race.
I learned a lot. I backed off and really wasn’t using any gas obviously, wasn’t using much brake at all. Actually there for 30, 40 laps I started to pick up and really maintain for a long, long time.
It’s the same old thing. When you start backing up and saving gas, you go faster. They’re screaming at you, Slower. It’s like, I am going slower (laughter).
Unbelievable. To be able to win again, everything’s new. Brian Pattie and everybody on this team, I’m so proud of them, to be able to bounce back from a bad weekend. Anything bad that could happen last week did happen last week. To be able to bounce back from that and get a win, get that momentum, heading into this Chase is exactly what we needed to.
Proud of everybody at MWR, my teammates. Martin Truex was up there, had a great car just like I did. Everybody. It’s unbelievable. To be able to come to a new team, new home like I did with MWR, to be able to have the success our first year is a dream come true.
THE MODERATOR: Crew chief Brian Pattie, congratulations. Super job by you and the race team. Talk about winning this race here tonight and getting in the Chase.
BRIAN PATTIE: Getting in the Chase was goal number one all year. Last two months we’ve just been trying to cruise in. I was calling races probably a little too conservative. You first got to get in before you can play. So now we’re in. No pressure.
Obviously this weekend, knew our car was fast on the long runs. The 11 was really strong. Just got to play the cards you’re dealt. Lap 270, 280, we had a flat tire, kind of put us in a box. We’re here for wins, so it all worked out.
THE MODERATOR: Michael Waltrip, you have the floor.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I’m half of the ownership. Luckily Rob Kauffman is here with us, too. When we won in Sonoma with Clint, Rob wasn’t there, but he called us in Victory Lane.
In 2007 when we started this team, I made it all the way to March till I figured out I was broke. That was pretty good.
I met Rob in April. He bought half of the team in October. Since then we’ve just been making steady progress. Over the last year, just the addition of Clint, the addition of Brian, this team, Mark Martin, the job he’s done for us, everybody’s just rallied together.
It’s just a really great working atmosphere. I’m thankful for tonight. I’m obviously really happy with having two cars in the Chase. My inspiration for having a team from the beginning was Dale Earnhardt. I always wanted to have a team like Dale had. So anytime something goes good, I always think about what all he meant to me. We’re thankful.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Clint and Michael, being in the Chase, especially for Michael, after having such a rough and tumble start, to get to this Chase now and know you have a solid chance at winning a championship, what does it mean to you being seeded sixth to have that championship in your grasp? Michael, what would it mean to you to accomplish that goal of getting a championship for your team when Dale never actually had that opportunity?
CLINT BOWYER: To win a championship? It would be pretty big. Helluva lot of fun. Jimmie seems like he has a blast doing it. I promise you I could throw a better party than him. Might not survive it, but we would have a lot of fun.
Just to be able to compete in this series, in this sport, at the premiere level of this sport, is a dream come true.
Never in a million years would I ever dream that I would be racing against these guys and on this racetrack. I love this racetrack. We’ve won here before. It’s just a fun racetrack. I really wish we had three or four more of these across the country. I think it’s a great product of what we have on display for our fans.
Just like Michael said, thankful to have the opportunity with a new home, new sponsor, new manufacturer with Toyota. With everything new, never would have dreamed in a million years all this would have happened this quickly. Obviously, it’s the goal to win races and be in the Chase. Realistically, I knew what we were up against. Just pleasantly surprised.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I don’t really know how to add to that. I’m just happy. I was going to say this racing thing is all about people, totally about people. We just have a great core group of folks that embrace the team atmosphere, just love working at MWR. That’s probably the thing I’m most thankful for, is the fact that everybody gets along, everybody wants each other to do good.
Probably the guy that has enhanced that more than I thought when we hired him is Mark Martin. Rob is a finance guy. Rob said, it’s like EF Hutton, when Mark Martin speaks, people listen. He’s done it all, he’s a legend, made us a better race team. That’s cool.
Q. You get two cars in the Chase, but Joe Gibbs loses one with Kyle Busch being out. Denny Hamlin spoke about how he needed to have Kyle in the Chase. Are you worried about how that’s going to impact you as a Toyota team, that Gibbs has one car? Can that make a difference strategy-wise?
CLINT BOWYER: On my behalf, certainly the Gibbs cars, knowing that they’re Toyotas, knowing there’s similarities between your equipment, they push you to be better. Anytime you got drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, you have to elevate to keep the Toyota brand on the MWR side.
But only having two cars in the Chase, I truly believe if Mark Martin was driving for the championship, we’d have all three cars in the Chase. We’ve run well, been solid as an organization. If Mark was racing for it, I’m almost positive he would be in it.
Mark Martin is a team player. Everybody is working together, engineering staff, Scott Miller, just everybody is really, really gelling well and working together. The crew chiefs all enjoy each other. When you go into the competition meetings, you go out of there with the confidence – at least I do – that everything is going to be okay. Hardly ever do you show up for the race after practice and you’re not better. That’s because of everybody’s dedication and willingness to work together and help each other.
Q. No impact?
CLINT BOWYER: No. We’re an organization on our own. Obviously we share a lot of things with our engine program and everything else. At the end of the day, we got three guys that we go to bat for.
Q. Michael, I remember back in the day when you won that first points race for Dale Earnhardt Sr., as a driver for him. Compare that to what you’re feeling tonight.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: That was the worst day of my life. Tonight’s probably one of my best days of my life, in racing anyway. That was the worst day of my life, period.
In racing, tonight is really special because somebody famous and smarter than me made a quote that says those that have invested the most appreciate success the most. I remember coming here and missing the races in ’07. Six years later we’re sitting in Victory Lane. Got two cars in the Chase. Scott Miller is our competition director. Toyota, those guys, have helped us so much.
I’m pretty damn happy right now. That’s what it’s all about, being happy.
Q. Brian, can you tell me what a difference a year makes. The opportunity you have now with Clint.
BRIAN PATTIE: Well, obviously it’s gone pretty well. Yeah, 12 months ago I was sitting home watching this race at my house finishing up an outdoor grill. Come a long ways.
But, yeah, I feel blessed to have a great organization accept me last year when my contract ended at Ganassi. It’s definitely gone better than expected. So looking forward to the next 10 weeks and having a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much No. 15 team. Good luck in the Chase.