HOW HAS THIS SEASON BEEN? “It’s been frustrating. I think it’s been frustrating for all of us at Gillett Evernham Motorsports. We didn’t really know we were going to struggle this much this year. My guys did a great job preparing the cars this past winter and we felt like we had a really good fleet. We just haven’t run as good as we would have liked whether it’s been with the car of tomorrow or the old car. We have found ourselves rebuilding a lot of things. The guys work twice as hard when you’re not running good because you are steady cutting stuff up, steady changing stuff, steady working days and nights it seems like and there is a lot more testing involved when you’re struggling. It’s a lot harder to run 25th in this business than it is fifth. We’re definitely putting in the time and effort. We’re definitely making gains. Kasey has run very well the last few weeks. We’ve been qualifying good the last few weeks we just haven’t translated it over to Sunday yet. So, we still have a little bit of work to do but we’ve got ten races left to make improvements and make our team better. And, keep one eye on ten races here and keep one eye on getting ready for the 2008 season.”
WHEN YOU ARE NOT RUNNING GOOD, DO YOU NEED A PUSH TO GET OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING? “I am not like that yet. I want to be out here. I don’t have to coax myself into showing up every morning. I’ve been doing this for 25 years, some form of racing 90 percent of my life. I love to do it and you want to be competitive at it. This by far has been the most frustrating season of my life in 25 years. My personal life is great; my family life is great, I just wish my racing was a little bit more competitive on the racetrack. It’s not for lack of effort. We’re not going to run and hide from it. I am not going to put my head in the sand and bury it and forget this year ever happened. We’ve got to learn from some of the mistakes I have made as a driver and we’ve made as a team to make ourselves better and do better next year. I’ve got to do my job as a driver for the No. 19 car, I’ve got to do my job as a driver, as a teammate to the No. 10 and the No. 9 and do the best job I can with that and then move on.”
WHO IS YOUR PICK TO WIN THE NEXTEL CUP? “I think for the first time in a long time nobody can pick a clear cut winner. I just think this year Jeff Gordon has been the model of consistency each and every week. Jimmie (Johnson) has been hot the last few races. Tony got hot there and then I think he put his cars on the back burner saving them for the chase. Kurt Busch has been just unconscious on the old car tracks and we have five of them coming up. Denny Hamlin has been great on the short tracks we’ve got a few of them coming up. Clint Bowyer has been consistent. Everybody has certain things about them that lead to them to feel like they’ve got a chance to win the championship. But, I think for the first time, I can’t say, as a competitor or fan of this sport, this guy is going to win unless a lug nut falls off. I just don’t know. There are too many good guys involved right now. So, we’ll have to run the first couple of races and then I think a few favorites will surface. We have twelve guys that legitimately have a chance to run the table.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO WIN BEFORE THE SEASON ENDS? “Ray reminded us at the Talladega test this week that he’s never been a year without winning a race so that kinda put a little pressure on Scott, Kasey and myself to go out there and do what we gotta do.”
DO YOU WORRY ABOUT RUINING THE CHANCES OF A CHASE CONTENDER? “I’ve been on that side of the fence before when you’re a chase guy. If I’m a chase guy it’s my responsibility to know who to race and who not to race. I was more worried about it when I was a chase guy. You know out here as a driver who to race and who not to race; who’s going to race you fair and who’s going try to use you up. As a chase driver that’s more my responsibility than the other guy. I know that guy has nothing to lose. I know he wants to win the race no matter what.”
HAVE YOU PLAYED ANY GOLF LATELY? “I got lucky; I played the TPC at Boston yesterday, where (the PGA) played a couple weeks ago.
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU WHEN YOU PLAY? “Some people play golf to have fun; I’m a real golfer. I play to win, to make birdies, I am there to play.”