And Indy was cool for me because I got to pass (Kevin) Harvick on the last restart, on the outside at Indy, which is really hard to do. So that was gratifying.
But this is so much different, because when we lined up for the last segment, there’s no points. It’s all about racing as hard as you can.
That last restart certainly seemed intense. What was it like on the track?
My mentality was just wreck or win, and when it’s over, it is what it is. To get to race that hard and somewhat bang fenders or doors and run up the racetrack like we did, that’s as fun as it gets.
How hard were you and Carl Edwards going at it on that last restart?
Actually, when I got to the shop this morning, Keith (Rodden, crew chief) had the data from my qualifying lap and then the first two laps (of the final segment). It’s amazing how hard we were driving those couple of laps — to see the throttle trace — I think I ended up driving like 75 feet deeper and used even more throttle than we did in qualifying trim, which is so cool to see.
You two looked like you were really getting after it. Was it that crazy?
I think the difference is, there’s no consequences. Typically when you race, you race to get the most points you can get. And the (all-star) event, it’s either win or go home. There’s nothing in between.
So it’s just a different mentality. I think that’s why the racing at the end is — at the end, you’re racing so hard. Not that you wouldn’t race hard for the win this weekend, but that is — I don’t know — it’s just a different mentality.
How gratifying was the reaction your victory got from fellow drivers and social media?
I think that’s really cool because those are the people I respect the most in my small bubble, right? And the interviews after the race, to see what Matt (Kenseth) and Carl (Edwards) and some of those guys said was really cool. But then Twitter is such a cool way to see what everybody thinks, so that was really nice.
How big was it to win for the first time this season with your new crew chief Keith Rodden and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team?
It was big not only for Keith, but for our team — the fact that that race is around him making the right decisions and putting us in the right position in each segment to get the most points.
But then also for your pit crew to come down — that’s the most pressure you can get put in as a pit crew member, because that race is … completely based around those guys making a difference. For those guys to have an unbelievable stop when it counts, that’s huge for the whole team.