Transcript: NASCAR Media Conference with Jeff Andrews – Watkins Glen

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by with president and G Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Andrews.

Jeff, big day for you guys, had Chase win the regular-season championship, Kyle Larson won the race today. Talk about what that means for the organization.

JEFF ANDREWS: Yeah, I think first of all, just so proud of all the men and women of Hendrick Motorsports, the season we’ve had to date. Certainly the regular-season championship is something we want to focus on today. A lot of work goes into that through the season, a lot of effort to get that done. Really proud of Chase and Alan and all the guys on the 9, as well as all the folks back in Charlotte who made that happen.

Cliff and Kyle, great job to them as well on the win today. We got one more next week in Daytona, then off to the Playoffs.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up for questions.

Q. Obviously there was contact on the last restart between Kyle and Chase. What was your take on that? That’s now twice there’s been some contact that’s led to a Kyle win. Have you talked to Chase, gotten where he stands on everything?

JEFF ANDREWS: Yeah, we talked after the race. I think you saw Chase talking with Mr. Hendrick and Jeff Gordon as well. As you can imagine, certainly don’t blame him for the frustration.

Two great race cars ran towards the front all day long. Great job on the strategy. Everything was coming our way to play out nicely there for a 1-2 finish.

It’s a tough, tough racetrack from a restart standpoint. Turn one is known for that kind of contact, shaking things up there at the end. Certainly hate that for Chase and Alan and that team, as hard as they worked all day, the car they had all day.

At the same time I know there was no intent by Kyle certainly to have that happen. That’s the last thing we want to have happen.

As a team, we’ll work on that internally. But today, short-term here, we’re going to focus on the great race cars that were here today at the track, what a good job we did with that. Like I said, the regular-season points championship, as well.

Q. Team owners, Rick himself, many times have said I don’t care what they do, just don’t wreck each other at the end of the race. Does this appear to be a particularly egregious situation or more dealing with the disappointment of one driver who obviously had a fast car and led the most laps, seemed in position to win?

JEFF ANDREWS: Yeah, I haven’t watched it. I saw it one time there on TV, but I haven’t watched it repeatedly.

Certainly nothing egregious there at all. You have two guys racing down into turn one as fast as they possibly can, standing on the brakes, trying to get cars to turn right down there.

As I said, it’s tough, right? It’s known for that here. Again, it’s unfortunate. The last thing Kyle wanted to happen was that, I promise you. It’s unfortunate for Chase and Alan and that race team, the way that turned out for them today.

Again, we’re going to focus on two really good race cars that were in control of that race at the end, a win, and a regular-season championship.

Q. Going into next week, you have been particularly good on superspeedways. There’s obviously going to be a lot of people trying to race their way into the Playoffs. Do you expect you’ll still have an opportunity to have one of your guys in Victory Lane?

JEFF ANDREWS: We sure hope so. As you said, we’ve had fast race cars at superspeedways. We’ve done some work on our superspeedway program since Talladega. We’re excited to get back down there to Daytona.

Yeah, we’re going to race hard for a win. We’re also going to be loyal to our Chevrolet partners. Of course, if there’s anything we can do there to get any of those cars in that aren’t already in, we’ll be there to help as well.

But our goal is to go down there, lead laps, win that race as well. There’s Playoff points to be handed out. That will be our last opportunity to get some. We’d like to leave there with some.

Q. What really needs to be done after this? I understand you say ‘talk’. This is a big-boy sport. There is contact that happens at this track and on road courses anyway. Does anything need to be done? Does it really matter at the end of the day if one is a little bit upset with the other?

JEFF ANDREWS: Well, I think for us, what’s most important is that we have a good, cohesive race team internally. I think Chase did a wonderful job post race. I commend him for all the frustration that was there, some of the things that could have been said.

Again, we’re going to work on it internally. I can’t sit here and tell you that Jeff, Mr. Hendrick and I have a plan of something to do. We do have to have a cohesive race team going into these Playoffs. That’s what we’ll work on. We’ll work on that internally and be ready to come out strong, not only at Daytona next week, but for Darlington.

Q. You talked about the strong cars. You have been strong on road courses. There’s only one more left. Where do you feel you are overall with the other program moving forward?

JEFF ANDREWS: You’re talking about other programs outside of the Roval?

Q. The four cars, where do you feel you are as an organization?

JEFF ANDREWS: I think we’re in decent shape. You never feel comfortable. We’ve talked recently of this car, the competitiveness in the garage of one week you can go out and have multiple cars in the top five, then the next week we seem to struggle to have multiple cars inside the top 15. It’s that way across the garage. I think it’s the nature of the car and the racing right now.

A lot of great race teams. Obviously a lot of great drivers in this series. Momentum helps, as you well know. Certainly those Playoff points that were earned today by the 9 and that regular-season championship, that helps. I think all those things carry you through that 10-week span.

Really, boy, anything can happen in that span. You can have great, dominant cars during the regular season, as you well know it’s a whole different ballgame when we start racing September, October, November.

As we’ve done in the past, we’re going to prepare the best cars that we can, cross our Is, get ready to go, so…

Q. It’s so close to Playoffs now. Chase’s frustration might be lingering for a bit. How do you make sure nothing carries over to the Playoffs?

JEFF ANDREWS: I think, again, I have no issue at all that Chase is upset right now. I mean, I think that’s perfectly normal in this situation. We’ll talk about it this week. We’ll talk about it the week after.

It’s going to be motivation for him. Again, what we have to manage is internally. I go back to that with Mr. Hendrick and Jeff, just making sure we have a good, cohesive race team, we have four cars and race teams that are ready to lock arms and go to battle for the 10 weeks coming up.

Q. Earlier in the season the 24 and the 48 won their way into the Playoffs. Struggled more this summer. How do you get their consistency back in the Playoffs?

JEFF ANDREWS: We’re always working hard on all four of our cars. Unfortunately today we put the 24 guys, William and Rudy, behind with an electrical system issue during warmup, put them to the back. It’s just so hard from a track position side. Felt like they had a great race car, we just needed a little track position.

Greg and Alex, those two guys work great together. They’re working on ways to improve their performance as well going into the Playoffs.

I think just understanding what we can do internally to support them and give them all the ammunition they need to go forward and do the best job they can through the Playoffs.

Q. Is an Xfinity program something you are interested in continuing beyond this season?

JEFF ANDREWS: We’ll talk about that next year. I certainly do think it had some benefits for our guys through the year. We’ll talk with our partners and JRM and see what they have available, as well decide what we’re going to do with the car that we raced with yesterday.

That’s a long ways off. I think that’s winding down. Kyle is going to run Darlington here in a few weeks for JRM in the 88 car again. After that we’re not eligible to run in the Xfinity Series any more. Those will be some off-season plans that we talk about and decide what we’re going to do in 2023.

Q. Talk about this team, Hendrick Motorsports winning at Watkins Glen, the last four races here. Is this always a big race for you on the bucket list?

JEFF ANDREWS: It certainly is one that we’ve had success at, obviously one on the calendar in the schedule that we look forward to coming to.

I don’t have a specific answer why. Obviously we have tremendously talented road course drivers. That helps. Kyle and Chase always do a good job at these tracks. William did an amazing job yesterday.

To say we put any more time into road courses than we do other type of tracks, it’s really the same. I just think it’s an area of strength for us. As a company, again, just super proud of the effort that everyone back at Hendrick Motorsports is putting into these race cars because they’re bringing some phenomenal equipment to the racetrack right now. Couldn’t be more proud of that.

One more road course left in the Playoffs, but we also know there’s nine other tracks. We’re not going to get too confident about the Roval and lose sight of the other challenges that are in front of us as we go forward here.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time.

JEFF ANDREWS: You’re welcome. Thank you.