Transcript: James Small – New Hampshire

THE MODERATOR: We will continue with questions for crew chief James Small.

Q. James, I know Martin has felt that pressure. How happy are you for him that he finally got the win up here at one of his home tracks?

JAMES SMALL: Yeah, it’s amazing. I know what this race means to him, his family, and how close we’ve been before to winning this, leading all those laps, and just something going upside down towards the end.

They threw everything at us today, and thankfully we were able to get it and get it for the family. Yeah, just remarkable. I can’t imagine how happy his dad is where we’re at right now.

Q. James, obviously three wins in the season, perfect day today points-wise, extending your lead. Do you guys feel like you’re the championship favorite right now?

JAMES SMALL: I don’t know. It’s very up and down. Obviously we’re showing strong pace across a variety of tracks, and it’s just about executing it.

You can do that all day and have things out of your control go wrong and take you out of it. Take every race one at a time, each week at a time, and try and maximize it. We’ll see if we wind up there and if we can do it, but I feel really good about it right now.

Q. Obviously you guys were the dominant car today. Is it easier to call a race when you’re kind of on offense like that, or is it tougher when you’re more on the defensive strategy?

JAMES SMALL: It’s kind of tougher, to be honest. It’s your race to lose in a way. I feel like that happened to us last year, and I’ve thought about it every day since.

I was up last night stressing about it for ages, thinking of all the different scenarios. Once we got through doing what we did and being slightly conservative, just taking the four tires and being able to get back in front, but I knew at the end, that was the only call to make because so many people were going to do it, and we would have been buried if we had taken four.

Yeah, it’s definitely more difficult, but yeah, thankfully it worked out for us today.

Q. You guys were originally going to take four or two?

JAMES SMALL: I was more on the side of rights. I was just trying to see what the other people were going to do. As soon as the 22 did rights it was a given. So they were ready, and we just needed to confirm what we were going to do.

Q. James, obviously the joke is Martin has got so many home tracks, so maybe it doesn’t matter. I know Dover is important, but when you come here and he hasn’t won, you’re doing the best you can every week, but is there any more of realizing the significance of what a win could mean or what this place means, because he has 15 different home tracks it’s the same thing every week?

JAMES SMALL: Yeah, this really is kind of his home track. I don’t know. I guess Dover might be closer, but I know how much this win means to him and his family and the significance of him coming here when he was a young child and everything and all of that.

It’s always been one that he wanted to win.

We were talking about it, he flew home with us after Sonoma, and we were sitting back there drinking some beers on the plane — probably shouldn’t say that. (Laughter).

We were talking about, this is the one. We need to win this one. Hopefully he doesn’t go and retire on us now that he’s got it.

But yeah, it’s important. We put the same effort in every week, but we just know that we come here and we really expect to win, and thankfully we crossed it off the list today.

Q. How does this track come up in a conversation on the plane back from Sonoma then?

JAMES SMALL: It’s just races that we really wanted to win and races that have gotten away from us in the past. We just talk garbage back there. It’s like a couple of — all of us, we’re such a close-knit group and we’re just a bunch of mates going racing. That’s why it’s so fun. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with anybody in my life racing on the 19 team. He loves it, as well. We’re there for him and he’s there for us every week.

Q. Was it a couple years ago you guys were in control, then it went away? Was that one of the more disheartening losses because of what happened, where it was and things like that? Was that something in the back of your mind or is that something that in the past you forget about?

JAMES SMALL: No, I think about all the mistakes every day. Last year there we dominated the race and we had that early caution in stage 3, and there was a bunch of us that took rights, and, you know, four tires was back in tenth with Chase and then fell behind him.

We had a terrible restart and got buried. We had what was the dominant car that day, as well, and we kind of let that one get away from us.

There’s so many factors, but if I had that time back again — it’s always easier when you know all the information, isn’t it.

There’s other races here in the past where we’ve had really good cars and fallen away at the end or gotten in an accident. I’m just glad we crossed it off the list.

Q. I just was wondering, you had such a great setup during qualifying and during practice. During the course of the race today, did you have to make any modifications to the setup of the car or did you leave it the way it was during those qualifications?

JAMES SMALL: No, we can’t help ourselves. We weren’t that good in practice. As fast as we were, we weren’t where we needed to be. We knew we needed to make adjustments.

Yeah, we worked on it for the last few days. Still working on it this morning.

Yeah, during the race we just did a few little air pressure changes, and that was it. Never had to get a wrench out or anything like that. Yeah, I think we improved what we needed to.

Q. Is there any extra motivation to do well so that Martin returns, and/or is there motivation to do well because you don’t know how many more races you’re going to have left with him?

JAMES SMALL: No, we don’t need any extra motivation. We’re just here to win every week and win the championship. What will be is what will be. We don’t even talk about it with him. None of us on the team.

It’s his decision, and whatever. We’re happy either way, and we’ll support him. Our focus is on this championship and winning that, and we’ll worry about next year come December.

Q. He doesn’t talk about it much with us, either.

JAMES SMALL: Yeah, I know. I heard you pissed him off. (Laughter.)

Q. There was a lot of talk about how much wider the track seemed to be for guys today. When you see that happening from your perspective, does it make you say, do we have to do things a little different, or is the proof in the pudding and you just say he’s doing all right already?

JAMES SMALL: No, the proof is in the pudding. We were joking about it after the race, like we can’t believe where he was running, like how much grip there was up there.

Obviously that’s not like what we worked around, but you’ve got to go where the grip is. Yeah, it was crazy.

It was interesting, and those guys, they’re so good. All those guys, Martin, Joey, they know how to find the grip and whatever, and we have the tools to see where everybody else is running, so if somebody suddenly starts running a faster lap time or whatever, oh, what line are they in, and kind of give him that information, as well.

THE MODERATOR: James, thanks for joining us, and congrats on the win.