Saturday, Sep 23

Transcripts: Billy Scott - Press Conference - Kansas Speedway

HE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post-race media availability for the Hollywood Casino 400, and we're joined by our winning crew chief Billy Scott. Billy, what a fantastic finish for your team and this race. Walk us through this finish from your perspective.

BILLY SCOTT: Yeah, honestly, we got that long green run going at the end, and with tires being a concern, not just from the flat tires but the quantity of sets we had available, it was -- just relegated to finishing second, and we were just trying to log laps there and take care of it and not cause ourselves any issue and end a solid day with the points on our mind.

But the yellow came out and gave us and shot and didn't really know what to think when we came off pit road seventh, but the choosing worked out very well, and Tyler made the most of it. Three wide multiple times, and just stayed wide open and got clear up there.

It was a welcome surprise.

Q. What is it with 23XI and Kansas? The drivers or the owner have now swept all the races with this Next-Gen car, Hamlin has got all Top 5s. Unless you guys have some catastrophic issue you guys are always in the mix. What have you guys figured out that everybody else is battling for second?

BILLY SCOTT: Thank you, first off. We joked last week or so that Tyler was the only driver that sits in our competition debriefs without a win here, so it's only appropriate we got it for him finally.

We just had a good package. In all honesty the Toyotas on mile-and-a-halfs have been strong for a long time, and here Kurt started that off with driving us in the direction we needed setup-wise and such. It's just carried over.

They've got each other to feed off of. They all sit there and talk about what makes it work and got good notes and just in the end they're executing, they're comfortable here, and thankfully it's still working.

Q. Can you explain the thought process of going with four tires as opposed to two in that situation?

BILLY SCOTT: Yeah, first off, figured it was probably the right call. You never know. It's always a battle right down to the end. Usually it's one guy on four and one guy on two that come down to it. Honestly, we were thinking big picture. We wanted to go into Bristol with a little bit less concern than maybe most people have that are in the playoffs right now, and we just wanted a solid day. Finish it off -- our goal coming in was to run Top 5 all day and get as many points as possible with that.

We figured that was, A, the right call to win the race, being in second already. We didn't need to gamble. Second, we thought it was the safest to make sure we were controlling our own destiny and weren't put in a bad spot by someone else, and thankfully it worked out well.

Q. How rare is it that the safest call and the right call converge like that?

BILLY SCOTT: Not often, and you've got to be in the right spot because if you're running fourth or fifth or on back, it's probably not one or the other.

Just being there, being in contention, being in that spot is what led to that.

Q. How much of a buffer does this kind of give you where you can start working on the next round of playoff races?

BILLY SCOTT: Yeah, a little bit. It will definitely change our approach in this coming week on how much we do Texas work and Bristol. Next round is interesting with a speedway and a road course. Texas is going to be a huge focus for us going into round 2, but we still can't lose sight of Bristol. It's an opportunity to win stages, win the race, get some more bonus points, and that's probably the biggest thing this does is give us some more of the playoff points. It's so tight there on what's going to end up being the fifth place and ninth place, the cutoff points through the next rounds that we know every bonus point matters and inevitably comes down to a point or two from somebody making it or not.

Q. Can you talk about how brilliant Reddick is on restarts?

BILLY SCOTT: Yeah, he's just full commitment. It's funny, even when we were running second, a second and something behind Denny and six seconds behind third and I'm trying to tell him, just take care of it, we want to make sure this right rear lasts and we don't want to have any incidents in the wall or whatever. Once the yellow finally came out, he said, yeah, I was still probably trying too hard there.

That's just his personality. That's the way he is, and if he has a hole somewhere, especially on a restart, he's going to take it. That's what we needed. Thankful to have him.

Q. What can you say on Tyler's progression from race 1 to now, the second race of the playoffs, just this entire season?

BILLY SCOTT: I think it's just being smart, just taking care of it and executing fully. That's kind of been -- not just on his side, really with our whole team, that's been our achilles heel. It's not been speed, it's not been qualifying, none of that. It's been on just having a full day of clean execution.

I think he has done a much better job, and he's aware of what the big picture stuff is, and it's only going to get harder as we go through the rounds. It's going to be more important to push every lap and to get the wins.

But this was a nice start.

Q. Obviously the regular season that you guys had where there were so many opportunities where you could have won and there was mistakes by a variety of reasons, how have you guys been able to clean it up for the first two weeks and have the speed without really overstepping anything and just everybody sort of being together there?

BILLY SCOTT: I think the biggest thing is just talking about it. We really are one team, and that's both with the 23 and the 45 group. We all work together. But the pit crew, road crew, driver, everybody, we're all in this together. We know we have each other's backs. We talk about it.

Interestingly enough, this week the pit crew pooled some money together and gave us an envelope full of cash and said, here, take your whole road crew out for dinner while you're in Kansas because of all the support and the appreciation and the hard work going on in the pit practice and helping them overcome their struggles and vice versa.

It really is all of us just talking about when something goes wrong of what was the thought process that went into it, how can we clean it up, and across the board now, that's our mentality going into it is just clean execution, look out for each other, help each other see the hurdles coming, and get over them and right now we've got our momentum going in the right way finally.

Q. Real quick, just the tire issues earlier in the year, did that concern you at all, and have you learned anything from it yet, or is that going to be a Monday debrief?

BILLY SCOTT: No, absolutely concerned by it, yes. Between two JGR cars, yesterday with the 54 and the 19 early on and then with our teammate, we had a really good feel of where everybody was, from loading and cambers and pressures and all that stuff, and I'll be honest, we were still even at the very last run -- that's why I was kind of pushing him to be conservative and be cautious of it because there was no clear and obvious answer as to why that was happening.

We know we've had it before. I think Goodyear has done a great job of changing the construction over the last year, and it has been way more durable from that standpoint, just as far as the level of aggression we've gotten on, but didn't see this coming, and never felt comfortable.

Q. Does that change your approach (indiscernible) in the playoffs?

BILLY SCOTT: Yeah, maybe so. Tire is common to most of them coming up, so we're going to keep an eye on it. We will, like you said, still go back this week and look at as much information as we can to see if we can learn something else that led to it and try to understand it.

But yeah, that's how we operate, though. We know there's places we can be from all those sides of it, all those aspects that are completely safe, but there's speed there, so we're all going to push it.

Q. I love what you were telling Jeff about the team really sticking together and being very close knit. You've got one car in the next round now. Obviously Bubba didn't have the best day. Do you guys communicate with them and that team, and if so, how do you wrangle them in and just kind of boost the morale and help them out from here?

BILLY SCOTT: Yes. First off, we do communicate a lot. I really know they preach that a lot around here, when 23XI comes up of it being one team, and I don't think anybody that's on the outside can actually conceive what it's like. We literally treat it like it is one car all week long, all of the development from those guys being in the simulator to our engineers working to the guys on the shop floor. It's treated as the same car all week until we get to the racetrack, and we still are in close communication.

I think, yeah, we're going to definitely show them support. We're going to be standing behind them. We're going to be pumping them up and reminding them they can do this. Absolutely they can go there and win or get enough points to transfer because you never know what happens there.

That's going to be our focus of our whole entire company next week is getting Bubba where he needs to be, and we're going to prepare like normal.



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