ME: You won the Daytona 500..
JR: We did.
ME: Are you heading to Disney World?
JR: Naw I don’t think that’s how it works. I think that’s just for the Super Bowl. I’ll probably head back home for a day, hang out with a few friends and it’s on to the next one.
ME: No offense, but you don’t win many races. But you come out here and win the first one of the year? And it’s the Daytona 500? What’s up with that?
JR: Yeah I guess it’s been a while huh? I love racing here. You know last year me and Steve really starting clicking, and we finished the year strong and we kind of just picked up where we left off. We had a great National Guard car tonight, Steve made some great moves, I had some help from the other Hendrick guys in Jimmie and Jeff up front and we, you know we were feeling pretty good about our chances and we were in the right place at the right time to win it.
ME: Yeah but you weren’t just in the right place at the right time, you kind of dominated all night..
JR: It’s really hard to dominate in this sport. You need a lot of luck. It was a good day that’s for sure.
ME: What do you say to Steve Letarte your Crew Chief when he tells you that you have what appears to be a garbage bag on your grille with 3 laps to go?
JR: I wasn’t too worried, but I was really trying hard not to wreck the Pace Car. You know a few years ago we had a Jet Dryer explode we didn’t need another delay with me spinning out the Pace Car with 3 laps to go. But we really weren’t to worried. I tried to get it off, but it obviously worked out you know.
ME: So you’ve got a spot in the chase. What are the chances you head on down to Cabo for a few months, hang out, get some R&R and come back in November to win it all?
JR: (laughs) I don’t think that’s going to happen. You know in this sport especially, you can’t bank on anything. I have a spot in the Chase, but there’s a lot of racing left. A lot of time to figure out cars, tracks and keep working with Steve to get things right, there’s a lot of testing to do.
ME: What was it like seeing the #3 car out there, for at least most of the race?
JR: You know I didn’t really pay much attention to it. It was neat seeing the #3 out there again but I’ve got a few other things on my plate during the race than to be out there worried about what else is going on.
ME: Is Jimmie Johnson kind of a jerk?
JR: Jimmie is the best. He’s one of the nicest guys in the garage. We had a pretty fun time goofing with each other this week so that’s always fun.
ME: What’d he say to you when he came up to congratulate you after the race?
JR: He just congratulated me, and said awesome job and that I deserved it.
ME: I saw you said something back, you didn’t just rub it in his face just this once?
JR: (laughs) No I probably should of though right? Jimmie has a few of these trophies, and a few of the other ones that we are trying to get so I’ll just kind of let Jimmie go about until I get a few more wins under my belt.
ME: When you lose. We can tell it really bums you out. You can see it on your face. But you won last night, we could tell you were genuinely pumped up about it. Where’d that come from?
JR: Yeah I think the reason is just because I know you can’t take these things for granted. I beat myself up a lot and I hate letting my team down. My guys, especially Steve. We’ve got an amazing team, and crew and I just want to win for these guys. It’s not fun knowing you have the best car out there or running well but things just happen and you can’t perform. It’s a lot of fun to win and you’ve just got to celebrate all of those like it might be your last.