AUSTIN, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN HERE RUNNING BOTH RACES AND HOW HAPPY TO COME ON TODAY’S RACETRACK?
“I always look forward to whenever you get some extra time on the highway course. For us, it really helped over the last few years to get more laps. I feel like at the start of my career I didn’t do much of these things, and I wish I did. It’s great to go out there and run these trucks. Grateful for the opportunity from Tyler Young and we will have a lot of fun with him.”
AFTER THIS RACE WE GET THE ONLY BREAK OF THE SEASON. YOUR MIND IS JUST ONE WEEK FOR THE SEASON STARTS IN FEBRUARY AND ENDS IN NOVEMBER.
“It’s really troublesome. I’m looking forward to the holiday weekend. I had already planned my vacation and my grandfather had already informed me about returning to work. I was like, hey, I picked up this one from the weekend. I’ll be home Sunday, maybe a very early Monday morning and then Tuesday I’ll fly to the beach and stay there until Sunday and then focus again next week. It would be nice not to have to worry about going to the track next weekend. Our schedule is probably already one of the most brutal in the sport and then you take two of our weekends, it makes it quite difficult. That’s what we do here.”
AFTER THE BREAK WE GO TO NASHVILLE. LAST YEAR, THERE WAS A LOT OF DRIVERS WHO JUST THINK WE WOULD NOT SEE THE KIND OF RACING WE SEE. WERE YOU SHOCKED AT HOW GOOD THE TRACK RACES?
“Yeah I think so. I think what they do with it, they use something a little bit different, not just a straight PJ1 or whatever, they run on the track on dragon tires and do some different things. I think it was quite a race impressive. I feel people really underestimated what the track could do on the braking side. Everyone brought a brake pack that was too small, and we blew the brake rotors. So this year should be a bit different. They will be more prepared. I think you will definitely see another good race.”
WITH NEXT GEN CARS, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? DOES THIS MAKE A BETTER RACING ABOVE WHAT YOU JUST TALK ABOUT OR NOT?
“It could. It was funny. The race started everyone running over the top I guess, and it moved back downhill in the end. I didn’t know what to expect. The place is a bit round, the bottom is the fastest lane, but if we can get the top works, that would be nice.”
I IMAGINE DRIVING A TRUCK VS A NEXT GEN CAR ARE VERY DIFFERENT. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU THINK YOU CAN LEARN FROM TRUCK RACING THAT YOU CAN DO INTO CUP RACING?
“I think the visuals are the biggest thing. I can’t wait to see the track and each time, you know you only come here once a year, so every corner has a little something different. This is the old configuration we used to use. The last few years have worked on the snake’s part through the drag line. Now I think the biggest advantage is just, you know when you have a 15 minute cup practice you have to be on your game from the time limit drop. For me, it’s more about getting back my grades visually and having fun. I will definitely learn something about today’s track which I will be following tomorrow. The driving style will definitely be very different to the displacement, will be the biggest thing, not to worry too much about wheel hop.”
I WAS TOLD THAT DRIVERS TYPE GET NASCAR AND TRACK AND TURTLES HAVE BEEN REMOVED, OR BUMPS IN TURN 4. ARE YOU AWARE OF THAT AND HOW WILL IT AFFECT THE RACE?
“I just don’t think you’re going to get the good pictures you get in previous years. It will be easier on the driver’s back. With this car, it’s brutal when we’re at a shock stop that probably won’t work. It’s something the racers should definitely try before coming here. I think I’m really proud of NASCAR for changing it. It was good communication between us and NASCAR.”
DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO WIN IN THE CUP TO DO THE PLAYOFFS?
“I do. I mean, I think so. I don’t think mathematically it’s at all difficult for us to get into the playoffs if there aren’t any more new winners. I think we’re in a place where we can show our way. I think there will be more winners and we have to be one of them.”
ABOUT THOSE LINES, IS THERE FRUSTRATION IN THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE MORE CHANCE TO WIN IN THE FIRST 15 RACES THAN THE LAST YEAR BUT IT HAS NOT HAPPENED?
“I guess so. I mean, not so much frustration. Just when will it happen. I feel like I have a real positive mindset that our time is coming. The Good God has blessed us, as you say, with many opportunities this year. Charlotte, I couldn’t sleep the next night. The whole week was eating away at me because we were so close and I was trying to think of all scenarios, playing QB Monday morning with myself all night. Finally, you just have to get it out of your mind and I did. I did. feel good about it. I gave it my all. Those chances don’t happen often to win a Coke 600 and I feel like we almost did it a second time.”
THEY SAY IT’S AN INCH GAME, INCH WORLD. MAYBE, WHAT, EIGHT INCH OR SIX?
“Yes, for sure. In fact I think I care more, can I do something different to not let loose in the middle of the corner. I was driving there pretty deep, and I thought it was a good save, but I kind of looked in both directions because a car was coming towards me pretty fast. I didn’t know a fourth car was out there. I think the (Ross) Chastain thing is what really pissed us off. He came into (Kyle) Larson’s right back because I thought we were three wide so I felt like I was going to be given a bit of space there. I mean, he can’t of course, so that’s what I understand. I didn’t know he was in the front left to his right in the right back quarter.”
OUR NEXT ROAD RACE IS THE AMERICA ROAD. VERY DIFFERENT CITY FROM SONOMA. AMERICA’S ROAD IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING WE MAY HAVE. HOW DO YOU LIKE RACING THERE AND HOW DO YOU JUST RUN ON LONG COURSES?
“Road America is a few times where you can make mistakes in one lap. It’s really cool to put a spin in there, because you know you’re mentally holding it in for a long time. You can find speeds where a second isn’t far at all on Road America. You can find out for a bit there, which is pretty cool since there weren’t many places we went, you could tell. ”
ESPN GIVES AWESOME OFFERS TO F1 TO GET THEIR TV RIGHTS AND MOSTLY BASED ON EVENTS FOLLOWING F1 DRIVER AROUND. YOU HAVE YOUR LIFE IN THE QUICK ROAD; WE HAVE SOME OTHER ITEMS COMING OUT. TALK ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE AND IF YOU THINK WE ARE BEHIND THE GAME OF PROMOTING NASCAR. WE ALWAYS DO THIS 10 – 15 YEARS AGO, BUT IN THAT KIND OF REALITY STYLE SHOW, ARE WE GOing IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND WHAT WILL IT DO FOR SPORT?
“I think any publicity is good publicity in certain aspects for our sport. I think, yes, entering the lives of multiple drivers is the key. What we do is not fair to anyone. The schedule, the trip, the lifestyle we live is very interesting. I’ve been kind of in that way of thinking the whole time, why no more on what we do. This is interesting. I mean, we live in this bubble where we feel like we’re the main attraction every weekend and we’re in this city. There’s other stuff going on outside of this garage and it’s cool to get people who might not tune in regularly on the weekends and try to turn them on about the sport and promote it in any way. I think NASCAR has a really good track right now. I think it’s very positive for our sport to reach another path. It was an eight week grind for me and it still sticks. I’m still doing interviews for the show. This will be cool. I’m too nervous to watch it. I’ve got the episode and checked it out. I’ve heard good things and it looks pretty good.”
YESTERDAY, WE MEET STEVE PHELP AND HE TALKED ABOUT ALL THE RACES WE HAVE BEEN GOOD, WITH POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF ONE. DO YOU FEEL THAT AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT SPORT CHANGE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HOW NASCAR IS OPEN TO THE CHANGE?
“I thought it was good. Change is a joy for fans. It’s frustrating for the competitors at times, but at the end of the day, we’re here for the fans. I thought it was great, and we were very fluid. I mean getting back to your stuff about F1, their Netflix series definitely helps their sport, because if you look at our particular race weekend, we had about 30 cars on the front laps last week at St. Louis. You don’t see that in F1 racing. After the race starts, sometimes there are two people you talk to about strategy. I think the most interesting part for me is just their strategy because they have three different tire compounds. After that, our race is the best race in the world. I will fight anything. We complain about it when it’s good, because no other form of motorsport races like we do. That’s just my opinion.”