YOU’VE WON FIVE OUT OF THE LAST SEVEN RACES, DATING BACK TO LAST YEAR. ONLY NINE GUYS SINCE 1972 HAVE DONE THAT. DOES THAT MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?
“It’s definitely cool. I didn’t think of it really, just because it’s gone on through two different seasons now. It doesn’t feel like I’ve won five out of the last seven. But either way, it’s cool to be in that category of superstars and hall of famers. Hopefully we can keep it going and get onto an even smaller list somehow.”
YOU’VE BEEN IN SITUATIONS WHERE YOU HAVE TO DRIVE YOUR BACKSIDE OFF JUST TO STAY WITH THEM AND GIVE YOURSELF ANY KIND OF CHANCE. NOW, YOU GO TO ANY RACE AND YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN. WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE EVERYTIME THE GREEN FLAG DROPS, KNOWING THAT YOU AT LEAST HAVE A CHANCE?
“Last year, I felt that way for sure. I think this year, still with the new car, there’s uncertainty of how your weekend is going to be. I’m not going to say that last week I showed up to the track knowing that I was going to win, or knowing that I was going to have a shot to win, anyways. I don’t know if anybody really felt that way. But I think going forward, these are some good tracks for us. Our team is really strong, so I know that we will be able to execute our way to challenge for wins. That helps confidence out a lot. Winning last week for sure helps going forward here at Las Vegas (Motor Speedway) and having a better idea of how your weekend might be.
“Just excited to get these races in and get more of an understanding of how the car drives, how your team stacks up against the others and try to have a season a little bit better than last year.”
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SPONSOR ON THE SIDE OF THE CAR, THE SAMARITAN’S PURSE, AND THE REASON FOR THAT.
“Yeah, it’s just something neat that Rick Hendrick wants to do and raise money to benefit what’s going on in Ukraine. It’s an honor to have it on our car. I hope between the four of us Hendrick Motorsports drivers, we can all lead every lap of this race on Sunday and can donate quite a bit of money to their relief. Rick has a huge heart. It’s just neat that he does a lot of special things for so many different people.”
THE COMPETITION THIS WEEK AND TALKING TO CHASE (ELLIOTT) - WAS IT MATTER OF FACT, WAS IT NORMAL, WAS IT FROSTY, WAS IT AWKWARD?
“Well from my spot, it’s always going to be awkward. But it was a good meeting to have. Rick (Hendrick) called a meeting with all four teams and just kind of reiterated his expectations with us drivers. It’s good to get those reminders every now and then, and continue to race good in the future with each other. I’ll catch-up more with Chase (Elliott) here in a little bit and we’ll be good.”
WAS IT AN IN-PERSON MEETING?
“No, because it’s west coast swing, so we’re all traveling.”
“I haven’t been there but a little over a year now; so as far as I can remember, that’s the only meeting since I’ve been there that Rick (Hendrick)has been a part of in that sense. He’s been to competition meetings and stuff like that, and we’ve had multiple meetings about different things. But as far as racing and stuff, that’s the first one I can remember him getting involved in. I think we all know his expectations and after the incident last week, it was good for him to get involved again and tell us what the expectations are.”
DID YOU CATCH RADIOACTIVE?
ANY COMMENT ON IT?
“No, it was another good episode of it (laughs).”
IT’S WINDY AGAIN THIS MORNING HERE AT LAS VEGAS. IS THAT GOING TO BE A FACTOR LIKE IT WAS AT AUTO CLUB LAST WEEKEND AND HOW DIFFERENT IS THE NEXT GEN CAR IN THE WIND COMPARED TO LAST YEAR’S CAR?
“Yeah, I’m not really sure how much the wind really played into the cars spinning and stuff last week, as least in practice and qualifying. I don’t know how much it will be an effect here. I think it was more the bumps and everybody just not being used to the car at all last week. So I think having a week of that and knowing how on-edge these cars are you would think would make this weekend a little less crazy. But (turns) one and two here is extremely rough, so I think that’s going to play a factor in the handling of the cars. I feel like a lot of mistakes will be made in (turns) one and two; and you’ll see some spins and crashes. Just try to ease into it and try and not step over the edge too soon.”
DID YOU SEE TYLER (MONN)’S TWEET LAST WEEKEND?
“Yeah, Tyler (Monn, Spotter) is great. I’ve been very, very happy with him as my spotter. The way things worked out for us to get him last year was so last minute, but I feel like we ended up with the best option I could have as a driver. He’s been great. We’ve had a lot of success together and I trust him a lot. We’ve talked quite a bit this week. We both are learning these new cars. The runs are huge, so there’s a lot to be learned. You have to have some incidents sometimes to really learn quickly and that’s what we’re going to do going forward.”
TWO BIG TRACKS NOW AND OUR FIRST LOOK AT A 1.5-MILE TRACK. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO BE LIKE OUT THERE TODAY?
“Who knows, I don’t know. (Turns) one and two are really rough, so I think that’s where you might see some of us struggling getting through there. These cars don’t seem to handle – my car at least last weekend compared to Fontana in the past or tracks I ran last year – it was much harsher of a ride quality than what I remembered. This place being as rough as it is in (turns) one and two, that’s what we’ll probably fight and it’ll be difficult.
“We’ll see though. I think teams probably learned a lot last weekend and are applying it to their cars this week.”