Do you expect the racing to be much different with the new NextGen car at Phoenix this weekend compared to the Gen 6 car there last November?
“Honestly, I think it will be similar. I think it’s a car that should perform pretty well on the short tracks. Phoenix, obviously you have a little bit of aero effects going there, so it’ll be a little more interesting to see how the dirty air works and stuff like that. But, overall, I think it’ll be pretty similar to what it has been in the past. I think one thing that people are a little bit questionable about is the dogleg, how the car is going to handle through there and if you’re going to be using the apron at all. As we’ve seen at these other tracks, they don’t like going over bumps that well.”
How much do you think you’ll be able to take from this weekend’s race to this year’s November race?
“You’ll definitely be able to take some things. Obviously, we’ve had a test there already, so we have an idea of what we’re looking for. This car and what we’re thinking about will change a lot by the time November comes around, but you’ll still have that baseline of the first Phoenix race and that’s where the championship happens, so there will still be a lot of emphasis on it.”
How different is it getting onto and off of pit road with the NextGen car, so far?
“You can definitely get into your pit box harder and get on pit road harder with the bigger brakes on the car, but also the biggest thing is getting used to how fast the guys are. I think they’re a couple seconds faster than they used to be, so it’s definitely impressive. You just have to get used to that and also leaving the pit stall, how much you can push it, how you want to rev the engine up, so just little things here and there.”
You’ve had a solid racecar at the first three races thus far. To what would you attribute that solid start, aside from the mechanical issue at Las Vegas last weekend?
“I think it’s just a matter of trusting in our people. We have a lot of great people at Stewart-Haas Racing who have worked extremely hard on this new car, trying to get ahead of it. So I think we hit the ground running on this season. It’s a matter of getting our organization back to victory lane, where we belong. It wasn’t the year that any of us wanted last year, so I think we’re on our way to rebounding.”