ANY PROGRESS ON THE LEG NUMBING ISSUES AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO TRY THIS WEEK?
“Yeah, so I just think with this new car there are some things (inaudible). The last car, from since I have been racing really stayed much the same. (inaudible) Yeah, you know just making some mistakes in how I think I needed to be sitting in this car. So, we’ve been able to, now that we are back home, came back from Vegas, been able to sit in the car and adjust some things. Pinpoint some areas where I think I just had my body in a bad posture, not really allowing the weight of my body in the seat being distributed the way it should. Nothing like to the extent of having to change inserts, do that sort of thing. Just moving some things around in the car seems to be better. Obviously, the reason this has been an issue is pretty challenging to understand sitting still you know with no load, no bumps, no heat, whatever it might be to really feel if there is going to be a problem. It’s hard to really understand what’s ok and what’s not. After we ran Fontana, you know we had our Vegas car right there, it was already in Fontana. Sat in it, moved some things around, thought I was going to be good to go in Vegas and obviously I was looking in the wrong places. We had some help this week and were able to make some adjustments and continue learning more and more about it. You know I just think I was in a really good place in that old car for such a long time and didn’t realize how easy or how bad you could end up missing it, the comfort side of things. Unfortunately going through that, that process right now (inaudible) a lot better.”
IS IT ABOUT KIND OF HOW THE PEDALS ARE MOUNTED AND HOW YOU POSITION YOUR FOOT? OR IS IT MORE KIND OF WHERE THE SEAT IS IN RELATION TO PEDALS AND MAYBE THE HEIGHT OF THE SEAT?
“I think more than anything its just having you know no matter where you put your seat its kind of important to have your legs comfortable for you. You know, not too high, not too low. You don’t want to cut circulation off having the pedals too low, on the edge of your seat or having your legs really having a lot of weight or force on the bottom of your seat cutting your circulation off that way. Certainly, with this deeper car, or deeper driver area or cockpit (inaudible) with how ramming my current insert was. So, we made some adjustments there. Certainly, I think I have frustrated some things in my body by putting it through that the last two weeks in a row now. I normally don’t give myself a lot of rest time in between with exercising and everything, so just coming up with the best approach to get my body some time to get out some of the stress I’ve been putting it though the last two weekends.”
HOW WELL TIMED WAS IT TO GET THAT FIRST TOP 10 OF THE YEAR AT LAS VEGAS, GIVEN HOW CRAZY THAT RACE WAS FOR YOU GUYS?
“It was important. I guess for our whole team it was an important thing to be able to come back from that. For me, personally too, I have a lot of distractions in the car. Just hard to give it my best effort with everything going on, not really allowing you to be 100 percent. To still get a top-10 was good, but certainly still I can’t let it keep taking away potential good runs for our team. I do think that it held me back in Vegas. Held us back in Fontana even though we were still really good, still able to execute fairly well on pit road and everything. After going through what I did in Vegas and not always having the track position all day long, it tells me that I was leaving some on the table in Fontana too. I mean I felt like I was and couldn’t really run the bottom because of what I was fighting, but we still had a pretty good car there. Yeah, it was good to get that top 10. The biggest thing that we’re focused on is making sure that we (inaudible) when we get to Phoenix, a place that requires a lot of braking, a lot of thinking about the car and its such a fine line balance wise at that place. It’s going to be very important to have all that worked out, so that is what we are going to try to do, my team is. Make sure that I can be 100 percent.”
WITH YOU HAVING THE FITNESS REGIMEN THIS OFF SEASON AND CHANGING YOUR BODY SO MUCH, DO YOU GUYS CHANGE THE SEAT INSERT FROM YEAR TO YEAR AND IS THAT KIND OF PART OF THIS SITUATION?
“It could be, but weight wise I haven’t moved that much shape wise a little bit. In the areas that I have changed shape, I don’t think it would, well thinking about it off the top of my head I don’t think it’s where our issue is coming from. I think it just has more to do with it’s a brand new race car, it’s a lot more options of where you can put the pedals in relation to the seat and I just think that’s where some of it is. I guess, yeah, with where I end up putting my pedals for the last couple weeks yeah it could have added some material underneath me to help fill the gap that was there. Yeah, I mean it’s not like the insert itself doesn’t fit me too bad. If anything, I feel like I fit a little bit better, like snug in it than I did. It’s just those other things that we moved around unknowingly really.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK WE ARE GOING TO SEE NEXT WEEKEND?
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. These cars, it’s been a lot of fun. it’s been challenging to understand so far. I don’t know. I think the transitioning from straightaways to corners is going to be interesting. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I haven’t even read on it. I have only heard you know a little bit about it, so I really can’t say. I have tried, for the most part, to go into a lot of the race weekends with not a lot of expectations so I can be ready to adapt to anything. That has been a good approach for me and I’m pretty much carrying that thought process, that approach, into Atlanta as well.”
JUST FOLLOWING UP ON THE LEG NUMBNESS, I’M CURIOUS IF ANOTHER SOLUTION YOU GUYS OR THE RCR CAMP HAVE THOUGHT OF WOULD BE GETTING THE BLOOD FLOWING IN THE LOWER EXTREMETIES BEFORE A RACE? COULD THAT POSSIBLY BE A SOLUTION TO THAT TOO OR NOT REALLY?
“For the amount of time that you spend in a car, I think that could help in some sense, but I mean I was in the car for four hours in Las Vegas and to a degree it could help some, but when you are sitting in a car for a long period of time, I don’t expect that to be a fix. But I think it could be something, you know it certainly doesn’t hurt and you don’t necessarily want to get in a car for four hours and not be stretched out and have some good blood flowing anyway. You want to be ready at the start of the race, anything can happen. It certainly helps, but I think there’s some other things that we moved around that hopefully will take care of it.”
AS YOU ENTER THIS WEEKEND, CAUSE THIS IS A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE TO USE BOTH PEDALS, IS THIS A TRACK WHERE YOU’RE REALLY CONCERNED THAT THE LEG NUMBNESS MAY BE HAPPENING ONCE AGAIN OR NOT REALLY WITH THIS ADJUSTMENT?
“Like I said a little earlier, it’s really hard to tell at the shop sitting still. You can strap yourself in, you can sit there forever. Without the car moving, you know the loads. When I sat in the car in Fontana for Vegas, I thought it was going to be ok. That does make it a little concerning, but I know that we went the right direction. It’s just hopefully we have gone enough, hopefully we didn’t go too far. Its just kind of difficult to really know if we got it right, and you know we got, well I thought we had enough time at Las Vegas to get a feel for it but we had some pretty lengthy changes, I didn’t get to stay out on the track quite long enough for that really to take into effect. You know coming in and sitting for 10 minutes while we were making some changes to the car took away from that, so we had the opportunity with that practice to get an idea for if we were going to be ok or not. We just didn’t take advantage of it. You know at Fontana, we didn’t really get to run long enough in the 15 minute practice session, or group split that we had to figure it out, so that is a cause for concern. We could probably run that whole session straight through and still may not know if it’s ok or not for the race.”
ARE YOU GETTING TO A POINT WHERE YOU’RE STARTING TO KNOW WHERE THE EDGE IS, HOW FAR YOU CAN TAKE IT OUT?
“It’s getting closer. The last two weeks have been a little more difficult to know, Vegas for sure was as well. (inaudible) You know in practice, you know just thinking we were balance wise pretty close and then figuring out as the race kind of unfolded that we were too loose and ultimately the car came around on me. There was a lot of learning left there, but it is hard to kind of get a feel for it with some of the things that we’ve been fighting. You know a place like Phoenix, when I tested there, I guess it would have been January, I actually felt like you could get away with more in this car than what we’ve ran there the last two years on short-tracks. This wider tire definitely adds a little bit different on a short-track than it does on some of the higher speed racetracks, so very interesting to see what that’s like in a lot more traffic, a lot more dirty air in full on racing versus what we were experiencing during the test. The cars definitely different, everyone’s seen that already, but I feel like we have been able to race pretty hard. It’s been kind of nice having a car that, in my opinion, doesn’t get as aero-loose when you’re on someone’s door. There’s a lot of things different about it, it’s been fun learning some characteristics early.”
YOU THINK IT’S FAIR TO SAY IT SUITS YOUR STYLE?
“I don’t know actually. I like having a car hung out and you can’t really have this car hung out anymore.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE ITS (NEXT GEN CAR) LIVED UP TO ITS EXPECTATIONS COMING IN?
“I do. It’s definitely more difficult to drive. There’s so much to (inaudible) that you can’t rely on, your old senses or marks. I mean for me it has. It’s been a lot of fun. I really do like the things that are different about this car. As to be expected with it, you know you are going to have more difficult things than others, but I feel like everyone’s maximum potential is or starting point is with this car has kind of brought together. Throughout the field more people have more opportunities to hit it right and be able to run up with the best of the best at the front of the field. But at the same time if you miss it really bad, you’re going to have a really tough day. There’s a lot to learn and we are going to continue to learn with this car.”