TEAM CHEVY: TOP-20 IN NASCAR CUP SERIES PRACTICE
1st RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER/SWEETLEAF CAMARO ZL1
7th JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
11th CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
12th TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1
13th DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 COMMSCOPE CAMARO ZL1
14th ERIK JONES, NO. 43 FOCUSFACTOR CAMARO ZL1
17th TY DILLON, NO. 42 ALSCO UNIFORMS CAMARO ZL1
19th ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ADVENT HEALTH CAMARO ZL1
· The NASCAR Cup Series participated in a 50-minute practice session, where Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger / SweetLeaf Camaro ZL1, was the fastest overall.
· Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s fastest lap was 29.708 seconds, at a speed of 186.616 mph.
· Due to inclement weather, qualifying is cancelled. The starting lineup for tomorrow’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set per the rule book.
TEAM CHEVY TOP-20 UNOFFICIAL LINEUP:
5th TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1
6th CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
7th ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 ADVENT HEALTH CAMARO ZL1
11th ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
12th WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
13th DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 COMMSCOPE CAMARO ZL1
17th AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER OFF ROAD CAMARO ZL1
18th TY DILLON, NO. 42 ALSCO UNIFORMS CAMARO ZL1
TOP-FIVE UNOFFICIAL LINEUP:
1st Chase Briscoe (Ford)
2nd Ryan Blaney (Ford)
3rd Joey Logano (Ford)
4th Kyle Busch (Toyota)
5th Tyler Reddick (Chevrolet)
FOX will telecast the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway live at 3 p.m. ET tomorrow, Sunday, March 20. Live coverage can also be found on PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER / SWEETLEAF CAMARO ZL1, met with the media after the NASCAR Cup Series practice as the fastest driver in today’s practice session. Press Conference Transcript:
WALK US THROUGH WHAT YOU WERE GOING THROUGH OUT THERE. DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING AND WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FOR TOMORROW?
“I think what you saw in practice is probably what you’re going to expect. For us, we made some laps on the simulator and kind of had an idea of what the car was going to drive like and what the track was like. And then obviously when we got out there, we learned a lot more at a pretty high rate of speed. I think the speeds, for me, I didn’t think they’d be as fast as what we were, as far as the single speed there in the draft.”
“The cars draft pretty good. It does get a little bit tight on entry, especially into turn three. I think you see a lot of people kind of drift up off the bottom until you kind of catch more of the banking, and then you can kind of turn back down and drive off. Two-wide is comfortable. I think center of the corner three-wide isn’t terrible, but the exit of turn two and the entry of turn three gets really narrow on the backstretch. It will be kind of tricky to see how that plays out. Obviously it was practice, so nobody was really trying to shove three-wide or get too aggressive.”
“It’s going to be a battle. I think for us, I felt like our car was really fast and really good. When you get out front, you’re going to be able to control the lanes a little bit easier than a Daytona or a Talladega. Daytona is easier to control a lane than Talladega because it’s so much more narrow. You take it another step further here on how wide the racetrack is compared to Daytona. So, you’ll be to maneuver and block those two lanes I think a little bit better, so I think track position is going to be important. We didn’t see a lot of tire wear, so I think that’s a good thing with how fast we’re going. We weren’t sure about that.”
“All-in-all, it’s going to be about what you saw there.”
THERE’S A BIG DEBATE ON SOCIAL RIGHT NOW; CHOAS OR CALM. WHAT’S YOUR PREDICTION?
“It seemed kind of chaotic for a practice session. Obviously we’re all trying to learn as much as we could. We have 500 miles around here; it’s a long time. I think we ran 44 laps or so in that practice. Some guys ran 60-something laps, which I feel like you never see out of us in practice. So, everybody is just trying to learn.”
“I think that was fairly calm right there, even though it still felt intense. I think some of the drivers are going to be worn out come Sunday with just how intense and on top of the car you have to be. But I think one mistake, you’re going to wipe out the whole field if it’s at the front. It’ll be kind of crazy to watch this.”
YOU MENTIONED BLOCKING AND I’M CURIOUS ABOUT HOW YOU DO THAT WITH THE LINES. WHAT ARE THE RUNS LIKE AND WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES GOING TO BE IN BLOCKING, EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE AS MUCH GROUND TO COVER?
“Yeah, the decision are going to still have to be made fast, for sure. But like I said, the room left to right is a lot smaller. But I do feel like, to your point, the runs can be bigger, depending on what happens. I think obviously we’re going to keep learning as we go through here. I watched the No. 48 (Alex Bowman) jump up in front of the No. 6 (Brad Keselowski) I believe. And then the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) was able to turn and just drive under both of them because it stalled both of them out pretty quick. Pretty much by himself, he cleared both of them. The runs are big, for sure.”
IN REGARDS TO THE END OF A GREEN FLAG RUN, NORMALLY WHEN YOU HAVE GREEN FLAG PIT STOPS AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA, THERE’S THAT STRAIGHT SHOT OFF OF TURN FOUR WHERE EVERYONE CAN GET TO PIT ROAD FAIRLY EASILY. HERE, IT’S RIGHT OFF THE CORNER. HOW DO YOU THINK GREEN FLAG STOPS ARE GOING TO WORK?
“I don’t see handling being a terrible issue at the end of the run. Like I said, I think you saw a lot of guys run a lot of laps on tires and still felt like they were pretty competitive and handled really well. You brought up a good point. Coming to pit road is going to be super treacherous. Like you said, you’re braking in the corner and the corner isn’t that wide to begin with, so you can’t get off the racetrack to start your braking like you can at Daytona and Talladega. But I think it’ll break the field up. It’ll be exciting. You’re going to have to nail it right to continue to keep in the lead draft, especially if you’re in the front to retain the lead. It’ll be important to still pit with cars so you can go out and run fast laps. But I think you’ll see cars kind of break up and eventually get back together. Daytona, you kind of stay broken up. Getting to pit road is going to be tough.”
“Yeah, I agree with that. We’re all in the same box though. There are certain racetracks where it’s tough to miss wrecks. Martinsville, Bristol, are some of those. But with this new Next Gen car, we have pretty big brakes. I notice that at Daytona, when there is a crash, you can get slowed down pretty quick. But that’s the tightest I’ve seen all of us together in a small portion of a racetrack in a long time. That will be a factor and you’re going to have to be at the right place and the right time.”
I KEPT HEARING SPOTTERS TALK ABOUT THE BUBBLE. HOW DIFFERENT DOES IT FEEL THAN OTHER PLACES THAT YOU’VE DRAFTED AND CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE SENSATION FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL?
“I felt like for us, our car was really good as far as the bubble goes around being able to get to the car’s bumper in front of us. I felt like we struggled – the Chevy’s in general – a little bit at Daytona with getting to someone’s bumper. But here, I felt like – I think it was Denny (Hamlin), (Daniel) Suarez, and myself – in a three car run. I was able to get to Suarez’s bumper without anyone behind me. So, I felt like I got through that bubble pretty good. But when you do catch up to someone, it really pushes you and that person to the cars in front of them a lot faster than Daytona and Talladega are going to be.”
AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA, WE SEE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MANUFACTURER CARS WORKING TOGETHER. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU GUYS HAVE ALREADY HAD MEETINGS ON OR WILL HAVE A MEETING ABOUT LIKE YOU WOULD AT DAYTONA OR TALLADEGA?
“Yeah, I’m not sure exactly on our side what’s kind of going to go down. I think everyone kind of wanted to see how practice shook out first. Definitely when you have teammates or manufacturers with you at the front of the field, you can definitely control those lines a little easier when you have multiple people trying to help you do that. So, I think that’s still going to be a factor when it comes down to it. Everything I think is a little bit more tricky here at Atlanta than at Daytona, as far as Daytona is pretty straight forward with what the manufacturers are going to do to help each other. But here, I feel like there’s still so many unknowns that we’re still not 100 percent sure how that’s going to play out.”
WAS THERE ANY THROTTLE RESPONSE AT ALL TO HELP AVOID A WRECK; OR IS IT JUST KIND OF LIKE DAYTONA OR TALLADEGA?
“I think on one hand, it could be a little calmer because you can lift and not really lose spots and kind of keep your position on track. Daytona, we were all worried about losing the draft and I don’t think we’re going to be worried about losing the draft here. I think that made everybody at Daytona pretty aggressive to make sure they stayed up in the pack. You didn’t want to be the last car. Here, I don’t think you’re going to have those issues. I wasn’t wide open every lap out there. I was playing around with the throttle. The front stretch kind of gets clogged up. I think I saw a few of you talk about that. Just the way the front stretch is and when you come off of turn four, for whatever reason, it seems like that second dogleg, things just kind of almost stack up a little. I was having to use the brake, get off the gas and really work the pedals, as well. I think the biggest asset for us to avoid wrecks are just the bigger brakes.”