Monday, May 23

Ford Performance NASCAR: Chase Briscoe and Joey Hand Prepare for COTA

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Ford Mustang – WHAT SUITS THIS NEW CAR TO YOUR DRIVING STYLE?  “I don’t know.  I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything different.  I feel like the last couple weeks the car has driven pretty similar to the old Cup car, not the 550 stuff, but the 750 package and things like that, so I don’t know.  I feel like just as a team we’ve gotten better.  We’ve had more speed in our race cars where last year was obviously a struggle, but, to me, they don’t drive a whole lot different.  I don’t know if other guys just have more habits to break, where I didn’t really have a lot of things to break as far as from an experience standpoint, but I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different and don’t feel like the cars drive a whole lot different.  It is kind of a hybrid between a Cup car and an Xfinity car from a feel standpoint, but I just feel like our cars have been really good.  We’ve had a lot of speed and we’ve been able to capitalize on that, where last year we never had speed a lot of the time and the races we did have speed and ran up front, we didn’t have it consistently like we’ve been able to this year so far.”

 

ALL OF THE WINNERS THIS YEAR ARE UNDER 30.  IS THERE A REASON ALL THE YOUNG GUYS SEEM TO BE WINNING RACES?  “No, I don’t think so.  I think there’s a majority of guys are under 30 now and you throw in the guys under 30, a lot of them are at good teams.  The guys that are over 40 or over 30 there’s not very many of them and a lot of them are at good teams, too, but I think we just have the numbers.  In the past, it was always a lot more older guys and there wasn’t very many younger guys and if there were younger guys there weren’t very many that were in good cars.  Now, we just have a higher percentage every week of winning just from a numbers standpoint.  I don’t think there’s really much to read into it as far as younger guys being better in this car.  I think it’s just a case of the numbers and the probability of it all.  We just have a better chance, typically, because there’s more of us.”

 

HOW DOES IT COMPARE RUNNING UP FRONT TO IN THE BACK OR MIDDLE OF THE PACK?  WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING?  “I would say all the racing is hard, but when you’re racing for 20th in the Cup Series, at least for me in my career, it’s the hardest I’ve ever had to race.  It’s so cut-throat, where when you get in that top five you’re still racing super hard, but there’s more give-and-take, there’s a lot cleaner racing.  It’s just a different atmosphere.  Guys are running for the win, but they will typically run as close as they can without hitting you, where when you’re running 20th it’s just guys hitting you and everything else.  It’s just chaos, truthfully, back there and there’s just a lot more respect, I feel like, the farther up towards the front you get, so it’s been nice this year to be able to run farther up in the front and earn that respect and earn that trust with guys that are running up there weekly, and hopefully we can continue to.  I feel like that’s where we need to be and we’ve shown that we’re capable of doing that this year, so I would say that’s the biggest difference, just the style of racing and the respect in the top five versus when you’re running for 20th.”

 

HOW DIFFERENT ARE THINGS BEHIND THE SCENES WITH YOUR NEW SPONSORS?  “It’s been really cool.  I’ve been super fortunate my entire career.  All of my sponsors that I’ve had I’ve had really good relationships with and are all incredible people and we’ve been able to build a lot of really cool things, but where Mahindra is different is it’s really the first time I’ve been aligned, with the exception of maybe on or two times, with an actual consumer brand.  You look at High Point, for example, it’s not as much of a consumer play.  It’s more of a B2B thing, whereas Mahindra is trying to sell tractors to fans and that’s something that I haven’t really had at the higher levels of NASCAR is a consumer brand as a sponsor.  It’s been cool to see the approach and what they’re trying to do to correlate that over to tractor sales and it’s been a lot of fun.  Anytime you can bring a new partner into the sport it’s special, and to be able to do it and do it in a way that we’ve been able to do it and make a big splash, and it’s all because of them.  They are obviously investing a lot, not only with the race team, but with our broadcast partners and things like that, so it’s been really cool for me.  I feel like it’s only helping my brand to let people see my personality in these commercials and things like that, so it’s been really cool.  We’re not done doing stuff yet.  There are still a lot of cool things coming down the pipe and hopefully we’ll be able to announce some of that soon.  It’s just been a lot of fun for me to see how enthusiastic they are about this race team deal and it’s been a lot of fun.”

 

WHAT WERE YOU THOUGHTS ABOUT COTA AND AUSTIN LAST YEAR?  YOU AVOIDED A LOT OF THE ISSUES OTHERS ENCOUNTERED IN THE RAIN.  “From the racetrack standpoint I’m kind of going there for the first time, just because last year I don’t think I ever ran a single lap in the dry.  I don’t think I ever ran a single lap in the dry.  I think we practice, qualified, everything in the wet, so it’s gonna be like learning a whole new racetrack this week.  I know from a facility standpoint it’s pretty remarkable.  It’s super cool to go out there.  The fan, even last year in the rain, there were a ton of them out there, so I’m excited to see what it looks like this year.  From a city standpoint, I didn’t do a ton of exploring last year, but I know Austin is a really cool town from everybody else that’s explored.  I’m gonna try to do a little bit more this year while we’re there, just because we’re there a little bit longer than typical.  I’m super excited to get back.  I’m really excited, truthfully, just to get this Next Gen car on a road course.  I think by themselves, when I’ve run them at the Roval, they’re a blast to run on the road course.  I’m curious to see what the racing will be like.  I think it will definitely change the landscape of these road course races.  I think you’re gonna see a lot more guys be competitive than year’s past because you can drive this car so much harder.  It does a lot of things a lot better than the old car, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out and plays out, but I’m super excited to get out there.  It looks like the weather is gonna be really good and it should be a great show.”

 

TONY STEWART HAS SAID YOU ARE SECURE IN YOUR SPACE AT SHR.  HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP YOU IN TERMS OF JUST BEING ABLE TO FOCUS ON RACING?  “It’s huge.  I think from a confidence standpoint it’s always hard when you’re running in that midpack area you’re always questioning, ‘Are they gonna want you back the following year?’  So running up front definitely helps, but hearing it from your owner, whether it’s Justin Marks at Trackhouse or Tony at Stewart-Haas, whenever your owner tells you, ‘Hey, you’re good.  Just go out there and do your own thing and do whatever you feel you need to do,’ it definitely gives you a confidence and it relaxes you and you just go out there and relax.  I feel like whenever you’re always questioning if you’re gonna be back or you’re really on the edge of your seat as far as coming back the next year, you start second guessing what you’re doing and when you’re second guessing, at least for me, I feel like I make the wrong decisions, so whenever you can go out there and just react and be confident and trust your abilities, I feel like it goes a long ways on the racetrack as far as results go.  I can’t speak for how Ross reacts to that, but it seems like this year he has been really really fast and up front week in and week out, so I think that goes a long way.  Like I said, I know it does for me.”

 

DID THAT WIN TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF?  “Yeah, a little bit, but just because you won once doesn’t mean you’re safe.  I think you have to keep winning and running up front, so I think it shows you’re capable and you proved that you can get it done, but, again, getting it done once is different than getting it done 10 times.  You’ve got to keep doing it and you’ve got to keep repeating and trying to be up front.  I think that’s where it’s more important.  Winning one race is really nice.  I’m not saying that.  It’s awesome to win one race, but we want to win a lot more than one.  I do think it gives you a little bit of security for a couple weeks, but this sport is so up-and-down as far as the stock side of things go.  You can win every race and then you start struggling for a couple weeks and people start questioning you.  Look at Jimmie Johnson, the guy won seven championships.  He’s an incredible race car driver and towards the end of his NASCAR career people thought he couldn’t drive and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  He’s still capable of going out and running up front.  He didn’t forget how to drive overnight, so I think you have to keep trying to run up front just because your stock is always up-and-down, but winning is definitely nice.  I feel like it gets some stress off your back for a couple weeks, but you’ve got to go to the racetrack the next week and continue to try and back it up.”

 

HOW MUCH PASSING CAN WE EXPECT WITH A DRY RACETRACK THIS WEEKEND?  “I think it’ll definitely be different.  I mean, last year’s race will look way different than this year’s race with the weather.  I think there was really good racing last year.  It’s a different style of racing when it was that wet, but from a driver’s standpoint it’s a lot of fun, just the visibility is obviously tough and then from a fan’s standpoint it’s tough to see what’s going on and a little more miserable than if it was a really nice day.  I think this car on the road courses is where it’s really gonna shine and, truthfully, on the oval stuff it’s been a lot better than what people expected.  I think the road course is probably gonna blow it out of the park.  It’s a really well-built race car, especially for road course racing.  It’s gonna be interesting to see with 40 of us out there going for it versus just a test session – what that difference looks like – but I think COTA is a really good racetrack to unveil this thing on a road course and I’ve been really excited to get there, so I’m looking forward to it.”

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS NEW CAR AT RICHMOND IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS?  “I think the racing has been good in the past, it’s just so circumstantial.  Everybody’s view of what makes it a good race is different.  Some people want to see a lot of passing.  Some people want to see the cars slipping and sliding around.  Some people want to see wrecks.  Others just want to see a close finish at the end.  That definition of a good race is different for everybody, so I think, for me at least, I think in the past Auto Club has been a blast.  I had a blast there this year, too.  Richmond, I don’t really know what to expect.  I do think this car probably creates a little more grip than the old car does at places like Richmond, but I honestly don’t know what to expect when we go to Richmond.  I think that we haven’t really seen this car on a true short track.  Yeah, Phoenix is a short track, but there’s not a lot of tire fall off, where at Richmond there’s a ton of fall off, so how does this car react to that.  It’ll definitely be interesting just how this car plays into tire saving and guys going hard and things like that.  I do think that this car everywhere we go there are a lot of comers and goers.  You have guys that are extremely good on the short run, guys that are good on the long run and with this car you’re just constantly changing positions and I think you throw in the tire fall off side of things at Richmond and it’s gonna be interesting for sure.”

 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JOHNNY KLAUSMEIER?  “I feel like from the get-go we’ve always gotten along really well.  From a personal standpoint, I feel like we’re both a lot alike.  That’s kind of been different for me than crew chiefs I’ve had in the past.  A lot of my crew chiefs aren’t as, I guess, I don’t even know what the word would be, just as laid back and relaxed as Johnny is.  So it’s been kind of different for me because normally it’s a deal where it’s hot and cold, where one guy is more amped up all the time and the other guys is really relaxed, where me and Johnny are both pretty relaxed all the time.  I think as we’ve continued to learn each other we’ve only gotten better.  Last year was tough just from the standpoint of no practice and no qualifying, trying to learn each other.  He was trying to figure out what I was even asking for sometimes.  He hasn’t worked with any sprint car guys before and just our lingo and what we look for and I felt like towards the end of last season we really started to click as far as what I liked in the race car and this year we’ve done a phenomenal job of doing the same.  I think our success on the racetrack has honestly become a lot because of having practice and having qualifying and all these things, where last year we were always trying to catch up and it just made it a real struggle.  By the end of the race I always felt like our car drove really good and we were one of the faster cars, but we were just buried from a track position standpoint.  We were already a lap down from the beginning of the race, so us being able to have practice and get our car driving really good and then go qualify and be able to start up front has been really good for our team.”

 

HOW HAS JOEY HAND HELPED YOU WITH YOUR ROAD COURSE DEVELOPMENT?  “It’s been huge.  Joey is obviously an extremely good road course racer.  He has a little bit of a dirt background, so he can kind of relate to what I go through, but it’s been huge.  Anytime you can have somebody come from a different discipline and different style driving cars and give input, it’s huge.  We’ve seen that with other manufacturers kind of doing the same thing and, for me, I like criticism.  I like people telling me what I’m doing wrong and he literally just gave me a whole sheet of things I could try different, and I think the good thing about being at the simulator and having Joey here is just the fact that you can run laps, he can see it and come out and say, ‘Hey, try this, this and this,’ and you can apply it.  You don’t have to wait until the weekend to try things.  I know last year I as definitely able to find speed in places that he was telling me to try things in the simulator.  Now we have to race against him.  I’ve been telling him all day long that I think he’s gonna be really, really good this weekend.  It’ll be interesting to see how those guys run.  This thing, in a sense, is a lot like a sports car, which is what he’s used to, so I’m excited to see him run this thing this weekend and think he’ll be one of the guys to beat.”



JOEY HAND, No. 15 Ford Pass Ford Mustang – ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH WHAT THEY’VE DONE AT COTA AND WILL IT CHANGE THE RACING?  “I haven’t been on it.  I am familiar with where they’ve re-asphalted and I’ve got some friend that have driven there in some Trans Am cars and TA2 cars.  I don’t think it’s gonna change the racing much.  It will be interesting to see how much grip the new surface has.  It’s from two all the way pretty much down to turn 11, right at the start of the brake zone for turn 11.  I think the big things is, what everybody is talking about, is there are a lot less bumps through the esses, so a lot of places where you had some big bumps finishing the esses and into that turn six area it sounds like it’s a lot smoother.  So, like we’ve been talking about here when coaching some of the guys, I don’t see the line changing.  I think it potentially is gonna be a little easier to balance the car and not have to go through these bigger bumps.  I don’t think it’ll change a lot.  I think the grip level over on the other side, like in the 12, 13, 14, 15 area, that’s been a pretty slippery spot in year’s past and I think if that adds grip – the one thing that will be interesting is what it looks like if they started the repave right at the end of the brake zone, at the end of the back straightaway so entering turn 12, so you’re gonna come off old pavement and onto new.  So, that will be interesting if the new pavement has more grip, chasing the front.  The front gets there first.  Does it grip up and get the car loose and then how do you chase that?  It will be cool of that section has more grip because that’s where you kind of see these cars just kind of idle around there, just working and trying to find that rear grip, so it will be cool if it’s better there.”



DID YOU TALK TO TRUEX AFTER THE ROVAL RACE AND DOES THAT IMPACT HOW YOU HANDLE BEING SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T RACE REGULARLY IN THE SERIES?  “I did talk with him immediately the next morning.  We were both at the Next Gen test and we both have some mutual friends – Boris Said and Justin Marks, who owns Trackhouse.  He’s one of my best friends.  I walked right up to him (Truex) and said, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean to do that, for sure.’  I just rolled off the brakes and got in the back of him and didn’t expect that at all.  It wasn’t intentional.  It wasn’t in my best interest at all, that’s for sure.  My car had been torn up.  I got dumped in the wall there and it wasn’t driving right and I shouldn’t have ever been that close to him to start with, but it’s the end of the race and there’s a lot going on, for me at least, just handing onto that thing and just rolled in there and got a piece of him.  I talked to him about it.  He was like, ‘Aw, man.  I don’t even remember that.  I was mad for 20 minutes after the race and not a problem anymore.’  So that’s how it ended.  I stood there and talked to him.  Actually, Justin Marks walked up at the same time and we had a chat.  I had never talked to him before in my life, to be honest.  A good dude.  Everybody I know that knows him says he’s a great guy and we actually chatted a couple more times during the day.  He just stopped and asked me how the car was going and what I thought and stuff like that, so no problem there, that’s for sure.  Again, it wasn’t what I meant to do, but things happen, so at least he got through the playoffs and nothing bad.”

 

DRIVER’S DON’T FORGET THOSE KIND OF INCIDENTS, BUT REPORTERS DON’T FORGET EITHER.  “It’s funny, a lot of people ask me what the best attribute is for a race car driver and I tell them, a short memory, which I have a good short memory because some days you’re gonna win and some days you’re gonna lose and the next day you’re gonna win or you might lose, so I always tell my son, who is racing, a short memory because you might be really great and the next day you’re not.  Some people, in that case with Martin, he was like, ‘Forget it, let’s move on.’  And I was the same way.  Certain times, I will say, the memory gets longer if somebody gets you in a really important time, then that memory kind of sticks in there.”

 

WHAT ARE THE SPECIAL CHALLENGES AT COTA AND WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MOST DRIVING AROUND IT? WHAT ATTRIBUTES MAKE FOR A GOOD ROAD COURSE DRIVER?  “I think the thing about COTA that people notice is you can take a lot of risks there without a lot of issues, so the worst thing if you miss the esses is you run wide, you don’t stuff it in the fence – there’s a lot of run off – so you can take a pretty high amount of risk and not really wreck your car, let’s put it that way if we’re talking about driving your own lap.  So, that’s one thing about COTA.  I think it’s a fun track.  When I went there 10 years ago at least for the first time it’s one of the more difficult tracks to learn because how you set up for the start of the esses, which is turn three, can affect you in turn seven and you can’t really get back.  If you get it wrong, seriously talking that turn seven can be wrong.  So it’s the kind of place where if you know some stuff and know a few tricks and you place your car properly, you can be much better off.  You can fight the racetrack if you don’t, so that’s a lot of stuff I’m doing here trying to help guys out, just what I’ve learned there because I just have straight up more experience because I’ve been there more – what things can get you in trouble, what doesn’t, where to place your car, where not to, things like that.  Attributes of a race car driver is probably reps.  The more reps you do anything the better off you’re gonna be, but the big thing you’re always gonna see in road racing is who’s the best on the brakes.  Most people when you’re just joking around with your buddies it’s like, ‘I’m gonna just brake when I get down there and I’m gonna do it and whatever.’  There’s no real expertise to it and everybody thinks it’s just about putting the power down.  We’ll I can teach anybody to get the power down and drive the car straight off the corner, but it’s really difficult to teach people how to really push that brake zone, how to get those downshifts done, how to manage a weight transfer and all this different stuff.  What you’ll notice in road race guys is the best of the best are the best brakers.  Look at F1, Senna was great on brakes.  Guys that are legends are normally the guys you call King of the Late Braker or just really effective on brakes, so that would be the number one attribute, I think.”

 

WHICH FORD DRIVERS HAVE STOOD OUT TO YOU IN THIS MENTORING ROLE AND WHY?  “I worked with five yesterday and this week I’m about 10 or 11 between truck, Xfinity and Cup, but everybody has a different background. Like Chase was talking about, he’s a dirt racer and so the one thing that I’ve learned when I get in here is, let’s just say one thing is I started coaching when I was 15 years old.  I started teaching at driving schools when I was young.  I started my own driving school when I was 16 years old, a karting school back in California, and one thing about coaching people is it teaches you how to drive better also because painting the picture and getting things across to people is not always the way you say it or the way you feel it that’s gonna work for them, so you’ve got to kind of quickly understand who you’re dealing with.  Chase is a dirt guy and he’s got some different lingo maybe and he likes to drive a car a little bit more free than most guys, so you have to take all that into account.  You’ve got Kevin Harvick, who has done way more laps at any of these track in these cars than I have by a lot, so when I went to Sonoma to help him I’m like, ‘How am I gonna help this guy?  He’s been doing it for 20 years at this track,’  But the thing about it is I’m trying to pick up tiny little things.  If I can help the guys that have been doing this a long time get a tenth or two, then I’ve helped them out because of how close NASCAR racing is, but I don’t think anybody stands out better than the other, but everybody is definitely different on style of how they drive and just how they need to get feedback and how it needs to be spoken to them.  It’s not a lot different for me than, the same thing what I tell my son, who is 15 years old, you need to be able to paint the picture for the engineer, for your crew chief.  That’s something that’s really helped me in my career is how to paint the picture of how the car is driving, so that they can make a change in the right direction and not just have to throw one from the hip and be a 50/50 change, right or wrong.  So the better you paint that picture, the better off you are and that goes the same in here when I’m helping these guys.  I just try to paint the picture.  I try to explain it.  I use my hands a lot.  That’s a big thing for me and us race car guys we do do that – pitch and heave and side and roll.  I will say that since I started doing this last year it’s impressive how good these guys are even though we’re talking about road courses and everybody calls me a road course specialist or ringer or whatever, but these guys know how to drive.  They just know how to drive.  They really take tips and run with them really well.”

 

IS THERE A WALL YOU HAVE TO BREAK THROUGH WHEN TALKING WITH A VETERAN LIKE HARVICK, OR ARE THEY RECEPTIVE RIGHT AWAY?  “These guys have been super receptive and it’s one of the things I was a little concerned about coming in here was how am I this guy that doesn’t even run NASCAR and these guys do it all the time, should I really be telling them what to do?  It was that kind of thing.  I was very pleasantly surprised on how receptive everybody has been, especially Kevin.  You understand why he’s done what he’s done and he’s won what he’s won.  He really studies stuff.  He spends a lot of time trying to get better, so it’s been all good.  Everybody is very receptive and we actually have a good time with it.  I get to hop in and drive a little bit, not just my time, I’ll hop in and give my feedback to them and kind of give them some direction that way also, so it’s been good.  There is no issue there.  We have fun.  I’ve got some new friends, for sure.  I spend more time with others just because of how it works out with the timing in here, but it’s been cool and cool to meet all these guys.”

 

CAN YOU GIVE ME A SENSE OF HOW THIS NEW CAR CAN POTENTIALLY BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN NASCAR AND ROAD COURSE RACING?  “It’s definitely gonna bridge that gap between the difference in driving.  When I hopped in the Gen 6 car it was very different having that 15-inch tire, kind of a balloon-ish tire, where you have to be real careful with it, it could chatter really easy.  What I noticed with the old car was like me driving 80 percent was the right amount to push that car.  As soon as I was in the race I was like, ‘I’m gonna lay one down.  This is gonna be the one,’ and add five or 10 percent, I was off the track, wide, sliding the tire, chatting the tire.  That’s the difference is, not necessarily this car is gonna be easier to drive (the Next Gen car), but it will be easier to run right on the ragged edge, so it’ll be a 95 percent car driving all the time.  The tire works better being a bit wider, being a lower profile.  The independent suspension, the sequential gearbox, it all drives a lot more like a GT car would.  It’s still very heavy, though, so that’s one of the things you still manage – roll, where you manage that weight distribution, things like that – that’s still the NASCAR feeling of it, but having some underbody downforce for the diffuser and a fairly good functioning splitter, it changed a lot.  The brake markers, let’s just say a marker-and-a-half deeper, just about that, so that’s a good bit deeper on the brakes.  I think when you compress those brake zones, the racing is gonna get better.  It is gonna be more door-to-door, I think, down into these brake zones.  It won’t be as easy to just send it down in there.  Because it’s condensed, it’s gonna be a little more about stuffing it in there and really be aggressive with your brake zones.  I have a good feeling the racing is gonna be even better.  I enjoyed my little bit there at the Roval and I’ve enjoyed watching NASCAR all my life on road courses, but I do think this is going to up the game as far as road course racing goes and, for sure, it’ll be better as far as guys leaving NASCAR, these guys going to run sports cars, it’ll be a much easier swap over other than most stuff is running ABS now in sports cars, but, other than that, the swap over will be a lot closer.  And, don’t tell anybody, but I think it will be easier coming from sports cars to here a little bit also.  I like this little bit.  My buddy, Andy Lally, is gonna be running this weekend.  I’ll get to race against my old buddy AJ Allmendinger.  We used to throw down in go karts when we were kids, and my buddy, Boris Said.  There are gonna be some road racers out there, for sure.”

 

AS A PARENT NOW OF A 15 YEAR OLD, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE IN TERMS OF RACING SERIES AND GETTING HIM THAT EXPERIENCE?  “People ask me that a lot because I”ve been in the business a long time and a lot of friends have kids at the race and just people walk up and say, ‘Hey, you’ve done it.  You’ve made it.  How do I get my kid there?’  I’m like, ‘That’s a very good question.’  I don’t know how I got here necessarily.  I know I got here with a lot of good people helping me out.  From our standpoint I will answer that question directly the way I look at it.  We don’t have enough money as a family to go race on and pick what we’re gonna race, so what I tell everybody is we’re gonna race whatever the next person says, ‘Hey, you want to come drive my car?’  We’ve had some luck lately with my son, not jumping off topic, with that situation – a friend, somebody that’s kind of helped him out a little bit with karting and travel and stuff like that, that has some stock cars said, ‘Hey, you want to come drive our stock car one night on an oval, a late model?’  And he was able to do that and that was his first drive, but I’m not big on picking a direction.  I don’t think that’s the way to do it.  I’m more of a throwback, old-school kind of a guy where I think you should just drive everything.  I’m more on the Larson frame of mind, where sit in a sprint car, sit in a late model, sit in a stock car – whatever you can get into – a prototype, whatever.  But in our situation specifically, it’s gonna be whatever somebody offers up as a test and go drive it.  My goal for him is be prepared to capitalize on opportunities.  That’s all I did.  Somebody said, ‘Come drive my sprint car.’  ‘OK.’  ‘Come test the formula car.’  ‘OK.’  But I don’t think there’s any better thing than being versatile in this day and age and being able to jump in something and go fast, and I really don’t think being young is that big of a deal.  I don’t think you have to be 13, 14, 15 and driving a stock car right now.  I moved on.  My first race car racing season I was 19 years old in 1998, so I think it’s more about being prepared.  We’re not rushing anything, that’s for sure, and what I would tell people is I would just say be ready for the opportunity and that means reps – practice, race, whatever you can do.  Be ready for whatever opportunity comes.”

 

DO YOU SEE OTHER PARENTS ARE IN A HURRY?  THAT IF THEIR CHILD IS 15 OR 16 THEY SHOULD BE AT A CERTAIN POINT ALREADY?  “I see that pressure all the time and that’s what I’m saying.  I think that you can be ready at a young age, but you don’t have to be.  I know the reason I got jobs in my career mostly was because I could finish the deal.  I could race and I could finish.  I would be a guy that you’d want to put in when it was time to get going and finish it up.  I think that’s the most important thing.  If you’re not ready and you move on, it’s not any different than any other sport – a guy comes out of high school and instead of playing college or whatever and then is not ready and he doesn’t make it the whole way or he’s out, you don’t know his name in a few years.  I just think you need to be ready for whatever you’re gonna do and there’s no real timing.  I mean, unfortunately you get in your early twenties and stuff people just kind of judge you and say you’re too old, but when we’re talking about teenage kids I think it can be a little bit of anything.  If I had a choice for him, when I see this kind of racing and having NASCAR going towards Next Gen stuff and seeing the way the cars drive and seeing where IMSA and sports car racing is going right now, these kids that are coming up through right now – it’s a great time to be a race car driver if you’re trying to make it up through because there’s a lot of opportunity coming in sports cars because of the great leadership there and what they’re doing with all that.  As far as I’m concerned, when talking about my kid and maybe I’ll teach him that this Next Gen car is a great place for him to go, too, because I will have some experience.”

 

DO YOU SEE THE NASCAR NEXT GEN CAR DRIVING SIMILAR TO A SPORTS CAR?  “Oh yeah, for sure, but the big thing is always gonna be downforce.  Obviously, prototypes right now are the highest level of downforce.  We’re talking about sports cars and not Indy Car or F1, but in our world here, sports cars, we’re talking about prototypes have high downforce and the GT has high downforce now too.  The GT3 spec, which is where everything is gonna go to and is going to is a pretty high downforce car – not huge horsepower, but plenty and then it has ABS, that’s really the big difference.  The Next Gen car, again we have a huge difference in downforce from the old car, especially coming from the bottom of the car with the diffuser and the splitter, so it’s definitely more in that direction.  I would say the Cup car just drives a little more sideways.  You would always drive this car a little more yaw just because it has a little bit less downforce.  Obviously, when we go up on downforce we drive the car much straighter, we drive the cars into push more, understeer more.  In the Next Gen car, that will be the case in some of the higher speed corners when the diffuser is really making downforce, but up off these slow corners – first gear corners at a lot of these tracks – you’re still gonna see the cars drive in a similar manner, where guys are working throttle and working the yaw and trying to get traction, trying to put traction into action.  You’re still gonna see that.”

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