KYLE, YOU HAVEN’T RACED HERE HAVE YOU? YOU’VE RACED CLOSE BY, BUT NOT AT WORLD WIDE TECHNOLOGY RACEWAY. CAN YOU TELL US HOW YOU’VE PREPARED FOR THIS? ARE YOU EXCITED AND WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO?
“Yeah, I haven’t raced here. I’ve raced at Tri-City (Speedway), which is 15 minutes from here. Pevely (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55), which is probably 35 minutes; and then at the Dome. So, I’ve raced all around it, but never here.
I’m excited. I haven’t had too much time at all to prepare. I hadn’t gotten to run any laps here to test or nothing on a simulator. So, we’ll get the hang of it hopefully quickly here later on today. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ve always wanted to race here, so it’s nice that we have Cup weekend here now.”
DID YOU WANT TO DO THE SIM AND JUST COULDN’T GET IN; OR DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE JUST SO USED TO COMING TO TRACKS AND LEARNING THEM THAT YOU DIDN’T NEED TO?
“No – my schedule is just pretty busy and by the time I realized it was Gateway week, I realized I was racing every day this week. So, just didn’t have time. I wasn’t at home at all. But I think it will be fine. I go to more new race tracks than anybody does on our circuit, so I feel like I adapt pretty quickly. Usually we have a really good track record at tracks we go to the first time and hopefully this weekend is no different.”
WHAT IS THE KEY TO GETTING UP TO SPEED AT A NEW TRACK? CAN YOU GO ALL-OUT THE FIRST COUPLE OF LAPS? DO YOU HAVE TO WORK UP TO IT?
“Usually I think you work up to it just a little bit. All of us have a lot of experience in racing stock cars and going to new tracks that I feel like you’re kind of close to those limits even right off the bat and then you can find them pretty quickly. I don’t think you’re going to see anybody struggling or anybody way better than the next person. I think we’re all really good drivers and we will all figure it out quickly. I’ll definitely probably try and brake sooner than what I think is the potential and then kind of creep up to it.”
SHIFTING ON OVALS HAS OBVIOUSLY HAPPENED MORE THIS YEAR THAN EVER BEFORE. DRIVERS HAVE SAID IT MAKES IT HARDER TO PASS AND IT DOESN’T MAKE THE RACING GOOD ON OVALS. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THAT? DOES IT MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT?
“Yes – I think it makes it tougher to pass because it keeps your pace up it seems. If the lap times start to slow down, you start downshifting to go faster. I think we’ve all learned that you need pace falloff to pass. Now with shifting, the pace doesn’t fall off quite as much, so it makes things a little tougher. These cars and the aerodynamics makes things a little tougher, as well.
We’ll see. I don’t know how this place will be this weekend. I definitely think it will be hard to pass, whether we would be shifting or not. I think it’s just a pretty flat, looks like high grip, style race track. Those are typically hard to pass on, so with shifting, who knows. Regardless, I think it will be difficult to pass anyways.”
TWO WEEKS AGO, WE RAN THE ALL-STAR RACE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AFTER SO MANY YEARS OF RUNNING IT AT CHARLOTTE; AND THEN AT BRISTOL AND TEXAS AGAIN. AFTER THE SUCCESS OF THE BUSCH CLASH, WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE ALL-STAR RACE NOW?
“I don’t know – It’s kind of, I feel like, in Marcus Smith’s hands. Whatever they want to do, I think we’re all OK with. Maybe not OK with, but we’re going to be there.
I’m not really sure. I don’t think Texas (Motor Speedway) – I hate to be another one of the guys to bash it – but it’s not a good track at all. It just doesn’t produce good racing and it’s tough to have an exhibition-style race there when the track isn’t very racy at all.
I think we’d all like to see it move around probably. You look at other sports, all-star games and stuff – they move from city to city each year. I think maybe the cities and the arenas are taking bids on it, I’m not sure. But I think that would be a fun thing to do; move the All-Star Race around. I think it would add some excitement to the event.”
I’M CURIOUS ABOUT ADDING THE CHUTE AT SONOMA (RACEWAY). SINCE YOU WON THERE LAST YEAR, HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL CHANGE THE DYNAMIC?
“I don’t know. They raced there forever with I think the layout they were going to now. I’m sure it will be a lot like those races, I would guess.”
DO YOU THINK HAVING THE DIRT TRACK GOING FULL BLOWN RIGHT NOW DURING GATEWAY WEEK THAT IT IS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO BRING PEOPLE BACK AND FORTH FROM ONE TRACK TO THE OTHER AND BUILD THE FAN BASE BETWEEN THE TWO SERIES?
“Yeah, I hope so. The crowd was really big last night. I wish it would have been a day later and I wish we could have raced there tomorrow night at Tri-City (Speedway) because I think Saturday night would be extremely big. But I think tonight with the World of Outlaws Late Models and sprint cars with myself running a late model; I think (Alex) Bowman and (Chase) Briscoe are running sprint cars. I’m not sure if (Christopher) Bell is running or not. But yeah, it should be an even bigger crowd I would imagine.
It’s exciting. The crossover is always good.”
IT WAS ANNOUCED THIS WEEK THAT PHOENIX (RACEWAY) WILL HOST THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE AGAIN NEXT SEASON. WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT A FOURTH YEAR OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE BEING HELD AT PHOENIX?
“I think Phoenix is a great area to host the championship weekend. It’s got a great amount of grandstands that always seem to sell out, which is good. It adds to the atmosphere. And two, again like going to the All-Star Race, I would say ‘oh it should move from city to city’. But November in some states is difficult to put a race on, so you have to think about that. There are only a handful of tracks that could really host the championship weekend and not be concerned with the weather forecast. I think that’s why it was in Florida for a long time and then they moved it to Arizona. Phoenix (Raceway) is a difficult track to pass on, but I feel like there are moments where it can be more exciting than an intermediate-style track if you get a late race caution and things like that.
I’m not sure if that answers your question, but I think it’s OK. In the future, yeah I would like to see it move around, as well. But I think there is just a small group of tracks that it could really move to.”
THERE HAS BEEN SOME BETTER RACING AT INTERMEDIATE TRACKS. THIS CAR SEEMS TO WORK AT BIGGER TRACKS. INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY IS A BEAST IN ITSELF, BUT WITH SOME OF THE SUCCESS ON INTERMEDIATE TRACKS, DOES THAT GIVE YOU ANY HOPE THAT THESE CARS COULD RUN BETTER ON THE OVAL THAN WHAT THEY HAVE?
“Well, I think Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is just a difficult track. You can look at even the IndyCar race this year – it wasn’t that exciting and those cars build really big runs. So, I still think it would be not very good racing for us. And it seems like with these cars and the way the air runs off the back, I think it could have the potential of being even worse than normal, just because it’s a flat track.
As a driver, I would love to win on the oval there. But the road course is, to me, more exciting racing. I’m not sure if more people tune into the race because it’s on the road course or more people show up because it’s on the road course. But I know, excitement-wise, it’s probably a little bit better on the road course. Prestige-wise, I think we would all love it on the oval.”
ARE YOU PLANNING TO RUN THE KNOXVILLE TRUCK RACE?
“No – Never running a dirt truck race again (laughs).”
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON THE OFF WEEK?
“Nothing – just taking it off.”
I KNOW YOU HAVEN’T BEEN HERE, BUT ARE YOU ANTICIPATING IT TO BE SORT OF LIKE NEW HAMPSHIRE OR PHOENIX? HOW WILL THIS TRACK RACE COMPARED TO OTHERS?
“I watched a little bit of onboard from somebody who was here testing in the Chevy – I think it was (Justin) Allgaier). It kind of reminded me of a blend of New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) and Phoenix (Raceway). I don’t know until I get out there, but that’s kind of where my brain is at right now. I don’t think there’s another race track that we run that you could compare it to. I think those two are good comparisons. I feel like the pavement grip level would probably be similar to Phoenix. I think that end kind of looks more like (turns) one and two of Phoenix; and then I think this end is probably a tighter New Hampshire maybe.”