TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR WEEK HAS BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR FIRST CAREER NASCAR CUP SERIES WIN AT ROAD AMERICA.
“It’s been really busy. The funny part is, I already knew I was going to have a really busy week between Road America and coming here to Atlanta (Motor Speedway). But the win just made that a little bit crazier. We had a lot of things going on. We had to do some flying commercially for other things before the win, so it didn’t really change my week up that much, other than doing a little bit of media on Friday. But yeah, it’s been a busy week, so I haven’t had a lot of time to relax, other than try and relax all I could on Monday.
The week flew by. It felt like two, three days went by and here we are back at the track. That’s not a bad thing.”
THE LAST TIME HERE, YOU HAD A RIGHT REAR ISSUE. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THAT OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ALL HAVE FIGURED OUT WHAT THOSE ISSUES WERE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE?
“It’s in the back of my head, for sure. But the one thing that was really interesting about those failures between myself, Ross Chastain and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is that we were quite a bit different on a lot of the rear suspension settings. So that kind of leads me to believe that it wasn’t necessarily how we had our car setup or even how they had their car setup.. maybe it was something else. But certainly having the bumps off of turn two – the really big bump that we had – smoothed down I think will help with that. They’ve obviously made some changes; put some hash marks around the race track, which I think is a good thing. They’ve worked on the front straightaway a little bit, rounding the wall.
Yeah, I mean I guess I still have those concerns. But honestly there’s not much we can do about it. If they do present themselves again, we’ll go out there and run the best race possible, and hopefully we’re in a position where that won’t happen again. There was I’d say probably about 15 or 16 other Chevrolet’s out there that didn’t have that problem, so hopefully we don’t have any this time around.”
WITH THIRTEEN DIFFERENT WINNERS, DO YOU FEEL SAFE GETTING INTO THE PLAYOFFS?
“I feel safe just in the sense of the speed that we’ve had. Yeah we got that win, which is great. But I don’t feel safe and we’re by no means going to relax a little bit and kind of glide through the rest of the regular season. There are huge opportunities in front of us every single week now to really double down on what we’ve been doing. It worked in our favor last Sunday.
The goal still remains.. to go out there and win races. Nothing changes there. We just have the relief of getting that first win and validation that ‘hey, we can go out there and do this’, so that’ll just continue to be our goal. We’ll try and win some more.”
DO YOU WALK INTO THE GARAGE AREA A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THIS WEEK THAN LAST?
“Yeah, I wore a rain jacket because it’s pouring (laughs). It’s pretty wet out there. But yeah that’s the big difference, really.”
QUESTION ABOUT YOUR CAR THIS WEEKEND – ARE YOU RUNNING THE DIGITAL DASH CAMERA IN ADDITION TO THE MIRROR?
DO YOU DO THAT AT ALL THE RACES?
“There were a couple that we didn’t. I think Martinsville and Richmond, we opted not to use it. Unfortunately, I noticed right away how much I was using the camera, even though in my mind I was using the mirror above the camera. We have them placed kind of similarly together. So that was pretty interesting those two races that we didn’t have it; going through the process of not having it and just ultimately waking up to the fact that I used the camera a lot more than I thought. So yeah, we pretty much run it everywhere.”
DO YOU USE IT PRETTY MUCH EXCLUSIVELY INSTEAD OF THE MIRROR? I’VE HEARD SOME GUYS SAY THE MIRROR DOESN’T REALLY GIVE YOU THE FULL PICTURE?
“It’s a little difficult. I’m glad we have both with the slots in the rear windshield. Just depending on the time of the day. We haven’t really raced in the rain or anything like that. But we did the Martinsville test when it was wet and having that camera was beneficial to some of that. I pretty much have gotten used to using it a lot. If I could tell you what I look at first every single time I look up, I couldn’t tell you. I’m probably looking at both. They both have their advantages. You kind of know and have a good comfort with the old school, standard mirror. But you can see certain things with the camera that you wouldn’t necessarily see with your standard mirror.”
IT SEEMS AS IF A STREET RACE ANNOUCEMENT FOR NEXT SEASON COULD BE SOON. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? HAVE YOU EVER DONE A STREET RACE BEFORE AND DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON WHAT NASCAR SHOULD BE LOOKING AT IN TERMS OF MAKING SURE THESE CARS WILL RUN WELL ON A STREET COURSE?
“Street racing isn’t necessarily legal, so I can’t really say I’ve done it before.. (laughs).
The street course idea is a cool one. I was excited to see what we did on iRacing and put together the Chicago street course. That idea is very exciting to me. I haven’t had a lot of experience on road courses. They’ve been kind of new to me over the last couple of years. But the thought of a street course to me has been really exciting. I really enjoyed the (Charlotte) ROVAL at first because of some of the corners you have there - you make a mistake in turn one at the ROVAL and there’s a barrier. You overstep it a little bit in (turn) two and there’s another barrier. I think the thought of that could be really exciting.
I feel like we just have to make sure it’s not too narrow. It seems like Chicago could work, so I’m excited for it. I just hope we don’t lose a track that is also really good for us, too.”
AUSTIN (DILLON) WAS VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS.. BUT IN YEARS PAST, ONE WIN CAN OPEN THE FLOOD GATES FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. DO YOU FEEL THAT RCR IS IN A POSITION TO GET A WIN FOR THE NO. 3 CHEVROLET AND ANOTHER WIN FOR YOU?
“Yeah, absolutely. There has been a races this year where Austin (Dillon) has just been consistently up front all race long. Unfortunately it hasn’t been as frequently as they’ve hoped, but they’ve done a really good job when they’ve had that speed to stay up front all day, capitalize on it and get a good finish. That could happen anywhere. You look at the speed he had at Road America; I think they were pretty close to where they want to be. So it could be anywhere for either one of us. I would like to win again, but I would really like to have my teammate in the playoffs with me so that we can both take a shot at this as the season unfolds.”
HOW BIG OF A RELIEF IS IT TO GET THE MONKEY OFF YOUR BACK WITH YOUR FIRST WIN AND DOES IT MAKE YOU MORE AGGRESSIVE IN THESE NEXT EIGHT RACES GOING INTO THE PLAYOFFS?
“It was really nice to check that off the list. It was a huge sense of relief. It’s validation for all of us.
On the aggressive side of things, I don’t necessarily think I need to get any more aggressive. I think the big thing has just been to manage the race for us and manage risk versus reward. I don’t know if anything really changes for us as a team. We just won a race last time we were on the race track. I think we’ve been dialing it in and are closer to where we need to be as a group, and obviously we were in a great spot Sunday.”
THE XFINITY RACES YOU’RE RUNNING LATER ON, DO YOU PICK THOSE RACES OR HOW DOES THAT WORK?
“In a sense, yeah I kind of got to pick and choose. But two, I was kind of like ‘we’ll run as many as you want’. It’s worked out and they’ve enjoyed having me. We’ve been able to go out and win a race. We’ve had a lot of speed at a lot of the races. Unfortunately I’ve made mistakes.. I’ve done some things that I normally don’t do on Sunday’s.
Unfortunately to Big Machines’ demise on Saturday at Road America, I drove through too many boxes leaving and had I not made that mistake with them, I may have made it on Sunday. So running both has been beneficial. Obviously I’m not just using Saturday to learn for Sunday.. I want to go out and win with that group again. It’s been helping me, for sure.”
WOULD YOU CREDIT YOUR EXPERIENCE LAST SATURDAY IN THE XFINITY RACE IN THE NO. 48 CAR IN HELPING YOU WIN ON SUNDAY?
“In ways, yes. It’s not as big of a benefit as it used to be. The braking points, the handling characteristics of the car are a lot different now. After spending so much time in the Cup car and it being awhile since I’ve run a Xfinity car on a road course, I just forgot how scary and sketchy the Xfinity cars are. You have one little mistake or a little bit of wheel hop and you’re gone. In the Cup car, you can just attack, attack, attack. Those cars are pretty hard to upset. They’re a lot different for sure now.”
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU RAN FOR BLOOMQUIST AND YOU’VE HAD SUCCESS ON DIRT IN CALIFORNIA GROWING UP. BUT WHEN YOU GOT IN A CAR, WERE YOU FAST RIGHT AWAY AND PEOPLE WERE LIKE ‘THAT KID HAS IT’? DID IT TAKE YOU A FEW YEARS TO WORK UP TO IT? AT WHAT POINT IN YOUR LIFE WERE PEOPLE LIKE ‘REDDICK SEEMS TO HAVE SPEED’?
“It seemed like getting 80 percent of the way there, like hopping in something and getting up to speed, for me growing up was never really a problem. It’s always kind of been the little things that I struggle with in the Cup Series.. just closing out the whole race. In dirt late models, it’s kind of the same thing, ironically. I’ve never even thought about that until you asked me.
But yeah, when I jumped from the different classes running outlaw karts when I was younger, I felt like I kind of could get right where I needed to be and be competitive right away. Jumping into a midget, kind of got up to speed right away. When I was younger, non-wing sprint cars were the same thing. The late model was the one that was kind of surprising. It was so much different. I had never really driven a car with fenders or a body on it. I was able to get up to speed pretty quickly in that heavy of a car.
I’ve kind of, thankfully, always had that on dirt. On asphalt, it was a little bit different when I hoped in a ran it. Mobile, Alabama, with Schrader for the first time, I was getting lapped like crazy. I had no idea what I was doing. I got to the bigger tracks where you’re sliding the car around, like Rockingham for my first NASCAR K&N start, it just seemed to come quick. Just that type of racing, where you’re sliding the car and having to kind of use your car control, really helped me to be able to be aggressive.. go out there and make the mistake, catch the car, learn from it, move on and get closer and closer. That’s just the way that I learned growing up.”
“I’m guessing I just learned a lot of those tendencies and that driving style from outlaw karts because a lot of things would just happen really, really fast. You’d have to bend it in the corner and you might be too sideways to straighten it up, back and forth. We were running around places like Cycleland and Red Bluff. Cycleland was kind of the big, wide open, run the fence, run the cushion, kind of track. Almost reminded me of Knoxville a little bit to scale for those outlaw karts. And then Red Bluff was your little bullring, where you have to muscle up; drive it in there, be aggressive. I just think racing those outlaw karts, in my opinion, just kind of laid down the great foundation for me with helping me with car control.
A couple years ago, I went out and got to drive a car around Cycleland again for the first time in like 10 years. I’m a lot older now and I go 180-190 mph around a race track, but the speed I had at Cycleland was kind of surprising. So I think I just learned a lot of great things from those cars. If you get a chance to ask Kyle (Larson) about it too, I’m sure he would have some interesting opinions. But I feel like I learned a lot of who I am as a driver from those outlaw karts.”