Phoenix Raceway is your best track, statistically, but New Hampshire isn’t far off from your results at Phoenix. Four career wins and eight top-fives in the last 11 races is proof of that. Are there similarities between Phoenix and New Hampshire?
“Flat tracks have always been really good for me in my career. When you look at SHR and the things we’ve been able to accomplish at Loudon and Phoenix, they’ve kind of followed that same trend. A lot of that goes back to that open test time we had at Milwaukee and Nashville. Those are the places where we would practice and practice and practice. Our guys have done a great job of having a good short-track, flat-track program, and Loudon is a place that has followed along with Phoenix and the success that we’ve had there and to be able to capitalize on that success and continue it at another track.”
New Hampshire always seems to be a race that is circled on your calendar. Is it even more so this year because of how you’ve run at Phoenix (sixth) and Richmond (second) – tracks that have some similar characteristics to New Hampshire?
“The flat-track stuff definitely has been good for us, and we’re going there knowing we’re going to have some options to move around the racetrack and be able to kind of hunt for a line that works for our GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang.”
What is it about this style of track when combined with the NextGen car that seems to really suit your driving style?
“The trend is that we’ve been good there in pretty much all the stuff that we’ve ever raced there, so hopefully we can keep that trend going as we go back.”
Is horsepower less of an issue at New Hampshire because it’s relatively flat and only a mile in length, or do you need to really be able to pull off the corner and down the straightaway to make a fast lap? Or is a fast lap more about getting through each corner well?
“For us, a lot of that depends on the tire falloff and where things go from the handling of the car and what the pace is. You definitely still have to have good power, it just comes in a different range, and a lot of places we’ve gone this year, we’ve shifted, so New Hampshire will probably be the same way. You’ll probably be shifting in every corner.”
New Hampshire has been treated with PJ1 and with resin. Have you lobbied NASCAR for one over the other – PJ1 versus resin – at New Hampshire?
“I would prefer nothing. With this particular car, it seems like they naturally move around the racetrack and slide and do things that the other car didn’t do, and I think they put so much PJ1 on all these racetracks that it’s going to be there forever. The last time we raced there, they didn’t spray it at all and we were still able to move around the track because the PJ1 was still there.”
You get a giant lobster for winning at New Hampshire. Other than scaring your kids with it in victory lane, what do you do with it?
“My lobster, they mounted on a board. It sat in a closet and his claws fell off and some of his arms and legs fell off, so we took the lobster off the board and we used the board for a skateboard ramp. That was what happened to my first lobster because he just fell apart and we used the board for Keelan’s skateboard ramp.”
You’re a big proponent of grassroots racing, and grassroots racing is big in New England. What’s your take on the racing scene in New England?
“I learned that back in 2009 when we ran the Oxford 250. We spent a week up there practicing and racing, and I think 110 cars showed up for the Oxford 250 and we were fortunate to win that race. You open up every newspaper in the region the next morning and it was about the Oxford 250. From that very day forward, the same guys that I raced with will come to the garage and say, ‘Hi,’ and talk about that particular weekend, and you hear fans talk about being at that particular race. Really, the Oxford 250 had kind of given me a little bit of a leg up on everybody because I was able to interact with those fans on a regional basis and be able to have that stick with me for a long time. I haven’t been able to go back and do that event again, but having that experience up there allowed me to connect and realize how big racing was in the Northeast.”