ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 JOCKEY CAMARO ZL1
Has it hit you yet that you're going to be running for a Cup Series championship?
"Honestly, no. I know we are preparing to win races and have been working really hard all season. It’s the Cup Series, and its wild to me that we're going for a championship. When I look back to the races I was running in the Truck Series in 2012, and I was starting and parking, it's wild to think that as recently as 2018 I was still doing some start and parks - the truck race at St. Louis. It humbling to think just a few years ago I was doing that just to get to the track."
When you're doing autograph sessions and you see a big crowd, do you look out and think 'wow, this really did happen?'
"I just laugh. I can't believe anyone would want to come listen to me, or get an autograph. I just laugh."
How does it feel to have someone come up to you and say they want to get involved in racing because of you?
"It feels good. I got into racing because Matt Martin, Mark Martin's son, would race at my local track and that is who I wanted to be like. There's avenues across the country at local tracks that kids can get into go karts, flat karts, champ karts, shifter karts, and then once you get above 10 years old now, there's full size cars that you can race against other kids. It’s something that kept me out of trouble. Even if I never raced in NASCAR, from 12-18 it gave me that passion that I didn't find in soccer. It gave me the desire to come home and work on my racecar with my dad and grand dad, and friends and family."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BREZTRI CAMARO ZL1
You’ve had success at Daytona International Speedway. How do you negotiate staying out of the wrecks throughout the race so that you can be in contention at the end?
“It’s tough. It’s a game of putting yourself in position. I call it high-speed chess because you know at some point in time you’re going to be vulnerable. You hope that someone doesn’t take advantage of that too much and cause a big wreck. It’s one of those things where you are constantly moving and trying to guess the flow of the pack. I think the best place to be is in the front most of the time, but it’s impossible now with the way we race to keep yourself up there for the entire race. You see guys do it for long periods of time. Denny Hamlin has been pretty amazing at putting himself in the right position as of late. I’m going to do my best this time around to put ourselves in position.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Larson on how the team attacks Daytona International Speedway with so many points and playoff implications:
"It’ll be interesting. It’ll be a wild race – maybe not in the first two stages – but definitely in the last stage when drivers will be going for it. In our case, there are four or five of us close to second place in points. The No. 5 team can’t forget about that. We need to go chase points to try and stay up front all race long to finish second in regular season points and get those 10 extra bonus points. Our goal will be to get to the finish and beat those guys behind us in points."
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Daniels on earning points Saturday night to possibly secure second in the regular season standings:
"We certainly want to get all the points we can and we’ll try to be smart in the first two stages to be in position to get points. It’s really going to be about staying clean. A lot of guys are going to try to get that win to get themselves in the playoffs. We need to be smart about positioning ourselves in the field and hopefully call a good strategy. Would be nice to have a good finish and good points in all the stages to just get what we can."
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 A SHOC CAMARO ZL1
Elliott on what the feeling is as the team prepares to run for another championship:
"The feeling is good, honestly. Our group, amongst our team, is just such low drama and we just put our work in, we go to the track, we give it our best effort and we go home. If it went good, great. If it didn’t, we’re going to try harder to do a better job when we go back. That’s really all you can control. So that’s really where our mindset is every week whether we’ve had a good year, a bad year, a mediocre year, a good month or a bad month, coming off a win or a loss. That is something about our team. I’m super privileged to have a group of guys that have their priorities so straight that performance (is what matters) and putting things first that need to go first ahead of things that don’t matter in order to be successful. I feel like our team is just solid and we look forward to going to battle with each other every weekend, and regardless of the result, we’re ready to re-rack and try harder to do better the next week."
Elliott on superspeedway racing:
"When I sit back and I look at the plate races, yes there are a lot of things that need to go your way, but we see the same guys up front winning those races more times than not. To me, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin are two guys that I see putting themselves in position to win those races as consistently as one can. I think that it’s just a balance that you really have to try to find and it’s one that I can’t say that I’ve really found quite as good as those guys to have odds as good as them. You’ve got to have a knack for it. You’ve got to enjoy it and embrace it. To me, that’s kind of step one of figuring it out is just embracing it. I feel like I’ve embraced it. I don’t know about the figuring it out part, but it’s been embraced."
DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 16 CIRKUL CAMARO ZL1
“Heading to Daytona, I am excited to have a fresh start after Watkins Glen. Our guys at Kaulig Racing have been working super hard to prepare our superspeedway cars. I’m also excited to be back in the cup car with Kaulig Racing after a couple really good runs together earlier in the season, including the Daytona 500. Our awesome partner, Cirkul, will be onboard for both races, which is extremely special. Hopefully we can stay clean until the end with our teammates."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1
Byron on the last race before the playoffs:
"I’m excited to get to Daytona (International Speedway) this weekend. This is the first year that we have been solidly locked into the playoffs with multiple wins, meaning there’s less stress heading into this race compared to normal. That doesn’t mean, though, that we are going to take it easy by any means. There’s still playoff points on the line this weekend, and with how much of a wild card Daytona can be, any extra points we can get before the first round (of the playoffs) gets underway, the better. Daytona is a track we’ve always been fast at, and we were for sure fast in the (DAYTONA) 500 earlier this year. We just need to do a good job of managing the details we can and put ourselves in position to battle for the win at the end and carry some good momentum into Darlington for the Round of 16."
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 AXALTA CAMARO ZL1
Fugle on what he expects at Daytona:
"The No. 24 team has always seemed to have speed at Daytona (International Speedway) in both last year’s car, the Next Gen car as well as the Hendrick Motorsports organization as a whole over the years. I feel like this weekend should be no different. We were fast in the DAYTONA 500 and could really make moves it seemed like. The main difference this time, though, is that it will be much warmer now then it was at that time. That means handling will play a bigger factor than it did in February. We won’t have any practice time but I feel like we have a good idea of what to expect. It will just be about adapting early on and putting ourselves in a position to be there at the end."
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
"Daytona has always been a great track for me. It’s super special that Matt and Chris are letting me drive their race car. I always enjoy that Friday night Xfinity Race. It’s also cool to bring a new sponsor to the sport (DaaBIN Store), and it’s a huge deal for them to be at a big race like Daytona. Having a good team, strategy and spotter are vital. Everything just needs to sync up to be able to pull off a win at Daytona. It's a pretty cool opportunity for Matt to have four shots at getting a trophy. I am excited for it, as well as competing in the race on Friday night in our No. 31 Celsius Camaro in a race that I have won in the past."
TY DILLON, NO. 42 THORNTONS CAMARO ZL1
“I’m excited to go to Daytona this week with our Thorntons Camaro ZL1. Superspeedway racing is always exciting, you never know what the result can be, and you’ve got to put yourself in a good position to be at the end of the race. I’ve done well at that in the past, so it is a great opportunity to get ourselves into the playoffs.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 FOCUSFACTOR CAMARO ZL1
You are in a must win situation heading into this weekend’s race at Daytona. How do you feel about your chances?
“We’re focused on Daytona. We’ve been putting a lot of work into our Daytona car to get it better, get it ready and prepped the way we want too. I feel like our superspeedway stuff has been good, we just need to take advantage of it. We’re definitely focused on winning and making our way into the Playoffs.”
How do you approach a race at Daytona where there can be a lot of chaos to be there at the end with a chance to win?
“Earlier this season at Talladega, we kind of just pushed hard all day and we were up front and had a shot to win. I hope to have a similar race like that. Just be up front and avoid the chaos for the most part. We’ll see. It’s different every week, every race on the superspeedways. You have to be mindful of how everyone’s running and judge it from that.”
You’ve won at Daytona and have run well at Talladega, so that has to be good for your confidence. What is the mindset heading into the race this weekend?
“It’s confident. I know we can go do it, I know we can run well there, and I know we can have a shot to win. We just have to execute and hope we’re staying out of trouble and avoid a lot of the chaos and be up there and have a shot. We’ll see. It’s going to be tough for sure to just be there at the end to have a chance, but I feel good about our speed we’re going to have for sure.”
Do you think you will be able to find friends to push you or help you throughout the race?
“I think we’ll have a fast car for sure, so I think there’s going to be people who will want to work with us just because of that. I think speedway’s get a little separated from the other races of the year because of who’s fast and who has a chance. If we’ve got a fast car, I think we’ll find some friends throughout the race.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER / NOS CAMARO ZL1
“I feel good going into Daytona. I feel like we have unfinished business there. We were able to lead the Daytona 500 and with six laps to go, we were battling for the win until we got wrecked. We still have something to finish there.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Bowman on making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year with Hendrick Motorsports:
"Obviously, I am excited to be back in the playoffs again. It’s no secret that we have had our struggles this summer, but I know we have a lot of smart people at the shop working really hard to get us out of the summer slump we have been in. Two years ago, we struggled to make the playoffs and then had one of the best playoff runs I have ever had. We all know what we are capable of. It’s time to go out there and execute and try to win Hendrick Motorsports’ 15th championship."
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Ives on heading to Daytona:
"Daytona (International Speedway) is a place that you can get caught in someone else’s mess pretty quickly. So for us it’s all about doing the fundamentals - bringing a fast No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and continue to work on the ability to be aggressive. I think you have to be a little aggressive at these speedway-style racetracks, be able to make moves quickly and have confidence in the car in order to have success. We are going to continue to work hard and execute on Saturday."
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 62 BEARD MOTORSPORTS / SOUTHPOINT CAMARO ZL1
You recently announced that you’ll compete in the NASCAR Cup Series fulltime next year with Petty GMS Racing. With the slate of Cup Series races you’re running this year, do you feel like you’re in a much better position to succeed next year because of the seat time you’re getting this year with the NextGen car?
“I think the opportunity with Beard Motorsports and Kaulig Racing have helped. I know how raw I was getting into the Cup car to start the season and how much I’ve learned since then with more experience. That’s definitely been a big help. And with these guys having a full season under their belt this year, if I were to hop in cold turkey next year, it’d definitely be a lot more challenging. But just getting the understanding of the car and how they feel and the level of competition, all of that has helped.”
You now have 10 career NASCAR Cup Series starts under your belt, all with the NextGen car. What is it like to drive that car compared to the Xfinity Series car you race fulltime?
“There are differences just with the car itself. I’ve noticed you have to drive it a lot straighter than the Xfinity car, but I’ve gained more and more experience and more and more confidence each and every race. We’re a little behind just because these guys get to race them each and every week. Every gain that I’ve made during each of my 10 starts this year, they’ve been making them every week and can re-adapt to that week in and week out. It’s a little bit challenging, but I feel like I’ve gotten a better feel for it than I had at the beginning of the season.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 FREEWAY INSURANCE CAMARO ZL1
With a playoff spot secured, what is your strategy Saturday night?
"We are going down there to win both stages and then win the race. That's always our strategy. We want trophies. If you do that the points will always take care of themselves."
Do you think this team can make a deep playoff run? Are you a championship team?
"I think we are. I think we are. The beautiful part is that we get stronger as we go. If you were asking me that question three months ago, I was going to tell you, man, we have work to do. We have the potential, but we have work to do. Two months ago I was starting to believe more. A month ago I would say, heck, yeah. Right now, of course we are here. We just keep getting stronger. I guarantee you in a month from now we’re going to be stronger than right now. We’re going to keep working."