THE NASCAR RACE TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP DOCUMENTARY COMES OUT NEXT WEEK, WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE A PART OF THAT?
“Yeah, honestly, I haven’t had to do a whole lot with it. I think they came to my house one morning and followed us around to Millbridge (Speedway) one night. Other than that, I think they have been collecting stuff behind the scenes and like from a distance. So, it’s been nice that it hasn’t been like in our face all the time, so honestly, I don’t even know what they have captured. I am excited to see it next week and I think it will turn out really good and I hope all the fans will really enjoy it.”
HOW WAS TIME AWAY FROM THE TRACK WITH THE FAMILY?
“We always go to Disney in February and I have been gone so much and away from the family so much the last couple of months that I wanted to spend some time with them. I forgot how hot Florida is this time of year, so I think we were all dying yesterday. But I was happy that qualifying got rained out so I could stay there and spend more time with them. Had a really fun time but not sure I will go back ever again in August, but I look forward to getting back in February.”
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE RACE WITH SO MUCH ON THE LINE FOR OTHER DRIVERS?
“I am not sure. The only way for those guys to make it in the playoffs that aren’t currently in the playoffs is to win. So, with that, I think the first couple of stages could be pretty tame. Just because a lot of those drivers are just trying to get to the end of the race to have a shot. But then it could be crazy and wild all race long. So, I am not really sure what to expect. No matter how it is, I hope we are in front of the craziness. I know at the end of the race, as it always does, whether it’s the cutoff race or not…..at Daytona or Talladega it always gets wild. We will see and it will be kind of interesting to follow along and see what guys are fast and if there are going to be a couple of big crashes to wipe out guys that could shake things up a lot. We will see.”
DO YOU TAKE A SPECIFIC APPROACH TO IT?
“Yeah, I think for us and in my position….we are second in the regular season points right now and I think there are maybe four of us that are really close to finishing second. Because of that, I feel like we need to go after stage points to do our part to finish second. Our plan is to race the whole time and just stay up front and get some points.”
IF YOU END UP NOT RACING TONIGHT AND YOU RACE TOMORROW AFTERNOON, HOW DOES IT CHANGE THE STYLE OF THIS RACE IF AT ALL?
“Yeah, good question, I am not sure. This place, the handling will be more of a factor for sure during the day than at night. I mean just the whole track is slicker, but I feel like turn four gets really tight. So, I don’t know and I don’t remember us being on track earlier this year with the sun out. In Talladega, handling is not a big deal there. The cars drove really good there gripped up. So, yeah, I am sure it will play a factor as it always does. As far as the race, I am not really sure.”
NOW THAT YOU HAVE HAD FOUR SUPERSPEEDWAY RACES WITH THIS CAR, WHAT KIND OF UNDERSTANDING DO YOU BRING HERE TONIGHT?
“I don’t know. I am not sure. I don’t think it feels way different than the other stuff. You have to hit your marks on stuff like green flag cycles getting on pit road and getting off pit road even more than the other car. When you are in a big pack, it is not as easy to lose the pack, but as soon as you get to shaking things up with green flag stops its kind of strung out for a lap or two and it seems really easy to lose the draft in that sense. You need to be on your game for that type of thing. Other than that, I don’t think it races way different.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE A LAP AROUND DAYTONA AS FAR AS BEING IN THE PACK OR BEING IN OPEN AIR?
“Well, in open air, any of you could do it. In the middle of the pack it gets really hectic and your car doesn’t necessarily do its own thing, but you can feel the air more. The disturbance of the air. You can feel runs and you feel runs stall out a lot. When you get out to the lead you feel like you are going really slow, even though you are going just as fast as the guys behind you. When you are in the middle pack, you feel like you are going fast. It’s a lot quieter out front, but its just when you get out front your car obviously handles a lot better with clean air on it. You are not really looking out the windshield as much and you are looking in the rear view mirror a lot of the time. I haven’t seen the lead on a superspeedway very often but its definitely a little quieter and less going on out front and like I said, your car handles better.”
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AS FAR AS BALANCING FOCUS AND EMOTION IN THE PLAYOFF SEASON?
“For a superspeedway race…..I don’t really get too emotional anyway, so that’s not a problem for me. Staying focused sometimes and making sure you are trying to make the right moves is tough to do a lot of times because runs are happening quick. The gaps are really small that you are trying to get into. Trying to stay focused on risk versus reward but also trying to position yourself for the end of the race is important. I mean a little bit of that goes into each race and race by race. Especially in the playoffs in putting yourself in the right spot at the right time and weighing risk versus reward. Just trying to maximize your day and trying to get as many points as you can like you would at any other speedway race.”
AT THIS POINT LAST YEAR YOU HAD ALREADY HAD FIVE WINS AND IT WAS A DOMINANT SEASON, THIS YEAR YOU HAVE TWO. DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT TO THE NEXT GEN CAR AND MORE PARITY?
“I think definitely a little bit of parity, but you still see a lot of the same good guys running up front. With us, its really just been a lack of execution I would say most weekends. We have really only had a few, like less than five, really clean races where nothing happened and we finished where we deserved. Whether it be just bad restarts or bad pit stops or a missed call for strategy…..something that we just haven’t executed the best. Last year we had a fast car and that makes everything execution wise a lot easier with pit calls, pits stops, and restarts and all that. Yeah, the parity probably pays a big role in it but just us as a team, until recently, haven’t done the best jobs a lot of time. And that is an area where we have tried really hard all season long. Its just hard to do sometimes. But like I said, I feel like lately we have been getting out stuff together. Last week was a great week to get a win and roll on into the playoffs with some momentum hopefully.”
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO HAVE A BETTER PERFORMANCE AT DARLINGTON THIS TIME AROUND?
“Yeah, we had a really fast car last time before we blew up. So the first round has a lot of really good tracks for us. I think it is Darlington, Kansas and Bristol maybe. So those are honestly three of my best racetracks. I really like that round and hopefully we can do well in it and get some wins and get some bonus points would be nice. I have always run really well at Darlington, but have not gotten a win there yet. I finished second three times in a row before we blew up this year, so would love to be one spot better there and finally get that Darlington win that I have been close to getting.”
TALLADEGA IN THE SPRING WAS A REALLY CLEAN RACE FOR YOU. DOES ANYTHING STAND OUT FROM THE RACE IN THE SPRING THAT YOU CAN USE HERE?
“Not really anything happened. We had great track position the whole race and I never once left the bottom lane. I think that if there is anything that I learned is that you can’t go into any superspeedway race with the mindset and say you are going to be patient, but with us being up front the whole time at Talladega, I stayed patient the whole time. And I literally did not move off the bottom the whole time until I did and that is what lost me the race. So yes, I guess I have that same mindset in going into tonight’s race, but like I said it could be way different. This track is narrower, the importance of this race for a lot of other drivers is way different compared to Talladega earlier this year. You can’t show up to every race with the same mindset and have the same results throughout the whole race. But I will say, since it worked last time, that is my mindset right now. But it could change early on.”