THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU’RE COMING TO A PLAYOFF RACE ACTUALLY BEING IN THE PLAYOFFS. WHAT IS THE FEELING LIKE AND HOW DO YOU CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY, SO TO SPEAK, GOING FORWARD NOW THAT YOU’RE IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE FIRST TIME.
“Yeah, it feels good. This week has surprisingly been normal. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were all really just average days. Playoff Media Day was something that I’ve looked forward to for a long time. I know one year ago; I wasn’t in it and I wasn’t there. As silly as it sounds – and I know you get a lot of odd answers when you ask drivers what they think about it – that was a big, motivating factor for me for the entire year.. was to not miss that. I’ll work to make sure this is my first of many Playoff Media Days.
It's business as usual for us. Now that we’re here at the track this morning, I don’t know what the emotions will be throughout the weekend. I know that in 10 weeks, I’ll be better through all of this. I learn every race, every lap, and I’ll do the same throughout all of this. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m ready to experience it.”
OBVIOUSLY YOU WANT TO WIN EVERY RACE, EVERY TIME, BUT HOW MUCH THINKING GOES INTO HOW AGGRESSIVE YOU CAN OR CAN’T BE IN THE PLAYOFFS? IF YOU CRASH THIS WEEKEND, YOU GET WAY BEHIND. DO YOU STRATEGIZE MUCH ABOUT THAT OR DO YOU JUST NOT THINK ABOUT IT A WHOLE LOT?
“You know, yeah it does for sure, right? Just the fact that, when I look back to the spring to prepare for this weekend; we had one of the fastest cars here and I spun out off of (turn) two on a restart with 100 to go in a 300-lap race. So, definitely don’t need that to happen. But I learned from it and I’ll be better from it. I don’t want to see the care center.. I’ve seen too many care centers this summer. I’ll do everything I can to stay out of there.”
ARE YOU DOING THE XFINITY RACE JUST TO HAVE A DISTRACTION FROM CUP OR DID YOU DO IT FOR EXTRA LAPS?
“I’m a racer, so I love to race, especially when it can be at the track on the weekend of my real focus of Cup. It’s not a distraction in my mind. It was a lot of extra preparation, which is awesome. It filled my weeks leading up to this. We had a plan with Chevy, Trackhouse and Big Machine Racing so that we could never feel like we were kind of a half step behind; we want to be a step ahead. I’ve done a lot of double duty and triple duty weekends, but we definitely put more emphasis in the planning of how all of this was going to go for the last two weeks leading up to today’s race.”
HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR ROUTINE OR PREPARATION, WHETHER THAT’S LIMITING DISTRACTIONS OR ANYTHING?
“No sir. It’s wild.. I thought there would be differences. I thought I would feel different. I thought I would wake up and think different things or not be able to sleep. I’m really happy that it’s just been a normal week, minus Media Day on Thursday.”