IT CAME OUT THIS WEEK THAT YOUR CREW CHIEF, JUSTIN ALEXANDER, IS LEAVING AT THE END OF THE YEAR. DO YOU HAVE ANY COMMENT ON THAT?
“This sport is a grind. Speaking with Justin (Alexander, crew chief), it was about having some more time. Him and I actually – on the one off weekend we had this year – we spent it together in the Bahamas for our vacation. He just realizes to him what’s important and that’s family, and you have to respect and love that. At RCR, we want him to stay on in any capacity and I think we have a good shot of having him around. He’s a great person to have; as a crew chief, as a friend, as an engineer. All the great qualities that Justin brings to a team.
We’re going to do our best to keep him on at some sort of a capacity moving forward. I think he can help RCR for a long time. But for right now, he’s focused on his two babies and that’s where he should be focused.”
LOOKING AHEAD, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN YOUR NEXT CREW CHIEF?
“Just someone that brings something to the table when it comes to RCR. We’ve got a lot of positive momentum. Someone that gets along well with Randall (Burnett), the other crew chief that we have at RCR; just kind of working with him right now. Justin and him work so well together and I’d like to keep that going, if any way possible, with whoever comes in and crew chief’s me next year. Someone that has a good, positive attitude and willing to go work. Make me better, push me to be a better driver. All options are on the table right now.”
YOU COME HERE AS THE MOST RECENT WINNER. WHAT’S IT LIKE COMING TO A RACE THE WEEK AFTER A WIN AND AFTER HAVING MADE YOUR WAY INTO THE PLAYOFFS? THAT HAS TO BE A LOT OF MOTIVATION.
“Yeah, it feels really good, and coming to a track that I love. People ask me what my favorite tracks are – and that’s an often asked question – I usually say anywhere I’ve won and Darlington. Darlington is a place that I love pulling into the tunnel. I feel like it’s a throwback race. Obviously it is a throwback race, but it feels that way when you come here. The track, it eats away at those tires. And for me, the longer races statistically have been better, so I always love coming to Darlington. It does help having a win coming into it.”
YOU SAID YOU REALLY LIKE COMING TO DARLINGTON. WHAT IS IT ABOUT DARLINGTON THAT REALLY FAVORS YOUR STYLE OF RACING?
“I think it’s tire management, I would say is the biggest thing. This place, you get some long runs from time to time. Things have changed to where we have a lot of pit stops now during this race and I think that’s another key part. We’ve got a great pit crew, so that’s going to be something that we look forward to come Sunday night. It’s just a place where I love to be at.”