I’M WORKING ON A PROFILE OF JUSTIN (MARKS) AND HIS MANAGEMENT STYLE. YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN WITH DIFFERENT TEAMS BEFORE AND YOU’VE HAD DIFFERENT BOSSES. HOW IS JUSTIN MARKS’ MANAGEMENT STYLE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER EXPERIENCES THAT YOU GUYS HAVE HAD?
DANIEL SUAREZ: “For me, he’s a race car driver; he’s an owner and he’s a very, very smart businessman. I think that the combination of those things makes him very successful at what he’s doing at Trackhouse Racing. Also, he thinks a lot outside of the box. He’s not concerned or scared of going right when everyone else is going left, so I really like that about him. He’s doing a great job with Trackhouse. He’s not just building a powerhouse in Trackhouse, but he’s building a brand. That’s exactly what he told me when Trackhouse was only on a piece of paper. It’s very nice to be involved with people that are putting their thoughts and ideas into reality.”
ROSS CHASTAIN: “He’s a race car driver, first and foremost, in my mind. As I’ve gotten to know him over the past decade and truly get to know his family on a personal basis – when you meet his mom and dad and you hear stories of his childhood - they’re just proud of what he’s doing because he’s always had this love for racing. Now, he’s not just a race car driver anymore like I know him to be. He’s taking this idea and been successful owning the team. I can’t imagine what that’s like stepping back from being a race car driver and kind of letting go of the wheel, in literal and physical terms; hiring guys to drive your cars and you overseeing all of this other stuff now. But he’s knocking it out of the park.”
DANIEL, YOU’RE ON THE CUTLINE NOW HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND. HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH CHANGED BETWEEN SUNDAY AND TODAY, UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT MORE VULNERABLE HEADING INTO THIS ELIMINATION RACE?
DANIEL SUAREZ: “In my mind, nothing has changed. I don’t know if you’re thinking about the William Byron situation, but for me, I don’t care. That’s something I can’t control. He can be 20-points below or 20-points above and I don’t care. I can only control one car and that’s the No. 99 Chevy.
For me honestly right now, before the whole points situation that happened to them, nothing has changed. The only thing that’s changed is that position. But points-wise, it’s exactly the same. We just have to go out there and do our thing. We have a very, very good program when it comes to road course racing. We have shown that in the past. We have to go out there, have fun and do things no different than any of the other road course races that we have done. Yeah, we definitely aren’t in a comfortable points position like some of the other guys, but I think we’re going to be good. I do believe that putting yourself in this position heading into a road course, I see this as an opportunity. I think that we’re going to perform well and I think we’re going to be able to do our thing this weekend and put ourselves on the good side of the points.”
WE HAVE TWO INTERMEDIATE TRACKS COMING UP WITH LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY. WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR INTERMEDIATE PROGRAM IS RIGHT NOW?
ROSS CHASTAIN: “Strong. We both tested at Homestead. He had the first day, so I got his used-up race car that he had hit the wall with like 17 times; and then I went out and hit it 17 more. Trackhouse was very upfront with us that they would rebuild the car between the two days and throughout the day if we needed to. I went out the very first run of the second day of the test, spun out and was totally fine. We put tires on it, kept going, kept going.. and that’s just not been the case this year. It’s tough to do that with a 20-minute practice. It puts yourself at risk in being over the edge.
Driving in here today – I’ve been here since the 600, but just having flashbacks of how competitive we were. To that question, I feel like we had two cars that could have won the 600. Full confidence moving into the next two weeks. Our cars are strong.”
INAUDIBLE (NO MICROPHONE)
ROSS CHASTAIN: “Yeah, for me, it had more grip than anything I’d ever felt. Just a better balance. I think our car had a better balance than the other cars that were testing. There were a couple of us that seemed to stand out. But for me – in the Trucks, Xfinity and Cup cars that I’ve driven there – it was the best driving car I’ve ever had.”
ROSS, YOU MENTIONED LAST WEEK AFTER THE RACE, YOU SPEAK FOR YOURSELF AND DON’T HAVE OTHERS NECESSARILY SPEAK FOR YOU IN TERMS OF THE SAFETY ISSUES. GOING TO HAVE THE MEETING HERE SOON.. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO GET OUT OF THAT? WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS AND ISSUES THAT ARE ON YOUR MIND THAT YOU HOPE TO HAVE ANSWERED? SAME THING FOR YOU, DANIEL.
ROSS CHASTAIN: “I’ll be listening in the meeting. It’s a room of men and women that I still have a lot to learn from, so I’ll be doing a lot of listening. There’s no specific things that I’m looking to get out of it. We’ll just keep pushing the safety front forward. We can always be safer. There’s pin-pointed, real efforts happening day-to-day that are going to make our sport safer. I’ll just be in there learning.”
DANIEL SUAREZ: “For me, it’s pretty much the same thing. I think Ross said it perfectly. We have to go there and do most of the listening because, let’s face it, we’re race car drivers, but we’re not safety people. The only thing that we know is that it hurts when we wreck. That’s all we know. There are a lot of smart people working very, very hard to make these cars better and better, and I’m sure we’re going to get there. We just have to work together. We have to remember and remind ourselves that we’re all in the same boat on this journey. If we’re fighting with each other, we’re going to go nowhere and the boat is going to go down. We have to continue to work and get this boat moving forward.”