What are your expectations heading into the second Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway?
“Last year, we were one of the best cars out there, along with Joey (Logano) and Kyle (Busch). We were up there and fighting for the lead a ton. It’s a place I’ve always liked, so we were able to get our car where we needed to fairly quickly with a full practice session and time to work on the car during the weekend. Hoping we can pick back up where we left off there. St. Louis is flat like Phoenix, but it’s a lot more worn out. Hoping we can have another strong effort there with our Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry TRD and be up front toward the end and have a shot to win there.”
With another strong run at Charlotte Monday, what are your expectations going forward with this team?
“We had a great run at Charlotte, just had too many issues that we’ll need to keep working on as a team. We’ve got a couple of good places for us before we get to the off week, with St. Louis this weekend with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry, and the then Sonoma the following weekend. James (Small, crew chief) has been bringing good cars to the racetrack. It’s still a ways off, but we have that win under our belt and are right there in the standings, so hoping we can put it all together and get some more wins and playoff points and put ourselves in a position to have a shot at the regular-season championship.”
You’ve been in this sport for a long time, now. What does it mean to now be an elder statesman in the sport, and has it changed your job at all in recent years?
“I don’t know if it’s changed a whole lot. It definitely feels like it kind of happened quickly as guys have exited the sport the last five or six years and I have another year under my belt. It’s kind of crazy that once (Kevin) Harvick retires, I’m going to be the oldest guy. Definitely pretty wild to think about, but I definitely feel young and feel like I can do this for a while, if that’s what I decide to do. I’ve always kind of been laid back. The way I’m perceived is that if I’m speaking out and saying something, they should probably listen because I don’t say a whole lot. I think I feel that way, especially around our team at Joe Gibbs Racing. They know if I’m vocal about something, then it’s probably pretty important. I try not to just say things just to say them. Generally, you can believe what I’m saying and take it to the bank.”