WHAT DID YOU LEARN AT THE JUNE POCONO RACE THAT YOU CAN BRING TO THIS RACE?
“Well, all I can think about is that we never did any qualifying runs last time when we were here, with the weather. And all we’ve done so far is qualifying runs. So it’s a very different Pocono, this time around. We’re just trying to work with it.
“We fired off okay and it just seemed like as we tried to increase speed, we were finding some issues that were preventing us from being able to go faster. So, we’re trying to keep up with what the car does in qualifying trim. So, it didn’t end up great, but hopefully it will be good in qualifying. It’s challenging to pass here. But I think that our race set-up is good. I felt like it was one of the more balanced cars that we’ve had so far this year, here. So, I think that we have a good direction to go for race runs, but we all know how important qualifying is.”
IS THERE A PARTICULAR AREA ON THE TRACK WHERE YOU CAN SEE POSSIBLE IMPROVEMENT?
“Umm, when you’re turning the wheel (laughter). All three corners are pretty different, but definitely in the race, (Turn) 3 is very important because it’s the longest straightaway. And in qualifying (Turn) 2 is very important because it’s so fast. I’m looking at like what Tony (Stewart) is doing and I’m like I can’t do that, yet! But I’ll keep working on it.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU SAW FOOTAGE OF TONY STEWART’S FLIPPING FIVE TIMES IN A SPRINT CAR?
“Yeah, I did see that footage. I think he really much love his Sprint Car racing.”
HE SAID THAT US MORTALS NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WASN’T A BAD SPRINT CAR FLIP
“Was it because it was slower?”
BECAUSE IT WAS KIND OF A LAZY FLIP AND IT WASN’T VERY VIOLENT
“He didn’t do a double flip? Just a single is no big deal? Well, I do understand obviously with how much Ricky loves Sprint Car racing and racing on dirt, that flipping and crashing is very much a part of that sport. And you catch the berm or you clip tires; I mean, it’s an open-wheel car. So, as Tony would say, ‘It’s the open-wheel car; it’s the original open-wheel car’. So, it happens. And with how much they race, some of them race 130 times a year; some race 80 or 90 times a year. There are a lot of chances for accidents when that happens. So, it’s not for me, but those who love it, very much love it.”
DID YOU GET A NATIONWIDE RIDE FOR NEXT WEEK? ARE YOU GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT RACE?
“Not at this point. But I can’t say that for sure won’t happen because my Talladega ride was fairly last minute, too. At this point in time, I’m just doing Cup and the good news is I have been there in an IndyCar so unfortunately we wrecked on the first corner last year at Watkins Glen in the Nationwide car, but we’ll get some practice in this time and be ready.”
YOU TESTED THERE IN A CUP CAR, DIDN’T YOU?
“No. We tested at Road Atlanta this week. The car felt really good when we went and tested. It is about as good as it’s unloaded off the truck at any point this year; anywhere we’ve gone. So, I hope that translates to good things. It’s not a bad thing, anyway.”
DO YOU FEEL GOOD IN GENERAL ABOUT A ROAD COURSE?
“If you had asked me when I was at Sonoma or anywhere around then, I would have said I don’t feel very good. But our test at Road Atlanta was very good, and in general I feel very comfortable on road courses. So, it will be nice because the road courses are a real opportunity for me to get the GoDaddy car further up where some of these tracks are a little bit more challenging for me. So, it’s definitely not Nationwide, when you’re racing Cup on the road courses, but I still feel like there’s an opportunity to have a decent weekend if we can nail the balance of the car and qualify well.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND CONVERSATION WITH THE NEW CEO OF GODADDY?
‘Yeah, Blake (Irving) is a great guy. I’ve met him quite a few times now and spent a lot of time with him. Well, the first time I met him I went in to just say hello and I spend 45 minutes in his office. He’s got a lot of great ideas. He’s got a lot of big plans for GoDaddy. He’s very good at what he does and he has the power to make what he wants to happen, happen because he has a lot of good people that he’s worked with over the years with the other companies that he has worked with. GoDaddy is an incredible company. They’ve grown so much over the last decade and that’s not going to end by any means.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE HE WILL BE A FORCE TO HELP YOU CONTINUE ON?
“Well, Blake (Irving) loves racing with is good. He’s son is really into cars and that’s always a good thing when someone like that likes racing. But you know, it’s still about making that relationship work and making sure that there’s a return on investment for what they’re doing. It’s my job to get out there and represent the company well, to finish well for them so it’s in the papers and on TV. And it’s their job now as Blake really wants to do, is educate the consumer as to what GoDaddy actually does other than domain names. So there’s a big mission. But it’s all in the process right now.”
DID HE GIVE YOU ANY ASSURANCES THAT YOU’D BE WITH GODADDY?
“I mean, GoDaddy has been an incredible partner for a really long time and like I said, the most important thing is that there is return on investment for them and that their company keeps growing. And if they keep growing and I’m a part of that, I feel like we’re linked together and we help each other with the success. But it takes two. So my job is to do the best I can for them, and hope that it always continues. It’s been great so far for a long time and we’ve done a couple of contracts, so yeah. I like to think in my mind it starts today, every day it starts, you know? And you just go out and do the best job you can.”
YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THOSE DRIVERS WHO LIKES TO GO OUT AND RACE EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK
“No, I’m not.”
IS RICKY (STENHOUSE) LIKE THAT?
“Yes, he is.”
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT MINDSET AND WHERE IT COMES FROM?
“Yeah, you know, we were at a Kenny Chesney concert last night and this very topic came up and it was talking about how he could race every night. I just don’t have an interest in racing every single night. But coming from Sprint Car racing where you race 80 or 90 times a year, like he used to, 38 (races) is just nothing. So, Kenny was talking about how when he was younger, because well, Ricky is young, you know? And how he felt like he could perform every single night and do the same thing every day. And you get older and you know, maybe you don’t have that. Maybe you do. I feel like those Sprint Car drivers, man, they just love their racing. They are just are used to racing every night. I didn’t come from that background. I watched it. My dad was in it. He raced it and then he worked on the cars. And my mom and dad and sister would go watch on Sunday nights, but I just didn’t come from 90 races a year.”
YOU JOKED ABOUT TURNING THE STEERING WHEEL HERE, BUT IS IT A HANDLING ISSUE? DID YOU SEE SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THAT AT INDY?
“I’m definitely working on getting into the corner better. I think that was an issue at Indy and it was an issue in qualifying out there, which is why when I started getting into the corner deeper that it was hitting the splitter and then it wasn’t able to turn and then it just sort of uncovers other issues. So yeah, I am. It started the year off really good from that perspective and it was no issue getting into the corner, but for some reason a little bit lately, it is. I don’t know if it’s these bigger, faster tracks, or not; I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s Tony (Stewart) stepping-up his game (or) Ryan (Newman) getting more comfortable. But you know, it’s not a problem for me. I don’t mind when there are things that I have to work on because it’s something that I can control. When you’re doing everything you can and there’s no way to or you can’t seem to find speed or find a place to get it, then that’s frustrating. So, I understand that I’m a rookie. And I understand that I’m not Tony Stewart and I’m not Ryan Newman right now. And, they’re both extremely accomplished drivers. So, it’s not shocking me that I have things to work on. So I’ll just keep doing that.”
DO YOU FEEL ANY LESS PRESSURE OR IS IT CALMER HERE THIS WEEKEND AT POCONO THAN LAST WEEKEND AT INDY?
“No, I felt good last weekend, too. I have a good team around me that makes sure that I don’t feel overwhelmed or feel pressure from certain areas. We did a lot of work to promote the Brickyard 400, for sure, going back to Indianapolis to race a big event there. But I feel pressure every weekend. I don’t care where I go. I feel pressure going to a test. I want to do well everywhere I go and every time I get in the car. And it’s not a no-brainer for me yet. So, it doesn’t change from weekend to weekend for me.”
HOW DO YOU MEASURE THINGS? IS IT IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS, OR AT THIS POINT IS IT MORE ABOUT FINE-TUNING? HOW DO YOU ASSESS THINGS FOR YOURSELF?
“I think that it feels small right now, but I think when I look back in years from now, I’m going to see that it was big. But of course, being in the middle of it, the growth always feels small. So, it’s just a process I have to go through. And I hope I can look back and see the big growth because that will be a good thing for me.”
HOW DO YOU MEET THE CHALLENGE OF ACCEPTING THE GROWTH PROCESS? OBVIOUSLY, YOU’RE AT THIS LEVEL BECAUSE YOU ARE AN EXTREMELY COMPETITIVE PERSON. HOW DO YOU CONTROL THAT?
“It’s very hard to not get down when you’re not finishing where you want to, ultimately. But there are 42 other people that want to do the exact same thing that you’re doing or that you want to do. You just have to set small goals. That’s the only thing you can do to combat against getting frustrated in the process of where you’re at; set realistic goals. Realistic goals are the most important thing. For me, it’s just been Top 20 all year. And as soon as I finally start doing that all the time, I’ll adjust some. But for right now and for all year, it’s been that.”