HOW DID PRACTICE GO? TYPICALLY OPEN WHEEL DRIVERS DO WELL ON THIS TRACK BECAUSE THERE IS NOT ONE SPECIFIC LANE AND IT’S FAST:
“You know I think that it’s not an easy track. It’s slippery so grip is at a premium and balance is at a premium. We struggled with that at the beginning. We were trying a whole different set-up and it really didn’t work. The very last qualifying run was a little bit better. I finally felt like the car was in the track a little bit. Hopefully, that means that we will be able to make it even better that amount again for qualifying. I really think it has a lot to do with the car. When it’s the slippery you don’t just go out and hold it wide open. There is a lot of moving around and adjusting for the car and the balance. It’s about that.”
YOU LIKE HIGH SPEED TRACKS. HOW DOES THIS PLACE SUIT YOU?
“I don’t know if I necessarily like high speed tracks. I think it’s being able to work with the car and make it better. I feel like I’ve had good success on everything in stock cars from real short tracks like Martinsville to big tracks like Daytona and road courses in Nationwide. I used to think that I had a sort of track that I was best at, but I think it just has to do with where the strengths of your team are and where you just make progress on the weekend. It could have been easy to melt down a little bit in practice and get everyone upset and take ourselves out of the game, but we all stayed calm. We worked hard and our last run was our best run. That is the kind of stuff that we need to pull us through the weekend.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON KURT BUSCH JOINING STEWART-HAAS RACING IN 2014?
“I am glad that came out officially. That is always nice when we there is a yes or a no to it, but it all happened pretty quick as everybody knows. I’m looking forward to it. Kurt (Busch) is a great driver, very fast and I’ve always gotten along with him. I feel like we are going to have a pretty fun team.”
ARE YOU GLAD THE TEAM LINE-UP IS ALL DONE FOR NEXT YEAR?
“It is nice. I think it helps from a team perspective to get things in order and in line for the year because there is going to be a lot that we are going to need to get organized everything from space at the shop to airplane space. There is a lot for the team to get in order and this gives us the appropriate amount of time to do it without having to skirt around making it look obvious.”
IT’S A VERY BOISTEROUS TEAM SOME OF THESE GUYS ON THE TEAM…
“There is a girl too.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR TEAMMATES FOR NEXT YEAR?
“I think they are all great drivers and I think I have a lot to learn from all of them.”
DOES IT TAKE ANY OF THE PRESSURE OFF OF YOU AS FAR AS IF THE TEAM DOES STRUGGLE THERE IS ANOTHER VOICE THERE?
“I think the best part about having more drivers is one we are going to start hiring people. We are going to get some fresh ideas and perspectives in. We are just going to have more brain power. There are going to be more crew chiefs, more engineers, more of everything and then when you have a line-up like we do there is a lot of experience there especially those other three guys. I feel like it’s going to help our team from top to bottom.”
DID YOU GET A CHANCE TO SEE ANY OF GENE’S (HAAS) PRESS CONFERENCE THIS WEEK?
“I read a little bit here and there, but I didn’t see much of it. I was back in Indiana with my family. Obviously, Gene (Haas) was in a position year’s back where he was the team owner and had drivers. Then obviously the Tony (Stewart) equation came in where he becomes a partner and I think he got excited about wanted to kind of have his own driver again. So be it. Again, I’m all about bringing great drivers into the team. It’s good for everybody, especially good for me.”
HAS HE BEEN A LEADER IN THE TEAM OR JUST STAYED IN THE SHADOWS?
“I guess from my perspective, I feel like in general, he kind of trusts that the right people are in the right places. And Tony (Stewart) and Brett (Frood) and Eddie (Jarvis) and Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) and everybody know what we need as a team. But, then again, I wasn’t around back when it was his. So, I think he’s been a little more on the silent side from my perspective. But he’s definitely been there and whenever we’ve talked, we’re always talking about the car and things like that. So he’s just passionate on sports.”
ON FANTASY FOOTBALL:
‘Yeah, I was just saying today that you ought to do our Fantasy Football and Ricky (Stenhouse) said I think that’s all done. Everybody’s done their draft. But we put one together today is the point. So there are 12 of us on the team now or in the division or whatever, so I think we’re all a little lazy and we’re auto draft.”
SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO PICK?
“Let’s face it. I’m a football fan, but I’m not really sure I can put a whole team together from all the different teams. Now, if we’re just talking about like the Bears, Packers, Lions, and those teams, I’ve watched them enough that I could probably pick out some good ones. But I found that last year doing Fantasy Football at JR Motorsports, I found that I learned a lot more about a lot of other teams and a lot of other players because I had to pay attention to other people. So, I’m actually looking forward to auto draft because it helps me learn about other teams and other divisions. So, I’m excited because it’s really fun to do in the winter and I like it.”
HOW BIG OF A BEARS FAN ARE YOU?
“I go to games every year. I’m a big Bears fan for sure. I always watch their games. I even get nervous for their games. That means that’s a fan, right? I’m sure I’m not the biggest fan but I’m a big fan for sure.”
WHEN YOU HAVE PLAYERS FROM OTHER TEAMS PLAYING THE BEARS IN THE FANTASY DEAL…..
“It almost makes me not want to have anybody from the Packers. Because if I have players from the Packers, that means I’ve got to cheer for them. It’s tough.”
WHO IS IN YOUR LEAGUE?
“It’s like Ricky and I and a bunch of our friends and some family. So, yeah we’re trying to come up with a team name and we couldn’t.”