FIRST PLATE RACE SINCE DAYTONA, DO EXPECTATIONS SPIKE ALL OVER AGAIN?
“I suppose based on Daytona and how fast this car is, which is the same car we ran at Daytona, and how the race went. I suppose it’s fair to say that there should be a little spike in expectation, but you also have to take into consideration on these big speedways that there is a whole lot of luck that comes into it. Everything has got to be clean. The stops have to be good. You have to stay in the pack no issues, not getting caught up in an accident. From what I remember last year even at Talladega it was more of a pack race than Daytona even. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Obviously, this is a wider track than Daytona so when we start getting four-wide that is when stuff starts to get a little exciting. We will just have to hope that we are in the right place at the right time.”
SHOULD YOU BE THERE AROUND THE LAST LAP, DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THAT LAST LAP AT DAYTONA THAT WOULD HELP YOU SWIM WITH THE SHARKS ANY BETTER?
“I learned that if I just stay in line and keep my foot down and don’t try and come up with any kind of plan that you are kind of a sitting duck. I mean I talked to Tony (Stewart) after the race and I talked to Jimmie (Johnson) after the race too. I think Tony pointed it out most specifically is just that there was probably more to lose in third than there was to gain. By pulling out and trying something I could have just as easily ended up 15th or so back, again right place at the right time with the right opportunity ahead of you. I have a better idea of what it is going to take, but it’s also circumstantial. Jimmie told me after the race he said ‘look I didn’t have a plan. The two times I’ve won now I didn’t have any plan going into the last lap.’ That is where the luck comes in and right place at the right time.”
WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL ON THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS?
“I don’t know if the confidence level shifts a tremendous amount as much as the comfort level does. Just being comfortable on these big speedways and comfortable with this pack style racing that I was so used to in IndyCar on the ovals. Just having a feel for it, it is something that I probably caught on to quicker than anything in stock car racing. I guess I show up here and it’s just a little bit more comfortable.”
WHAT DO YOU HOPE DAYTONA DID FOR YOU IN TERMS OF PEOPLE’S CONFIDENCE RUNNING WITH YOU AND AROUND YOU?
“Anytime you run at the front and you run with good drivers you hope that they just have good experiences and they think nice things and they feel more comfortable around me. They think less about me probably to be honest as far as just thinking about it other than worrying about me being fast. I mean that is the best kind of thinking you can have.”
IS THE NATIONWIDE RACE GOING TO HELP ON SATURDAY AND MIGHT YOU MAKE ANY MOVES THAT BE GEARED TOWARD SOME EXPERIMENTATION FOR SUNDAY?
“Yeah, the Nationwide race that is why we are doing it. We are doing it to try to win and we are doing it to get a little bit more practice in before the big day on Sunday. There is going to be more bump drafting in the Nationwide race, but I think that everything is happening really fast in the Nationwide race because you have such shifts in speed with bump drafting and drafting. I feel like it kind of just sharpens your instincts up and sharpens you up out on the track and gets you ready for and more prepared for the next day.”
HOW COMFORTABLE WERE YOU ON THE ICE IN CHICAGO?
“I was wearing heels when I arrived to the Blackhawks game (Hockey). At the last second I intelligently grabbed a pair of flats so I’m glad I did that because knowing that I had to go… I didn’t really understand what I was going to have to do out there. When I realized I was going to be like really trying to score and hit the puck into the goal I thought you know what I better give myself the best chance possible. I put those flats on and tried a couple of shots in the back just on concrete floor. They gave me some advice on how to hit it and luckily that very first one went in. I’m glad they didn’t show the rest of them because they didn’t look so pretty.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE ALL-STAR RACE WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR CHANCES ARE OF GETTING THE FAN VOTE?
“I don’t know. I think about it from a fans perspective and I think that you want the driver that you cheer for to be out there of course, but you want a good race. Hopefully, they think of me when they think of those two. We always have the opportunity to race in as well. We are going to be working really hard over the next month on our mile and a half car and we need to. Let’s hope it all comes together by the All-Star race.”
ON THE VIDEO FOR FAN VOTING FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE WITH RICKY STENHOUSE:
“We thought that was fun. Ricky (Stenhouse) and I shot that little video. I would love to be in the race and I think more than anything you want to entertain your fans of course. I hope I can be in the race to do that. Also, I want to perform well in the Coke 600 and racing in the All-Star race would definitely help that.”
HOW DID THE VIDEO COME ABOUT?
“I think it was between Go Daddy and Sprint and them all making that happen. In fact Joe (Crowley, PR) coming up with the script and thought it was a clever little script so we shot it in a matter of about 20 minutes and it aired. Obviously, we both want to be in the race and to try to create a little bit of buzz to get people to go vote and have some fun with it.”
WAS IT DIFFERENT DOING THE VIDEO AS A COUPLE?
“I suppose. We’ve done stuff on camera before. We shot stuff for Nationwide and some other things together. It wasn’t the first time, but I think it’s clever and cute for the both of us. I think I would vote for him, I like watching Ricky (Stenhouse) race.”
WHAT IS THE MENTAL APPROACH AT A TRACK LIKE TALLADEGA OR DAYTONA?
“You just have to hope and pray that you’re in the right place at the right time as I’ve said. You have to be smart enough to know when you’re putting yourself in a bad situation and when you need to force the issue. That’s the exciting part. As a fan, I’ve watched plenty of these speedway races in Cup and I want to watch to see how it plays out too and I think that’s part of the excitement of these tracks is that you’re not sure how it’s going to play out. There can be some new players up front and there can be some real shuffling of the field and that’s what makes it exciting to watch is you just have to watch it to see how it plays out.”
HOW HAS TONY STEWART BEEN DEALING WITH THE FRUSTRATIONS THIS SEASON?
“Tony (Stewart) is obviously an incredible driver. They’ve had tons of success as a team, Stewart Haas has and I think that when things aren’t going as you hope they would go, it’s frustrating and you just have to figure out what it’s going to take to turn that around. I know that he’s been around the shop more and trying to figure those things out because obviously he wants to run well as a team, but he wants to run well himself. I’m sure that all that will help and as I’ve said, we’ve got a lot of tests lined up for the next month. It’s just a matter of stumbling on to the right balance of setups so you can go to these mile-and-a-halves and unload close and then make it better instead of, at least in my situation, not sure exactly what platform you should be running and what setup you should be running. We just need to get closer on that and arrive at the track with a closer setup.”
DO YOU HAVE CONCERN ABOUT HOW RAIN MAY IMPACT PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING?
“Well from what I’ve heard practice times are going to line-up the field for the Cup race, that is what we were inside talking about needing to get a draft and put a big number up on the board as possible. I said, ‘Okay, everybody is going to be trying to do that.’ You’re probably going to see a lot of cars on the track, obviously you want to get out there in case it rains and you want to give yourself opportunities to get that big draft run where you can put a big time up. It’s a little bit of a unique scenario on these speedways because you get so much faster when you catch up to a big pack. It will at least make practice interesting on these speedways, which can probably be pretty boring sometimes.”
ARE YOU ANY MORE COMFORTABLE AT DARLINGTON?
“Last year I ran there in the Cup race, it was one of the, well it was basically my first Cup race really. I ran Daytona, but Darlington was getting thrown into the deep end. That was the purpose of it was to get seat time so I’m not thinking or dreading going there next weekend and worrying about what that’s going to look like for me and how it’s going to feel. I have an idea now of how it is going to feel and what needs to be done.”
WHO WOULD YOU WANT YOUR THREE CAR FANTASY TEAM TO BE IN THE ALL-STAR RACE? “Three car fantasy team for the All-Star race, I think as far as going out to win the race I think Tony (Stewart) would be a good one. I feel like he always seems to do well in these one off races in particular. I think Tony, probably Jimmie (Johnson) of course and Kyle (Busch). I would say they would be pretty good picks.”