THAT WAS QUITE THE DARLINGTON STRIPE YOU GOT EARLIER WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED?
“We just went out on our second set of tires in the first practice. Kind of rebaselining the car, they were stickers. It wasn’t a qualifying run we were just trying to see what the balance was. I was just trying to get what I could from the tires. I think that for me that is something I have to continue to work on. Just got loose into (turn) two. In the second practice when we got back out there we made a change at the end that tightened up the whole track, but made me feel comfortable in (turn) two. That is telling me that the car is a little bit freer than I thought it was. You know what it’s just a learning process, it’s good to know and it reminds me that if I’m trying to achieve the balance out there on the track that I just have to discipline myself to take care of turn two. It’s so important to get through (turns) three and four and rotate. It’s a good reminder to be real careful through (turn) two.”
HOW DOES LAST YEAR’S EXPERIENCE HELP YOU THIS YEAR?
“I mean we are far better off unloading and hitting the track for the first time now versus last year. Last year we were last and really felt very uncomfortable out there. This time I felt much more comfortable. To the point that I was hanging it out a little bit more. Exploring the limits of the car and I explored too far.”
SO MANY DRIVERS GET THAT DARLINGTON STRIPE. IS IT JUST THE NATURE OF THE BEAST HERE OR ARE YOU GUYS JUST DRIVING THAT LITTLE BIT OVER THE EDGE?
“The reason for so many stripes, Darlington stripes, on cars here is you are really just driving against the wall. You are carrying a lot of speed through (turn) one and you use the wall all the way out. You are riding it while you’re in and out of throttle up there. It’s not like it’s a straightaway it’s a corner so you are still turning. The same thing goes through (turns) three and four. You are also searching for grip so sometimes that line is a little bit higher getting in. Sometimes it’s a little bit lower. You are using the grip all the way up to the wall which means you are flirting with that wall.”
THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE FROM LAST YEAR DOES THAT ALLOW YOU TO SHAKE OFF WHAT HAPPENED EARLIER TODAY?
“For me I think the biggest thing about experience is definitely just something that is good and makes you more comfortable. It’s not really very common for me to crash cars in practice on my own or crash cars on my own. Shoot, I remember back to my IndyCar days I used to be told to go crash it. Like ‘take it to the limit, I don’t care if you crash it, do it’. For me sometimes, right now I think it’s never good to go to a back-up car and I don’t like to put that work on the team. They work so hard anyway. They work hard all week then they come to the track and do the same thing. Then to stack work on top of that, but the only way to find the limit is to sometimes get over it. I wish it would have been a Darlington stripe, instead of going to a back-up, but lesson learned for tomorrow night. I will be better for it.”
HOW MUCH DOES THE MISSED PRACTICE TIME SET YOU BACK?
“I definitely lost half an hour in the first practice and some of the second. You know what it did do, it put us into race trim in the second practice for 25 minutes or so. We would have done all qualifying runs in the second practice. I think it might pay off to have done those practice runs instead of qualifying runs in the second session. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge loss, but hopefully it doesn’t make for too big of a disaster in qualifying. I think that the guys, Tony Gibson (crew chief) has been doing a better job at getting the balance closer in qualifying the last few weeks. I feel comfortable that I will have something I can drive aggressively out there and we will just see where it puts us. We’ve got 500 miles to improve on it.”
HOW EAGER ARE YOU THIS WEEK TO GET BACK OUT THERE AFTER WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND IN TALLADEGA?
“There are a lot of frustrated people after Talladega or Daytona, any of the speedway races that we do because there are so many ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’s’. You are like just so close to the front of the pack, but yet so far away and there are accidents that you just can’t do anything about and sometimes you become a part of them. It’s a frustrating challenge. I wasn’t the only one I’m sure. This is obviously a little bit more traditional we are racing like normal, but I don’t look forward to getting away from those tracks. I like the speedways I think they are fun and they are interesting. For me they are some of my better chances to do well.”