CHEVY MENCS AT POCONO 1: Darrell Wallace Jr. Press Conf. Transcript

(Chevy)

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

POCONO 400
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT

JUNE 1, 2018

 

DARRELL WALLACE, JR. NO. NO. 43 WEIS MARKETS CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed returning to Pocono in a Cup car, the season to date, improvements and challenges, the racing on Memorial Day weekend, and more. Full Transcript:

 

YOU ARE RETURNING TO THE SITE OF YOUR FIRST-EVER CUP RACE THIS WEEKEND AT POCONO, THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE EVER RETURNED TO A RACE TRACK IN THE CUP SERIES, WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE LEVEL AND OUTLOOK?

“I was thinking about it in the bus this morning and how you creep up on things and definitely remember everything about this day last year. That will be nice. We can get right to work and do what we need to do in our Weis Chevrolet. This was a fun weekend, pulling double-duty and getting to go through all the emotions for a Cup debut, so we’re looking forward to getting back on-track.”

 

WE’RE NOW GETTING CLOSE TO THE MIDWAY POINT IN THE REGULAR SEASON. THE TEAM HAS OBVIOUSLY MADE A LOT OF STRIDES. HOW DO YOU FEEL HEADING TOWARD THE PLAYOFF PUSH? WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON AND HOW THE TEAM HAS IMPROVED?

“Looking back, last weekend was a solid weekend for us. It’s little things that are taking our program to the next level. Focusing in on races like that is what we need to do. It was a decent points day for us closing up on some guys in front of us. We still have a lot of work to do to get inside the top 16, but I’m looking forward to kind of shifting gears and getting to the high gear here for the second part of the season and make that final push.”

 

SINCE YOUR POCONO CUP DEBUT, HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE GROWN AS A DRIVER? DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE MORE COMFORTABLE IN THE CAR NOW THAN YOU WERE 10 MONTHS AGO?

“Yeah, absolutely. I remember just telling myself not to do anything stupid and mess us up. Knowing that it was kind of a tryout session because I didn’t anything else after that. Now, knowing that for sure I’m racing all year long, my name is on the car this time and it’s my guys and my team. So, I’m excited about that. I think that just helps out the confidence level so much. From the start of the season, I feel like I’ve gotten better and better in the car, trying to give better feedback and trying to be a better racer and a better driver and give guys respect and earn that respect, too. So, it all comes with it. You learn something new every day. So, I’m excited to see what’s on the plate for this weekend.”

 

WHERE ARE YOU GUYS MISSING IT? YOU SAID YOU HAVE MORE WORK TO DO TO GET INTO THE TOP 16. AS A TEAM, WHERE CAN YOU MAKE GAINS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?

“It’s tough. We kind of look at the whole field. The Fords and Toyotas are dominant; well one Ford and One Toyota are dominant. They’re taking up all the wins. But the Chevrolets are kind of struggling as a whole. (Kyle) Larson is probably, on average, been the best Chevrolet. And then the next group of us are kind of running right there all together. So, we’re still trying to figure out some things on that forefront. I think from the OEM standpoint as well, we all see it as a big picture. We need to step it up, for sure. I think we’re missing a little bit on the new body. We’re trying each and every day to figure out stuff. The alliance of RCR, they’re trying stuff as well, so our debriefs are going in the right direction, I feel like. We’re all talking about the same things we need to fix. It’s not like I’m fighting one probably and everybody else is fighting something totally opposite. Nine times out of 10, we usually say the same things. So, we have some areas that we can work on and I think that will propel us to better finishes. We’ll see. You never know. As soon as you find something that works, you’ve still got 10 things to catch-up on in this sport. It’s a humbling and demanding sport. We’ll just keep plugging away and keep getting after it.”

 

SO, DO YOU COMPARE YOURSELVES TO OTHER CHEVROLETS?

“Yeah, for sure. Last week the No. 3 (Austin Dillon) and the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) were super fast in qualifying and really fast in practice as well. So, we were a little bit off from them, rightfully so. We’re still trying to catch up. My deal came about so late. So, going to be half a step behind. But, some weekends we show that we’re just as good as them if not better. But that is a good gauge for us. But when you see the majority of the Chevrolets kind of struggling, you put yourself in line where you’ll think you’ll stack up, too. I think, all the Hendrick cars, we were all right there in qualifying last weekend, so we’ll see. We’ll keep working. We’re all trying to push the same envelope.”

 

DID YOU WATCH MONACO OR INDY AND IF SO, WHAT DID YOU THINK?  AND, TALK ABOUT WHAT RUNNING THE COKE 600 AND WHAT THAT MEANT TO YOU WITH THE ENDURANCE OF IT ALL.

“That was the biggest day in motorsports, obviously. I caught probably 15 laps of Monaco. I didn’t catch any of the Indy race, though. I just saw a little bit of whatever was playing on the big screen at Charlotte when we got there. But, being able to go through the 600 and see how demanding it was, I definitely jotted down things in the personal notebook to do hydration better and be more prepared on that end. I was okay after the race a little bit, and then everything sort of calms down and you come off that emotional high, you kind of struggle a little bit. We hung out at the bus for about 15 or 20 minutes to let traffic die down, but also to get my legs back underneath me. The last 50 or so laps, man, it was like damn, is this thing over with yet? We were trying to run down (Daniel) Suarez, so we had a little rabbit out in front of us trying to chase him, so I definitely shifted into overdrive, on top of not having anything left. It was a fun process. I’m glad we were able to finish it. We didn’t run all 400 laps. We were one lap down. But, still, to be able to go through the emotions of it was pretty cool. So, I’m excited to do it again if they keep the same package or do something else. We’ll see.”

 

HOW DOES HAVING RACE A CUP RACE AT POCONO HELP YOU COMING IN? REGARDING YOUR SPONSORSHIP WITH THE LOCAL WEIS MARKETS, WHAT DOES IT LOOK ON THE OUTSIDE FOR THE FANS?

“To be back here, the biggest thing I took away was pit road. It was my first time working with digital dashes and I got caught speeding four times, I believe; two or three consecutive, back-to-back, that took us out of contention early and that was a bummer. I thought we had pretty good speed in our car. So that was the biggest thing. I was out-doing a Mack truck appearance this morning at 8:30 and we were on pit road so I was already taking down notes and practicing pit road speed in a big Mack truck. I don’t know how that’s going to translate over (laughs). Any practice you get is good. So, we’ll just go with that and it’s good to have Weis on the car. The partnership with Smithfield that we have there, so reaching out through their markets and promoting their brand is exciting.”

 

YOU SEEMED VERY CALM WHEN YOU WENT ON FOX & FRIENDS. YOU HAD A SHORT TIME ON BUT YOU PRETTY MUCH NAILED IT. HOW WAS THAT FOR YOU?

“It was like 6:30 in the morning.  I didn’t have time to do anything else (laughs).  It was super short. I was like in the middle of a story and they are like okay, have a good day. Well damn, all right. Later.  No, it was cool being on there. We had an action-packed day yesterday promoting the sport and the race here.  It’s good to go up to the Big Apple once every two or three years. I used to get so over-zealous or just the anxiety levels just increase when I get there. It’s so packed. I’m not a city person at all, but it was good to be there and then hang out with some friends from local affiliates. So, we had a good day, a busy day and got in about 12:30 this morning from that. It was a long drive, but all in all, it was good. Way too early to feel anything.”

 

YOUR DRIVE YESTERDAY APPEARED KIND OF BUMPY ON YOUR SNAPCHATS. WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?

“Oh, the roads are horrible up there. I mean aside from traffic, I was just kind of buried in my phone and I noticed my head just kind of bouncing off the window about every two seconds. And I’m like what in the hell is this driver doing? What do we got going on here? He’s like they tore up the roads doing stuff to it so I was like holy cow, I had filmed it at the right spot because that was at the worst it was right there. But, nonetheless, exciting times in old New York City.”

 

WHEN YOU SAY THE CHEVYS ARE ALL DEALING WITH THE SAME ISSUES PRIMARILY, DO YOU MEAN MORE AERO, MORE GEOMETRY, OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH? AND HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO PICK-UP ON ANYTHING THAT KYLE LARSON IS DOING?

“Hell, if we knew what it was, we wouldn’t be struggling. I don’t know what we’re struggling with. It’s a variety of things, I think. I think our aero platform is a little bit off. And then for us, it’s a little bit of set-up stuff as well. We’re rebuilding a notebook from last year so it’s a whole new page for us in our diary, so to say. I don’t think Larson is going to share any of his notes, either.”

 

INAUDIBLE

“No, not much. I’m sure that the guys are kind of dissecting it more and more and looking at pictures and stuff of his car, so we’ll see. We’ll keep trying things and trying things.  There’s no give-up on our team. We’ve just got to figure out what works for our car and what doesn’t.”

 

DO YOU HAVE A TAKE ON THE WHOLE DEBATE ABOUT WHAT THE RULES PACKAGE SHOULD BE AFTER THE ALL-STAR RACE, WHICH SEEMED LIKE A HIT WITH PEOPLE?

“It was a lot of fun for that period of time. It got really boring because of the speed. I keep telling people every time we talk about this, I saw a post, I don’t know where it was, and they were talking about how you always dream of being at the Cup level and getting that superior level of the sport and jumping in with that package felt like I was jumping into just a local Saturday night race. And you didn’t feel that superior level that you’re at. And I thought yeah, that’s actually a good point. I mean literally, if you had the need for speed and had decent car control, anybody could have driven it.  And, it shouldn’t be like that. We shouldn’t have to get up to the big leagues and oh, I can play with Lebron (James). I can match him, you know? Or, I can play like J.R. Smith and not take the lay-up (laughter). But, it just felt like you were at like a carnival ride and everybody was along for the ride.

 

“Aside from that, it was cool how we were at Charlotte driving like a speedway and controlling both lanes. We were out front there for that last stage in the Open and it’s like okay, top has got the momentum, bottom’s got the momentum, kind of blocking and pulling off those moves, so that aspect was cool. So we’ve got to figure out how to give us more motor and get the aero platform to where we could still race like that and not have to worry so much about the dirty air. We were still having to deal with dirty air a little bit with that package, so I think they did a nice job at swinging for the fences and coming up with a game plan. But now, swing harder and try to dissect it if we want to make this something that we’ll see again. We probably will before the season ends, like at Indy or something and spice that thing up because man, that’s boring.  And I haven’t even been there yet in a Cup car, so that says a lot.”
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