MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
AXALTA PRESENTS THE POCONO 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JUNE 9, 2017
TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CHEVROLET SS, met with the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed his run last weekend at Dover, the team’s progress thus far this season, his potential plans for 2018 and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR GREAT RUN LAST WEEKEND AT DOVER:
“I guess to start the weekend we had a pretty good GEICO Chevy unloading. We kind of kept working on it and chipping away at it getting it to where we thought, just mainly focusing on where I could drive the car hard through the race. We didn’t qualify all that well. Qualifying has probably been our toughest challenge all year just making sure we get good track position. We start anywhere from 20th to 28th every week. It’s just not been our strong suit, but we have raced really well. So, we qualified 21st and we take off in the race and the car is good.
“But, Bootie (Barker, crew chief) he is so smart, he is always thinking about strategy, always thinking about what we can do to be in the best position at the end of the race. So, the first segment and a half, I would say, in the race we were doing things where one stop we would come down take tire, next stop we would put scuffs on 20-30 lap old scuffs and just ride. He would tell me to ride. He said, you are fast enough just ride here in the back and we are going to have four sets (of tires) at the end of this race. So, I was doing that. I knew our car was good. It was kind of frustrating to just bide your time, running around 18th to 21st and then putting old tires on when people had new tires and just having to let them go and just be really patient.
“Around the second segment, I said, alright, I’m done messing around, I think our car is good enough we can get up front and run well in this race. Sure, enough we go into pretty much ‘go for it’ mode where we are going to put stickers on every pit stop and everybody else has got one or two sets left, we had four sets left. We started going for it. When I knew I could go we drove up into the top 10. I think we were running ninth or so right behind Jimmie (Johnson). Caution comes out, we were sitting second.
“We come down pit road and my pit crew brings us out first. That was pretty cool. That was a really big win for them to beat a team that has won seven championships with a driver who is the best there is here in NASCAR. To come off pit road first for a team like ours at Germain Racing was huge. That was just big enough. I knew if I could get out front and just be steady and just be a machine I could lead a bunch of laps and you never know what can happen at the end of these races. I just watched my brother win one on fuel mileage. So, I was thinking, let’s back-to-back this thing, it could happen.
“The funny thing is, there was never doubt in my mind that we could run up front with these guys since this year started. I think we just had to prove it to ourselves and prove it to other people that we were a strong team. We did that for sure. We got out front, led quite a few laps, probably more than anybody imagined we would. The No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) were stronger than us and after a while they finally ran us down and passed us, but we were sitting pretty, looking like we were going to finish third or fourth. I think with three or four laps to go we were racing Martin (Truex, Jr.) for fourth and I was really hoping for it to end. Caution comes out, green-white-checkered, we take off on the outside, had a pretty good restart.
“I almost had the No. 31 (Ryan Newman) cleared, pretty much had him cleared and got a little bit loose. I think it was the air off his car on my left-rear got me loose and typically that is just an easy save for me and just wiggle up the track, but the track was not clean at all off Turn 2. There was a big pile of sand there still from speedy dry and as soon as I hit that there was no saving it, it was like hitting ice. We tore up half the field and didn’t really get a good finish to the race. It was unfortunate that that kind of had to happen.
“We still finished 14th. If you would have told us at the beginning of the day we were going to finish 14th we would have taken that as a solid finish and went on to the next race track. But, to do what we did and run up front, lead laps and really probably should have finished in the top five it was a little bit heartbreaking, but the momentum that we have gained from Dover is huge. Not only in just running well and getting a good finish in 14th, but more or less proving to ourselves that we can run with these guys given the right situation and that we can compete and that there is a possibility of us winning a race.”
YOU MENTIONED THAT QUALIFYING HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE. HOW DO YOU TRY TO TURN IT AROUND IN QUALIFYING TODAY AT POCONO?
“We just keep working hard. With Germain Racing we spend, me and Bootie and our couple of engineers, we spend Wednesday in the simulator at Chevrolet and that is one thing that they do for us at Chevrolet that is helpful. They allow us at Germain Racing to have that simulator time because we don’t get very many other resources. We do have the alliance with RCR, but at Germain Racing we are our own entity pretty much too. We go every Wednesday and make laps so I’m as fresh as I can be for being a rookie at some of these places. Luckily, I have raced here before. The thing about qualifying is it is raw speed and you just have to have that raw speed in qualifying to be really good. We did alright at some places and have qualified okay. It’s just a different level when you come to the Cup Series and qualify. It’s harder than anything you ever do. Everybody can go fast for a lap in this series. Everybody can run really fast for at least one or two laps. You get in the race and a good race car and a good driver will come around and rise to the top. We try to focus really hard, it just hasn’t worked out. We’ve got a lot of things to learn still. But, I think Pocono is a place that we can qualify well at. It’s been a good place for me in the past and I really like this place. So, no reason that we shouldn’t be able to improve our qualifying average this week.”
WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS CUP STARTS HERE AT POCONO THAT YOU CAN APPLY TO THIS WEEKEND’S RACE? HOW MUCH IS THAT GOING TO HELP YOU?
“Yeah, I raced the Cup race here last year with Leavine Family Racing, which is one of their cars from their shop. We worked really hard. That car at the time was not one of the best cars, but we qualified 26th or so and really opened my eyes to working on a race car and getting myself to focus on getting the car handling right because you can race better than you qualify even if you don’t have the top speed that you have or that some of the other cars have. We didn’t qualify well at all, but we got the car handling pretty good in practice and got to the point where we were running 17th, 18th in the race. I’m not sure where we ended up at the very end. I don’t know what the final result was, but we were running in front of cars that were way more funded than what our car was. So, it really opened my eyes as a driver coming here last year and running a little bit lesser equipment, something that I hadn’t done before, but it was with a team that really worked hard, so it kind of opened my eyes to hard work proving that if you work hard your car can always outperform guys that might have way more resources. I think that is what we have done all year at Germain Racing.”
WHAT IS YOUR EVALUATION OF YOUR SEASON THUS FAR?
“I think it has gone pretty well. I would give it a ‘B’ right now for our team. I told everybody at the beginning of the year that we were going to compete for this Rookie of the Year and we are going to give them all we’ve got. I think some people thought I was crazy, but we are still right in it. We had a couple of bad finishes. Charlotte, we broke a rear-end. First start or second restart of the race the No. 38 drove into our door and we had a fender rub and put us two laps down then we break a rear-end. Our car was really fast there. It felt like we were going to have a day quite like Dover there as well and ended up finishing 30 something and lost a lot of points. That put us behind and then Daytona at the beginning of the year we finished 38th, got in a crash. If those two days aren’t in there we are sitting even better than what we are right now, which is pretty decent I would say for what we expected. But, after Dover, I think we have definitely reset our goals. Running inside the top 15 is where we want to be and run inside the top 10. You do that then you are also going to have your shots at winning races and you never know, we might make the Chase.”
HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY IMPROVEMENT WITHIN YOURSELF RUNNING BOTH THE XFINITY AND THE CUP SERIES?
“Yeah, I think the first couple of races, the first four or five in a row you don’t realize how much of a demand it is on your schedule and on your body to run both those races. You definitely gain a lot of respect for the guys who have done it their whole career. I have kind of settled in to a schedule and a mindset that has been very helpful as far as going back and forth. It’s a lot of work and it’s hard to concentrate on both, but I’ve gotten really comfortable in that and been able to use it the last couple of weeks to my advantage and it’s definitely helped me improve on both sides. You get out of a Cup car and get into one of those Xfinity cars, you feel like superman and then you run a Xfinity race against some guys that are really hungry and fast and you’ve got to be able to get things done in a hurry because the races are shorter. You learn a lot for the Cup race the next day. I’m enjoying going back and forth.”
DO YOU ANTICIPATE MOVING BACK TO RCR IF THERE IS A SHIFT IN THE ROSTER AFTER THIS YEAR AND A SEAT OPENS UP?
“You know that is not anything I’m prepared to talk about right now. My main focus is on Germain Racing. That is where I’m at and you know they have done a lot for me. Bob Germain has giving me the opportunity to be here at this level and GEICO took a chance on me coming in, a new young guy and it’s gone really well. So, right now, my main focus is getting ourselves into a point where we can make the Chase, win the Rookie of the Year and just race hard. It’s definitely not my focus right now. I feel like now, I’ve gotten to where I want to be in the Cup Series and wherever my career goes from here it will go, but right now I’m focused on racing the No. 13 car for Germain Racing.”
SO BASICALLY, YOU FEEL LOYAL TO BOB GERMAIN?
“Yeah, I feel very loyal to Bob. I mean, Bob took a big chance on me. So, he is somebody that means a lot to me and this opportunity means a lot to me. So, that is special to me. When somebody puts their neck out on the chopping board for you, you always respect him.”
WHAT IS THE TEAM MORALE BEEN LIKE THE LAST FEW WEEKS?
“Oh, it’s been good man, everybody was a little disappointed at Charlotte because we were fast. I mean after that run-in on the restart we came out in front of the leaders with I think one lap fresher tires and ran away from the leaders. So, everybody was excited there to see us get back on the lead lap and the red flag came, the rain came and just the wave arounds weren’t falling our way. We really thought we were going to have a good shot and then we break a rear-end. So, that was disappointing, but we knew in the back of our minds that we had good speed. And then we have had a couple of finishes that have been solid leading up to that race that knocked up down a little bit and we come back to Dover and do what we did. I think everybody is on cloud nine right now. Just as far as confidence and like I continue to say, we proved to ourselves more than anything that it’s definitely possible that we can run up front and win races.”
CAN THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS COME BACK?
“I don’t know. I feel like it’s going to be a close game in Nashville, but man, the Penguins are beating them down pretty good in Pittsburgh. It’s going to be tough. I would like to go to a game, but I’m a little busy (laughs).”
Connect with Team Chevy on social media. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TeamChevy, follow us on Twitter @TeamChevy, add +TeamChevy into your Google+ circles and follow us on Instagram TeamChevy.