MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TOYOTA OWNERS 400
RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 28, 2017
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BANK CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed what it’s like to see his name in the news a lot, his views of the younger drivers coming up in the sport, grassroots racing, and more. Full Transcript:
HOW DO YOU AND YOUR TEAM PLAN TO EXTEND YOUR POINT LEAD HEADING INTO SUNDAY’S RACE?
“We had a good run here last year. I typically don’t run great here. I’m okay. I run typically right around tenth. Last year we were a lot better and we were able to finish second. Hopefully we’ve hit on a balance I like here and can show it again here this weekend. It’ll be different, though. That was a night race. This is going to be with the sun out and hot and slick. So, it’ll be harder on your tires. You have to take care of all that stuff, your brakes and everything. So, we’ll just wait and see. Richmond is a tough race track. It’s super slick. To me, it feels like one of the slickest places we go to once the tires wear out. So, I’ve got to do my best to take care of my race car.”
THE SPEEDING PENALTY AT BRISTOL COST YOU A CHANCE AT WINNING THE RACE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW SO MANY DRIVERS THIS SEASON ARE STRUGGLING WITH PIT ROAD PENALTIES AND LOSING RACES IN THE PROCESS? WHAT’S THE ISSUE YOU GUYS ARE HAVING?
“I think, you know, they’ve added segments. Well, I guess at Bristol they haven’t added any segments. But at most tracks, they’ve added twice as may segments. If you get a little too fast over your speed limit, it’s hard to get back down before you get to the end of that zone. I think that’s why you see more people getting more speeding penalties. Last week it looked like on my in-car….you can kind of speed around the corner there and then you have to slow down once you get on the straightaway. And when I went to slow down, Joey (Logano) was still in the corner behind me and tapped my rear bumper and it got my rhythm off and I think I was only like a half-mile over. So, yeah, that was unfortunate because we had a good car last week. But, Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and everybody made an aggressive pit call there at the end to take two left-side tires and we gained a lot of track position and had a shot at winning still. I wish I wouldn’t have sped there. We would have had probably a little bit better shot at a win. But, Jimmie (Johnson) got going really good there at the end.”
YOU WERE FAIRLY DEFIANT AT BRISTOL ABOUT TWO LANES WERE THE BEST WAY. AND THEN I SAW YOUR TWEET POST-RACE, YOU FELT PRETTY VINDICATED. WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE TO THAT TWEET? WHAT DID YOU HEAR FROM PEOPLE?
“I would say more people probably agreed with me by the end of the race. You still had your older race fans that enjoyed the single file racing around the bottom. But, I know all the drivers enjoy when we can move around and find different lines on the race track because it makes, at least from our seat; maybe it doesn’t translate to TV as well, but in our seat the racing is way better that way. And I thought Bristol last week was awesome, especially because we had all the rain and the track was fresh there to start the race. So, it went through all the changes it normally goes through throughout the weekend in one race. The line changed so much. It kept all of us drivers and teams on our toes because we had to search around a lot and try and do things in the cockpit to make our car better because the track was going through so many changes.
“I think that style of racing at Bristol is awesome. There’s no other track on our circuit that has that exciting and intensive racing. I watched the race again last night and I thought it was amazing. Hopefully they don’t try and do anything more to make us go around the bottom because Bristol is awesome.”
DO YOU EMPATHIZE AT ALL WITH THE OLD-SCHOOL FANS FOR THE BUMP AND RUN?
“So, I haven’t been in this sport a long time. The pace of our races now days have to be way faster than what they were running in the early 2000’s or whenever the best racing at Bristol was. We were running qualifying laps around there all race long. And too, our bumpers line up. So, it’s not easy to do the bump and run. You see on TV people do hit somebody in front of them and the guy in front of him barely moves. Where, back before the bumpers lined-up, you could get into somebody, pick them up, and move them. Well now, you just hit them and they don’t really go anywhere. So, the bump and run is kind of gone away a little bit just the way I think our style of our bodies are, as well as I think we have more grip now days than they probably had back then. So, the pace, to me feels extremely fast, especially when you put the VHT down it gets faster and faster down there so it makes it harder for us to do the bump and run. So yeah, the style of racing and the style of cars is just different than what it used to be and I don’t think you’re going to get all the way back to how they all like it.”
THEY USED TO SEAL THIS PLACE UNTIL ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO. THEY USED TO TREAT THE SURFACE. THEY’VE STOPPED DOING THAT. SHOULD THEY CONSIDER SOMETHING LIKE THE VHT AT BRISTOL HERE? DOES IT NEED IT? WOULD IT HELP IT?
“I don’t know. There again, this is another short track and all the drivers complain, all of us complained a few years ago when it was single file around the bottom the whole time. And then Goodyear brought a great tire back and now we’re running all over the race track and the drivers and fans seem to like it. So, it’s the opposite, I guess, that fans want one thing at one track and about the opposite at another short track. So, I don’t know. I think the racing here is good, really good right now, and a lot of fun, too. So, I don’t have an opinion on if VHT at this place would make it better or worse or what.”
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF TALK THIS WEEK WITH DALE JUNIOR’S ANNOUNCEMENT TO RETIRE; ALONG WITH THE RETIREMENT OF A BUNCH OF GUYS LIKE TONY STEWART AND JEFF GORDON AND CARL EDWARDS, AND THE NEED FOR NASCAR TO IDENTIFY WHO THE NEXT STARS ARE GOING TO BE. HOW MUCH OF AN OPPORTUNITY DOES THAT FEEL LIKE FOR YOU? HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT THERE BE A BUNCH OF GUYS THAT RISE UP AND BECOME POPULAR LIKE THAT?
“Although it’s sad that we have all our veterans and heroes retiring. I think NASCAR is in a great position with all the young talent that they have in the Cup series currently, and really in every feeder series below them, there’s a lot of young guys with great equipment and good backing. So, I think the competition will be good. And, there’s a lot of personalities, too, with people getting themselves out there on social media and stuff like that; showing their personalities. So, I feel like we’re in a good spot to have some new stars step-up. I know a lot of people have been pointing at myself and Chase (Elliott) and (Ryan) Blaney, just to name three. That’s pretty cool to be in that category and hopefully we all have a lot of Junior’s fans kind of dispersed to cheer for us and don’t just leave the sport totally. So, it’s going to be interesting to see, with him retiring, how it changes the sport, popularity-wise. It could be good. It could be bad. Who knows? I think all of us young guys are ready to kind of fill in his shoes a little bit.”
WHEN YOU DID 12 QUESTIONS WITH JEFF GLUCK, HE ASKED YOU A SIMILAR QUESTION ABOUT GRASSROOTS RACING, OPEN-WHEEL RACING, AND BASICALLY I THINK YOU SAID YOU WERE ONE OF THE LAST REAL RACERS LEFT. CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY THAT IS IMPORTANT AND WHY NASCAR FANS NEED TO HAVE A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE ROOTS OF THE SPORT?
“I think NASCAR fans understand grassroots racing and stuff. There are other drivers at the Cup level that go on their off-weekends and run other types of racing and stuff. They don’t race nearly as much as I do outside of NASCAR. And I would race a lot more if I was allowed to. That’s why I feel like I’m the last true racer. I would love to race any type of vehicle, whether it’s in a circle or a straight line or a road course, I don’t care. I just feel like I think like Andretti and Foyt and Tony Stewart, like I feel like I’m in the same category as them. They would race anything every day of the week. Like I said, there’s a couple that will race here and there, but I would race every day of the week if I could. So, that’s why I feel like I’m the last true racer left.”
WHEN YOU GOT SIGNED BY CHIP GANASSI, HE LOOKED AT YOU FOR YOUR TALENT AND NOT WHAT MONEY YOU HAD. YOUR DAD SAID HE WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO STAY WITH CHIP GANASSI YOUR ENTIRE CAREER AND BE THE IMPETUS FOR CHANGING THAT TEAM INTO SOMETHING THAT’S A HUGE POWERHOUSE. IS THAT WISHFUL THINKING OR IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU ACTUALLY, TOO, YOU WANT TO BELIEVE?
“As far as turning into a powerhouse, it depends a lot on hard work and all that. So, that’s all wishful thinking that hopefully it will turn into kind of like what Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports was when he first started. So, I’m very thankful that Chip signed me a few years ago without any funding, because I had no funding, and moved me up the ladder quick. It all kind of worked out perfect with me and my situation. So, I’m very loyal to Chip. I love racing for him. It’s been especially fun this year because we do have fast race cars. So, yeah, I would love to be with Chip the rest of my career. We’ve just got to continue to keep working hard and keep building fast race cars.”
AND, THERE’S A LOT OF FAN TALK ABOUT YOU, RIGHT OR WRONG, AND THE NO. 88 CHEVY SS AND THAT SORT OF THING
“Yeah, I’ve been reading that a lot. It’s funny to look at that and fans think they know everybody’s contract situation so I think it’s pretty funny.”
SO MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT HOW YOU’RE RUNNING SO EARLY IN THE SEASON. THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CHATTER ABOUT LIVING UP TO YOUR POTENTIAL AND SHOWING EVERYBODY THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. DO YOU LISTEN TO WHAT THEY ARE SAYING?
“Yeah, I read it all. When you’re running good, it’s easy to read all the positive stuff. Whenever I’ve ran bad in the past that’s when I stop reading everything. But no, for sure, right now I listen to every talk show deal on FOX or NBC or read every article that my name is tagged in. Not that it boosts my ego or anything, it’s just cool to kind of see what people are talking about myself and our race team because we’re running good right now. It definitely doesn’t go to my head and I don’t think it goes to any of our people’s head at our race shop or our race teams. We’re just enjoying what we’ve got going on right now and having fun with it.”
DOES IT PUT MORE PRESSURE OR LESS PRESSURE BECAUSE OF HOW YOU’RE RUNNING? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO KEEP PROVING THAT THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING THE REST OF THE YEAR? OR, DOES IT KIND OF TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF THAT YOU’RE WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE?
“I’ve never really felt like I’ve had to prove anything. I just try to have as much fun as I can. It’s easy to have fun when you’re running good. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t put any pressure on myself. I don’t let the media put any pressure on me or our guys and gals at our race team. But, it’s just fun to be this fast and I’m hoping we can ride this wave all the way to Homestead and win the championship.”
CHIP GANASSI LOVES TO HAVE HIS DRIVERS’ CONTRACTS OUT IN THE MEDIA, SO I JUST THOUGHT I’D JUST GIVE YOU THIS CHANCE. FANS LIKE TO SPECULATE. WOULD YOU LIKE TO JUST TELL THEM THERE’S NO POSSIBILITY OF YOU LEAVING IN THE NEXT HOWEVER MANY SEASONS?
“Oh, I’d have to talk to Chip, I guess, before I came out in public about anything that serious. So, I won’t talk about anything like that because I don’t even know if I’m allowed to, or not. I know Jamie (McMurray) is very secret about all his stuff. But, I don’t know.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHEN DALE EARNHARDT JR. MADE HIS CUP DEBUT, YOU WERE LIKE ABOUT 4 OR 5 YEARS OLD? WHAT DID YOU SEE IN HIM AT A YOUNG AGE, NOT RACING ALONGSIDE OF HIM, BUT WHAT INFLUENCE HE’S HAD ON YOU?
“I’m 24 right now. I didn’t watch a ton of NASCAR growing up. I don’t even remember watching him get started. But, I do remember after his dad had passed, all the pressure that was put on him and stuff. You kind of feel for him a little bit. I remember back then, because a lot of the fans kind of try and live Dale Sr. through Dale Jr. I’m sure that was tough on him. He had a lot of expectations on him. And he’s done such a good job of handling all that and being real and being him. I don’t know him a ton, but I’ve spent enough time around him a little bit and people that have spent time around him, they all say he’s the same guy at the race track that he is at home. I think that’s really good and cool. He’s had a lot of success in his 18 or 19 years and it’s cool to see how he’s handled all that pressure, but still performed at a high level, too.”
TALKING ABOUT THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD FROM THE OLDER STARS TO THE YOUNGER STARS, HOW MUCH MORE OF A CHANCE DOES THIS HAVE TO SUCCEED? LOOK AT THE POINTS RIGHT NOW. YOU AND CHASE (ELLIOTT) AND RYAN (BLANEY) ARE DOING VERY WELL. IT SEEMS LIKE NOT HAVING TO SELL THAT THESE GUYS ARE GOING TO BE GOOD SOME DAY IS A BIG PART.
“It’s really cool, I read some stuff this morning that nobody is mentioning Joey Logano, but he’s only two years older than I am. So, he’s up there as well. It’s cool to see that there’s a handful of us up in the front of the standings, not just one of us, for NASCAR to promote us even better. I think next week, myself and Ryan and Chase and maybe Erik Jones or something are all doing like a media tour throughout D.C. and New York and stuff like that. So, it’s fun to have all of us running well and getting promoted, finally. I feel like I’ve got to watch a couple of other guys be promoted a lot the last year or so. But, now that I’m running up front, it’s good to be a part of that group and get my name out there more. Like I’ve been saying, too, there’s a lot of young guys and gals that are below us that are coming up. It’s going to be interesting. I think the next four or five years, NASCAR is going to go through an exciting change. The average is going down and I think new sponsors will hopefully be coming in and new fan bases because we are Millennials, and that’s kind of who we need to get in our sport. So, it’s going to be fun to have all of us work hard and try to build our brands and build the sport as well.”