MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 5, 2017
ON RAISING MONEY FOR THE NATIONWIDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL BY SELLING SPACES TO FANS S THEY CAN HAVE THEIR NAMES ON THE NO. 88 CHEVY SS FOR THE RACE AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY:
“Yeah, Nationwide put together a real cool program for the car we are going to race in Kentucky where they sold the hood off to the race fans to put their name on it and sold it out in 24 hours, so they found room for more names and sold that out in another 24 hours and raised $81,000 really quick. We need to take a page out of the book from what they did and utilize some of that marketing and awareness in our own foundation because that was really fast and raised a lot of money in just such a short period of time. All that goes direction to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, so very happy to be able to support that. That is something that we are definitely connected to and have been for some time. Really cool. Anytime you get an opportunity to do that, it seemed effortless to do, and it makes a big impact for the hospital. The fans will get to have their name on the car for the race and on the diecast. Obviously, Tyler (Overstreet, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Road Manager) was telling me for the diecast they will put like 300 names on one series of diecasts and another 300 names on another series so the fans can actually see their name when they get the diecast on there. So, that will be fun for them I believe.”
YOU HAVE A GREAT CONNECTION WITH YOUR FANS ACROSS THE BOARD AT EVERY TRACK. IS IT DIFFERENT AT TALLADEGA? AND IF SO HOW?
“There are a lot of them here. It seems like we have a ton of fans in this area. The first time I ever really went deer hunting was with my father in Alabama. Used to have a lot of friends down here, everybody has kind of grown up and moved out, but used to come down here when I was working with Budweiser and Remington and do some hunting.
“Always loved coming here as a kid to see the races, this was such a fun race track to be at. And the little go kart track not far from here where we stayed at the hotel and we used to burn through a $100 bill every night with my buddies Mike Whitcomb, Bob’s son, and Doug Williams son, Scottie and Brad Means, Jimmy’s son.
“So, been coming here a long time and Dad won a lot of races here, we won some races, won four in a row. Pretty much was unbeatable there for a while just about had five in a row over there in Turns 3 and 4, they gave it to (Jeff) Gordon and then we won the next time back, which would have been six in a row. So, pretty good little streak there and I think the fans really appreciated what we were doing on the track.
“They come out here to have fun. I think watching a race at Talladega is so different than anywhere else because at Talladega when you come to watch a race just imagine all you guys in here (in the media center) that you have a favorite driver, right. If you go to a race at Talladega your driver can literally, possibly take the lead at any moment in the race. You can’t say that anywhere else. So, with that comes a responsibility, I think, as a driver to try to make that happen because when you come off Turn 4 you can see a big difference in arms in the air and people excited about what just happened when you take the lead. That really… you can’t create that anywhere else. And they want you to keep doing that all day long because they just want to celebrate all day. They want to have fun. When you get up there and mix it up it gives them what they want. So, I think that is why I like running here and definitely makes it a unique experience as opposed to any other track we go to.”
YOU TWEETED EARLIER THIS WEEK THAT MANIPULATING THE SUSPENSION IS KIND OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYBODY IS TRYING TO STILL WORK IN THAT AREA. HOW MUCH WORK DO YOU FEEL LIKE IS GOING ON IN THAT AREA AND IS IT JUST A MATTER OF TIME THAT YOU WILL SEE WHAT WE SAW THIS WEEK WITH PEOPLE GETTING PENALIZED FOR IT?
“Well, if you know where there is speed you’ve got to be crazy not to try to work in that area. We saw a long time ago the benefits from skewing and yawing the cars and skewing the housings. It’s hard to remove the engineering and unlearn what we have understood and found to be competitive.
“If they tried to, for example, make rules to unseal the cars, everybody would spend all the money they had to figure out how to seal the car back. We know that is best and we are going to try working that direction. You can grumble about the Penske deal, but at the same time, it’s impressive that they figured out something because the rules have gotten harder to make something happen with the changes that they made to the rear-end housings. It’s made it almost impossible to figure out a way to get anything back there to move around. So, and anybody does it in this environment that we have today it’s quite impressive. Everybody is certainly watching everybody in the garage wondering who is doing what and how they are doing it. When you see a bunch of guys laying underneath the back-end of a car you just assume they are trying to figure something out or doing something that nobody else knows about. But that is the thing about the garage is you can’t really hide from each other. Either NASCAR is going to figure it out and let everybody know what is going on or somebody sees it or you see something going on in the garage stall next to you and it don’t take long to trickle through the rest of the garage and everybody has it.
“The great thing about it is you don’t always want to be the first guy to figure it out. You want to be the guy that figures it out at the right time of the season because everybody takes the idea, whatever the Penske guys are doing the smart people in all these companies know. They will take that idea and they will make it better. They will put a little spin on it and make it their own. So, you don’t want to figure that out at the beginning of the season. It’s kind of important to figure that out when all the money is on the line.”
YOU DON’T CARRY A WALLET EVEN A DRIVERS LICENSE WITH YOU? SO, FIRST OF ALL, WHAT THE HELL? SECOND OF ALL HOW DO YOU FUNCTION IN DAILY LIFE WITHOUT LIKE A CREDIT CARD? WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU WANT TO GO GET SOMETHING TO EAT OR GET GAS OR SOMETHING?
“Sometimes I forget (laughs). I have a gas tank at the house, so I don’t buy gas from the store. We buy gas in bulk, it’s a little cheaper. This is something Kenny Wallace told me a long time ago when I was fixing up my property about 2002, 2003, he was like ‘get you a gas tank and buy it in bulk, it’s cheaper and that way you ain’t got to go anywhere to get gas, you just pull out of the driveway, pump it right there and get on down the road.’ So, that is what I do with gas. Usually, if I ain’t got my wallet and it’s time to eat whoever is with me is going to buy the food. I’m good for it though, so it’s usually not big discussion. I mean, yes, probably fifty percent of the time I will leave the house, unintentionally without my wallet. And it’s a pain in the butt because I go over to JR Motorsports and I don’t have my key to get in the door and have to get somebody to come down there and get me in. Which is a little embarrassing for the boss or the guy that owns the building. But, you know, I don’t really spend money. I don’t really go buy stuff so I don’t … usually when I’m out and about I am going to do something as far as a responsibility with my team, going to the team meeting or something like that. I’m not really hardly in a store to physically purchase anything. I guess that is why I keep forgetting it is because I don’t hardly need it.”
AFTER THE TEXAS RACE, YOU MENTIONED THE SPEED THAT THE PENSKE CARS HAD AND THE SWERVING AND THE HARD DOWNSHIFTING THEY WERE DOING… WAS THAT AN OPEN LETTER TO NASCAR TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHAT THEY WERE DOING OR MAYBE A PLEA TO YOUR ENGINEERS TO FIGURE IT OUT BETTER THAN THEY WERE DOING?
“It wasn’t a plea to NASCAR at all. That is one thing, I don’t know there is no really… there is an etiquette or kind of an unspoken code in the garage you don’t really… if you go up in the hauler and complain to NASCAR about something you see that is not well appreciated by anybody else in the garage. There are guys that do that, but it’s not really appreciated. Like I say, you try to figure out what guys are doing to find speed and create something better, build a better mousetrap.
“If I see something on the race track, I can’t help that everybody has my radio and you or anyone else can hear what I’m going to say, but I have to tell my team what I see. And I don’t trust myself to wait until I get into the garage without forgetting what I saw and making sure that I help them understand clearly exactly what is going on. Whatever you see, if you see a car that looks like it has more skew than anyone else or if you see a guy that is sealing his side skirts better, anything you see you make a note of it and maybe mention it to your team because it is something that is worth discussing. How can we do that or why did I see what I saw? What is the advantage to that and let’s try to understand it and figure out what we can do to learn from it. We are all out there trying to figure out how to get our cars to run faster, every team and I was more impressed I think than anything about … anytime a team, no matter who it is, figures something out its impressive the ingenuity and engineering going on in the garage trying to figure out a way around the rulebook. It’s been going on ever since they made the first rulebook. As a driver and someone that knows a little bit about the mechanics of the car it’s always impressive when you see what guys can come up with to try to find speed in these cars.”
WOULD YOU STILL BE INTERESTED IN RACING A LATE MODEL AFTER THIS SEASON IS OVER OR HAS YOUR INJURY CHANGED THOSE ASPIRATIONS?
“Yeah, I think it is. I will just have to see how much I’ve got as far as how much I want to do that. I have the access to the cars that we have on our late model program. We are going to run some Xfinity races and we will see. If the itch gets too bad we will have to go to the track and have some fun. Yeah, I’m certainly still open to that. It certainly just depends on the side of the bed you wake up on as to whether you want to go over to Hickory and fool around and have some fun. I mean those guys are serious. They are not out there goofing off as a hobby, so if you are going to go do it, you better be ready to get after it. I’ve been over there and watched them. They are trying to do the same thing I was when I was running late models was trying to get up to the next level.”
LAST WEEK YOU HAD SAID SOMETHING ON THE RADIO TO THE EFFECT OF WANTING TO KIND OF SCRAP THE SET-UP AND TRY SOMETHING ELSE. IS THERE JUST A CERTAIN FEEL YOU HAVEN’T HAD IN THE CARS THIS YEAR THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?
“The set-up for Richmond is nothing like any set-up that we would run anywhere else, so it’s not necessarily the cars don’t feel the same every week. We have had some great cars, we have had some not so awesome cars. I think as a company we weren’t very strong last week. All four cars had different set-up’s in them. We were trying to run our car completely different than the other three. The funny thing about Richmond is that set-up worked pretty good last year. And for whatever reason it didn’t work good this year. Richmond is just one of those places where you can’t keep taking the same thing back and expecting the same results. You’ve just got to be really open-minded to going in a completely different direction and we were, that is why we showed up so different from our teammates, but it just didn’t work out. But it wasn’t even better or worse than any of the other three cars. As a group, we needed to have a little bit more speed and we are working on it.”
IS IT KIND OF TWO-FOLD THAT YOU HAVE TO GET THE WIN, BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO MAYBE PREPARE IN CASE YOU MAKE IT INTO THE PLAYOFFS? HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THAT?
“Man, I just drive them. I ain’t worried about all that. I got so much going on. I trust in the team and Greg (Ives, crew chief) and everybody to know that when we get to certain race tracks we’ve got the best car we need. We’ve got a good set-up under the car and we are doing the best thing we can for ourselves to be competitive whether we are in the Playoffs, whether it’s the second race of the year or the last race of the year. We take the best car we can and give it our best effort. We just need to put together some races here. We’ve got to get a good handful of races under our belt that are finishes that we can be proud of and see where that nets us on the points deal, but it would be nice if we could just go ahead and get a win out of the way and get on with it. But, it’s going to be a fun year regardless of how things shake up in the end. I do think we can win some races, I really do.”