Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suárez was made available to the media at Martinsville Speedway:
DANIEL SUÁREZ, No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What happened during MENCS practice earlier today?
“So far it’s been a difficult day. We had some issues in the first practice. Something that is pretty useful here, the wheel hop thing getting into the corner. I feel like, I don’t know, we had some kind of issue with the brakes. Actually in the first run everything went okay, I didn’t wreck or anything. I called that something was weird with the brakes. Then after that went to q-trim (qualifying trim) and we wrecked in the first lap pretty much. Not very happy about that, but that’s part of racing. We moved to a backup car and we’ll start from there.”
Can you talk about difficulties in losing crew chief Dave Rogers this week and is it helpful that you and new crew chief Scott Graves have worked together already?
“Well it was a surprise for me as well. I respect a lot Dave’s decision to do this and to try to take care of his personal stuff. You know, with a Cup schedule, as busy as it is, sometimes it’s difficult to do both things at the same time. I have a lot of respect for Dave. He’s a great guy, a great crew chief. I know how hard he wants to be at the racetrack. It’s pretty much what he’d been working hard his entire life and the only thing I can do is wish him the best. I hope that he comes back soon.”
Talk about how you well you and Dave Rogers worked together and do you know if he’ll come back?
“The truth is that I don’t really know. I wish I knew, but I don’t really know myself. What I can tell you is that Dave is an amazing person. Outside of the race track he’s an amazing person. Even before I started racing with him in Daytona I went to his house with the entire team and we had dinner. I mean he’s a great great person and we’ve become friends. We’ve been together just five races and we are right now very tight friends. I really respect his decision. I can tell you that he wishes he was here. I wish him the best with whatever decision he is making. I just hope that he comes back soon to do whatever that he loves to do – that is being in the races and being at the race track every weekend just like myself.”
Did you see Dave Rogers stepping away coming at all?
“Not at all. I pretty much got to know this almost at the same time as you guys. It was something that took me as a surprise and actually it took him as a surprise as well. It was a hard week for the whole organization, but luckily Joe Gibbs Racing is a family. Everyone supports each other very well. He’s still part of the team even when he’s not here with us right now. He’s still in communication with all of us. Luckily we got Scott (Graves). With Scott, he’s a great crew chief. We won a championship together. We’ve been working just one year and we know each other very well so luckily he was able to step in to the Cup deal.”
Did you have input in Scott Graves being your new crew chief and are you approaching it as Scott will be your crew chief for the rest of the year?
“I mean I don’t really know what is going to happen. I guess we are going to move as we go. I had some input for sure to put Scott in the seat because I know Scott. I know what he can do. I know what we’ve done together. It was important to put somebody there that I knew already. Really Scott is the person. I don’t really know what is going to be the plan for the future. I’m guessing that maybe Scott is going to stay there for the whole year but I don’t really know. I guess we’re going to move as we go.”
After having a good start to the season, does having issues in practice here today make you realize how much work you still have to do in the Cup Series?
“No. Martinsville is a difficult race track. Everything can happen here. I’ve seen drivers coming from the back twice and winning the race. It’s one of those places that you need to be patient and now with a backup, I guess we’re going to be for sure better – adjusting those brakes. Hopefully we can move to the right direction starting tomorrow. It seems like the weather is kind of difficult right now so that maybe holds my team to gain some time and prepare the backup 100 percent and move from there.”
How much do you feel this crew chief change sets you back?
“I don’t really know. I felt like for sure I was getting to a point with Dave where we were kind of slowly making that chemistry and communication. Making those click. It’s never good when you’re in that spot of knowing each other and then we have to split. The good thing is that I know Scott very well and he knows me very well. And actually I was expecting to race with him more than 14, 15 times in XFINITY stuff this year so we know him very well. He knows what I need to be fast. He knows my weak points as well. I think having Scott jump into the Cup program I think is important. And I hope we don’t have to get back any. I hope we stay the same or even forward. And try to move from there. Luckily we got a great group of guys that are supporting Scott and myself and everything we need to try to move forward because we don’t have any time to lose right now racing every week.”
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