What are you able to take to Wednesday night’s Cup Series race from Sunday’s race at Darlington?
“Going back and trying to figure out what we need to do to get better. We’ve got problems unloading off the hauler and being good. It takes a lot of work between Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and myself and the engineers to get the car tuned in and dialed into the racetracks. We fought the same thing last year at Indy. We ran terrible last year at Indy with no practice, and it’s a race we had won twice in a row in previous years. It’s something we definitely have to work on, but I have the confidence we can do that. We have M&M’S Fudge Brownie on the car this week for the first time. It would be great to have a good run and showcase them since we get another shot at Darlington here in a few days.”
Out of necessity, you’ll be running some midweek races for the first time ever. What are your thoughts on midweek races?
“To me, a race is a race. Whether I’m in a Cup car, Xfinity, Truck, or a Super Late Model, I’m not sure racing on a Wednesday is going to be all that different for me. Over the years with everything that I’ve raced, I’ve raced during the week all the time, so that part shouldn’t be a problem. As far as going forward, whatever NASCAR decides in the future on when they’ll have races, I’ll be there. It’s really whatever they think is best for the future of the sport and something our fans will like. If they tell me the races are on any day of the week, I’ll be there to race. Doesn’t make much difference to me what day of the week it is.”
What did you think of the safety procedures in place throughout the day on Sunday?
“It seemed to go really smoothly and really easy. Just being able to walk around the track from your bus to the car and just be there to do a job and a duty and less chaos kind of going around, the day seemed to make it a bit easier. Other than that, you kind of miss just being with or around your guys.”
What do drivers mean when they say you have to “race the track” at Darlington?
“It’s tough to pass there, for sure. It’s so difficult. So you run your laps until you get to a pit stop and try to get your guys to have a good stop for you so you can jump a couple of guys. Pit stops become really important there, as is track position and trying to stay up front.”
What makes Darlington a track that is too tough to tame?
“It’s a very narrow and challenging racetrack, especially for the speeds that we carry around there, now. We’re looking forward to getting another shot at Darlington with our M&M’S Fudge Brownie Camry on Wednesday night. You’ve really got to be able to get as close as you can to the wall in order to carry your momentum through the corners because you’ve got to make the straightaways as long as you can. The track is very narrow on entries and exits, so you’re always trying to round the place as much as you can. It’s very one-groovish. You can’t really run side-by-side there. Any time you get alongside somebody, you basically have to let them go. It’s a very big give-and-take type of track. It’s really aero-sensitive now, to where it used to be more about mechanical grip and getting your car to handle well and handle over the bumps well and keep the tires on it. Now you’re restricted off the car in front of you and are trying to find some air, basically.”