With no on-track activity before the race at Bristol Sunday, will that give you any sort of advantage, considering your number of wins there?
“I’m not sure it gives me any sort of advantage there, necessarily. Obviously, with the success we’ve had there over the years, I feel really good about going there. But we make a lot of adjustments typically when we get there. We go through practice, we are really fine-tuning a lot of different things and being nitpicky about a bunch of it to make sure we get it to where we want it for the race. Bristol is an important place because, if you are going to run the bottom for a while with that traction compound that’s put down there, as that wears, the groove is definitely going to move up around the top toward the end of the race and you have to be ready for a lot of versatility. So you definitely have to understand some of those adjustments during practice is a big deal and we won’t have that, so we just have to get after it right at the start of the race. I know our guys are up to the task and hope we can have a good Skittles Camry and have it with enough adjustability in it so we can make the right changes and have a shot at the win there.”
You make Bristol look easy at times when it seemed difficult for others. What’s the key to that?
“Bristol is kind of a finicky place. You’re used to running on asphalt every week and so the concrete can throw you for a little bit of a loop. But that place ages and the track changes, there’s some little nuances that change with the racing surface and the line, they’re always changing something. We had the old concrete there and then they went to this progressive style concrete and then they ground the top and then they spread the PJ1 on the bottom, and now you run the bottom but you end up going back to the top at the end the race. It’s just paying attention to days leading up to it, with the Xfinity race or Trucks in the fall and getting your eyes on the track and seeing what it’s doing. We won’t have that luxury now, but we’ll obviously be paying attention to how the race starts and which way track is trending with our Skittles Camry.”
How has the hectic schedule, from going to Darlington twice, Charlotte twice and then to Bristol, been for the team and the drivers from your perspective?
“I think for the teams it’s been a really big deal. For many of the drivers, it’s not been a big deal because they are only running just Xfinity or just Cup races. I’m running all of them, so it’s kind of crazy for me. Going back and forth and being at the track each day. It’s been fun and it’s been unique. It’s been a good opportunity for me to get back in a race vehicle and running laps and getting back to my usual race form as quickly as possible.”
Without practice, do you think it’s going to be more difficult at Bristol than it has been at Darlington and Charlotte?
“I think it is. The way that PJ1 is sprayed down and how and where it’s sprayed down and what the cars do. I’m not sure if there’s a different tire there or not, but any time you have a different tire, it’s a whole new wrench that’s thrown into the plan, as well. During practice, we get to lay some rubber down. So we get to groom the racetrack in before the race and we are not doing that. We are going to have to start cold turkey, so that is going to be quite the interesting moment for all of us.”
What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique?
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time and sometimes a frustrating time when things don’t always go your way.”
What is your first memory of Bristol and what is your best story of success?
“I remember my first time. It was in an Xfinity Series car at a test session for Hendrick Motorsports. I remember I needed about 27 laps before I thought I was going to knock the wall down, with all the optimism and pumped-up feelings I had about going there. But after that, it’s been pretty fun. We’ve had some challenging times there, but also I’ve had some good times there. Looking to continue that on Sunday with our Skittles Camry. What’s the highlight? You can’t dismiss the sweeps there. I would say that the first one was really, really awesome and really, really special, and the second one was special, as well.”