What suits this new car to your driving style?
“I don’t know. I don’t feel like I’m really doing anything different. The last couple of weeks the car has handled pretty similar to the old Cup car, not the 550, but the 750 package. I feel like as a team we’ve gotten better. We’ve had more speed in our race cars where last year was obviously a struggle but for me the cars don’t handle much differently I don’t know if other guys just have more habits to break whereas I really didn’t a lot of things that needed to change from an experience standpoint. The NextGen is kind of a hybrid between a Cup car and an Xfinity car in terms of feel, but I think our cars have been really good. We’ve had a lot of speed and we’ve been able to capitalize on that, where last year we never had the speed that we needed for a long time, and the races where we had speed and ran up front, we didn’t have it consistently like we have. this year, so far.”
What do you think of this new car in Richmond?
“Racing at Richmond has been good in the past, it’s so circumstantial. Everyone’s opinion on what makes a good race is different. Some people want to see a lot of passes. Some people want to see the cars slide and slide. Some people want to see wrecks. Others just want to see a close ending at the end. That definition of a good race is different for everyone, so I think at least for me, in the past Auto Club has been great. I also had a great time there this year. Richmond, I really don’t know what to expect. I think this car probably creates a little more grip than the old car in places like Richmond, but I honestly don’t know what to expect when we get there. I think we haven’t really seen this car on a really short track. Yes, Phoenix is a short track, but there’s not a lot of tire drop, while Richmond has a ton of drop, so we have to see how this car reacts to that. It will definitely be interesting to see how this car impacts tire economy and how the guys push themselves and things like that. I think that, with this car, wherever we go, there are many people who come and go. You have guys who are extremely good in the short term, guys who are great in the long term, and with this car you’re constantly changing positions. You add the tire drop side at Richmond and it’s going to be interesting for sure.”
Can you talk about your relationship with Johnny Klausmeier?
“I feel that from the beginning we have always gotten along very well. From a personal point of view, we are both very similar. That has been different for me than the crew chiefs I’ve had in the past. A lot of my crew chiefs aren’t, I guess, I don’t even know what the word would be, as cool and laid back as Johnny is. So, it’s been a little bit different for me because normally it’s a hot and cold deal, where one guy is more upbeat all the time and the other guy is really chill, where Johnny and I are pretty chill the whole time. I think as we continue to learn more about each other, we have only gotten better. Last year was tough, with no practice or qualifying. He was trying to figure out what he was asking for sometimes. He hasn’t worked with any type of Sprint cars before, and our jargon and what we’re looking for is different. I felt like towards the end of last season we really started to click on what I liked about the race car, and this year we’ve done a phenomenal job of doing the same thing. I think our success on the track honestly comes from having practice and qualifying and all that stuff. Last year we were always trying to catch up and it was a real struggle until at the end of the race I always felt like our car drove very well and we were one of the fastest cars but we just got buried from the point of view. of the track position. We already had a lap down from the start of the race, so being able to practice and get our car to drive really well and then qualify and be able to start at the front has been really good for our team.”
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