What will be the biggest challenge for the upcoming season?
Most of the tracks I hit last year in the Nationwide Series, but not all of them. We didn’t go to Pocono and a couple of them and I haven’t been to a lot of the tracks in a Cup car in a long time. I don’t think that’s going to put us necessarily in a deficit, but if I had to pick one challenge, that would be it.”
Is there one track you favor over others?
“I like all of them to be honest with you. Daytona -- I haven’t run the Daytona 500 for a few years. Racing in Europe, it’s been since I guess 2011. I’m looking forward to it, but I’m looking forward to all the races.”
How did you learn your work ethic and commitment?
“I don’t really know specifically, I would certainly have to say my parents. My mom and dad and my family, kind of mentors along the way -- my grandparents always worked hard and instilled a lot of work ethic in myself and my sister.”
How have you been able to overcome the setbacks you’ve experienced?
“I think you have to be resilient in this sport because there is always going to be ups and downs. Particularly with everything I’ve gone through, there’s been more than most. You can just never give up and you have to keep pushing through.”
How much are you looking forward to getting the 2014 started?
“Very, for a lot of reasons. One, my first full-time year back in quite some time. Being out of the car with health issues and getting ready to run the Daytona 500 again for the first time in a couple years.”
What was your reaction to learning about last year’s health issues? “I haven’t really put a lot of thought into it, which may answer your question. I’m really trying to be a forward thinking person with some reflection upon the past in regards to not making mistakes again. You want to learn from the past. But, I don’t want to dwell on the past. Clearly I had that incident, I did everything I possibly could to find out and learn as much as I possibly could about the clots, what causes them, why I had them, what I can do to prevent it, what I can do next time and I worked with a lot of doctors on it.
The reality of it is, they really felt it was a fluke accident. I went through all the genetic testing, I didn’t have anything that was known to produce spontaneous clots. But, there’s always the unknown, right? In general, I move forward. I’m not saying I completely forgot about it, but focused on the future. My attitude and optimism are probably representative of that. It’s just kind of the way I approach it.
It doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it on a long flight getting up and walking around. There’s things you can do and things I do now on a more conscious level that most people -- things that everyone should do. It’s part of the reason I partnered with clotconnect.org and Janssen to raise awareness on clotting issues. The long flights, the long drives, the hydration -- all those things that can affect your ability to produce clots or immobilization, which is what happened the second time. I had a boot on for a month, immobilized my right ankle and calf and that’s what produced the clot. Now it’s the same thing.
I went through the same routine. I went to all the best doctors and said why, where and what happened. Here’s what happened. Okay, what’s next? Three months of anti-coagulation, blood thinners and then after that you can get off and you can go drive. I’m still probably as conscious if not more conscious and careful than I was the first time. At the end of the day, you just have to point forward and just go.”