Toyota Motorsports press release
How does the ankle injury you suffered last year compare to other injuries you've experienced? "This is the longest injury I've ever had. I know it's just an ankle so it didn't seem like it was going to be that big of a deal, but they couldn't hook any of the small bones in the foot to anything else. Just had 40 fractures in there. It's taken a while. It's kind of fusing together nicely, though."
How did you feel after competing in the 24 Hours at Daytona race? "I honestly, the foot, the ankle is 100 percent solid -- it moves, it does everything good. We're still just waiting for the foot and the toes to have a little bit more feel, I guess -- feel of the pedal and whatnot. I tell you what, it would have been a lot tougher if it was the brake foot -- that has a lot of pressure -- but the throttle foot has been working out pretty good. I can put a lot of weight on my heel. I don't have to heel-toe or anything. I can put the weight on the heel."
What does your race schedule for this year look like? "It's definitely a lot more solidified. They just wanted to see -- it wasn't until last week that the Rally Cross season was announced, that changed a little bit of what we were doing. Definitely my main focus is in NASCAR in the Nationwide Series, but with only seven races guaranteed through the sponsorship basically, we're going to try to do as many K&N Series races as possible. It helped a lot with the sponsors to still do X Games and Rallycross and stuff. Definitely try to put together a really good program for that, as well."
Where will you debut in the Nationwide Series? "Richmond will be the Nationwide debut."
Does fear affect your racing? "Unfortunately, no fear doesn't really help in NASCAR as much. Even in Rally, you could take chances, you could take some gambles. In NASCAR, it seems like the harder you try to push, almost -- not to say the slower the car goes -- but you have to keep it right on that edge. If you go beyond the edge, you basically burn the tires off. Cole Trickle didn't say a lot of things that were right about NASCAR, but that's one thing that's been very difficult. Where, even if I'll be able to stay on pace for 10 laps, by the 15th or 20th lap we're dropping off faster than the guys around me. It's just figuring out how to talk to the team, how to manage the tires, how to adjust the car so I can drive it the way I need to drive it."
Were you surprised at how many things you need to be aware of in NASCAR? "I think I wouldn't have been surprised of anything. I know a lot about driving, but I don't know a lot about stock car racing. I watched it on TV, but there's a big difference between what the fans think is possible and what is actually possible. To be so close, first time out I was half-a-second off the track record -- I was like, 'This is going to be….' They said, 'You have to pick up two-tenths or you won't even qualify this track.' 'Wow, okay, this is close, these guys are good and it's going to be a lot of fun.'"
Were you surprised that sponsorship is difficult to attain? "It's definitely been a lot tougher than we anticipated. It's definitely a tough economy. Also, a lot of the sponsors are just waiting to see if I'm going to stay healthy. For me, last year we had a great start to what could have been a great start to hopefully a career. I messed that up and now (Michael) Waltrip took a big hit, I took a big hit -- everybody lost money on the season last year. Maybe this isn't going to be as easy as we thought it was going to be, for sure."
Will staying healthy solve the sponsorship issues? "Well, stay healthy and don't suck. That's kind of for anybody. If you can do well. I think what's been awesome is that I do have great sponsors, I do have a fan base that hopefully will buy me a little bit more time to get in there. Bottom line is you have to do well."