WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DARLINGTON THIS WEEKEND? "It feels like one of the best cars that I've unloaded with here at Darlington. You always try to pace yourself in practice on how good the car feels. The "Lady in Black" will come up and smack...
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DARLINGTON THIS WEEKEND? "It feels like one of the best cars that I've unloaded with here at Darlington. You always try to pace yourself in practice on how good the car feels. The "Lady in Black" will come up and smack you if you get too confident.
"Today, I felt the car get loose and we spun around. It just seemed like the tire blew and when I finally got it to a stop, we had all four (tires) blown out. We were able to get a set of tires and go back out there and run some competitive track times. The toughest angle that we have here, one like we had at Richmond, Phoenix, it's where you get all your practice in during the hot afternoon, then you race at night. Those are the things that we're trying to get a better grasp on at Penske.
For us, a couple of good runs, a couple of bad runs, we find ourselves eighth in points and everything seems pretty steady. I got to see Ricky Craven earlier today. He came in the garage area and gave me a handshake. That's cool, to share that relationship with him and be part of NASCAR history with the closest finish."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT DARLINGTON? "It's definitely going to make it a tough call at the end of these races. I hope that the Nationwide boys groove out the track a little bit as far as laying down some rubber on the low side of the race track. This is the last track (to not have had) double-file restarts and it's going to be wild. It's going to be the worst one that we've seen in all the 22 tracks that we go to because you're so worried about just racing the race track that you just want to get single file. If you're able to grab three or four positions on a re-start, you're going to be so far ahead on that run than if you're that guy getting passed, you'll never make those spots up.
"At the end, who knows who's going to drive to victory lane? Will it be the fastest car? Will it be a car with all its fenders on it? Will it be somebody who did two tires and tried strategy? Will see what happens tonight in the Nationwide race; that's the only way to learn."
WITH GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED FLAG FINISHES, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE ROLE THAT THE PIT CREWS ARE PLAYING IN THE OUTCOMES OF THE RACES? "The same still holds true that they have to crack out a competitive time for their pit stop. Where it gets more troublesome is do we do four (tires)? Do we do two? Do we stay out? That's where the crew chief and the driver are sitting there listening to each other on the radio, hopefully making the right call.
"Just like last week, I was watching the Nationwide race in my motor home, Steve Addington was in his, and I texted him real quick as soon as that last yellow came out. Pit or not pit? He texted back, 'I don't have my lap tracker in front of me to see who was running quick lap time (LOL).' So he was trying to pick which way to go on these final restarts. It's hard to develop a pattern right now. If we had the answer, we wouldn't tell you what we were going to do because we would hope to hold those cards in our front pocket."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LARGE GROUPS OF CARS BEING ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WAVE AROUND RULE LIKE IN RICHMOND LAST WEEKEND? "We were one of the fortunate ones that got the wave around. Unfortunately, we had a rough race last week. When we got the car back to Penske and scaled it, we found two things wrong with the car that we didn't know that was wrong with it all day. Normally, you don't find anything serious when you get back, so to have those couple of issues that helped us get back to the lead lap at end with the wave around. What we saw with the Nationwide race the night before was that tires were more competitive than track position. We'll have to see how that shakes out tonight and if anybody stays out for eight laps on a set of tires, how competitive will they be and will they be able to hold off the challengers behind them. The one thing that's different about Nationwide than Cup is that you can have a bad stop in Nationwide and come out running ninth. In Cup, you have a bad pit stop, you come out running 22nd. There's only half the amount of cars in Nationwide, so that if you pit, there's only about eight or nine that are going to be on the same pit sequence to pit or stay out. Like Brad (Keselowski), he got four fresh tires and he lined up third last week to try and win that race. In Cup, it's a completely different game. You can't pit and end up starting third with four fresh tires. You'd end up 15th to 18th in Cup."
DO DRIVERS EVER TALK ABOUT APREHENSION OF A RACE TRACK WHEN THEY GET TOGETHER? "Darlington is Darlington. Everybody respects this track the same way and you have to give and take, no matter if you're rookie of a veteran. You always try to find yourself in good position out on the track versus compromising ones. Now with double-file restarts and all these green-white-checkers, you're going to have to put on a differ thinking cap."
WITH THE NEW ASPHALT COMBINATIONS THAT WE'VE SEEN THE LAST FEW YEARS, MAYBE WE DON'T NEED CONCRETE AT DOVER OR BRISTOL ANYMORE AND WE CAN GO BACK TO ASPHALT. DO YOU THINK THAT'S POSSIBLITY? "I wouldn't want to be the Goodyear engineer that has to go in and figure it out or one of the first few guys to test it. Yeah, asphalt has made advances in the last 20 years. The thing that hasn't helped NASCAR is that the cars have gotten heavier. If we could start building some lighter cars, then Goodyear would have a much easier time with building the right tire specific for concrete or asphalt. When we go to those tracks like Dover, Bristol and Martinsville, they have concrete in the corners because we tear it up. The cars are just too heavy."
AS PHYSICALLY DEMANDING AS THIS TRACK IS, DO YOU SENSE THAT DRIVERS WEAR DOWN AT THE END OF THIS RACE? "Yeah, this track is very demanding, mentally and physically. You're fighting the wheel and this time of year, it always seems to be warm. It's going to be a hot one tomorrow night and there will be drivers that fatigue; I call it 'fall out of the seat a little bit'. Guys that have good handling cars don't get to fall out of the seat because they're having an easier day. Guys that are running 12th, 18th, wrestling the car every lap for what it's worth, they're going to find themselves one of the last ones on the lead lap towards the end of the race. The thing that you have to keep in mind is that with all these green-white-checkered, double-file restarts you could have a whole new race at the end even though you've been struggling all day long."
HAVE YOU PAID MUCH ATTENTION TO YOUR BROTHERS PROCLIMATION OF THE "NEW KYLE BUSCH?" "I really don't pick up People magazine quite that often to see who's changed and who's got what hair-do going on. I'll see him on Mother's Day this weekend. We're getting mom and grandma together. I've seen his maturity since he got engaged to Samantha. I've seen a little bit of stress level in him with his (NASCAR) truck program and getting that up to speed and going. Those things that happen to you in life make you grow up a little quicker. I'm happy for him. He's still going to continue to charge hard. He's going to go after those wins. You just can't write that was, 'Hey, a good Kyle Busch or bad Kyle Busch' when things happen. The things that you get to write are that he's going through life changes and he's maturing. He's not 22 years-old anymore. (It was) The same situation with me, I was 21 and ran into everything when I was out here. Now, I'm 31 and I don't run into as many things, but I still run into stuff."
-source: dodge motorsports