You captured your first-ever pole position on a road course. Is it safe to say you enjoy the change in configuration? "I love driving ... period. However after 15 weeks of oval racing, it is a nice change of pace. Some teams think road course...
You captured your first-ever pole position on a road course. Is it safe to say you enjoy the change in configuration?
"I love driving ... period. However after 15 weeks of oval racing, it is a nice change of pace. Some teams think road course racing is a nuisance but I see it as a test in my ability. It's a nice challenge with passing being a premium especially if you don't know how to manage the course. I found out last year the hard way. I got the lead and then overdrove the car. My stint at the front lasted a whole lap. Needless to say, road courses can lead to very humbling experiences. It's very unforgiving."
"If I had to tell someone how to drive this place I would tell them to be as smooth as possible. Sometimes you have to give up a little momentum in order to go through a corner, smoothly. It sounds wrong but it's true for this type of racing. Smooth is fast. Plus, each corner is as important as the last one. We make a big deal about Pocono having three distinct corners but here, you've got ten of them. That's probably what frustrates most drivers. You've got ten areas of interest and each one is as important as the last. So you are really working your mental game too."
Last year you tested in Kershaw, S.C. Did you find time to test there this year?
Yes, we did and I was happy to see we were able to do it. I think that's been one of our biggest challenges so far this year. We haven't been able to test as much as we would like due to a variety of factors. Any time you can get the extra seat time helps you stay in line with teams who are able to test on a regular basis. Most, if not all the teams go somewhere to get reacquainted with this type of racing. So, you really cannot afford to miss testing at a place like Kershaw or Virginia International Raceway. I think for us, Kershaw gets us back on track for Sonoma."
Some teams drop their regular driver for this race in favor of bringing a road course expert. Do you think it's a good idea?
"Performance is everything in this sport. A team has got to do what they feel is necessary in keeping a sponsor happy. It's just the nature of our business and with sponsors at a premium; you can't afford to make a costly mistake even if it's just one event. If I were asked to step aside, I would respect my team's decision. You do what's best for the team. Fortunately, I think I am considered one of the better good road course drivers."