|You’ve won three times at Pocono, but the 2007 win was so dominant. Can you describe that race?
“The win in 2007 with Penske Racing – that was the fastest car that I’ve ever driven. That car would turn, stick, drive down the straightaway – that car did everything. It didn’t have a single flaw. I knew how good that car was on the first lap of the race. I remember telling myself, ‘Don’t screw this up.’ I ran the rest of the race more nervous than I had in years prior. I’ve never dominated a race like that. We led 175 of 200 laps. That was, by far, the best car I have ever driven. It was a great race to show the balance of that team and the strength of where we were at that point. I think the 25 laps that we didn’t lead were from a bad pit stop at one point. My first win at Pocono in 2005 was pretty great, too. It’s fun to win at a racetrack that is so unique because of how different that track is compared to all the other oval tracks. Pocono is a little bit like Darlington in that all the corners are different, so you have to manage them the best that you can and not be perfect in one corner versus another.”
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you go to Pocono?
“How unique the place is. You drive in through the Tunnel Turn and that corner to me is one of the most unique corners of all the tracks that we go to. When you go to Pocono, the first thing you really think of is the compromise – you have to juggle all three corners being different. It’s called the Tricky Triangle for a reason.”
You started your career with Ford and now you are with Ford again. How is the Ford performing as they seem to be leading the manufacturers?
“The level of commitment still feels the same. Edsel Ford is still very active. Henry Ford is very active. But the immediate group underneath them now with Ford Performance. The Ford Performance group – I see it everywhere, with all their different forms of motorsport collaborating together. Whereas Ford Racing before, maybe because I was younger and didn’t see it all, felt like it was more focused on the NASCAR program and didn’t use information from IndyCar, or Cosworth in Formula 1, or sports cars. What I see now is information channels that are able to communicate quickly and gather data from all different branches of motorsports that Ford is involved in.”
Of the three turns, which is the most important to you and why?
“It’s weird, I’ve had winning cars there a few different times and turn two always feels the best when my car has a chance to go to victory lane. But, I think turn three, if you are able to pass cars and maneuver around them, you’ve got to get a good run off turn three to be ready to pass them in turn one. All of them are important. You can’t exclude one from another.”