|Is Daytona still a special racetrack for you?
“Daytona is cool – a lot more in February than in the summer just because it is the Daytona 500 versus the July race. For us, you still want to win everywhere you go, every single week. To win at Daytona is always cool. It’s definitely special. It’s the birthplace of NASCAR – the superspeedway aspect of it. I definitely love going there. It’s hot, it’s slick, and you can make the most out of yourself as a driver and what you’ve got in the car. We won there in 2008 and I’m hoping we can get a win with our Interstate Batteries Camry this weekend. Hoping all the fans go out and get their batteries checked with the summer heat upon us now, especially the last couple of weeks. Interstate Batteries has quite the legacy with JGR and I’m always proud to represent those guys and we hope to get a win for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) and get them another win.”
What do you do to prep for the night race at Daytona?
“It’s going to be a hot one there, too. Right now it’s all about getting your fluids back in you throughout the entire week. You’re not going to get them all back in one or two nights. It’s going to take the entirety of a week. You’ll start over again after that race goes. It’s Daytona. It’s restrictor plate racing. It’s entirely different than what we plan for the entirety of the season mostly. A lot of different planning goes into that. I think we’ll be down in Florida already for the fourth of July. Hopefully, there are some pretty good firework shows. We’ll check it out.”
When you look at guys who have won restrictor-plate races in the last few years, it seems there are guys that win more often than not. Why are these guys winning more at restrictor plate tracks?
“You got to be good, but there’s still a lot of luck involved. You got to be out front. When your cars are fast, you need to do a good job, you know how to lead it, get yourself through traffic, you’ll be out front a lot of the times. The 2 car is very hard to pass, he’s very fast. When those guys are out front, they seem to be able to control the race. Last year I think it was a Duel, maybe the Clash at Daytona, Denny was trying to go for the lead, get to his inside and pass him. No, Denny was leading, trying to hold Brad off, they ended up crashing. So hard to hold those fast cars back, if you will. They do a good job of being able to predict the lines and how they build the inertia and everything behind them.”
Is there a skill and art, anticipate making a move?
“Yeah, I don’t ever really think when something is going to happen. That’s a spur‑of‑the‑moment thing, it just does happen. As far as being able to make your way, make your maneuvers and things like that, Brad and Denny are probably some of the best at being able to do that. I try to watch a little bit about what they do and how they do it. I’m just not very good at emulating that. They have a really good sense of what’s going on behind them, how they can make the lines kind of build up that inertia, that pressure, it kind of shoots them forward. The only thing I see behind me is a car. I can’t really see what’s going on three, four deep. Any time I try to back it up and stall it in order to get that inertia or get that run going, somebody just pulls out and wants to pass me. Obviously, I’m doing something wrong.”
What are some of the better safety improvements you’ve seen in the last couple of years?
“I think, of course, the things Daytona has done with the SAFER Barrier along the whole outside and inside of the racetrack. There are too many different areas on these racing surfaces where we can get out of control and crash into things. We’ve seen that over the years – I think most notably maybe Mark Martin at Michigan several years ago, getting caught on that inside pit wall. We tend to find about anywhere to hit, so it’s just a matter of trying to protect ourselves as well as the race fans and our crew members as best as possible.”