|Are the challenges at New Hampshire the same as always, or does the track change over the years?
“It seems like it has changed a little bit toward the end of the race with a lot of aggressive restarts. That is when you gain positions, or it’s easy to lose positions. Everybody is out there elbows out, pushing hard, and you hope to not have trouble.”
What do you need your car to do really well at New Hampshire to have a chance to win?
“It’s got to be able to cut in the center of the corner, cut underneath guys, look to get to that bottom lane and drive up off the corner and get side-by-side with guys. That way you have position on corner exit.”
What are the pressures on a crew chief at New Hampshire?
“It seems more about a strategy now and knowing what we did the previous race, what we did the year before and sticking with that sequence based off of what the car’s current handling conditions are. It seems like the tracks and the tires aren’t matching up as well anymore and you’ve just got to stick with your strategy to even it out.”
Is there a role any greater for a spotter than at a track like New Hampshire?
“It’s a short-track atmosphere so the spotters definitely have more responsibility, but it’s not any different than any race weekend. You are there to do well and stay focused. You need every part of your team clicking on all eight cylinders.”
How do you approach this weekend’s race at New Hampshire?
“I feel like it’s a great track that is very comparable to Phoenix, and we get there in the final round, and so you hope that you have a good run at Loudon because that will bridge it to Phoenix. There, you just go to find the right success value. If you have a chance to win, go for it. The main objective there is to gain points.”
It seems like New Hampshire has bitten some of the Chase drivers the past few seasons. Why do you think that is?
“We have a really hard tire there and, when you have a really hard tire, you stretch it on fuel mileage and guys run out of fuel.”
With this being the third year of the Chase with the elimination format, how does the level intensify and how is that different from when it was just the 10 races? Obviously, there’s always a lot of intensity and pressure toward the end. Is it that much different in this format?
“I think, speaking off my experience, the way to define the old Chase was a 10-week plateau of, ‘You’ve got to ramp up when the Chase starts,’ and you’ve got to hold that for 10 weeks. This system, it can go up and down like a heartbeat from Chicago to New Hampshire to Dover and back to Kansas. But if you have a smooth Chase, this one just ramps up at a linear pace. So, the first round, a team like we are – the Monster Energy/Haas Automation team, Stewart-Haas Racing – we’re a power team, we should be able to go out there and do our job as normal the first round and make it to the next round. Then you ramp it up. Then you ramp it up again. Then, at Homestead, you know, you don’t hold back anything.”