CHEVROLET NCS AT MARTINSVILLE 1: Ross Chastain Media Availability Quotes

ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying session at Martinsville Speedway.  

Media Availability Quotes: 

IT’S BEEN A MINUTE SINCE A TOP-10 AT A TRUE SHORT TRACK. WHAT’S THE STATE OF THE SHORT-TRACK SETUP AT TRACKHOUSE?

“Evolving. Following (Kyle) Larson up here to the podium is about like on track. I feel like I follow the Hendrick cars around. We’re working on it. We’re not staying complacent. We’re coming with different packages and trying to find what works. We’ve had glimmers of hope but not sustained competitiveness and speed. If it’s good in the race, we’re not good in qualifying and vice versa. We’re working. We’re changing springs and shocks and whatever we can to get whatever I need to go faster and Daniel (Suarez) as well.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOME OF THE BIGGER TEAMS HAVE GOTTEN OUT IN FRONT WITH THIS CAR, AND IF YOU WERE QUALIFYING BETTER DO YOU THINK YOU’D HAVE BETTER RESULTS SO FAR?

“I don’t think anyone has a clear upper hand. I feel like we could have won Vegas if I don’t speed on pitroad. We put ourselves in position to gain those spots we aren’t getting in qualifying.

“It just makes everything so much easier. It means that you had a car that you could make speed in either on Friday or Saturday or whenever you were qualifying. We’re not trying to go out and drive slow in qualifying. I’m trying. I’m usually sliding because I’ve tried too much. It’s not often that I qualify bad because I under-drive. I’m trying to find that balance. But yes it’s going to help your weekend with pit selection and everything. These are the best of the best drivers and teams in the world. It’s not easy to drive by them.”

THE NEW MOTO GP TEAM FROM TRACKHOUSE IN A NEW AND INNOVATIVE IDEA FROM JUSTIN (MARKS). WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ORGANIZATION SPREADING ITS WINGS?

“I’m not surprised. That’s been Justin’s vision and the first time he told me the word Trackhouse before it was a thing or they ever ran a race. Then when I got brought in to drive as the second driver, there were more talks about what’s next. I kind of thought, ‘Wow, he bought CGR and acquired everything that Chip (Ganassi) built and that was our foundation.’ I was kind of locked in on this big thing and Justin was sitting across from me at a campfire one night and was like ‘That’s nothing brother. Just wait.’ So no, I haven’t gotten too zoned in on it. I am going to meet those guys. They’re coming over to the shop this week, have a little Trackhouse Tuesday and have them there. We’ve got some bikes out there in the lobby with our cars, as well. I’m excited to get to meet them face-to-face. We’ve done some videos back and forth. But I’m not too locked in. I don’t understand much about their motorcycles. I was looking at a bike we had at Daytona, like a showbike I guess. I couldn’t tell if it was a real bike or like a showcar like we have old cars. I couldn’t tell if it was an old chassis with old brakes… that’s what we would put together in NASCAR. But I couldn’t tell if this thing was made to look like a bike, if it was a bike. I had no idea. So I have some questions for the riders to learn more about it.”

WOULD YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN RIDING ONE?

No. Chance! Not even a second-seat. Ben Kennedy was showing me some stuff. He’s ridden backseat with a guy. They were on one wheel going forward and one wheel slowing down. So no… not at all! It’s way too fast and I don’t like to be out of control. At least if I’m driving and I’m crashing into something, I’m holding the wheel!”

THERE’S A LOT OF HISTORY AT MARTINSVILLE AND YOU’VE PUT YOUR NAME UP THERE WITH HAIL MELLON. HOW OFTEN ARE YOU ASKED ABOUT IT? AND SECONDLY, NEXT WEEK IS TEXAS AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TRACK AND RACING IN TEXAS?

“Martinsville is one of those tracks that I remember watching as a kid. For some reason I have a few that I just have vivid core memories of watching NASCAR races when I was a fan. This is one of them. Now competing against some of my heroes who I watched race, or they are directors and different things with other teams and I’m competing against their cars is pretty wild. I do know that we have a small blip in the history of it, but I want more. I don’t want that to be my legacy here. We’re working on that, but there’s no way we’re getting in and out of Virginia without talking about it.

“For Texas, my allegiance there is Al Niece. It’s the truck team I drive for, and he lives there just outside of Austin in a small town. Although Dallas-Fort Worth is a long ways away, he has trucks there and a yard there where he rents and sells water trucks and fuel loop trucks. Learning his business and learning the Texas way of life is just so cool. He has a lot of people and we have a lot of people. It’s a huge market for us with a ton of opportunity. Racetrack-wise, we all wish we could do more there. I wish I could pass more. It truly is one of the hardest tracks to pass in my opinion. When I get a pass done, I sometimes physically celebrate in the car on the next straightaway because I did it and I did what I thought was impossible. Hopefully as it ages it opens up more and more, but we will see.”

IT’S NOT OFTEN WHERE PRACTICE FALLS AT THE SAME TIME AS WHEN YOU RACE. WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM TODAY’S SESSION FOR THE RACE?

“Hopefully how to go fast. I just want to make speed today. Obviously you want to make it early in the run and hang on to it in practice. It needs to drive good but it needs to make speed. That’s all that really matters. I’ll hang on and bounce around do whatever I have to do as long as I’m making speed. And the same in qualifying. Saturday is all about that. I have all day tomorrow and 500 miles to settle in and make my tires live, make my brakes and all that, choose cone, pit road and all that, that’s for then. Now it’s all about getting up and getting going here, and that’s something I’ve struggled with. That’s all I think about as I keep learning how to get better here. It’s a way that helps me, so it’s cool that it’s a great time but honestly Sunday is so far away that it may as well be a different event. Today is all about Saturday and practice and qualifying with those two hours being locked in and ready to rip.”

BACK TO THE CAMPFIRE MOMENT, WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU SAW THAT GLIMPSE OF HIS BIG PLANS. AND AT THIS MOMENT ARE YOU SHOCKED BY ANYTHING HE DOES?

“That one was shocking, to be honest. I don’t have a grasp of what MotoGP is and didn’t for sure then. I knew they came to America a few times, but to be honest I don’t travel much outside of the country… maybe a couple of trips to Guatemala to look at some watermelon fields for our winter watermelons that we bring in. Other than that, I don’t really go anywhere. He had to explain the basics to me and how the team operated. They obviously operate a lot differently from us. He’s been over there insulating himself into the team to learn how they operate, kept a lot of their team together the best I can tell. We had a lot of questions but more than that I want to meet them in person and talk to them, so I get to do that this Tuesday. I’m not surprised. He let me in on it early on, and I got to do some Googling before it came out.”

AFTER SOME OF THE CONTROVERSY ON THE RESTART LAST WEEK, ARE YOU CLEAR ON WHERE YOU CAN AND CAN’T RESTART FROM? OR IS IT A MATTER OF EVERYBODY IS DOING WHAT THEY’VE DONE AND YOU RACE TO THE WAY NASCAR OFFICIATES IT?

“We run to the rulebook. Although the rulebook says certain things, the officiating has not lined up with that in the past. We all knew it. I’m not surprised by the call. I’m not surprised by the move by the cars involved at the front of the field. Not saying I’m going to do the same thing because if everyone goes early then there is no advantage. The advantage is doing what your competitors beside you and behind you don’t expect. I don’t expect all restarts to fire at Turn Three this weekend by any means. There are two lines for a reason, and we know that. The scary part is when do the reactionary calls change, right? When is that a penalty? At the end of the race or on Lap 10 or 30 or 300 like it was talked about. Being that first guy who gets called for going the same distance early would be tough. That would be tough to swallow. There are clearly two white lines on the track. If they want the zone to be in the zone with how the rule is written and if they want to enforce their rule, then great. If they don’t want to enforce it like we have not enforced it for the last little bit – I don’t know how long I’d even call that – but yeah, it’s up to them and I’ll adjust. I just want a rulebook and an address to go race at. Other than that, tell me where to be and what the rules are and we’ll go race. That’s all I care about.”

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