Phoenix Raceway is your best track, statistically, but New Hampshire isn’t far off from your results at Phoenix. Four career wins and eight top-fives in the last 10 races is proof of that. Are there similarities between Phoenix and New Hampshire?
“Flat tracks have always been really good for me in my career. When you look at SHR and the things we’ve been able to accomplish at Loudon and Phoenix, they’ve kind of followed that same trend. A lot of that goes back to that open test time we had at Milwaukee and Nashville. Those are the places where we would practice and practice and practice. Our guys have done a great job of having a good short-track, flat-track program, and Loudon is a place that has followed along with Phoenix and the success that we’ve had there and to be able to capitalize on that success and continue it at another track.”
You’ve won three of the last six races at New Hampshire and you’re tied with Jeff Burton for the most victories at the track with four. What makes you so good there? Experience? Confidence? A combination of both?
“New Hampshire has been really good to us, and I think Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and I probably feel like we should have – could have – won them all. But it’s been a racetrack that has been really good for us from a performance standpoint. And from a confidence standpoint, being able to adjust on the car and know what we’re looking for, I think this is definitely a racetrack where a lot of those things came into play, and we used a lot of the same things that we’ve used in the past as far as tools of how we make our car go around the corner. It’s been a great racetrack for us.”
How do you need to drive New Hampshire, as it seems to be a bit of a strategic race?
“It all depends on how they lay the PJ1 down, now. You kind of have to chase that PJ1 and keep the car straight, high entry, straight exits, and you kind of have to chase that groove as it moves throughout the race. It’s much different the last couple of years than it had been the previous years before that because of that element with the PJ1.”
You get a giant lobster for winning at New Hampshire. Other than scaring your kids with it in victory lane, what do you do with it?
“My lobster, they mounted on a board. It sat in a closet and his claws fell off and some of his arms and legs fell off, so we took the lobster off the board and we used the board for a skateboard ramp. That was what happened to my first lobster because he just fell apart and we used the board for Keelan’s skateboard ramp.”
You’re a big proponent of grassroots racing, and grassroots racing is big in New England. What’s your take on the racing scene in New England?
“I learned that back in 2009 when we ran the Oxford 250. We spent a week up there practicing and racing, and I think 110 cars showed up for the Oxford 250 and we were fortunate to win that race. You open up every newspaper in the region the next morning and it was about the Oxford 250. From that very day forward, the same guys that I raced with will come to the garage and say, ‘Hi,’ and talk about that particular weekend, and you hear fans talk about being at that particular race. Really, the Oxford 250 had kind of given me a little bit of a leg up on everybody because I was able to interact with those fans on a regional basis and be able to have that stick with me for a long time. I haven’t been able to go back and do that event again, but having that experience up there allowed me to connect and realize how big racing was in the Northeast.”