You had your first chance to experience the new Atlanta layout in March. What did you think about the race?
“Atlanta, now, is such an oddball racetrack, really unique, because we’re pretty much superspeedway racing similar to Daytona but on a mile-and-a-half racetrack, which is way smaller, way tighter, and give you much less room for error. We’re really packed up tight, which makes for some exciting racing because you’re side-by-side and inches apart the whole race. So you’re just hoping you’re not involved in one of the big wrecks.”
How would you describe the racing on the new layout, and what are you expecting this weekend?
“It’s kind of like a hybrid between mile-and-a-half racing and speedway racing. We have a lot of the aspects of speedway racing, we’re all really close in a pack, but at the end of the day I think handling matters a lot more when you go to Atlanta because it is a tighter-radius corner than it is at Daytona and it is a lot tighter of a racetrack. And looking at this weekend, it’s going to be really hot and slick, which is going to make the cars pretty out of control. We’re going to see who has the handling figured out.”
How much do you think everybody is looking back on the March race to help decide what to do there this weekend?
“I think everybody’s going to be looking back at the last race a ton. When you look at it, that race was really unexplored, we had no idea what to expect. It was so much different than we’ve had in the past there at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the way they repaved the racetrack, completely different aero package and motor package, and that made the racing completely different from what you saw there in the past. So now for us drivers, we’re going to go back and look at that race and try to figure out what moves worked, what didn’t, and try to get a feel for what we’ve got to do inside the car.”
With eight races to go in the regular season, what kind of urgency is there to win?
“For our 41 team, we’re looking at every single race like we’ve got to go out there and win. There have been a lot of different winners this year, so you pretty much have to win to make the playoffs. We’ve had the speed at times to run up front and do what we need to do, but we just need to be consistent with it and hopefully put everything together one of these weekends coming up. Hopefully that’ll happen at Atlanta.”