BOTH OF YOUR TEAMMATES - KYLE LARSON AND CHASE ELLIOTT - WERE INVOLVED IN THAT INCIDENT, IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT, AT WATKINS GLEN. BUT THEY SAID RECENTLY THAT THEY HAD A MEETING AND EVERYTHING IS SETTLED. WERE YOU A PART OF THAT MEETING AND WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE ON THAT WHOLE SITUATION?
“Yeah, we’re always a part of those meetings. For us, competition meetings happen every Monday at noon. It was just an open discussion, dialogue, and I thought it went well. I’ve always had respect and raced well with all of my teammates. I feel like we all get along well and I feel like we all work together when possible. I mean obviously there’s not a ton of places where you can work together anymore; but the speedways, Martinsville restarts and things like that, Chase (Elliott) and I have worked together well on. And Kyle (Larson), too. In the Xfinity race, we worked well together.”
IN GENERAL, WHAT’S THE STANDARD OF WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO EXPECT FROM HOW TO RACE A TEAMMATE? THAT SITUATION ASIDE, WHEN YOU’RE RACING WITH THEM EVERY WEEK, ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO GIVE THEM EXTRA ROOM? DOES GOING FOR THE WIN CHANGE IT? WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THAT?
“It’s tricky. In NASCAR today, there are so many other factors; like who’s behind you on a restart is a factor. So, that makes a decision different for you based on the loyalty, or lack thereof. I think all of those things factor in.
But when it comes to directly racing your teammate; for us, it’s just not making contact. We’re expected to trust the other three guys a little bit more than the rest of the field. I think that’s just the way that I approach it. If I do make some accidental contact.. like with Kyle (Larson) and I on restarts, or Chase (Elliott) and I, or Alex (Bowman) and I; it’s definitely not intentional to try and hit them. But yeah, just trying to race them with a little more trust I’d say. I’d say the biggest word is just ‘trust’.”
WITH HOW MUCH SPEED THAT YOU GUYS HAD AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, HOW DANGEROUS DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE NO. 24 TEAM CAN BE IN THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, we haven’t shown it in a while; but like Indy Road Course, we had top four speed. On all of the metrics that I looked at, we were a second-place car at the Indy Road Course, so that was a really good race for us. The last couple, we’ve kind of been on the edge of the top-10, not quite getting there at the end of the race.
But I think honestly a lot of the tracks in the playoffs are really good tracks for us. Obviously we had a great run going at Darlington. I feel like at Kansas.. we were leading the race, had a flat left rear tire, which was back when we were all having left rear tire problems, and damaged the entire underbody of the car. So we went from leading that race – Kurt (Busch) was second at that time – to I think we finished 15th or 16th because the car had no more downforce after that. Those two tracks are really good for us. Bristol ast year we finished third. I don’t really look past those, but I think as we get into the second and third round, those are great tracks too. I feel optimistic for really all of them. Homestead is back in there.. that was an awesome track. We just had a good test at Martinsville, so I feel like Martinsville can continue to be a good place for us. We just have to get to those.”