Ford Performance NASCAR: Blaney and Harvick Playoff Media Day Transcripts

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards Ford Mustang – WHAT WAS THE EMOTION FOR YOU AFTER SUNDAY?  “You realize how fortunate that you were and, honestly, there was a lot of pride.  I had a lot of pride in my guys, who worked their butts off on fixing that thing because it probably shouldn’t have been fixable to where it would drive.  They did a heck of a job of doing what they could and salvaging parts and pieces and making it so it would roll.  That’s why we race all day.  That’s why you stay in the game, so I was just really proud of all those guys who did a great job of fixing it.  Yeah, it was definitely was like, ‘OK, now everything is reset and we can really go at them now.’”


YOU ARE NOT IN THE OWNER’S CHAMPIONSHIP RACE, SO ARE YOU RACING FOR LESS?  “I personally don’t care about it.  I care about that thing sitting right behind you (the Cup trophy).  That’s really all I care about.  On that side, it stinks that Mr. Penske is not in with the 12 car on the owner’s side of it.  He and I talked a little bit about that.  I was like, ‘Man, I hate we didn’t get you in on the owner’s side of it,’ and he said, ‘As long as you’re in on the driver.  I want you to win the championship.’  Best-case scenario I could win the driver championship and one of the other two cars could win the owner’s championship.  That would be a fun party, I guess.  That would be the only time both of you win, so that definitely stinks that our car isn’t in the owner’s, but, for me and the money side, I don’t care.  I want the hardware.  My only regret on that is the 12 car isn’t in for Roger, but he was just happy to get me in as a driver.”


THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY IF YOU GET A PERCENTAGE.  “I make a good enough living.  I don’t really care about that.”


DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR STATS AT DARLINGTON?  IT’S BEEN A BIT OF A STRUGGLE.  “Not really.  I feel like, personally, we had a great car there in the spring and we just had a disaster day on pit road and would lose 10 spots every time we came down pit road.  By the time we got them made back up, the caution would come out and we’d lose those again.  It was kind of a recurring cycle and then we got caught up in that accident off two and that really hurt us.  I look forward to going there.  I thought we had a great piece and just try to clean some stuff up on pit road that could keep us in the game.  That’s really what you’ve got to do, but I think we’ve gotten a lot better there over the years and hopefully we can show something this weekend.”


MORE PIT STOPS IN THIS RACE ON SUNDAY, SO DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO BE OF A CONFIDENT MINDSET?  “Yeah, we understood our issue in the spring race at Darlington and our issues throughout the year and we’ve done a great job of getting better and better.  I think the last two months we’ve had great days on pit road and hopefully that carries over.  That’s really all you can hope for.”


DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE IN THE PLAYOFFS?  “I think everybody has something to prove.  You always want prove that you can go and compete for a championship and we have a chance to compete for a championship and it’s just a matter of how far you can go.  I would love it if we barely sneak in by the skin of our teeth and then go out there and make it to Phoenix.  That would be pretty good and I think this team is plenty capable, that’s for sure.  I’ve got the utmost confidence in the world with those guys and I think everyone has something to prove, just showing they deserve to be here.”


WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN THE CAUTION CAME OUT BUT KNOWING YOU HAD TO REACH MINIMUM SPEED AFTER THE WRECK?  WERE YOU AWARE OF THAT QUIRK?  “Yeah.  It was an interesting situation.  I was able to run wide-open, you just hope you’re fast enough and you’re not draggy and damaged enough to where you won’t make minimum speed.  It was weird.  We were coming to the end of the stage, they throw the yellow, but you still have to complete your lap.  They told Hassler initially that we didn’t make the DVP clock because the caution came out.  We were like, ‘That’s wrong.  We finished our lap and it was fine.’  So they luckily looked at it were like, ‘OK, yeah, you did make it.  Our system was messed up.’  But you’re just hoping that you can make minimum speed.  I didn’t know what minimum speed was to be honest with you.  I just hoped it was fast enough.  I think it’s pretty high there because you’ve got damaged cars all the time, so luckily it made it and that gave us a chance to be able to come back and work on it because I had flat-spotted lefts.  We didn’t have enough time to put four tires on it.  We just put rights on it and fixed what we could and kind of got a little bit of bear bond on it, but my lefts were squares.  If we wouldn’t have made minimum speed there and had to stay out, that was gonna be a little rough.  We would have had to come back in under green and I probably would have lost a lap or two more, so that was critical that we made minimum speed on that last lap.”


DID YOU HAVE THAT BEER?  “Yeah, I had a handful.  It was a good, relaxing night of getting home and just hanging out a little bit.  I definitely needed that.”


IS IT A DIFFERENT FEELING GOING FROM THE LAST MONTH FIGHTING TO JUST GET IN AND NOW STARTING TO RACE FOR A TITLE?  “I think a little bit.  That was definitely a tough last month racing the 19 real hard.  You’ve got really just one guy you’re trying to get into to get the final spot to set yourself up for 10 weeks, and now that we’ve accomplished that goal it feels like a little breath of fresh air.  Everything resets.  We’ve got great bonus points from the pretty good season we’ve had so far and it’s kind of reset us up towards the front half of the playoff grid, so, yeah, it’s refreshing for everybody.  It’s not just me, it’s everybody on the team.  It’s like, ‘OK, we’ve accomplished that goal of getting in and now it turns into a new goal of trying to go win this weekend and then trying to do our jobs for the next 10 weeks.’  I guess you can say it’s new life.  We weren’t dead before, but we were definitely in a little different mindset.”


SO ARE YOU PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY?  “Maybe a little bit.  I don’t know.  You still have to be consistent and you still have to be competing as well as you can – really like we’ve done all year.  I mean, we’ve had a good year it’s just the wins haven’t really come.  We’ve been consistently good, it’s just trying to break through on that side and I think this team can do it.”


IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN PREPPING FOR THE PLAYOFFS BY GETTING IN ON THE LAST RACE VERSUS THOSE WHO WON EARLY IN THE SEASON?  “No, I feel like even before we went to Daytona we were getting ready for our Darlington car.  I mean, you’re always preparing weeks in advance, so I don’t think that really played a factor in that.  You’re always doing the best you can to get your next week’s car as fast as it can be, and we’re really good at – gosh, you change over races race after race weekends really quick.  We’re really good at that stuff.  That’s the name of the game with these guys, so, no, I don’t think that hurt us at all.”


WAS THERE A LOT OF ENERGY AT THE SHOP THIS WEEK?  “Yeah, it was and it was good to go in there Monday and see everybody – all the shop men and women who don’t go to the track.  They were working in there Monday and they were pumped up.  It’s great for them with us getting all three cars in.  That’s huge for the morale of the race shop, so it was great to see all those people.  It was great to see my guys on Tuesday when they came into the shop.  We had a great meeting on Tuesday between us – pit crew, road crew of we did a great job of doing our duties at Daytona and now it’s on to the next 10 weeks.  That was good to have everyone sit down and talk to them and kind of get everyone’s head right and ready to roll.”


HAVE YOU THOUGHT MENTALLY ABOUT THINGS YOU NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY IN THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR THAN YOU’VE DONE IN THE PAST?  “Yeah, I thought last year we had a really great playoffs up until Kansas.  We did everything right.  We did a great job of putting ourselves in position to transfer and contend for wins and then we got wrecked at Kansas and didn’t perform the next week well enough to transfer into Phoenix.  I think every year you kind of are part of the playoffs you understand, ‘What can we do different?’  Little positions you put yourself in that are a little bit better.  Don’t make mistakes.  That’s one of the biggest things, so I think you get a little bit, I wouldn’t say they get easier, but mentally you feel like you can approach them a little bit better.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE BEEN IN PLAYOFF MODE THE PAST FIVE RACES?  “Yes and no.  It’s a little bit different mindset.  We were kind of just racing one guy.  It was me and Martin racing for the points side of it there and now you’ve got 15 guys you’re racing when it resets like this, so it’s a little bit different mindset, but, on the same side, it was kind of like a ride or die kind of thing between me and Martin to try to get in and now it’s almost the same thing in some areas.  If you get down to the last race of a round and you’re on the cusp of making it or not on points, it’s maybe the same mindset, but I think it changes up a little bit.”


WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BRISTOL BEING A CUTOFF RACE WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR AND SOME OF THE OTHER AGENDAS OUT THERE.  COULD IT BE MORE VOLATILE THAN NORMAL?  “Yeah, probably.  I think we’ve got two of the toughest races in the first round.  You start with Darlington and you end with Bristol.  Those are two really tough tracks starting and ending the first round, and the unknowns of Bristol – going there for the first time with the concrete track you don’t know what to expect.  It’s just one of those things where you kind of see where the flow of the race is going.  You understand what the Bristol NIght Race is like, but you don’t ever know how this car is going to react to it.  On the other side, I don’t think I’ve pissed off too many guys this year.  I hope I’m in a good spot on that side of it, but as far as everyone else goes, I hope I just sit back and watch it.  I don’t know what will happen.”


SEVEN HAS BEEN THE LOWEST SEED TO WIN THE TITLE AND YOU ARE THE SEVENTH SEED THIS YEAR.  CAN YOU DO IT?  “I didn’t know that.  Yeah, I hope so.  What do you want me to say, no?  (laughing)  I think we can definitely do it.  It’s just all about trying to stay in the game.  You never know what can change.  Who can have troubles.  You just hope it’s not you.  You just don’t want to make any mistakes as a driver and as a team in general.  There’s gonna be adversity you’ve got to overcome.  That’s just part of it.  You’re not gonna have a completely smooth 10 weeks.  You’re gonna have things that are gonna go wrong and you have to adapt to them, so I definitely think we can do it, it’s just a matter of improving on some stuff that kind of bit us through the year, but I think this team is ready to do it.”


SHOULD THERE BE ANYMORE WEIGHT PUT ON CONSISTENCY LIKE YOU AND MARTIN HAD THIS YEAR?  “We understand the playoff rules and every driver knows that – the win and you’re in type of thing – it’s just one of those situations that we haven’t had before of there’s been so many winners that me and him, who were third and fourth in regular season points, one of us doesn’t make it.  There was a good shot that neither of us could have made it, but that stinks for him.  He’s had a great year.  He’s had a really good year just like us.  I mean, that group has been really strong, but the wins just haven’t come.  It’s the same year we’ve had, really, so that kind of stinks but it is what it is.  Every driver and team knows the win and you’re in thing, so there’s a big emphasis on it.”


SHOULD THE ALL-START AND CLASH WINS BE CONSIDERED?  “I don’t know.  Yeah, it’s a victory, but I don’t know. I could go either way on that.  I don’t really look at them either way.  Maybe as  a tiebreaker I could see, but I haven’t really put much thought into that.  Obviously, when we were getting closer and closer toward the cutoff line I’m like, ‘Man, that All-Star win should have counted,’ but I don’t know.  I could go either way.  It’s technically an exhibition race and a non-points race, but I guess if it’s a non-points race, it doesn’t count toward the regular season so I could see it staying the same way.  I probably wouldn’t want the Clash winner or the All-Star winner.  I don’t know if you could just lock them into the playoffs.  Maybe it’s a tiebreaker if you’re in that situation.”


HOW DO YOU GET SET FOR THE PLAYOFFS AFTER THE DRAMA OF DAYTONA?  “I feel like we’ve done a really good job of resetting everything.  Yeah, you had a stressful day at Daytona, not only me but everybody in the group biting their nails and hoping everything works out.  Now, it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve accomplished that.  Now let’s switch gears here in the playoffs and focus on these next three weeks in the first round.’  We had a great meeting on Tuesday with everybody of getting everyone’s head in the right spot – of saying, ‘Hey, great job at Daytona,.  Everyone did their job the best that they could and look where we are now.  Now, let’s do the same thing in Darlington and let’s focus our minds on playoff mode here.  I feel like we’ve done a good job of resetting a little bit and then focusing at the next task.”

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang – DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN GET CLOSER TO THE WALL AT DARLINGTON WITH THE NEW CAR AND HOW DURABLE IT IS?  “I think that’s probably one reason that the DVP clock got changed from six minutes to 10 minutes, so you have more opportunity to fix those types of issues because I think everybody knows that if you hit it wrong, it’s gonna break the toe link or something on the suspension back there, so the car is more durable if you hit it square, but if you hit it while you’re sliding with the rear, it’s gonna snap something back there.  I guess it was Bristol, I hit somebody with the front of the car and didn’t even think I hit it with wheel and the wheel was broke – the suspension on the right-front.  If you hit it just right, it’s gonna break.  You feel like you can be more aggressive with the car and scrape it against the wall flush, but you still have to be mindful of breaking suspension pieces.  The car is definitely more durable.”


HOW NARROW IS IT?  “It’s about three car widths wide.  If you put them door to door, you could probably fit three comfortably.”


DO YOU LIKE THAT CHALLENGE?  “I do.  I like Darlington just because of the fact it’s challenging to drive by yourself.  You put all the other cars out there and then it becomes an even bigger challenge, so it’s just a race you still have to think through it in order of positioning your car and the things that you do with it.  When you’re in a good scenario or a bad scenario or somebody is catching you is a little bit different than it used to be because you can hold them up so much more by keeping them in your wake, so it’s not as much give as it used to be because of that.  You have to know when you’re in a bad spot in order to keep yourself from not getting torn up or sticking the car up in the wall and doing something that you don’t need to, especially early in the race.”


IS THIS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WIDE OPEN COMPARED TO PAST SEASONS?  “Yeah.  I think it’s wide-open.  We talked about this last week as a team.  It’s just as wide-open as I’ve ever seen it.  I don’t think there’s really anybody that sticks out and says I’m the guy, so I think the thing that factors in more this year is you know anybody is able to pop off a win – that they might hit it this week just because that’s what’s happened all year.  You see somebody pop off a win and then they kind of fade away, but the ability to hit it on a week to week basis is there, so it’s like there’s no safe spot.  I think you could wind up in the Truex scenario pretty quick from a points standpoint because you just don’t know.”


A LOT OF TALK THIS WEEK ABOUT THE CAR AND THE HARD HITS AND IMPACT ON DRIVERS.  HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED THAT AND IS IT AN AREA YOU FEEL CAN BE WORKED ON?  “I mean, every hit that I’ve pretty much taken in the car hurts.  We hear it week after week after week.  It seems slow, the response, in my opinion, but that’s just my opinion.  I think, from my previous experiences, I’ve had some things that I’ve presented that we’re three years into having no response to from a driver’s standpoint, so the things I think that the drivers would consider the most important may not rank as high on that priority list when everybody’s not out there banging into stuff themselves.  I think when you see Denny talking about being banged up and Kurt out, you hear the hits week after week after week and I know everybody is talking about making some changes, but I haven’t really seen any.”


LOGANO SAID IT WAS BECAUSE IT COST A LOT OF MONEY.  “Well that tells you where we rank.  Money is more important than the safety of the car.  That’s the perception that seems to be coming with it.”

IT SEEMS KIND OF COUNTERINTUITIVE BECAUSE YOU WOULD THINK THE NEWER CAR WOULD FEEL MORE SAFE?  “Yeah, it’s not better from a crashing standpoint.  The hits are violent.  At Sonoma, I hit the back of the 2 car so hard that it locked my HANS out, and I kept going.  It was just over the hill, they checked up and I hit him, and it locked my HANS.  Every hit is violent and some of the smallest hits hurt like they shouldn’t hurt.  Everybody knows the car is too stiff and I think when you look at the crash data it just doesn’t represent what the drivers are feeling in the car.  They’ll say, ‘Well, it was only a 15 g hit.’  Well, I’m telling you some of those 15 g hits feel like 50 compared to what they have been in old cars.  Like at Daytona, in that particular wreck those hits were all hard and especially the ones where the car gets loose and goes to the right.  When it’s raining it’s hard to catch the car, but when you watch that video of all those cars slide and then just go immediately to the right, I can’t even explain to you how violent that is and then to have half the field or more piling into you, it’s all too slow to me.  We talk about guys getting gassed out and it’s just random.  It’s like I said earlier, I’ve been in a scenario where I had just tons of blood work and urine work and all the things presented to us of what was inside my body with the specifics of what was in my bloodstream after the race, and I’m still three-and-a-half years into hearing from somebody.”


NASCAR SAYS THAT YOU’RE GOING FASTER IN THIS CAR AND WRECKING AT DIFFERENT ANGLES.  “I disagree.  I think their angles and going faster, they don’t feel the same.  I mean, they are just blunt, violent wrecks every time you hit something and they do not feel like they did in the old car.  It’s like we’ve taken the soft walls down.  Every time we hit a car, it feels like hitting a concrete wall.  Every time we hit a soft wall it feels like hitting a concrete wall and they’re violent.  There’s no other way around it.”


CAN YOU GO TO ANYBODY IN YOUR ORGANIZATION TO WORK ON THINGS?  “I go and just do my own thing and try to take care of myself because, like I say, with my experience I didn’t feel like I got anywhere, I just got delayed.  I just got put off.”


DEFINE BEING GASSED OUT?  “A lot of times you’ll feel like there are a lot of fumes in your car and, in my opinion, it’s not carbon monoxide because carbon monoxide is odorless.  A lot of it, in my opinion, it’s the octane boosters in the fuel and some of the oils based on the blood tests that I had after the race a few years ago in Chicago.  I feel like that a lot of those fumes that are coming inside of the car based upon the chemicals and things that were in the blood test that I presented them are coming from the fuel and the oil.”


AND YOU PRESENTED THIS SEVERAL YEARS AGO?  “I did to a few different people.  You asked me a few weeks ago about why I didn’t speak up more and that’s why – because the response, for me, there’s been no response.  It’s been pretty slow.”


BUT YOU KEPT RACING AND KEPT YOUR CAREER GOING.  YOU DIDN’T GET OUT FOR YOUR HEALTH?  “Well, the intent of that was to decide just to, A, make sure that your health was where you wanted it to be, but what was the path to resetting your body when you got done, and the doctors wanted to know what was inside your body so that they had an understanding of, ‘OK, when you’re done racing at some point, this is gonna be the detox that you need in order to reset your body so that it’s back to a normal routine because right now you’ve got all these things in your body that it has adapted to,’ and it’s just become, not immune to it, but it’s definitely become used to it and adjusted to it, so that was the original reason why I had done it.”

HAVE YOU SHARED IT WITH ANY YOUNGER DRIVERS?  “I’ve shared it with a few of them.  I’ve definitely brought it up in a few meetings.”


IF THE IMPACTS CONTINUE, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT MIGHT IMPACT WHAT YOU WOULD DO WHEN YOUR CONTRACT IS UP?  “I think there are a lot of factors that go into that.  I think when you look at the car I’ve wrecked more cars this year than I probably wrecked five years combined.  The wreck rate is way up compared to what it used to be and spin outs, so there’s definitely a lot more contact and a lot more moments where you’re slamming your head around and your body around, for sure.”


I ASSUME YOU WORK WITH A NUTRITIONALIST OR PERSONAL TRAINER TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HANDLE THIS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.  “Yeah and that’s been something I’ve tried to keep up with for years in order to make sure that you understand your body and trying to make sure that you know what’s going on.”


CAN YOU USE SOME SORT OF A FILTER THAT WOULD TAKE SOME OF THOSE CHEMICALS OUT?  “Our guys do a great job with the carbon monoxide filter and things that we have in the car, but every time I go into the infield care center my carbon monoxide level is 0.0 or 0.1.  I think that sometimes the way that the car takes the air in, it’s just really random with the gassing and the drivers getting gas side of it, but it’s all too slow, in my opinion, whether it’s the wrecks or the gassing or whatever it is it always seems to kind of get shuffled away.”


WHY IS THAT?  “I wish I knew.”


JOEY SAID COST IS AN ISSUE.  “Yeah, a lot of it comes to cost would be my opinion.”


IS IT FRUSTRATING THAT WE’RE GOING INTO RACE 27 AND WITH OFF-SEASON TESTING THAT THIS IS STILL AN ISSUE?  “I think it was everybody’s original concern that the car was too stiff, especially the rear impacts, but we’ve learned that all impacts, the side impacts are extremely rough.  The small ones are extremely violent, so I don’t think there’s anybody here that wouldn’t tell you, ‘Holy crap, that hurt’ after probably every, just about, it just feels way different than any wreck that I’ve ever experienced outside of hitting a concrete wall.”


HAVE YOU TALKED TO KURT?  “Just via text.”


DO YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY WHEN YOU KNOW YOU’RE ABOUT TO WRECK THAT YOU DIDN’T DO IN THE PREVIOUS CAR?  “I don’t currently.  I’m probably gonna start letting go of the steering wheel because it keeps jamming my thumbs every time I hit something head on.”


EARLY ON THE DRIVERS WERE EXPRESSING THAT THEY WERE WORRIED ABOUT THE CAR COULD BE TOUGH IN CRASHES AND THEN NASCAR GAVE MORE INFORMATION AND THINGS SEEMED TO CALM DOWN.  WHY DID EVERYBODY CALM DOWN AND NOW THERE’S CONVERSATION AGAIN?  “I think everybody calmed down because they thought something was gonna be progressively getting better, and I think everybody is wound up now because it keeps happening and now you’ve got one guy hurt, one guy that’s kind of hurt from Denny’s standpoint and I think everybody wants to know what is the progression here?  How are we gonna make this better?  What’s the plan?  If it’s not gonna be this year, what’s the plan for next year?  What are we doing?  How are we gonna keep guys from getting hurt?  So, I think everybody is a little bit frustrated that the progression is as slow as it has been.”


SOME FEEL THAT JEFF BURTON AND THE DRIVER’S COUNCIL IS DISCUSSING IT.  “As I said earlier, I’m not 100 percent in belief that is going to help.  They’re doing a great job with the driver council stuff, but I still haven’t seen any real progression on making it better, and, as I told you with my previous encounter we’re three years into.”


THE TEAMS WOULD USUALLY WORK ON THIS STUFF.  “If the teams weren’t involved, it would be worse.  I can’t even tell you.  Think about the guys’ legs going to sleep at the beginning of the year.  The people who fixed that were the teams.  They went to work on, your suit is too big and too wrinkled or your seat is too high and your pedals are too low.  We worked on that stuff for 12-14 weeks.  I just got to the point six weeks ago where my pedals feel good and I know that the other guys on my team have repositioned their seats, some of them three and four times – four different inserts and different seat belts and all kinds of different things.”


SOME OF THAT WOULD BE EXPECTED WITH A NEW CAR, BUT I’M GUESSING NOT TO THIS EXTENT?  “I don’t think anybody thought it was gonna be as violent as it is, but the crash data does not show it to be as violent as it is in the car, and I think that’s where a lot of the frustration is from the driver’s standpoint.  These cars wreck violently and it hurts.  It’s not like it used to be.  It doesn’t show a 20-30 g impact may look the same, but it doesn’t feel the same.”


YOU AND JOEY ARE THE LOWEST SEED TO WIN A TITLE AT 7.  YOU ARE 9 THIS YEAR.  DOES THAT MATTER?  “I think those are just numbers.  I don’t think anything adds up this year compared to what it has in year’s past, so it’s just so much different than anything we’ve done in the past.  I think this year is just way closer than it’s ever been before from second to 16th.”

SO IT FEELS MORE WIDE OPEN?  “I sure feels wide-open.  Based on the first 26 races, it feels like everybody’s got a chance.”


YOU GOT CAUGHT UP IN THE HAMLIN/CHASTAIN WRECK AT POCONO.  DOES IT GET TO A POINT WHERE DRIVERS JUST GO AND TELL DENNY THAT ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?  “No, I think all of those situations need to be handled with themselves.  I think sometimes you get in there and you’re like, ‘Screw it, today is the day I’m wiping that guy out,’ and you don’t even care.  Denny Hamlin is like, ‘Today is the day,’ and he was never thinking about, ‘Harvick’s the guy behind me, I hope he’s not pissed when he hits him.’  I mean, as a driver those moments are just the moments.”




ARE THE HITS MORE SIMILAR TO BEFORE SAFER BARRIERS?  “Oh, yeah.  Very similar.  Unfortunately, I’ve experienced all that.  It is very similar to hitting a concrete wall, even when you just hit a car.”


YOU’VE BEEN TALKING AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS FOR SIX WEEKS, ARE YOU SURPRISED NO ONE HAS ASKED WHAT’S IRKING YOU?  “I’m not irked.  I’m just, as someone said earlier, I’m jaded in a way that I like to just do my own thing.  I like to handle my own issues.  If I don’t feel good, I’ll go to the doctor and figure it out.  In those cases and when that stuff was super high with some of those races, we started trying to figure out ways to lessen the fatigue and sore muscles and everything that comes with being gassed on Mondays, so I started doing some things differently and going to the hyperbaric chamber.  I try to create solutions for myself.  When you don’t have that help from somebody else, you have to do it yourself, so I’d prefer to take it into my own hands.”


BUT YOU DON’T WANT TO BECOME KURT.  “True.  None of us do.”


IS THERE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU AT DARLINGTON BECAUSE OF YOUR PAST SUCCESS OR DOES THAT HAVE NO CORRELATION TO WHAT’S GOING ON THESE DAYS?  “We ran OK there the first race.  I think we’ve made our cars a lot better and I still feel like Darlington is a place where you have to race the racetrack and you have to make the car finish and you have to not make mistakes and you have to get on pit road under green.  There are just a ton of things that go with that race where you can screw it up and so that’s our goal is to not screw it up – try to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and if you can keep yourself in the hunt with 100 miles to go, then that’s the first battle.  You just have to go in with that mindset and see what happens.”

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