Saturday, Sep 30

Chase Briscoe Atlanta 1 Transcript

CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang – HOW DO THINGS LOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? “I’ve been on the simulator since 8:00 a.m., so just got off of it about a minute ago. We spent a lot of time today running COTA, running Atlanta, post Phoenix, so it was a busy and productive day from that side of things. I’m excited, truthfully, to be back on the East Coast. It’s a little bit easier travel, but, for us, it was nice to kind of finally have just a good, solid, overall run this past weekend – being able to hopefully build on that and continue to build that momentum going into the rest of the regular season. Obviously, our point situation was 34th going into Phoenix and now I think we’re 21st or something like that, so we just need to have more and more of those days and continue to try and climb up and looking forward to this weekend at Atlanta. I thought our cars there last year drove relatively pretty good in the pack. The Fords were really good at Daytona and hopefully we can carry that over to Atlanta.”


IS THAT TOP 10 A SIGH OF RELIEF? “Yeah, for sure – a sigh of relief. We knew that we were gonna be in a good situation going into Phoenix. That’s one of our better racetracks as a company, so we knew if we were gonna turn our season around that was gonna be a great opportunity to do it. I think we’ve all been surprised by the speed and things that we’ve kind of struggled with this year, so it was nice to just have an overall clean day, a day where I think the whole day we went forward and never went backwards. We just had a really good car and that’s something we haven’t been able to say all year long, so it was good to get that. It was a couple weeks late, but glad that we were finally able to get that done and just have a good, overall solid day. Hopefully, we can build on that. I think, as a team, our confidence is still high, so we just need to continue to build on our results and there’s no better place to do it than this weekend at Atlanta.”


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW SHORT TRACK PACKAGE AND HOW WILL IT BE AT RICHMOND AND MARTINSVILLE? “I’m probably biased as far as the old package. I thought our stuff was extremely good there, but, honestly, I would still vote to go to the lower downforce. I felt like as a race car driver we made more of a difference. We were definitely slipping and sliding around a lot more. The cars were a lot harder to drive. It was still a challenge to pass to a certain extent, but I feel like Phoenix in general is a hard racetrack to pass at, so I’m definitely excited to see it at a place like Richmond and at a road course. I think it’s definitely the right direction. I think that we could lose even more downforce. I think we could still add a lot more power and it would just continue to get better and better, but I do think it’s a good baseline. Dirty air is always gonna be a problem no matter what we do, but anything we can do to make it even five percent better or 10 percent better is gonna be better for racing. I felt like this past weekend was a little bit easier to pass. It was still difficult, but it’s gonna be difficult when you have that many guys that are really good in that many good race cars. When there’s not a ton of difference in the field from a lap time standpoint, it’s gonna be hard to pass. That’s what you get when you have the parity that we do now, where a lot of different guys can win on any given weekend. It makes it to where a lot of guys are gonna be fast and when you have a lot of guys that are close on lap time, it makes it hard to pass. I thought it was an improvement from a driving standpoint. It was a lot harder to drive, and I think all the drivers want it to be harder to drive, but I also thought it was easier to pass, as difficult as it still was.”


IN GENERAL, WHERE ARE THE FORDS RIGHT NOW COMPARED TO THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS? “I would say, truthfully, my focus has been more on just our team. I think collectively on the mile-and-a-halves at least there is some speed that still needs to be found, but, for us, on the two intermediate style racetracks we’ve been so off – even the top Fords that that’s truthfully been our main focus. Once we get to be that top three Ford team, then we’re focused on our gap to maybe the other manufacturers, but for right now, at least on the 14 car, we’re just trying to get closer to the top Fords and until we do that I don’t think we need to worry about the other manufacturers.”


WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LARGER RESTART ZONE OVER THESE FIRST FOUR RACES? “I was all for it going into it. I haven’t had the opportunity this year to be in the lead or even on the front row to really kind of see how much different it is. I know that farther back in the pack I do feel like we probably have a little bit more stack ups. Before the zone was relatively small and pretty much everybody knew in a five to 10 car length window where guys were gonna go, so you would just lag back and you would have a big run, where now with the zone much larger we all still try to anticipate it and when that front guy doesn’t go, that’s when the big stack up starts. I would be very curious to see what it’s like starting on the front row. I think as the leader you definitely have more of an advantage the bigger that zone is because there are just more options for you to go. I don’t know. I’m kind of torn on it. In the back, it probably is a little bit worse just from a stack up standpoint, but I do think up front it probably gives the leader a little bit more of an advantage, and I feel like if you are the leader, you deserve to have an advantage.”


YOU ARE 21ST IN POINTS NOW. DO YOU STILL FEEL YOU ARE IN A MUST-WIN SITUATION AND DO YOU FEEL THE GUYS WHO ARE NOW BEHIND YOU WILL STILL WIN RACES? “I still think it’s a must-win. I just think that there is the possibility that we have 16 winners or right at it again, so last year having 15 winners I think there’s definitely an opportunity for that to present itself again. From that side of it, I still think it’s a must-win. I don’t think you want to rely on points. Even if there are 10 winners, that’s six guys that aren’t in on points so you need to be riding around 16th in points or even a little higher than that sometimes to lock yourself in. That’s my biggest thing for being in a must-win. It’s nice being 21st in points versus 34th. That definitely makes you breathe a little bit easier, but at the same time I just think you’re gonna still have to win to guarantee yourself a spot, but those guys had such a big points gap on us before, I don’t know what it was, but even with a 100-point penalty, I’m sure they’re not too far behind us. A solid points day for the 14 to move up a couple spots on a Wednesday, but, overall, we definitely need to be better. If we could have just gotten a better start to our year, if we do like we did at Phoenix last week consistently week in and week out, then you don’t really have to worry about it as much. But I still think you’re gonna have to win just to obviously solidify yourself in the playoffs.”


HOW IS ATLANTA DIFFERENT FROM DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO DIFFERENTLY THERE FROM THOSE OTHER TWO TRACKS? “I feel like Atlanta is probably the most mentally draining place that we go to now. It’s kind of a hybrid. It’s obviously a shorter track by an entire mile versus a Daytona or Talladega, but it’s the same concept of racing. You’re in a pack, but with being a mile shorter things just happen so much faster. Your reaction time has to be better. The runs develop so much faster and quicker. Your spotter has to be able to communicate to you a lot quicker and your brain has to process things a lot quicker, so I feel like mentally draining-wise last year both Mondays after the Atlanta race I was just exhausted and drained from a mental side of things. But from the driving side it’s a little bit of a hybrid in a sense where we are in a pack, but at a Daytona or Talladega your car is always gonna be able to run wide-open just because of how big the racetrack is and the corners are so long, where at Atlanta balance is certainly an issue. The handling of the car is very important. Hardly anybody can run wide-open unless you’re in the lead, so balance comes into place. The longer the run goes on your car starts slipping and sliding around a lot more, so it’s just a lot different than a Daytona or Talladega, so that part makes it interesting because the car is so important. At Daytona and Talladega it’s maybe not as important, so that side of it is fun because you do get a little bit of mix from both styles of racing, but from a mentally draining side it is extremely exhausting to run Atlanta because your mind is constantly working. At Daytona and Talladega, you can kind of get a little bit of a break or relax down the straightaways because you kind of know where the runs are gonna develop, but at Atlanta there is no time to take a breather.”


HOW WILL THE NEW PIT ROAD ENTRY AFFECT THE RACE AND HAVE YOU RUN ANY SIMULATION WITH THE NEW LAYOUT? “Yeah, I did today actually. It’s definitely a long, long pit road. I would say under green it’s for sure gonna change the strategy. If you think about coming down early, as long as you’re gonna be on pit road now, you could easily find yourself three or four laps down, so if you come down in one of the first two packs to pit together and then the caution does come out for whatever reason, you’re gonna be stuck four laps down. You might be able to wave around for one, but you’re not gonna be able to get three, so there’s gonna be a lot of strategy in that from a fuel saving side to make sure you can be one of the last guys to pit if we do get to that situation, and then under caution I didn’t really think about it until you asked about it. It’s definitely gonna change a little because normally if there’s a split-decision, the spotter can easily call it out and tell you to stay or come, where being on the back straightaway he’s not really gonna have a very good visual of that, so it’s gonna kind of be up to the driver. That will change a little bit even from the yellow side of thing, so it’ll be interesting for sure having it in turn three. It’s gonna make it more challenging and a lot more complexion to it, so it’ll be fun to watch.”


ARE THERE ANY PERFORMANCE ISSUES YOU GUYS ARE DEALING WITH NOW? “For us, we just didn’t get a great start to the season. We kind of struggled more than I thought we would have. We’ve had a little bit of bad luck, but more or less just have struggled from an overall speed standpoint. Going to the Clash, we were OK. We weren’t great. I think we got wrecked running sixth or seventh and then you go to Daytona and I was in a good opportunity to potentially have a really good run. I think we were running seventh or eighth with 15 to go and got caught up in a crash, so you go from running seventh or eighth to now finishing 34th. And then Fontana and Vegas we just didn’t have the speed. Our car didn’t drive that bad, we were just extremely slow. It was a head-scratching moment for us trying to figure out what we could do to get more speed in the car and then obviously going to Phoenix we were able to rebound a little bit and save that front quarter of our season. That West Coast swing is a good chunk of our regular season, so for us to be able to rebound and finish strong before coming back the East Coast is important for us and we were able to do that.”


DOES IT FEEL SAFER PEELING OFF ON THE ENTRANCE TO PIT ROAD IN TURN THREE? ON A GREEN FLAG RUN WILL IT REDUCE THE RISK OF A POTENTIAL CRASH? “I would say it’s probably gonna be a little easier if we do come to pit road under green. It’ll probably be a little bit easier to get down and not cause a wreck there. If we somehow would have wrecked coming in off of turn four, the whole field is probably gonna be in it, where on the straightaway there’s a little bit more room to kind of spread out. I think it’s gonna be easier for guys to get out of the way and be able to go down to the apron and slow down, so I do think that side of it is gonna be better. For whatever reason, if you’re on pit road or on the apron of three and four going slow and they wreck on the racetrack, that could be fairly big. If somebody hits you at 170 and you’re rolling going 45 miles an hour, but that’s part of it with the layout it has to be to be able to make it safer for under green pit stops. Hopefully, we don’t run into any of those issues. I think it’s one of those things where we go and trial it. It might work or we might not even see it if we don’t have a green flag pit stop, but I think we had to probably do something because it was gonna be extremely challenging and difficult if we had to do it off of turn four, and not only the slowing down part was gonna be challenging, but just the transition from the bank to the flat is really, really hard in these cars, and I think that was a lot of the reason for it, too.”


WAS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A 500-MILE RACE AND A 400-MILE RACE FROM LAST YEAR AT AMS? “Yeah, I thought so. I thought the race, that 500-mile race, to me, felt longer than the Coke 600. Like I said, it was extremely mentally draining. I think for sure this race can be 400 miles, if not even shorter. There was really no need for it to be 500 miles, at least in my opinion. I would say the intensity was probably a little bit higher the second race than the first one. Some of that was just everybody kind of knew what to expect to that point. Guys knew the playoff situation a little bit more, but I don’t know if you’re really seeing any difference now just because we all kind of know what to expect. I was glad when I saw it went to 400 miles for sure.”


TEMPERATURES WILL BE IN THE LOW 50S AND CLOUDY ON SUNDAY. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT THE RACING? “If it was the old Atlanta, I would say it would probably affect it quite a bit, just because you would have had a lot more grip. You probably wouldn’t have been slipping and sliding around as much, but with the new style of racing that we do there, I mean, yeah, it’s gonna make a tiny bit of difference from a grip standpoint, but you’re gonna have so much grip regardless because of the amount of downforce we go there with, the lack of power and things like that, so I don’t think it’ll really change it at all. Your car will probably handle a little bit better. You’re gonna have a little more power because of the cooler temperatures, but, outside of that, it’s probably gonna drive relatively the same, at least I would think from whether it was 85 degrees there or 50.”


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