YOU COME INTO SUNDAY 40 POINTS OUTSIDE THE PLAYOFFS, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THINGS. DO YOU TRY AND MAXIMIZE STAGE POINTS OR DO YOU HAVE TO GO ALL IN FOR THE RACE WIN?
“My stance has been the same since I got back. I think we need to win. So, and like I have said a thousand times since I have been back, I think gaining a lot of points and contending for wins is very much one in the same. It’s not coincidence that the guys that are high up in points have race wins, but they are also leading the regular season thing, or whatever it’s called, too. Those things go hand in hand. If you are gaining a lot of points, you are probably going to have a shot to win. And if you are not, then you are probably not going to have a shot to win. So, I think those are one in the same.”
IS THERE SOMETHING WE COULD ADD TO THIS CAR THAT WOULD OPEN THINGS UP TO THE RACING A BIT?
“That is a great question, and I am not familiar with the INDYCAR rules at all. I know that they were first to the spec car thing and I had heard that what we were doing was more in line with what they had going on or what they had going on. But I don’t know. I don’t know what you open up. I think this is really what NASCAR as a sanctioning body wants. That they want a lot of control over the cars. And they want to have parts suppliers and have the teams buy parts instead of building them. I think the thought was that it was going to save a lot of money, you know. And I will let other people answer whether or not that, that is true. I don’t know what you open up to make it better or worse. I am not really sure. But I do know this, the cars are very much alike. It’s so funny like every week we do our post-race debriefs and the engine shop comes up with a really nice report for us to look at while we are talking through our race and it kind of splits up like part throttle, full throttle, closed throttle, and like the four of us are like within a percent of each category. When those things are the same, it’s just going to be really hard to be different. I just don’t see it changing.”
REGARDING RACING AT BERLIN IN A SUPER LATE MODEL
“Yeah, I have run more this year than I have in the past….I don’t know how many years. So, I am looking forward to it. We have been working at it much like the Cup side, just trying to get a little better and trying to get some momentum on that side of things too. So, I am looking forward to going to Berlin, its been a little while since I have been there and I am looking forward to getting back to a really unique and weird short track I have run at a few times. But looking forward to getting up there, it’s a good show, a good mid-week show and a place that seemingly has a lot of support from the local community that I remember. Always great crowds and they put up a nice purse too, which in the asphalt world is a big deal in my opinion. So, I think its important for the racers to go and support those shows that put up a lot of money to win, when they do, because it doesn’t happen all the time. I am excited to go and support it and try to get a win.”
REGARDING HOW MUCH TO READ INTO THE RACE THIS WEEKEND AS A MEASURING STICK FOR THE PLAYOFFS
“That is a great question, and it is kind of your last sample of what would be a normal race track I guess. So, that is a very valid question, but I am just trying to think back to last year and it seems like all the Gibbs cars were really strong here last year as a whole. I think at some tracks, the characteristics here might carry forward and I am not sure that all of them necessarily are that way. I would say that its not unfair to say that this is our last normal opportunity to show what you have or don’t have, but I do think this place is very unique and it is its own animal. You kind of look at it and you think maybe its like Fontana, but its really not at all like Fontana. I never had a chance to race here at the old surface, so this is all I have really known ever since I have been running. This place has always been kind of its own world. I do think it is the last normal look, I guess, but at the same time, this place is very different. I wouldn’t read to terrible far into it.”
REGARDING WATKINS GLEN AND LOOKING AT IT FOR A WIN BASED ON PAST SUCCESS
“Yeah, I have said this, I don’t circle races. That is not how I operate. I just take it week to week and try to get better. Like I have told you guys a thousand times, and I will make it a thousand and one, I just want to be a guy that can go and contend every week and be in the running wherever we go. Whether it is a half mile, road course, two-mile speedway, I don’t want to care. I don’t want to care where we are going. That is where I want to get. I will keep working really hard until we can achieve that.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET A GOOD ENTRY INTO TURN ONE AT WATKINS GLEN TO SET UP THE ENTIRE LAP?
“I think it definitely matters. I think about it more in terms of a restart and track position is extremely important. You know, it’s really difficult to pass the leader there, especially now. So, the game has changed. Used to, it was all about how good of a launch you got, but now its about who is pushing you and how good of a push you are going to get. So, you are almost better off having a bad launch and the person behind you getting to you sooner than you are doing a good job of getting a good go at it. That is just the game that it’s turned into.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE MICHIGAN TRACK TO US?
“Yeah, I can try. When I say that, I think I am more referring to….heck, I don’t know what year this thing was paved, but it had to be 2012, 11, somewhere in there. Correct me if I am wrong, but that would be around my guess. Whatever asphalt they used, I wish they used it on the roads and the highways around the United States because it just doesn’t seem to age. It doesn’t seem to give away a lot of grip. It is changing color a little bit, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it has become anymore abrasive, or the grip level has gone down any. For that reason, the middle of the track is the dominant place on the road. The bottom is too flat to run at pace for a lengthy period of time. And the middle, because of the way the track is shaped, is the fastest way through and it has enough banking to make it work. I think the hope is, and I think it will age eventually, is to keep working it up and have a wider racing groove with the right amount of banking to run. I think that is what they are trying to achieve with the grippy stuff, and trying to promote us moving up. Yeah, it’s just that the place has a lot of grip. Still very fast and hasn’t really seemed to change. We will see if its any different this weekend, but I kind of doubt it.”