“I think there’s just a bit of added confidence for us coming into this weekend. You look at our season – we’ve had some good spots, had some bad spots and just needed some more speed, in general. But I feel like Darlington (Raceway), I wouldn’t say it’s a great equalizer by any stretch, but it gives an opportunity for us to have some good notes to go back on from last year and the spring of this year, and we’ll have something to really go off of that we know is good.
I get excited every year for this race. Since my rookie year, I can remember looking forward to running this race, and then obviously getting a few wins over the years has probably moved it up on my list a few spots through that time. I always look forward to coming here.”
“Just trying to help him as much as I can. I feel like I have a good feel and baseline for here, obviously through the last few years and even with the Next Gen car now over the last year that we’ve been coming with that. You try to get him up to speed, but not overwhelm him at the same time. There’s obviously a lot that’s on his plate – just coming in with a team he hasn’t worked with, and obviously he’s only been in a Cup car once and that was about four or five months ago now, at this point.
He will learn a lot in practice. I feel like we’ll probably have better conversations after practice. He’ll have better questions after he’s actually been out there – been in the car and got laps. A lot of it is just how you approach the race. 500 miles is going to be above and beyond the longest race that he’s ever ran in anything. So just getting him prepared for that mentally and figuring out how he’s going to approach that is probably the biggest thing. But overall, I think he’ll have speed and find the feel pretty quickly. Managing the race on Sunday is going to be the biggest thing.”
“I think it’s just a constant push. Everybody is pushing hard, even knowing that we’re changing a lot of things coming up in the off-season and that’s now fast approaching at this point. But we want to finish strong. We know our opportunities on the schedule to run well and we’ve focused more on those probably. Last year, we were more focused on every week and running well, but with the resources that we’ve got right now, we have to almost circle some weeks that we know we’ll have the opportunity to go do better than others. This weekend has absolutely been one of those that we’ve marked down, as far as going and really executing and taking advantage of the situation.
I think it’s just good chemistry. The group on the No. 43 car is 90 percent the same as when I showed up three years ago now. We’ve been through very highs and very lows, and I think everybody knows it’s kind of part of the game. And at the end of the day, knowing that there’s a great path forward for us coming up is what’s kept everybody motivated and pushing forward.”
“Yes, in a way. We’re going to absorb a large amount of that personnel into the Cup side, which is a huge resource in itself. We needed to add some people on the competition side, on the shop floor and even probably upstairs. So people coming over is going to be a big resource in itself. As far as the financial gain from it – I don’t think a lot is going to change on that side of things. Maury (Gallager) is very dedicated in what he’s putting into this race team, even before that move. But I think on the personnel side, absorbing those guys into the shop for day-to-day procedures and what we do to prepare cars is going to be the biggest gain for us.”
“It’s a lot different. When you’re in the playoffs, obviously there’s a lot of pressure there. Three races to try to get into the next round is always intense, and when you’re in it, it’s way more intense week-to-week than in the regular season. When you’re out of it, nothing really changes this time of the year. You have the same approach that you’ve had through the rest of the season going week-to-week. Racing the playoff drivers is tough – they’re upping their game in ways and you have to respect what they’re doing. You can’t go out there and push the issue with guys sometimes. They’re racing for a championship and you have to respect that. They’ve earned that right and earned that respect. Some may look at that differently, but that’s kind of a thing that I see with the playoffs this time of the year and being out of it.”
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