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WWT Raceway (Hailie Deegan Accident Quote)
HAILIE DEEGAN, No. 13 Ford Performance Ford F-150 (Incident on Lap 86 in Turn 3) – "We were on a stretch and it worked out. We were on older tires, got track position, and I feel like we showed that all day -- just getting track position. We finally had it. We were holding them off pretty decently. I think we were still in the Top-10. Three-wide in the middle, and the No. 15 cleared himself up, kind of ruined all three of our runs. The No. 2 came in, hit me once, hit me again and shipped me off. It destroyed our truck. Ended our day. I don't know. It is what it is. Can't change it. We're trying to do our part and just got shipped."
Ford Performance PR
Palou Masters Tricky Detroit for Second Consecutive Pole
Alex Palou spent plenty of time in the runoff areas Friday afternoon and Saturday morning while finding the limits of grip and speed on the new Streets of Detroit circuit.
That education in practice paid off Saturday, as 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou will start the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on Sunday from the best position – pole.
SEE: Qualifying Results
2021 series champion Palou earned his third career pole and second in a row – he also won the NTT P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge last month – in the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. His best lap of 1 minute, 1.8592 seconds with 70 seconds left in the Firestone Fast Six withstood a handful of attempts to topple it.
“We started on used greens (Firestone alternate tires) that we used in the Fast 12, and it didn’t feel really good,” Palou said. “I was concerned if we were going to be able to make two laps or not, but super happy. My first pole on street course. We had a great car since the beginning.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, for sure. I got off (course) a lot in practice. We were wanting to see where the limit was. We found it. But man, it’s a crazy track.”
Live coverage of the 100-lap race on the bumpy, tight, nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street circuit in downtown Detroit starts at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Scott McLaughlin will join championship leader Palou on the front row after his best lap of 1:02.1592 in the No. 3 Gallagher Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet.
Romain Grosjean qualified third at 1:02.2896 in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon, who led practice Saturday morning, will join Grosjean in Row 2 after qualifying fourth at 1:02.4272 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Newly crowned Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Josef Newgarden overcame the fatigue of a hectic week of celebration and media and sponsor activities after his dramatic Indy victory to qualify fifth at 1:02.5223 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:02.6184 in the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda.
McLaughlin was one of the last drivers on a flying lap during the Firestone Fast Six but couldn’t eclipse Palou’s best lap.
“Credit to him – great lap,” McLaughlin said. “Man, this is a tough old joint here. You’re wheeling it pretty hard. We just didn’t quite have it, but this is a great result for us in the Gallagher Chevy. This is a real tough challenge.”
Marcus Armstrong was the top qualifier among the four rookies in the field, 11th in the No. 11 The American Legion Honda at 1:02.2958.
NTT Indycar Series PR
Rookie Reece Gold earned a dramatic first career victory Saturday, passing the crippled car of leader Nolan Siegel on the final straightaway with the checkered flag waving at the INDY NXT by Firestone Detroit Grand Prix.
Gold drove his No. 10 HMD Motorsports with DCR car to victory by .2974 of a second over the No. 98 Lead Sled car driven by fellow rookie Jagger Jones, grandson of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones. Veteran Ernie Francis Jr., driving with a surgically repaired broken wrist, finished third in the No. 99 HMD Motorsports with Force Indy car, .5169 of a second behind Gold.
SEE: Race Results
“I don’t know what happened to Nolan,” Gold said. “That sucks. They ran a great race. I’m super happy to get my first win. Thank you to the team. Everyone at HMD has done an amazing job.
“Yeah, never give up. That was a crazy ending.”
All three podium finishers earned the first top-three results of their respective INDY NXT by Firestone careers. Francis became the first Haitian American driver to earn a podium finish in the INDYCAR development series.
Jacob Abel finished fourth in the No. 51 Abel Motorsports machine. Rookie Enaam Ahmed drove to a career-best finish of fifth in the No. 47 Rickshaw Rocket machine, joining his Cape Motorsports teammate Jones in the top five.
While Gold celebrated his first win, the polar opposite emotion was endured by Siegel. He led by more than five seconds on the last of the 45 laps around the nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street circuit when his No. 39 HMD Motorsports with DCR car slowed suddenly with two turns to go due to an apparent broken driveshaft.
Siegel guided the wounded machine through Turns 8 and 9 in the lead with the checkered flag in the air, but the podium finishers and a host of other cars passed him on the short straightaway to the flag stand. Siegel ended up eighth.
The finish was especially cruel considering the gap Siegel built after passing Gold with a classic inside-out maneuver in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 39. Gold and Siegel went side by side into the left-hand hairpin Turn 3 at the end of the long back straightaway. Siegel was on the outside in Turn 3, giving him the preferred inside line into the right-handed Turn 4.
Siegel completed the pass and then drove away over the next six laps, adding nearly one second per lap to the gap, before calamity struck with two corners left.
Gold, who started third, and Siegel, who started fourth, became the class of the field after pole sitter Louis Foster and No. 2 starter Hunter McElrea were involved in a first-lap incident that triggered the first of the two caution periods in the race.
McElrea’s No. 27 Smart Motors car hit the rear of Andretti Autosport teammate Foster’s No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship machine entering Turn 3 after the green flag, spinning Foster backward into the wall and out of the race. McElrea was assessed with a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact and ended up finishing seventh.
From there, Gold and Siegel controlled the front of the field, with Gold leading by anywhere from one-half to one second until about 10 laps to go. Then Siegel clawed back the gap and drove right on to Gold’s gearbox before passing Gold for the lead in Turn 4 on Lap 39.
Christian Rasmussen overcame a Lap 1 pit stop to replace a damaged front wing and left-front Firestone tire on his No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car and rallied to finish ninth. That was enough to keep the championship lead by 15 points over Siegel, 138-125.
Race 2 of the doubleheader is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET Sunday (live, Peacock and INDYCAR Radio Network).
Indy NXT PR
Friesen Adds to Gateway Success With Another Top-Five
Stewart Friesen (third) earned his fourth consecutive top-five finish at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday afternoon to lead Toyota. Toyota development driver Jesse Love finished a strong ninth in his series debut.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway
Race 12 of 23 – 160 Laps, 200 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Grant Enfinger*
2nd, Christian Eckes*
3rd, STEWART FRIESEN
4th, Carson Hocevar*
5th, Chase Purdy*
9th, JESSE LOVE
13th, TAYLOR GRAY
16th, TYLER ANKRUM
18th, TIMMY HILL
21st, TANNER GRAY
24th, TONI BREIDINGER
34th, DEAN THOMPSON
35th, CLAY GREENFIELD
STEWART FRIESEN, No. 52 Ferris Commercial Mowers Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Halmar Friesen Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your race?
“We had a really good Ferris/Halmar Tundra TRD Pro. Good on the long run. Our short run speed wasn’t great. I felt like the 98 (Ty Majeski) was probably the best, but the longer we go, we get slipping and sliding and moving around – and then we never got that long run in the end. Hats off to the team in stall 32. My guys did a heck of a job creating calls and getting us track position when we did it. I was kind upset with them after the first stop, because we pitted early and I said, we should have stayed out and won the stage, but it kept us in the hunt to win the second stage. We got an opportunity to do that, and it kept us with the lead pack all race. Just a great job. I’m so proud of this team. Thanks to Chris Larsen and all of our fans.”
How was your truck over the course of this day?
“Conditions were hot, but we got really racy there at the end. We had a really good long Ferris Tundra TRD Pro. Big thanks to everyone at Ferris, everyone at Halmar. It’s grass cutting season in the Northeast, so go find your local Ferris dealer and check them out.”
JESSE LOVE, No. 11 Safelite Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
Finishing Position: 9th
Top-10 finish in your debut. What did you learn throughout the day?
“It was tough to get track position. I thought we were always faster than the guys in front of us. It was just hard to get up there. Obviously, once you get in the top-five, then yeah, it’s not quite as easy to catch the guys in front of you. I got outraced a little bit today in a lot of different aspects, but my crew chief (Scott Zipadelli) did a great call. We were definitely on old tires at the end and at a big deficit for that. I just had to get up on the wheel and try to not lose any spots. I was pretty happy with it. My goal was to run top-eight. I thought that would signify a pretty good day, and I think running ninth after being on really old tires at the end, I was happy with. There was times we were battling for third and that is all that I can ask for. Definitely a lot to learn on my end, but I love the challenge. We’ve been on such a roll here lately, that a little bit of a reality check don’t hurt that bad. I’m fine with that. I’ve learned a lot, and I just want to thank Safelite, Toyota Racing and TRICON. I’m hoping that Corey (Heim) feels better soon.”
World Wide Technology Raceway NCTS Post-Race Quotes
Ford Finishing Results:
7th – Ben Rhodes
20th – Zane Smith
23rd – Josh Reaume
25th – Matt Crafton
30th – Ty Majeski
31st – Stephen Mallozzi
32nd – Hailie Deegan
33rd – Conner Jones
BEN RHODES, No. 99 Bommarito Ford F-150 (Finished 7th) – “We certainly entered this with a lot of momentum, and we were certainly expecting a better run today. It started out great, but as people started flipping the stages because the cautions came out at the wrong times, it produced a lot of excitement like they are intended to do. Unfortunately, as people flip the stages, we lose track position. As we try to come through the field, it just turns into carnage. The truck was clean, all the way up to the very end. [Carson] Hocevar just ran us right into the wall, and that’s what he does. Kind of frustrating to finish seventh with such a good truck and having to fight like we did. All-in-all, I’m glad Bommarito Automotive Group was able to have a good showing with us. I wish we could have got it to victory lane at their home track. One thing we have to go back and work on is our voltage and how we manage temperature better. We ended up losing a lot of horsepower at the end, and that hindered us from making a proper run to the front.”
ZANE SMITH, No. 38 ARRMA RC Ford F-150 (Finished 20th) – WHAT HAPPENED AT THE END? “Well, we got wrecked… unfortunately by another Ford. It was a really good truck and unfortunately, it was taken from us.”
YOU WERE LEADING THE RACE. DOES THAT MAKE IT ANY MORE DISAPPOINTING? “Yes.”
ARE YOU AND TY MAJESKI GOING TO TALK IT OUT? “Yeah. I went to go find him to see if he got hit or something. I didn’t know what his plan was there. I saw an interview earlier where at this track he has more experience here than any others. He still races like it’s his first time here. We see time and time again that the guy on the bottom has to be a little conservative, and that’s why the leaders always choose the top. Maybe he’ll learn next time.”
YOU SEEM HEARTBROKEN. “Yeah, it’s just a bummer. I mean, I kind of did it to myself staying in this series. It is pretty unbelievable how scary some of these guys are. We’ve just had, now, four bad weeks – some self-inflicted, but our day obviously snowballed once we get around some of these guys. It’s just frustrating.”
TY MAJESKI, No. 98 Road Ranger Ford F-150 (Finished 30th) – “Restarts were my struggle all day. Low air pressures and we had the splitter bent, got into Turn 3 obviously trying to get ahead of the No. 38, hit the splitter, had to check up, and went up the racetrack. Obviously when you go up the racetrack, his side took the air from mine, and I went around and wrecked us both. Inexcusable. I misjudged it. Trying to win the race and obviously wrecked two really good Ford F-150s. I’m disappointed in myself. Got to execute when you have the fastest truck by a mile like that. Just inexcusable. Got to be better.”
Ford Performance PR
Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter starting lineup at World Wide Technology Raceway
NCS Saturday - Ryan Blaney Media Availability
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters Ford Mustang – DID YOU HAVE ANY SATISFACTION IN MAKING A STATEMENT THAT YOU CAN STILL WIN? “I didn’t have satisfaction for that. I had more satisfaction, enjoyment and excitement of winning again, and winning with the great group of guys I got. It’s a bit satisfying not having to answer when you’re going to win again. That really wasn’t at the top of my list. It was just really nice to get into victory lane, and to win the race we did was really cool as well stacked on-top of that. So, yeah. More enjoyment out of just finally winning. I hadn’t had that feeling in awhile. It was nice to get back to that headspace – get our first one with Jonathan [Hassler] too, that was definitely very special.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT CHASE ELLIOTT’S SUSPENSION, AND DOES IT SET THE TONE THAT THOSE TYPES OF MOVES ARE NOT GOING TO BE ACCEPTED? “In their position, what happened to Bubba [Wallace] last year is very similar to Monday night. I feel like if you’re going to make a call on one guy for doing some move, you have to be consistent in what you call on another guy for doing a move. That’s just kind of what it is. It’s good that they were kind of consistent in the calls for the exact same kind of retaliation, and I think that’s how it should be. That’s kind of the most dangerous move I think you can do to somebody is the hook deal. But, yeah, it was good NASCAR was consistent. I haven’t really thought about it too much, but you have to make the same call for the same move on everybody.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE DATA NOW HELPS NASCAR DEFINITIVELY DECIDE BETWEEN WHAT’S INTENTIONAL OR A MISTAKE? “You got data and you have more information than you’ve ever had, and you can go back and look at that stuff. Obviously, Denny [Hamlin] poured it out over the internet kind of pleading his case. But, the data is one thing. The other thing is that things happen so quickly and it’s in the spur of the moment. It’s super hard to go off of just data. There are other things and things happen really fast. You don’t know the emotions of somebody. You don’t know if – and I’m not saying this was the situation – something was broken or it was a genuine mistake. I don’t think you can heavily rely on data. You can maybe look at that, but then you’ll have to look at the situation, you have to watch videos of it – I think there are a lot more things going on. I wouldn’t say it’s a big factor in the decision they made, but it’s definitely something I’m sure everyone is going to be… ‘Look at what this guy did to me. There’s his data. He was wide-open. He never lifted. He turned right or turned left.’ I don’t think you need to get too into this. Honestly, you know when you get wrecked. But yeah, the data side is out there for the whole world to see, and it’s a good tool to use if you want to try to get someone in trouble. It’s almost like tattletaling to the principal to be honest with you. Everyone goes about it their own way.”
WOULD IT BOTHER YOU IF DATA WAS POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND SHOWN TO THE PUBLIC? ARE DRIVERS PROTECTIVE OF THEIR DATA? “It’s a little different, right? That data really isn’t public knowledge – no fan has SMT. It’s just the teams, and drivers look at every drivers’ SMT, right? During practice, you look at it. That’s what’s going on in the garage. It’s not like a race scanner where fans get that. You have it on the broadcast a little bit, but it’s not as sophisticated as what the SMT stuff is. Me, personally: I don’t mind. If someone wants to look at my data, they can. There’s nothing special on there – steering, brake, throttle and stuff like that. It’s really nothing special. But yeah, it is a little different. The fans don’t really have access to that stuff, at that level. But I really wouldn’t mind.”
IF IT WAS POSTED, WOULD YOU BE FOR THAT? “I don’t think you have to do that. Data has been around for a very long time – SMT and stuff like that. That’s kind of the first time I remember seeing someone using it to plead their case. Yeah, I don’t think we make that the norm, but everyone goes about it differently. Denny’s a big data guy. He always looks at that stuff, relies on that stuff. Like I said, everyone’s different. I don’t know if it needs to be the norm, but I can’t really do anything about it if someone wants to put it out there.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE WINNING A CROWN-JEWEL IN THE COCA-COLA 600? “It kind of easy to overlook the 600 because it was our first win in a long time. So it was like, ‘Man, it’s cool to be in victory lane.’ I kept reminding the guys that it’s a cool one to get because it’s a crown-jewel, it’s the 600 and it’s a super difficult race to win obviously. You just try to keep that in your head, too, if you just won a really, really big race, an important race as well stacked on-top of the first win with a lot of these guys that I’m working with – me and Jonathan’s first win. It really meant a lot. I grew up going to the 600, watching my dad race, for a very long time. It was super special to have them there, and it kind of put the cherry on-top to have my mom, dad and sisters there. It sinks in during the week, until about Wednesday or Thursday, and then you’re focused on trying to get another one.”
CHASE ELLIOTT’S MOVE SEEMED UNCHARACTERISTIC. DO YOU THINK IT WAS REACTIONARY? “People snap at some point – it doesn’t matter who they are. Outside looking in, I think he got tired of getting run into the fence two or three times – just had enough of it and reacted the way he reacted. If it’s not their character, you sometimes have moments when you’re just over it. You’re sick of getting run into the fence or something like that. You see uncharacteristic things when that happens.”
TEAM PENSKE NOT ONLY WON THE INDY 500 ON SUNDAY, BUT YOU ALSO WERE VICTORIOUS ON MONDAY. WHAT WAS YOUR CONVERSATION WITH ROGER PENSKE LIKE AND HOW SIGNIFICANT WAS THE WEEKEND OVERALL FOR THE TEAM BRAND? “That was huge and amazing. Sitting in the rain on Sunday watching the [Indianapolis] 500 was exciting, and those last restarts were nail-biting. You know what’s at stake. You know Mr. Penske is sitting on 18 [victories], and they have a great chance to win it. Haven’t really been in that spot in a few years – like a legit shot to win the 500. Gosh, Josef [Newgarden] did an amazing job. I mean, he is a stud. He does such a cool thing over there. It’s like, ‘Ok, this is a big pressure on us whenever we do get going.’ Personally, I didn’t know until Monday that the sweep has never been done before – pretty amazing that a company and person like Roger, who’s done so much in motorsports, that it’s never happened. It was cool to be a part of it, be a part of finishing the job and completing the sweep. Yeah, I was able to call him Monday night around midnight. They were all on a plane headed back to Michigan after the Indy banquet, and it was cool to talk to him for a little bit. It was him and Ms. Penske, and they were really excited. He said they were at the Indy banquet and had their phones under the table watching the end of the race. Then I talked to him like three times the next day. It’s super cool to contribute to something like that, especially for R.P. who’s done so much for me. The Tuesday afternoon win celebration with Pensk, the IndyCar and NASCAR folks, was a very cool moment, too.”
WHERE’S THE COCA-COLA MACHINE GOING? “I got a spot for it in a bar I have built. I haven’t got it yet. But, I have a pretty good place for it. That thing is pretty cool.”
COREY LAJOIE HAS A BIG MOMENT AHEAD OF HIM IN THIS WEEKEND’S CUP RACE. HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH THE SITUATION IF IT WERE YOU? “For him and under the circumstances, it is an amazing opportunity. He’s put a ton of work in and he’s done a great job with anything he’s given – especially the No. 7 car, he’s done an amazing job. For him to get a chance with the Hendrick Motorsports team – that’s great for him. He’s a fiery competitor, he tried extremely hard and he has the talent. The way I’m looking at it, is that he can go out and win this race. He has to take every opportunity he can to try to achieve that. I’d say, don’t do anything different from what’s got him here. He’s done great, he’s done amazing and he’s got great finishes – got everything out of the car. Now, you’re in some better equipment, a good team around you – just continue to do your thing, and run the way you know how to run. Hopefully that is enough to contend for the win. That’s just the way I look at it and my mindset. He’s good enough and has done a great enough job. If he’s just himself, he’s going to be in contention.”
IT WAS A DIFFICULT START TO THE SEASON, BUT HAS THE TEAM FOUND SOMETHING THAT CAN APPLIED TO FUTURE RACES? “I hope so. It’s no secret that we’ve struggled a bit on the intermediates, mile and a halves, just searching for speed and figuring out the new nose we have. It’s been a little bit of a struggle. I’m really proud of the efforts from everybody – Ford, Penske and Roush Yates Engines. I mean we were all working around the clock, trying to get better. I think hopefully what we found at Charlotte, to have the speed we had to contend with the cars that have been really good on the mile and a halves, hopefully we can carry that forward to other mile and a halves, and maybe even everywhere else. Everything kind of matters. So, that was definitely a shot in the arm, for sure, and hopefully we can continue that success and that speed.”
Ford Performance PR
CHEVROLET NCS AT WWTR: Corey LaJoie Press Conference Transcript
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SLEEPING?
“Like a baby.. because it’s weird, man. It’s like the dream is during the day right now. I missed the call from Mr. Hendrick – he left me a voicemail. I woke up to it on Wednesday morning and I told my wife, I was like – honey, I missed the call. But luckily he answered when I called him back on Wednesday morning and since then, it’s been like drinking out of a fire hose. Just information, preparation and just a level of perfection that those guys expect is really cool to see for the first three or four days leading up to here at St. Louis.”
DO YOU THINK THE LETTER YOU WROTE THREE YEARS AGO HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CALL THAT YOU GOT?
“No.. I mean it didn’t hurt and time is a flat circle, apparently. I’m glad that call didn’t come a couple months after that letter because I wouldn’t have been ready for it. I wouldn’t have been ready for the opportunity – my maturation level, my skills behind the wheel. It’s been six years of grind and stacking pennies to feel confident enough to be able to plug into this No. 9 Chevy and run it to its true potential.
It’s been a wild week. I can get all sentimental and all this stuff that’s attached to the letter and my dad subbing in for Ricky Craven in 1998 and all that sort of stuff. But at the end of the day, when I sit in that thing, I don’t know that NAPA is on it or the No. 9 is on it. I’m going to drive it like I have been driving the No. 7 Chevy and putting that thing 19th in points. It’s been a super fun, successful year so far, and we have a lot of work left to do and things to accomplish over there. But for the opportunity to drive for Mr. Hendrick, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
CAN YOU SHARE WHAT RICK HENDRICK SAID TO YOU.. WHAT HE SAID ON THE MESSAGE?
“Yeah.. yeah. So it was just like – ‘Hey Corey, it’s Rick Hendrick here. Just wanted to let you know that I’m excited you’re filling in under this circumstance. Appreciate the help and I know you’re going to do us a good job’.
I was thinking about this.. there’s a couple young people in here that might have played NASCAR video games growing up. But NASCAR 2004-2005, like you’d start your career mode in the bottom team and then you’d get the call up to the next team and the next team. And then you’d get a notification on your phone from like Rick Hendrick to drive that car. That’s what I felt like laying in bed on Wednesday morning talking to the wife. I was like – my life is a video game right now.. it’s just nonstop progression, failure and just falling short time and time again, but keep taking steps forward towards the goal of getting to the position that I’m in right now. It’s been wild.”
YOU’RE LISTENING AND YOU HEAR ‘HEY COREY, IT’S RICK HENDRICK’.. JUST TO HEAR IT’S RICK HENDRICK..
“Yeah, so Tuesday night , (Jeff) Dickerson was the one that texted me around noon on Tuesday and was like – if this happens, you’re going to fill-in. I was like, are you punking me.. don’t punk me right now. And he was like – no, no it’s happening.
So he called me – I was actually downtown at NASCAR recording the podcast and Jeff calls me and is like – hey, it’s happening.. get with Alan (Gustafson), get the seats, get the whole thing. There was a lot of self-doubt that crept in that night of just like, can you do it? It’s like ‘put up or shut up’. You’re wrestling around and you’re like wrestling these emotions of like scared and nervous. And then you wake up on Wednesday morning; you go to the shop and you walk in there for the first five minutes and you realize just the collective focus of that group. Their goal is to win races and championships. You can walk through the lobby and you can tell why they’re so successful after the more time I spent there. I got there around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday. I spent about an hour and a half with Alan (Gustafson) and his engineers, and walked through the shop. Around 8:30 a.m., we went to the simulators and spent some time there. Just started looking at how those guys – obviously the difference in setups was interesting to drive, feel out and just the tendencies of how those guys drive; braking techniques, steering wheel angles and things like that. It’s something I’ve never had access to, so it was good for me to have kind of a high watermark to just try to go chase and try to hone how I attack this racetrack and how I changed how I attack this racetrack by just looking what other guys did. I left with much more confidence Wednesday of seeing the process and just the system that those guys have – that you can plugin somebody with good talent and that’s how they become great in the process with those tools and resources. Those guys build champions for a reason because they can extract the very best. And then even more so, so it’s pretty impressive to see.
Man, I’ve been here three days and my philosophy of how I approach a weekend; how I prepare, how I’m going to engage with my team at Spire Motorsports going forward is going to change. I think I’m going to be able to come in there and just apply and share some of the things I’ve learned over the course of the week with (Ryan) Sparks and the No. 77 team, as well, and I think we’re all going to be stronger for it.”
YOU SAID ON THE PODCAST THAT YOU WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN PREPARED FOR THIS POSITION BEFORE. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COREY THEN AND COREY NOW?
“Man, a lot. The kids will do it (laughs). But just – I was watching the Netflix documentary on Connor McGregor on the way up here and that will fire you up, for one. But he had this quick saying – he’s training and the lead up before the fight with Khabib and he was mad. He just wasn’t focused and the the chip on his shoulder was weighing him down as opposed to motivating him. And he said that whether it was – don’t eat that, then I ate it. I’m going to wake up at 6:00 a.m. and then you don’t wake up at 6:00 a.m. I’m going to go workout at this time and you don’t go workout at this time. So you string together these defeats, like these mental defeats, and then you don’t feel confident that when the big challenge comes that you can rise to the occasion.
So the last six or eight months, maybe a little less than that, have been like me preparing for today just not knowing if it’d ever come. It would just be like getting rid of those small defeats of – if you’re going to wakeup at 5:30 a.m., you’re going to wakeup at 5:30 a.m. If you’re going to workout at 7:00 a.m., you’re getting there at 6:50 a.m. Leaning into the work and just not making excuses or exceptions to the pursuit of the person that you want to be. Not the person that you are, but the person you’re striving to be.
And then you go to Hendrick (Motorsports) and you see that there’s 500 people over there that have the same mentality, and it’s like – OK, that’s why they’re so freaking good.”
WHEN THIS NEW CAR CAME OUT, YOU EXPRESSED THE HOPE THAT IT WOULD BRING THE MIDDLE CLOSER TO THE FRONT, AND THE BACK CLOSER TO THE MIDDLE. IT CERTAINLY HAS, BUT AFTER 72 HOURS NOW IN THE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ SYSTEM, CAN YOU SPEAK A LITTLE BIT NOW ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS IN THIS SPORT AND HOW DRAMATIC IT MAY OR MAY NOT BE?
“I thought that I knew what we didn’t have at Spire Motorsports, but I had no idea. There’s tools that those guys have, intellectual properties specific to Hendrick Motorsports, that even some of the other teams don’t have. But the biggest thing that I noticed was just the people and the attitude of the pursuit of perfection. All the key partner teams across all the OEM’s all have the same data, but they have an unbelievable way of delegating, taking, compacting and making it just digestible – whether it’s for a driver, an engineer, a crew chief. I think the fact that they have four incredibly strong teams individually raises the tide for those guys because when you’re sitting in the simulator and William Byron ran a 33.20 (seconds).. if you’re running a 33.35 with the same setup, you know you have a tenth-and-a-half under your butt and you have to go find it. And then when I go run a 33.20, William next time is going to want to run a 33.19. There’s always a consistently raised watermark on the driver’s end. There’s always a consistently raised watermark on the crew chiefs in trying to build the best setups, and the engineers trying to find the best strategies. Like the inner team competition is one of the biggest things and I think there are several teams that have that.. the healthy ones are certainly evident. But it’s just the overall structure – we have a Hawkeye.. all the things that do the same stuff that Hendrick Motorsports has, but the depth of people, collective focus of the goal and the mission is noticeable and evident. It’s a different world.
I texted Dickerson – Dickerson spent a decade over there with Alan (Gustafson) and spotting for Kyle Busch. He’s been someone I’ve leaned on this week – and also the last six or eight months – of just trying to help me learn how to be a professional. You go over there and the entire group are just as professional as it gets.”
HOW HARD WILL IT BE – OF COURSE YOU’RE MOTIVATED WHEN YOU GO BACK TO SPIRE MOTORSPORTS AFTER YOU SEE WHAT’S AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS, BUT AFTER YOU’RE BACK FOR AWHILE, IT MIGHT BE DIFFICULT THINKING – GOSH, WE DON’T HAVE THIS STUFF. HOW DO YOU FEND THAT OFF WHEN YOU SEE WHAT YOU’VE SEEN THIS WEEKEND?
“Yeah, the only way is through and now I think just forming a better relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and probably having a better working relationship with those guys – we share motors, we share pit crews with those guys. And now that I’m going to have a good relationship with Alan (Gustafson) – him and I have rode mountain bikes together several times, so we already had a bit of a repour before the weekend started. And I think I can lean on him and Andrew, the engineer, a little bit more just because we’re going to form a relationship over this week, and maybe get a little bit more help than we have. There are certain things that Spire Motorsports is trying to gear up to work on – whether it’s wind tunnel time that’s coming up the pipeline from NASCAR. There are some gains we’re going to be making over there. But I’m way past the point in my career and my life of getting jealous of things that I don’t have.. I’m just trying to figure out solutions and how to make where I’m at the best possible way.”
AS YOU GET READY TO RACE THIS ONE RACE FOR NOW, YOU PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET AND ALL YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS INTO ONE MOMENT – HOW DO YOU NOT OVERDO THAT?
“That’s a great question.. I’ve been trying to think about that all week. You know, once you put the helmet on – the talking and all the things that come along with that, all the interviews, that’s the noise. But the noise stops whenever you put the helmet on and you just drive it no different that I would the No. 7 car.
This is opposite, but kind of the same scenario - I remember, this was a couple of years ago when (Matt) Kenseth was driving the No. 6, the No. 32 and the No. 6 were in the owner’s points right next to each other. It was Matt’s first week back and he had been driving for (Joe) Gibbs – champion, hall of famer and all of that – he gets out of the car after practice and he’s looking at the rundown. He starts on the left side of the sheet and he’s like working his way down. He goes to the next sheet; he’s working his way down and it’s like 31st and 32nd. My buddy (Ryan) Flores that’s on the podcast with me – he’s like it’s going to be like that, but opposite. Like you’re going to work from the bottom like I’m used to; working my way up and you’re just going to keep going a couple spots higher. So hopefully that’s what happens this weekend. It’s not going to be easy. There’s a guy in the back of the room there, the Coca-Cola 600 champion.. congrats Ryan Blaney.. and then 15 to 18 other guys just like him that are capable of winning any other week. So its going to be fun to be able to dice it up and be sitting on equally fast horses as those guys for the first time.”
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER – YOUR DAD GOT A CHANCE WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS BACK IN 1998. WHAT HAVE YOUR CONVERSATIONS BEEN LIKE WITH HIM THIS WEEK AND IS HE HERE THIS WEEKEND?
“He’s not here, he’s watching the kiddos. Levi and Jenson are at the house and mom and dad are watching them. We talked about it on the podcast a little bit – I believe it was the Coca-Cola 600, dad wrecked Dale Earnhardt Sr., so Ryan (Flores) was like – hey, at least you’re not going to wreck Dale Sr. in your opportunity with Hendrick Motorsports and you’re not going to be able to wreck Chase Elliott because you’re driving his car. So I guess if that’s your measuring stick, I think I’m going to be in pretty good shape.”