Posted by kryan May - 11 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

How was your car in practice?
“We looked at the times and we looked at everything and we feel like we’re the best cars right now. Nothing would be better for us than to get Cale (Yarborough) — to honor Cale. He’s had a hall of fame career, he’s won tons of races and obviously 55 wins came in the 11 car. Like I said, I was just a very small part of the number 11 being the winningest number. He’s the one that paved the way for this all to happen. The car looks great out there. It looks like that 1979 Busch car that he had.”

Is the track starting to ‘weather’ back to the way it used to be?
“It is. For me, that’s what’s so much fun about this track is the sun just bleaches the race track and, this time around, it’s
whiter than it was last year, which means you’re starting to see some rocks come back up. It’s fun for us drivers when there’s tire wear — the driver becomes more of a factor. You’re starting to move around now and see different lines around this track – around the fence is always the fastest.”

Were you satisfied with your practice runs?
“Very pleased. This is a new car for us and I was very happy with our speed, very happy with race trim, qualifying trim –everything. I think we should have a pretty successful race and hopefully have a shot at it.”

What do you think about racing at Darlington back in the 1960s?
“That’s what’s so amazing to me is you see the old video and it definitely doesn’t do it justice. These guys had no air
conditioning, no power steering, no nothing. They had to man through it and tough through it and when you saw them after the race and their face is all black and everything. That’s how it used to be. These guys were iron men back then.
Nowadays, the cars are hot because we’re closed in and not as much air comes in the cars today as what it used to be. You had to have some arms on you. You had to have mental toughness back then. That still applies today, but it’s just a different beast all together. It’s still racing and it’s still about beating 42 other guys.”

Would you like to have raced back in the 1960s?
“I would love it. Things have changed so much. It’s become so corporate now and everything. It’s what puts the people in the stands and puts the cars on the race track — everything evolves. The NFL is not what it used to be — nothing’s like it used to be. You have to take the time to honor the people that helped pave the way to get here.”

What kind of personality does a driver need to win the All-Star race?
“Bulldog. You have to be just a guy that puts it all on the line. Nowadays, more than ever, the All-Star race — teams pretty much take disposable cars that they know there’s a good chance it’s not going to come back. The driver’s mentality is that it’s all for money, so there’s nothing to lose. It takes someone who’s willing to drive 100 percent qualifying lap every single lap. Those are the guys that are usually successful in winning.”

Were you a hard kid or an easy kid to raise?
“Financially I was a tough kid to raise because I always wanted to race, so we didn’t have the money to do it. It was tough on my family because they used to be into old hot rods and things like that — classic cars. Obviously, when I decided I wanted to be a race car driver that had to go by the wayside. They had to sell all that stuff and buy race cars and tires and fuel from that point on. It was tough for them. We didn’t ever take any family vacations or anything. That money was spent if we had to go out of town and race somewhere. My parents luckily now, like you were saying, we do make more money now and now they get to enjoy the life that they should have been able to enjoy had I not been a race car driver. Had I just taken up baseball or something — I cost them a lot back in the day, but it all paid off in the end.”

Were you easy to raise other than the money side?
“If I wasn’t getting kicked off the school bus, I was good. If I could just not horseplay around on the school bus — luckily we had a family friend that drove the bus and he would always have to come and meet my dad after work and tell him, ‘I hate to do it, but I had to kick your kid off the bus.’”

What is your strongest skill for the All-Star race?
“Typically, the way I drive doesn’t suit the All-Star race because I feel like I’m more of a finesse guy — a guy who watches and conserves his tires and takes care of his car and brakes and things like that. We have run really well there. I think it’s just a good track for me. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty on the last restart if need be and that’s typically what it comes down to is that last sprint. Second place — who knows who finished second the last two or three years there? We know who won. For us, it’s not just the money, but the pride of winning it and things like that. That’s something that you can’t buy is that trophy.”

What do you think is a realistic expectation for Danica Patrick’s first Darlington NSCS race?
“It’s tough to put it into numbers. It’s going to be so hard because it’s going to be tough with the traffic and everything at this place. You know that once you get past, you lose so much time that you have another guy right on your tail again. It’s hard to keep pace if you’re off the pace, if that makes any sense at all. Passing too, you have to time your passes. If you can’t figure out a way to get around a person, you can lose a lot of time. Realistically, she needs to try to keep the right side on it. It doesn’t matter how many laps you are down, because that’s the reality — she will be laps down. It’s part of the learning curve. It’s going to be tough for her. I think physically, it will be the hardest race she’s ever competed in, no doubt about that. She just needs to make sure she’s out there for the whole distance as possible and she’s not in the garage fixing her car. I would just say, whatever it takes to stay on the track. Don’t care about how many laps you go down.”

Is Darlington a mentally tough race track?
“It is. It’s just a line-sensitive race track. That’s why it’s so mentally tough to run this race. When you run inches off the
wall, your room for error is zero. It’s as mentally tough as it is physically tough at this race track. I think that’s why you see the really premier guys in our sport that win here. You just have to look at the trophy and see all the people who have won here in the past — it’s the best of the best.”

What would it mean for your team to win the Pit Crew Challenge again?
“There already pumped up about it and thinking about it. Obviously, it’s a big pay day for them if they get it. It’s great for us because it gives us No. 1 pit stall for the All-Star race, which is very crucial. It was for us in 2010. It’s a big day for
them. It’s a day for them to shine in front of their friends and family at the arena. They don’t get to come out and visit a
whole lot and obviously to be in town for a couple weeks is big. The Pit Crew Challenge is their day. Our guys have been
working on our car and thinking about how to get faster and things like that. To be two-time winners, everyone knows
they’re going to be the ones to beat when it comes Thursday.”

Is it a relief to run a non-points event at this point in the season?
“It is. It’s kind of like a break. It is somewhat of an off weekend next weekend. The schedule is pretty slack and obviously you get to sleep in your own bed. You like that part of it, for sure.”

How do you train to get physically fit for racing?
“It’s big. It’s such a different toughness now than what it used to be. A lot of guys work out and train and things like that to try to get better inside the race car. Really for us, it’s about hydration more than anything. When you become dehydrated, your mind does not work the same. It’s been scientifically studied thousands of times, and every time, you’re dehydrated – you lose your focus by I think 15 percent. Especially when it comes to this race track (Darlington), you can’t lose that 15 percent of focus. I’ll spend the entire weekend just hydrating and hydrating as much as I can to make sure I make the best decisions possible at the end.”

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