NASCAR CUP SERIES
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 3, 2020
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Daytona 500 Media Availability Transcript:
THE NEXT WEEK IS MEANINGFUL IN A LOT OF WAYS; EMOTIONAL IN A LOT OF WAYS FOR THE COMPANY. YOU WERE PROBABLY TOO YOUNG, BACK IN 2001, TO REALLY HAVE ANY MEMORY OF WHAT HAPPENED, BUT WHAT HAS THIS BEEN LIKE IN THE LEAD UP TO THE DAYTONA 500 FOR YOU. WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AT DALE EARNHARDT’S IMPACT ON THE SPORT, WHAT MEMORIES OR THOUGHTS DO YOU HAVE?
“Dale (Earnhardt) left a void in the sport that hasn’t been replaced. He was one of a kind. I, personally, never got the chance to know him in-person, but through my time at RCR and through my time in the sport of racing and NASCAR, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people that worked with him, knew him, called him a father or a friend. To hear the different stories about Dale from these different people is really eye-opening. It will be 20 years and it was a huge loss for our entire sport. One of my earliest memories of NASCAR racing was, unfortunately, watching this race on TV at home when I was very, very young. It was an awful first memory to have. But, in honor of his passing, we’re going to do everything we can as an organization to get the No. 8 or No. 3 back in victory lane.”
WHAT WOULD A DAYTONA 500 WIN, GIVEN THE ANNIVERSARY AND JUST TRYING TO SOOTHE SOME OF THOSE MEMORIES OR REPLACE THEM WITH BETTER MEMORIES NEXT WEEK, MEAN TO YOU GUYS?
“It would mean everything. Obviously, like you just said, in the sport of NASCAR and RCR, you can’t replace a guy like that. Obviously, the team’s moved on. It’s tough to move past, but the things that have happened since that horrible loss that we had, our sport had, that everybody had that knew him and looked up to him – the safety innovations that have come along the way since that awful and unfortunate event has been very, I would say, monumental. The sport has changed so much. Even since the time I’ve been here, that drive to continue to improve safety has never stopped and to just see how much ground has been made and progress has been made since I stepped in to the Truck Series quite a few years ago now – that innovation and drive to continue to make this sport safer has not lost its edge. They continue to sharpen every little tool that they have to make these cars safer so guys like myself and my teammates can go out there and put on the best show possible for the fans.”
NOT ONLY WILL YOU BE RUNNING THE DAYTONA 500, BUT YOU’LL BE DOING THE XFINITY RACE NEXT WEEK. OBVIOUSLY, YOU’RE A TWO-TIME CHAMPION, SO I’M CURIOUS WHAT PEAKED YOUR INTEREST TO RETURN?
“When the offer got passed along my way about running a Xfinity car, it meant a lot. Obviously, knowing it was going to have an ECR engine under the hood made it that much sweeter, too. All the folks down there at ECR I’ve gotten to know the last couple of years from running the Xfinity car and the Cup stuff. They put out the best engines in the garage. So, to have the opportunity come along and be able to get back into the Xfinity Series – I really wanted to run some races last year, but with the Pandemic happening and everything kind of changing in the time that came after that, it was just a big adjustment period. And, now that we’re kind of more comfortable with it and understand what we can and can’t do with the opportunity that arose, I was very excited to have it. It’s nice to get back into the Xfinity Series and race with guys like Noah Gragson again. My teammate, Brett Moffitt – we raced together a lot in Trucks and other things along the way, so it’ll be nice to be teamed up with him. It’ll be nice to get back into those cars, get some practice and go back out there and get that feel that I really enjoyed in the Xfinity Series. The superspeedway cars are a little bit different than what we race in Cup now. I just felt really comfortable in those cars. I’m starting to get really comfortable in the Cup cars, too.”
IS IT A ONE-OFF OR DO YOU EXPECT THERE TO BE OTHER RACES, AS WELL?
“As of right now, it’s one race, but we’ll see. As things continue to change, who knows. But, for right now, it’s just Daytona.”
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE CHASE BRISCOE ADVICE, AS FAR AS MAKING A SPLASH IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF CUP, WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO HIM?
“Well, your strengths are really important as a driver. When you’re going to a place that you have a good feel for – for me, like at Homestead, you try to circle a race like that or tracks similar to that. For him, he’s good at tracks with tire fall-off; he’s good at the road courses. You want to circle those events, but you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. You can do everything right, but something can take place that takes you out of the race or doesn’t exactly give you the shining opportunity that you were hoping to go out there and get that win that you really want to get. Keep your head in the game is a good way to put it. There’s a lot of challenges and a lot of different things that I had to learn as a driver in my rookie year and I’m continuing to learn. Just in areas that I wasn’t the best at – whether it was pit road, road courses, techniques on some of these different short tracks. It can be easy to get down on yourself. When you go from having a bad day and running 7th or 8th in the Xfinity Series, a bad day in the Cup Series is outside the top-20, and that can be difficult to get used to. But he’s going to have good people around him. I had good support from Austin (Dillon), Bubba (Wallace) and Ty (Dillon) last year. He’s going to have good people around him. Cole Custer, who he was teammates with on the Xfinity side and will still continue to be teammates with at Stewart-Haas – Cole just went through that and they’ll be able to share with each other and that will be helpful for him, too. It’s definitely tough; there’s nothing like it. You know that going into it, but when you get there, it can be very overwhelming and you just don’t want to get down on yourself.”
IS DABBLING IN A DIRT LATE MODEL IN YOUR FUTURE?
“Getting back in one?”
GETTING BACK IN ONE, TEAM OWNERSHIP, ANYTHING ALONG THOSE LINES?
“As of right now, probably team ownership. If I ever owned one, I’d be selfish and want to drive it. I’ve always kind of joked about that. I’d like to get back into some dirt racing when there’s time. I’ve tried to put a lot of effort, especially this off season, just thinking about 2021 in the Cup car. Obviously, I say that and there’s a race coming up here in the No. 03 for Our Motorsports, but again, it’s all around the idea of getting more seat time and being more prepared for the 2021 season.”
“I’d like to – I’m a year into being a dad and getting a better understanding of what that’s like; getting a better understanding of what I need to do to be better on the Cup side. When some of these things kind of fall into place, I can hopefully put some more time aside to do some of that other stuff. But, as much as it would be for fun, it’s in the interest of becoming a better driver. So, if I went back into dirt racing, it would be to try and help me become a more well-rounded driver in the Cup Series.”
THE LACK OF PRACTICE LAST YEAR – HOW MUCH DID THAT EFFECT A ROOKIE TEAM, IN THE SENSE OF SLOWING DOWN YOUR PROGRESSION? MAYBE MAKING IT A LITTLE LONGER FOR YOU GUYS TO GET GOING, LEARN WHAT YOU NEED AND JUST GET YOUR FEET UNDERNEATH YOU.
“It was good and bad. I don’t know that I’d necessarily call it a wash across the board throughout the entire year. We definitely have some highlights where we were really good and maybe some of the other competitors missed the mark a little bit that allowed us to get good top-fives out of it. But there’s definitely situations where we really wish we could have adjusted after one lap on the race track – we wish we could have adjusted something. Everyone was faced with that. For me and Randall (Burnett, crew chief), going to a lot of tracks with a new car for the first time was a challenge. Yes, there was some sort of a notebook from last year. (INAUDIBLE)”
I HEARD THAT YOUR WORKOUT PROGRAMS HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY. DISCUSS YOUR REASONING BEHIND THAT AND HOW’S IT GOING.
“INAUDIBLE… With things shifting and changing and only really being at the track maybe a day. This week coming up will be different than a lot of the weekends that we have throughout the year. So, with everything that’s happened, you’re spending less time in the car and you’re home more. Just been trying to maximize the time I have out of the car so I’m more prepared in the car. It’s been a good process. I feel like I’m in better shape than I’ve been in ever in a car, but I haven’t been able to go practice or really do anything in a car. So, we’ll just have to wait and see until we get there.”
“It was a good off season. Normally, I get a little bit chunky and gain a couple pounds so I’m nice and fat for the weigh in and then I try to lose it. But this time around, I tried to not really take any time off. 2021 started the day after Phoenix and I think some of that comes from, like I said earlier, wanting to do better in 2021. Obviously, it’s the Cup Series – it’s the hardest series to win in. But, nevertheless, it’s been a long time since I haven’t won in a year of racing, so I was motivated to get better and I’ve just been able to pick up the slack on some of those other things and just be in better shape for my team.”
YOU HAD SOME REALLY GOOD RUNS AND YOU FINISHED IN THE TOP-HALF OF THE FIELD MORE OFTEN THAN NOT. WITH THAT IN MIND, WHICH AREAS HAVE YOU AND YOUR TEAM PIN POINTED FOR 2021 TO CONVERT THOSE TOP-20’S INTO TOP-10’S AND 15’S MORE OFTEN AND GET BETTER CONSISTENCY TO CONTEND FOR A PLAYOFF BERTH?
“There’s a few things, but I’d say the biggest one that was a takeaway for us was managing the worst part of our race better. Normally that kind of occurred about mid-way through the race. Sometimes we could recover from it and get back into running for a top-10, but a lot of times when we were in pretty good shape and on pace to run somewhere right outside the top-10 or top-15, that bad run takes us so far back that it’s really hard to recover from it and get a good finish out of it. So, just trying to manage that area of the race better. Along with that, when something like that goes wrong, just minimizing the mistakes going forward and just trying to make the most out of those struggles or that big struggle you may face. Each race, you’re going to have something that’s your biggest struggle and just trying to get across that better and with a better head or maybe with a better strategy – whatever it might be, we’ve been looking at it and just try to be more aware of that as an issue. And look at how we can prepare better for it; how we can handle it better. Just kind of self-reflecting like that.”
“At the end of the day, on average, (INAUDIBLE)… it’s a silly number because one situation and one race changes all of it. We had I think maybe five races of just finishing outside the top-30. Especially on days where I feel like it wouldn’t have been too challenging to get into the top-15, so we just have to be smarter with those.”
YOU HAD SOME REALLY STRONG RUNS LAST YEAR AND YOU WERE REALLY CLOSE AT TEXAS TO WINNING – YOU AND AUSTIN (DILLON) HAD A GREAT AFTERNOON THERE. HOW DISAPPOINTED WOULD YOU BE NOT TO WIN THIS YEAR, GIVEN SOME OF THOSE PERFORMANCES A YEAR AGO, AND NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
“I’m honestly really not wanting to think about that. That would not be good for my future if I can’t get into victory lane and miss the Playoffs again. I’m trying to think positively and think about what I could do to be better and become better; how can I capitalize on a situation, like you mentioned. Texas, how can I do it again and win, instead of coming in second.”
“Being at that place at the end of 2021, that’s kind of a direction I don’t want to put myself in – I don’t want to give that anymore fuel than it already has at this moment. I’m trying to just focus on things I can do to be better. There’s plenty of opportunities to win, it’s just about making the right decisions at the right time. Obviously, we’ve all seen that you can have the fastest car and still not win. It’s about running a good race and being smart.”
THERE’S A LOT OF NEW ON THE HORIZON THIS YEAR. IT KIND OF FEELS LIKE A NEW ERA, SPECIFICALLY WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON’S RETIREMENT. WHAT KIND OF GAP DO YOU FEEL LIKE HE LEAVES BEHIND? WHAT KIND OF EFFECT DO YOU THINK THAT WILL HAVE ON 2021?
“Jimmie (Johnson) is an outstanding individual. He was good to his competitors, good to the fans and good to the people that worked with him. He’s just an all-around great guy. With everything that we went through last year, especially the social injustice issues, he really took the lead in putting a video together that was put out. He was just a natural leader, if you will; it seemed that way. I only really got to know him a little bit just off and on through certain situations when I needed some help with a road course or a track or two. But the way that 2021 went with COVID, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities really to be around Jimmie. But I texted him quite a bit about the IndyCar endeavors; how that is, how much he likes it. I like to ask him about what he thinks about it compared to what he made a career of doing.”
“Definitely, a guy like that – when you’re a part-time Xfinity driver, you can text a seven-time champion and he’ll text back right away. Or if your bike rusts up on the way down because of an unexpected rainstorm and say ‘hey man, I need to get my bike fixed, what should I do’ and he’ll send you a name and a number and say go see him and the guy fixes your bike within a day. That’s just the type of guy he is.”
“He’s just an all-around good guy and that’s what made him a seven-time champion; being true to himself. I don’t know that we necessarily need someone to step in and be a Jimmie Johnson. We just need the drivers, including myself, to just be true to who we are – let our personalities shine in those moments. However we feel like we need to feel in those moments, we don’t need to hold back – we just need to show it. And for Jimmie, that was just being very cool-headed and handling it all very professionally. He will be missed, for sure. It was really cool to have him in the garage. It was hard to see him go, but it’s really exciting when somebody like him can do what he’s done in NASCAR and he’s got opportunities lined up to run in IndyCar. I’m really excited for him. I know he’s having a blast right now. He’s having fun learning how to drive something all over again. It’s tough to see him go, but I’m happy for him.”
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