Toyota Racing – Brandon Jones
NASCAR Xfinity Series Quotes
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 21, 2021) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brandon Jones was made available to media via videoconference prior to the Talladega race earlier today:
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Menards/Tuscany Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
What is your anticipation for Talladega?
“I think Talladega and Daytona – those style of racetracks, those draft style superspeedway feel – is one of those things that my group and myself included has put a lot of effort into – a lot of time. Early on in my career, when I was watching these races and getting prepared for my first NASCAR starts, you kind of have that mindset that these tracks are just luck and if you miss the big one, and get there at the end possibly, but as I study these races and move forward in the series, I’ve noticed that the same guys that run up front in these style of tracks, so there is definitely an art to it, definitely a science. It’s one of those tracks that takes a lot of patience to get to the end. We’ve got a couple of good Joe Gibbs Racing teammates as well in those fast Supras to hopefully stick with throughout the event. I think if we do that, execute, we will be 1-2-3-4, which would be ideal.”
How much has having Blake Koch as a driver coach help you?
“Blake (Koch) has been phenomenal. That’s one thing. I’ve always had great crew chiefs. I’ve always had good team members, but I’ve never had that mentor to kind of help me off the track with racing. Blake has done a phenomenal job. I would be so interested to see what Blake could do in a car in today’s era, because his feedback, his advice is really, really good. I think that everything we do off of the track, the go-karts, me and him tandem on iRacing a bunch when we can. All of that stuff has led to having really fast weekends for us.”
How has having veterans like Daniel Hemric and Ty Dillon at Joe Gibbs Racing helped you?
“I actually learned a lot from Ty Dillon when he came to run the superspeedway – the opening race at Daytona. Typically, we all have a meeting beforehand with drivers, crew chiefs, spotters. We will go over dos and don’ts. Let’s try to stay with the teammates, but they also brought up a lot of good points in the meetings on side drafting, and how to do so. I don’t want to get in too depth, because I don’t want to give the competition the edge, but they definitely have a lot more knowledge than I have ever heard, so far, going to those tracks. It’s just when to do it, when’s the right time in those corners, on the straightaways, things like that. Ty has brought a decent amount to my program and I really truly believe that is why I won that first stage in Daytona, is the advice that was given in Daytona. Daniel (Hemric) has been great. I’ve always raced with Daniel in my career. I can’t shake Daniel for whatever reason. We have been together at RCR (Richard Childress Racing), I think I ran some trucks and K&N at NTS with him a little bit, so we’ve been together pretty much our entire NASCAR career, even leading up to this point. I know Daniel well. He knows so much more about the physical aspects of the car than I will probably ever know. He’s really good in that department – in what the changes are doing to his car and I think over time I keep talking to Daniel, hopefully, I can get to that point as well.”
When you go to the race at Talladega and there are not a lot of rule changes, how close is the plan to this race versus previous races at Talladega?
“Truthfully, I like for my spotter to be as openly free as possible during the race. One thing that is very difficult for a spotter in my opinion is to have all of these roles. We’ve got to work with so and so, but we can’t let so and so in. I think that it makes them think too hard. For a driver, you don’t want to constantly be thinking about things like that. We’ve talked a lot about driving off instinct, and that’s the same thing for the spotter. He really has to spot of instinct, so sometimes those plans can hurt us a little bit, but we have a good idea of what we want to do this weekend, and it’s pretty simple. You don’t want to put yourself in a bad spot, you don’t want to put your teammates in a bad spot, but if we can help them out throughout the day, that’s typically what’s going to get you to win one of these things or at least have a top-five finish. We have that mindset for sure, but I’ve told them multiple times, just go off what you know and trust yourself and that’s what is going to get us to the end.”
Who is your spotter?
How do you not overthink Talladega?
“It’s tough. You have a lot of time to think about things, but I think you are constantly looking for openings. You are looking for holes, you are looking for what lane is going, what lane has momentum. If you ever get bunched up with your group, then you are set. You are like – let’s don’t leave each other here. Everybody has a role. I think the leader of the pack in our group has a role, and I think the tail end car in our pack has a role, and that role for him in the back is to block the lanes and let us go with him and if you are leading the race, you are the last guy to pull up in front of the train, but at the same time if we are all close at the lead, you have to be really good at blocking those lanes. So everybody has a role in this, and if you are the middle two cars – you are just pushers. That’s all you are – to stay with the guy and push him the entire day. I think everybody has a strong suit in that group. We’ve all talked about it. If this case scenario happens, who wants to be the leader, who wants to be the last car, who is the best at all of these options, and I think that’s where these conversations really help out. Like, let’s figure out if we could align everybody perfectly, where does everybody want to be.
How does a team like Joe Gibbs Racing beat Kaulig Racing at superspeedways?
“I don’t think Kaulig necessarily has better cars than us, but I do think – and just watching these races over and over again to prepare – I do think that Kaulig works really well together. I think they probably work the best together, and that is one of the groups that we look at when we go into this weekend – how do they stick together throughout the race. They constantly find their teammates throughout the day, and I think that’s why they do so well at these superspeedway races. I don’t think it’s because they have rocket ship racecars, they just somehow end up together every single race. That’s our focus this weekend. We are definitely going to try to stick with the teammates. I think if we can execute that all day, they are going to surprised and have a force to reckon with in the end.”
Have you and the team prepared anything special for this weekend?
“We haven’t really come up with anything special or bringing anything special to the track this weekend. I know a lot of development has gone into superspeedway racing in the past couple of years that I have been at Gibbs (Joe Gibbs Racing). We’ve taken a lot more cars to wind tunnels. We have definitely put a lot more effort into our superspeedway program and it shows for sure. I wish we had qualifying, because that’s where you really see the development through the offseason on the race cars and how much you’ve actually done is that qualifying effort. In the race, you can do so much to manipulate your car in the draft. You can add hundreds of pounds of downforce to your car just by moving it around where you want to and putting it on people’s quarter panels. Tough judge in the race, but that one lap speed is where you really see some effort, but I know we have been putting a lot of time in. I know the guys at JGR have been busting it lately to give us the best Supras possible on the race track. I think it’s going to shine this weekend for us.”
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