Ford Performance NASCAR: Next Gen Test

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series
Next Gen Test | Tuesday, October 12, 2021

NASCAR conducted a two-day test with the Next Gen car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Ford drivers Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney held Q&A sessions with members of the media on Tuesday and offered their view on how testing has progressed.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang — HOW HAVE THE LAST TWO DAYS COMPARED TO YOUR FIRST TEST IN THE NEXT GEN CAR ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO? “Everytime we go out there we learn a lot. This is the first I’ve been on a road course with this car and definitely going from something so fresh, which was the Roval race on Sunday, and then the next day being out here the next couple days you have a great comparison of the old car and the new car and the differences in it and what you can and can’t do. I think everyone will probably agree, you can brake a lot deeper into the corner. Another big piece is that when you overshoot a corner right now you start wheel-hopping with the truck arms and all that, it seems like it just locks the rears up and you just let your foot off the brake and it comes back. It doesn’t bounce off of itself like the truck arms have in the past, so there are some pretty key differences there that the driver will have to adjust to, and then obviously as you start working on this car. It’s underdeveloped at the moment. It’s brand new to all of us. We have no data. We have no sim tools really to go off of to figure out what we want to do, so that’s what we’re doing right now is try to grow that database by making changes to the car and seeing if it’s better or not. It’s an old-school test and kind of feels like back in the late model days where you don’t have all the computer sims and everything to go off of to say this is where everything needs to be. I don’t want to say you’re shooting from the hip, but a little bit you are as we kind of learn it, and that will progress over time. But, for now, we’re just trying to figure it out together and the field will keep getting closer and closer as everyone manages to get their balance right and learn what works and what doesn’t.”

DOES THE CAR FEEL FASTER? SLOWER? MORE NIMBLE? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO WHAT YOU DROVE ON SUNDAY? “I think if you ask any race car driver they want more horsepower. There’s never enough of that, so I think we’ll always want more, but with the wider tire you’re just able to carry more speed for the most part. You drive in harder. You have bigger brakes. You drive in the corner harder, you have more mechanical grip with the bigger tire, you also have a softer compound than what we just raced here as well, so I think that’s some of the biggest things you notice. And then I think the independent rear suspension giving it a lot more rear bite, especially leaving the corners. It seems like where that stands out the most. It’s still a stock car. It’s still heavy. You still can’t transfer load too quickly and you still have to be smooth with it and all that, which is what we’re all used to, but it’s still a pretty big transition to what we used to have, where, like I said, if you drove in too hard you’re wheel-hopping off the racetrack. You can recover now, so I don’t know if that’s good or bad. You can probably be the judge of that. It’s the same for everyone. If it was just my car like that, it would be great but everyone’s car has that, so it will be interesting to see how it is. Something I’ve learned already is that even though we all have the same parts and pieces on the cars, for the most part, besides the engines and the bodies and what-not, but with the suspension pieces all being the same there are still a lot of ways to put it together where we’re trying to figure out what direction to go with some of those adjustments.”

NOT HAVING SIDEFORCE, HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE DOES THAT MAKE AT A PLACE LIKE THIS? “It’s noticeable. How we’re gonna be able to pass cars? I don’t know yet. I haven’t really got around anybody out there. At test sessions every time you get near someone they just let you go or vice versa, but I will say that some of the big differences, you brought it up, the body itself it seems like once you get a little free it’s one thing, but then it kind of goes past the point of no return and all of a sudden you realize you’re at the lock of the steering and you’re spinning out. So that’s something a little bit different than what we’ve been used to. The other piece that I think is maybe one of the biggest things is those aluminum red blocks on the bottom of the car. That’s a travel limiter for us and how that works and honestly what the rule is gonna be around it as well. When you hit those things they’re hard. You see the racetrack, there’s a lot of scrape marks on the racetrack from everyone getting down on them and rubbing them, so how much can you wear off? There are so many different questions that we still have to answer from even just a rules perspective of what that’s gonna be because I know when you land on them it’s hard. You come off a curb and you hit those it’s tied directly to your seat with no suspension in between it and it hurts. It knocked the wind right out of you. Those things are no joke.”

HOW CLOSE IS THIS CAR TO BEING READY TO RACE ON A RACETRACK IN A RACE? “I think on the road courses you’re not far off. I think you can line us up and go. I think we’ve proven in the last year or two, whatever, just line us up and race. I always go back to Daytona last year when we showed up with no practice on a brand new racetrack that none of us had ever raced on. That’s the craziest thing I ever heard and we were fine. We’ve had two days to test it here. We could race at the Roval now. That’s fine. I think there will be some areas we still want to make better as a group, as NASCAR in general, whether it’s heat inside the car, steering issues that a lot of teams are having right now. Those type of things we’ll need to fix. That’s one of the big concerns from my point of view on this whole thing is we’re not building the parts on the car anymore, so if something breaks, you know what I mean? You didn’t build them, so it can be on somebody else’s quality control that you may not control, so we’ll have to go over every piece ourselves before we put the things on the race car because we’re not building the parts and pieces anymore. That’s something that is concerning. You want to make sure you have something on there because the last thing you want is to be racing for a championship at Phoenix and all of a sudden your steering rack takes a dump on you. That’s the last thing you want, so things like that are probably the most concerning to me at this point that we have to make sure is right because we don’t want our championship story to come down to something like that.”

ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THE PROGRESSION OF WHERE THE CAR IS FROM A SAFETY STANDPOINT? “Yeah, I’m not an expert on safety. I know my head is sitting further away from the roll cage. That’s a plus for me because a taller guy seems to be able to sit lower. The line of sight is where you want to be, so that’s a gain for me personally. I don’t know if it’s the same for the shorter drivers, but for me it’s a good thing. You can look at one of these cars without a body on it and say, ‘This thing is pretty stiff and there’s a lot of metal.’ So, that’s probably where a lot of that stuff comes from because just from the naked eye you’d say this thing is a lot stiffer than what we’ve got, which is good in some ways and bad in others. I think after they crashed it in Talladega there’s probably some data backed it that said we need to soften it up, but I don’t know all the details to speak on it.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL INSIDE THE CAR FROM A COMFORT LEVEL COMPARED TO DAYTONA WHERE IT WAS SO HOT? “It’s just not as bad at the Roval than it would be at Daytona. For one, it’s just really hot in Florida and so that was one piece of it, but you’re on the gas a lot at Daytona. You’re on the gas all the way around, so as you imagine the exhaust temps become significantly hotter than here. You’re not wide-open for a large amount of time here at the Roval, so naturally the cars are cooler because of that and it’s also a case where the ambient temperature outside is cooler. It’s hard to compare. Did we make gains on cooling the car? I don’t know. There are too many variables to really say it’s black-and-white and saying this is better or not. I don’t know if you can do that right now.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE STILL NEED MORE TESTING AT A PLACE LIKE DAYTONA IN TERMS OF THE HEAT AND DO YOU NEED MORE TESTING THERE? “Yes. We need to test more at a track like that to make the cooling better, to answer your question. It’s the hottest thing I ever drove by a long shot; 15-20 laps into that thing you’re done. It’s hot. It’s really, really hot.”

WILL THIS CAR DIMINISH THE EDGE SOME GUYS WHO ARE GOOD ON ROAD COURSES HAVE ON THE REST OF THE FIELD WITH NO WHEEL-HOP AND A SEQUENTIAL GEAR BOX? “It’s definitely easier from that standpoint. With that being said we’re racers and we’re gonna find a competitive edge. The best are still gonna be the best. You just have to find a new way to be the best because I think some of that edge will be washed away just with the change of the car, change to setups, whatever it may be. What makes the 5 and the 9 so good on these road courses lately? Well, it’s a combination of everything. The drivers are really good, yes. But the cars are really good as well. That’s gonna change throughout all of this. They’re still gonna be fast, don’t get me wrong. They’re still gonna be good because their teams are good and their drivers are good, but it’s gonna have to be in a different way. The same things they’ve been doing you can’t physically do it anymore. It’s a completely different car, so that will wash away a lot of the edge from those type of teams for sure.”

DOES THIS GIVE YOU ANY DESIRE TO RACE SPORTS CARS? “I’d race anything. I like racing. I wish I raced more than I do. I’d love to sign up for more races personally. To your point, yeah, it is more like a sports car would be. I don’t have much sports car experience at that, but a lot of things line up now. You’ve got the lower profile tire. You’ve got the independent rear suspension. You’ve got the sequential shifters. All of that stuff kind of goes that direction. I think our cars are still heavier and probably less downforce and what-not on all those things, but it definitely probably takes us halfway to what those cars are. I think the most laps you make the better, especially these days where you don’t get any practice anymore.”

HOW HAS THIS TEST CHANGED YOUR WEEK IN TERMS OF PREPARING FOR THIS WEEKEND? “It’s a grind, not necessarily as much for the drivers as it is for the guys working on the cars 7-9 two days immediately after a race. One, you’ve got to get the cars ready to go to Texas and it’s a pretty far haul to Texas, so it’s not like you’re driving down the road to Charlotte, so you’ve got to have the cars ready fairly quickly. It’s a grind on those guys, which you want to have your road crew guys, your typical guys that work on the car here at the test because as much as we’re learning they need to learn as well on how to work on this thing, how to change parts and pieces on it. But the playoffs are still going on and we’re in the Round of 8, so it’s just a tough week. The only thing that makes it better is that it’s pretty much the same for everybody. Everyone is kind of going through it, so it’s not like someone has an advantage over the others for the most part.”

ARE THERE SIMILARITIES OF HOW YOU GUYS ARE GOING INTO THIS ROUND IN 2021 AS LAST YEAR? “When I look at it I don’t feel like we’re out by no means. I feel like we’re in pretty decent shape, and I do think we can point in from where we are. We’re not that far out points-wise to getting into the top four. Now, what makes a difference is who wins the next three. If it’s the 5 or the 11, OK, that’s one thing. But if it’s one of the other guys, well, hang on that takes up a spot and then you look at it and say, ‘Well, maybe it is a must-win,’ but at the moment you have to just go out there and maximize your day. I don’t think we’re in must-win territory quite yet, but that changes by the lap on what you need to do, so you’ve just got to be ready to adjust and take advantage of the opportunity that comes your way.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME OF THE DOWNFORCE REMOVED? “I don’t know if there’s too much downforce here. I guess I haven’t been in dirty air to answer that question good enough. It’s hard to say what’s mechanical grip and what’s downforce. We definitely have more mechanical grip than we did on Sunday. That’s no doubt because you have more grip when you’re going slow. The faster you go the more you notice the aero piece of it, so I don’t know if the aero piece we’re having a ton more downforce from that standpoint yet. I feel like as long as the difference behind a car isn’t so big. I think that’s the part that matters the most to me. You want to be able to be the trailing car and not be at a huge disadvantage in dirty air to where you can’t catch the car in front of you and you can’t pass him. That’s what you want to try to minimize is the wake in the air, in other words. Whether that’s with a lot of downforce or a little bit of downforce, I think minimizing the hole in the air behind the car is the biggest thing.”

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED PROBLEMS WITH YOUR STEERING RACK? “Yes. You name it. I don’t know where to start. We’ve had issues.”

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ON YOUR WISH LIST YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE ON THIS NEXT GEN CAR? “There are two wish lists. There’s the wish list of how do we make the car better for the sport, and then there’s wish list of how do you make my car better. It’s two different things and when you’re at a test like this you kind of have to play both sides of the fence a little bit. Like I said earlier, from a safety point we want to make sure the car is safer than what we have today. That’s a key. Anytime you build a new car it should be better than what you had in the previous generation, and I think also some of the heat things, the sounds, those type of things is something that I’ve brought to attention to NASCAR a while ago and they’re working on it. You’re seeing changes and ways and trying to fix it. It’s not like everyone is just sitting on their hands right now and saying we don’t have anything to worry about. There are still areas to improve. It’s a new car. There’s a lot of development on both sides of the fence, whether it’s on the team side or on the NASCAR side, so we all just have to work together.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE LOOK OF THE MUSTANG RACE CAR COMPARED TO THE STREET MUSTANG? “They look really good. They’re actually pretty close to what the street version is. I said it when we unveiled this car is that it looks like you took a GT500 and put a wide body kit on it and slammed it on the ground. That’s what a Cup car looks like now, which is cool because for years we’ve always said, ‘Oh, it looks more like the street car,’ and it’s kind of like that’s what we say every time there’s a new generation of car, but this one actually looks more like the street car. You set the street car next to it and you’re like, ‘It looks pretty close.’ That’s cool. The styling of the Next Gen car, I feel like all the OEMs really nailed it on that side of it, to where they look pretty close to what the real cars look like.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang — HOW HAS THIS TEST GONE FOR YOU? “It’s obviously nice to get in this new car, especially a day or two after we just ran here. It’s a good comparison of something that’s fresh in your head and not thinking of months before, so that’s been nice. It’s been nice to have long, long days today and yesterday of working through things, not only the drivers learning the car, but the crew also working on it. I mean, it’s a massive change from what they know as well, so it’s giving them a lot of practice too, trying to make changes, trying to make changes rapidly and just figuring out how to perfect everything. It’s been really good. It’s nice the weather has held up good and we’ve been able to make a ton of laps, so that’s nice.”

HAVE YOU HAD ANY STEERING ISSUES? “Yeah, we did. Yesterday morning I made half-a-lap and I had an issue, so we came in and changed it. We changed the steering box and everything and was good for a couple runs and then started going south again, a lot of vibration with it mainly on the oval — kind of when you’d get up to max speed under load, and then it would slowly start losing power-steering assist and that was just kind of getting worse, so we put another new one on it yesterday and that seemed to last the rest of the day. I still had some of the shake, so we took some boxes back to Penske and kind of took them apart and were able to tinker with them a little bit and today I’ve been pretty happy with it, so it’s just one of those things. You get these new parts and pieces and you try them out on these really wild racetracks you’re gonna have some issues and this is why we have these tests to sort out those issues, so I’m happy we were to kind of sort that out and today I feel like everyone feels better about it when they’ve got a chance to look at them and work on them and mess with them, so that was good to figure it out. You’re just gonna have those things with new parts and pieces and stuff that no one really knows anything about.”

HOW CLOSE IS THIS CAR TO BEING READY TO RACE IN AN ACTUAL RACE? “That’s tough. The thing drives pretty nice in the infield. I didn’t really know what to expect. I tested it at Texas about three or four months ago and it’s a way different deal than this. Through the infield this car is pretty neat. I mean, you can hustle the heck out of it. The brakes on it are pretty amazing — a lot more than what we’ve got now. I think the biggest thing you’ve got to figure out is the steering side of it, racing with people. Are we gonna go to Bristol and have this same problem? A massive high load racetrack on everything? Are we gonna have the same issue? I don’t know. You would hope not, but you’ve got to think that Bristol has a lot more load on everything than here, so those are just the things you’ve got to figure out. I think if you get the steering deal better, other than that we haven’t really had any problems and issues that I’m like, ‘We need to fix this and fix this.’ The heat side of it, I’d like to see a little bit better cooling inside the race car. It’s not been bad the last two days. It’s been kind of cool outside, so I haven’t really noticed. You’re not baking in there. I know at Daytona drivers said they were, but it was a little bit different it was a hotter down there, but you still have to get the things to where you’re not cooking turkeys inside the race car. I think it’s close. I think they’ve done a good job of developing it and that’s what all these tests the last two days and the three or four tests coming up in the winter is to try and work some of the bugs out and I think it’s getting there.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE OF WHAT THESE CARS WILL RUN LIKE HERE WHEN YOU ARE RACING IN A PACK? “No idea. I don’t know. That’s hard to tell. It’s hard to tell what’s gonna happen and what it’s gonna be like. It’s one thing running by yourself and another thing running around cars. You won’t notice as big of a difference like running on the road course in a pack to compare it to when we do the oval test here next month. That will be the big deal to see how they run in the pack because at the end of the day the car is gonna drive the way it drives by itself no matter what it’s like handling-wise and things like that. We always complain about, ‘Oh, they’re terrible in traffic.’ Not these cars, but the cars now, ‘Oh, they stink in traffic.’ So, that’s the biggest thing is making sure they’re better in traffic than what we’ve got now. That’s what we all talk about, so I can’t give a great answer on that. I’ll have a better one next month after we run at the oval and get those cars with the different downforce package and get them in a pack of 10 cars and kind of see how they are.”

DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO GUIDE YOUR TEAM A CERTAIN WAY OR IS THERE AN UNDERSTANDING THAT THERE’S ONLY SO MANY ANY OF YOU ARE GOING TO KNOW? “I have no guidance right now in these cars. I’m a blind squirrel out there just like they are trying to work on this thing and trying to figure out the best way to go about stuff. They obviously know a lot more about making changes and building it more than I do. The best I can do is give the best feedback I can on changes we make because you’re not putting track bars down, you’re not messing with truck arms. Everything is different and some of the changes we made were like, ‘OK, this is we think a comparison of like putting the track bar down.’ I’m like, ‘OK, does it do what I think it’s supposed to do?’ I don’t know. So a lot of it is a new experience for us as drivers, just trying to figure out what changes do what because we don’t know. A lot of the things we’ve done over the last couple days, some of them have done the opposite of what we predicted it to do. That’s just the learning curve of everything, so we’re all learning together and I think these two days are really nice for everybody to kind of sit around and just gather data of everything. Yeah, we have one data car and you’re kind of looking at everything and stuff like that, but we’re all learning together. We’re all pretty green on this side right now, but it’s the same for everybody and it’s the teams who learn it the fastest and pick it up quickest and find little things here and there that are gonna thrive come next season.”

ANYTHING ELSE REAL DIFFERENT FROM THE OLD CAR BESIDES WHEEL-HOP AND BRAKING? “It’s way different. You don’t really have wheel-hop anymore. You’ll like lock the rears — that sensation of just locking the rears and sliding. There’s no more of that wheel-hop, which, honestly, if you’re gonna pick one I’d rather completely lock the rears up and slide than wheel-hop because wheel-hop is a hard thing to get out of, so that’s different. The braking potential of these cars are so much more than what we’ve got now. You look at the brakes on them and they’re massive compared to what we have. That’s gonna be the same for everywhere, mile-and-a-halves, everything, so the braking potential is huge it’s just a matter of what we’ve been working on — I think a lot of teams are — is how the car reacts to these huge brakes because the brakes have more potential I feel like than the car handling right now in heavy braking zones. Like the backstretch, we’re braking two markers later than what we were Sunday and you could go more, the brakes will handle it, but the car just kind of starts sliding around, so that’s the thing everyone is trying to balance. And then just driving it with the wider tire and independent rear suspension. It feels like the limit is higher the way you can push the car, but then I feel like with the lack of sideforce that these cars have compared to what we’ve got now is it’s a lot easier to kind of jump over that line and be in big trouble, so it’s kind of hard. We spent a long time yesterday kind of finding. You want to find your limit, but I spun out twice yesterday trying to find it and didn’t even think I was close to spinning out and it just spins out. So that side has been pretty tough to kind of figure out. What’s the limit? It’s easier to jump over that limit, if that makes sense. You can push them harder, but they’re easier to kind of cross that line. Those are the biggest things to me. There are a lot of other things I could probably touch on, but just everything is different in the car. Even your visual, sitting in the car is different. We’re sitting lower in these cars and the front glass and the rear glass have more angle to them, so you can’t see as much. It’s not as straight-up, the glass in front of your face, so your visual signs are different. That takes a while to kind of get used to and change and your surroundings are different. If you change something in your cubicle, it’s gonna bother you and our cubicle is way different right now, so everything is kind of messing with you and you’re trying to make it as comfortable as you can. It’s just a lot of that stuff from driving it to just sitting in the car has changed so much, but it’s what you’re gonna have to get used to and the forward and back transmission. That’s a little different, too. There’s no more getting in it and making sure it’s in neutral. That doesn’t work. It’s a number on the dash.”

DO YOU FEEL THIS IS MORE OF A DRIVER’S CAR? “I think that’s the goal of it. That’s the whole goal of limiting teams to what parts they can make and cannot make. I mean, right now as far as I know, there’s not a lot of parts that teams are making anymore for these new cars. It’s all coming out of one manufacturer. It’s all coming out of one company. Do I like that? To an extent I do, but on the other side we have full-time jobs for people who make these parts for us that aren’t gonna have those jobs anymore, so that side I’m not a fan of, but on the same end we can still probably find places for them in our company. I think it brings it closer together. If you don’t have these big teams and little teams, the big teams can make all their parts out of lightweight stuff. They have more money to spend. That’s where all that money goes, and now it’s kind of shrunken that deal as far as everyone is getting a lot of parts from the same vendor, so I think it’s gonna put a lot of pressure on the engine manufacturers because that’s like the one things we can still really find from Roush Yates to Toyota to Chevy. It’s gonna put a huge emphasis on motors next year, I think, just because a lot of the parts and pieces are the same except for the motor side. That’s still kind of their own. I do think the driver’s side of it is gonna show up a little bit more, which is nice for sure. That’s what everyone wants. You want to see new teams and start-up teams have a better shot at really running well. That draws more new owners and teams to the sport. If it’s not as much unknowns of getting in the sport, if it’s like, ‘All right, you get your stuff from here and here and here, so does everybody else.’ Well, that’s a lot easier than having to figure out a way to make all these parts if you’re gonna compete, so I think it’s accurate what Corey said, for sure.”

WHERE DID YOU SPIN OUT YESTERDAY? “I spun out in the same spot. I spun out on the backstretch chicane in that second curve, the right curb. I just hit it wrong. You’re getting in there you have the left one and then you kind of go back to right, and I hit the left one not in a great spot. It wasn’t bad, though. I did it a lot on Sunday and was still able to save the car, but this is good for test sessions because you’re pushing limits. In that area if you spin out there you’re not gonna hit anything, so instead of spinning out like in three or something like that, so you kind of find your spots to where you want to push the car. That’s the thing I was talking about earlier is you can push the cars harder, but your limit of like slip angle on the tire is smaller, I think, because I thought, ‘Oh, I can just power out of it and slide it and be good,’ and the next thing I knew I was sitting turned around, so, the same spot back there yesterday. They had the curbs. We’ve got the aluminum blocks under the car everyone talks about. There are six of them, so when you hit curbs on the road course and it comes down it hits those blocks hard, and I think that kind of upsets cars a lot more, too, so that’s gonna be another thing about being sensitive about is how you can hit those blocks and how low you can run the cars. I think that played a factor in me spinning out and just landing hard and turning around.”

HOW DOES THIS TEST CHANGE YOUR WEEK IN TERMS OF PREPPING FOR TEXAS? “If it was my choice I would drive a race car every day of the week, just the seat time is good no matter what it’s in. It doesn’t change my aspect at all. Todd was here for the first half of the day yesterday just kind of seeing how everything goes. Hassler has been running the crew chief job here these two days, just me and him kind of getting acclimated because this is the car we’re gonna work on next year. Todd was here to kind of make sure that it was just constant communication between all of us, so he helped out as much as he could, but then he went right back and worked on the Texas car. So, for me, it doesn’t change anything. He and I have just been texting the last two days and we’re trying to figure out things on Texas. For me, it doesn’t change it. A lot of the guys working here today they were racing Sunday. They have to get up, 7 a.m. garage opens here, run 10-hour days, and then they’ve got to go work on Texas. I’d say it’s harder for those guys to try and get their rest, but, for me, I prefer it. I enjoy testing. Back when it was wide-open we’d test all the time, so it’s kind of been nice to have that back again here for a little bit.”

YOU’VE WON A COUPLE RACES WITH THE 550 PACKAGE THIS YEAR. HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THIS NEXT ROUND AND TEXAS IN PARTICULAR? “I think this upcoming round is pretty good for us, honestly. Texas, Kansas, Martinsville have been really good tracks for us. The last 550 we were in was Vegas and I thought we had a really strong car at Vegas. We were able to drive up through the field from having to take the wave around in the second stage and got back to fifth. We probably could have run third. I would have liked to line up with the 11 and the 9 to see what we had for them, so I’m enjoying going to Texas. We had a really good run there, especially last year. It’s just been a place that kind of works for what we do, so you just hope you unload with solid cars and have good days and obviously winning is the best way to get into the championship, but you just can’t have any mistakes. You see people have mistakes, really fast cars had their mistakes throughout the rounds and it costs them. We’ve done a really good job of managing maybe not our best days, but we’ve managed to do a good job and come home solidly but our cars have been fast too. I’m looking forward to this round. It’s nice to have the bonus points that we have to just go up there and race and see what happens. Obviously, winning Texas would be nice this weekend and not have to worry about it for two weeks and then focus on Phoenix, but we have a lot of confidence. Hopefully, we keep improving and getting better and better and having good runs and make it.”

THERE WAS TALK ABOUT A REARVIEW CAMERA AT DAYTONA. HAVE YOU BEEN USING IT FOR THIS TEST? “We have. The way I said the front and rear windshields have more angle to them so you can’t see as much, and there’s all these air tubes that run through like the back glass and things like that, like our traditional mirror now you can’t really see much, so they’ve got this camera, it’s like the cameras that are on the front of the cars for in-car cameras or the roof cam, it’s pointed back, and we’ve run it the last couple days and I’m not a huge fan of it. It doesn’t have a huge field of vision. Like, you can see your spoiler and there’s nothing outside of it. I know they’re working on one with a lot more range of view, I guess, so that will be good, but the bad thing is — I know it’s gonna get better, but ours crapped out today, our camera, and we haven’t been able to use it. Hopefully, you don’t have one do that in the race and you have no rearview of sight. I think it’s got good potential, it’s just a matter of getting the range opened up more. I don’t know if you do a fisheye, but then you kind of mess with distortion and your depth perception is kind of messed up, too. I thought I was about to back over a ladder and they were like, ‘No, you’ve got six feet to the ladder.’ You just don’t know. It’s just gonna take getting used to, but I have seen it and I know they’re working on ways to make it better on multiple angles.”

SO THAT’S IN ADDITION TO WHAT YOU TYPICALLY HAVE IN THIS CAR? “From what I understand next year the digital rearview mirror is gonna be optional and then I think the year following, like in ‘23 it’s gonna be mandatory. That’s just what I was told, so I don’t know if you can run both, if you can run a traditional mirror and the digital one next year. I don’t know, but we’ll have to figure it out. But that’s definitely new, for sure.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN ADVANCE TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND AND, BESIDES A WIN, WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE? “It’s been a good year. It’s been a fun year. It’s been nice to get multiple wins, especially for Todd’s last year. It’s great to have a really cool year with him. It’s been a lot of fun. Yeah, I think this is the best consistently that we’ve run throughout a whole year, like especially put together a solid playoff run, for sure. Yeah, I do like our chances a lot to get in, whether that’s a win or pointing our way in. I feel like all three of these tracks we’re going to go to the next three weeks we have a shot to win at, for sure. It’s just about putting everything together and I think our team can do it. We’ve got to find a little bit of speed here and there, but I feel like with the progress we’ve made on speed in our cars and the execution we’ve had the last six weeks has been really, really solid, and we’ve just got to keep that up. I’ve got a lot of confidence going into it and I think everyone on Team Penske does too. It’s nice that we have three cars in the Round of 8. Obviously, I want to get in. It would be nice to get all three of our cars in, but I think these are good tracks that line up for us, we’ve just got to go capitalize and do what we can do best.”

ARE TOP THREES GOING TO BE WHAT YOU NEED TO ADVANCE ON POINTS? “I think so, for sure. All of the cars in the Round of 8 are really good. You get that every year. You get the field cut down to eight cars and you’re competing against really, really good teams and really good drivers and a lot of them don’t make mistakes. That’s why they’re there. I feel like if you can’t win, you’ve got to get really good stage points — like 15 stage points at least a race — and then top three, for sure. I know Joey and Brad are in a little bit different spot than me not having as many points, but I still feel like on our side you have to make that happen and you need to be running in the top five the whole race to get your stage points and finish good because that’s what it’s gonna take. It’s gonna be tight. It’s gonna be really tight unless people have problems, so I definitely agree with what he said.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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