MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
PRE-SEASON MEDIA AVAILABILITY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
JANUARY 29, 2019
Kyle Larson, No.42 Camaro ZL1, and his crew chief, Chad Johnston, met with members of the media today to discuss the upcoming season and many other topics. Selected Quotes:
Q: TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU ANTICIPATE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON
KYLE LARSON: I don’t really know what to anticipate but the (Daytona) 500 because that’s the package that we’ve raced before. Once we get through that, I don’t know. That’s something that pretty exciting and makes us look forward to Atlanta and see how we stack up. They’re going to Vegas in a couple of days so we’ll get a better idea of where we stack up with the competitors. This year is different than others because the rules packages are so much different than what we ran in the past.
Q: AS A CREW CHIEF, ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS HE IS?
CHAD JOHNSTON: I have all the confidence in the world that we’ll be able to figure it out. What I feel is we’ve done all the right things through the off-season and we can come out of the gate stronger than everybody else. That’s an opportunity to figure things out and if you do that’s an advantage in the first part of the year.
Q: HOW FRUSTRATING IS TO BE THAT COMPETITIVE AND SO MANY RUNNER-UPS?
CHAD JOHNSTON: Last year, obviously we didn’t get a win, but consistency is a big part of it. It’s a bit disappointing, but you can’t be disappointed with second either when you’re going against stout driver and teams and with all the money everybody is spending. We do really well with what we have; with a small, two-car team I feel we do really well against other two-car teams and those big for-car teams.
Q: HOW FRUSTRATED ARE YOU WITH ALL THE RUNNER-UPS?
KYLE LARSON: You can’t be too upset with running second. It’s better than third, and we’re beating some really good teams. I think we ran second six times last year and I feel like half of those we could have won if I did things differently or if things worked out differently at the end of the races. It’s easy to look at last year when we have zero wins and it’s a bad year. But we easily could have had three wins and finished ninth in points and it would have been a good year. You have to be perfect to win these Cup races, so as I get more experience, I feel myself and team put ourselves in better position to win races.
Q: WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE WORKING WITH KURT (BUSCH)?
KYLE LARSON: I don’t know; today is the first day I’ve seen him since the banquet. It just hasn’t worked out that we’re in town the same time. We’ve talked on the phone a few times, texted and stuff. I’m working forward to working with him. He’s an ultra-competitive person from what I’ve heard of him and you can tell by his personality, so that will be fun to be around.
Q: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT HE’LL BRING TO THE TEAM?
KYLE LARSON: I think he understands the car a lot and he obviously raced for the quickest team last year, so I think he hopefully can bring some knowledge from that. He’s pretty involved, so I think it’s good to have somebody like that at our shop. And he’ll push everybody in the shop and myself just to be better.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO MISS MOST ABOUT NOT HAVING JAMIE (MCMURRAY) AROUND?
KYLE LARSON: Jamie was an awesome teammate. With somebody not having stock car experience and coming in and racing Cup as early as he did, he was great for me. The thing I’ll miss the most, and racing fans don’t know this, is he is the funniest person I’ve met ion my life. Just having him around in our trailer and the lounge and making everybody laugh I’ll miss the most. I still see him a lot; just won’t be racing against him.
Q: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GET TO THE SAME LEVEL WITH KURT?
KYLE LARSON: I don’t think it will be a hard thing. When you respect your teammate, that’s good. Kurt’s been really adamant about hanging out and getting to know each other.
Q: WHAT DO YOU EXPECT AS A CREW CHIEF FOR KURT TO BRING?
CHAD JOHNSTON: I got to know him a bit when I was at Steward-Haas with Tony (Stewart). He’s a past champion and he’s very competitive, and he’s going to put forth the work and effort to do that. He’s going to bring a sense of accountability to the organization and the teams. He’s not bashful. That brings a lot of good things with it. I would say that (Kyle and Kurt) are on opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Kyle is laid back and kind of goes with it and Kurt is not. They both have their benefits; I think it will be a good combination.
Q: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RUNNING THE CLASH?
KYLE LARSON: I’m always in the race to win, so I’m not using the Clash as anything—you go out there and learn a lot—but I always try to win. The race is unique because with fewer cars the drafting gets difficult. You just try to learn as much as you can. You can make more daring moves because it’s a shorter race and really doesn’t mean anything.
Q: HOW DID YOU FIND OUT WHEN KURT JOINED THE TEAM?
KYLE LARSON: I started hearing rumblings that it might happen. I think I asked Chip (Ganassi) about it and he said they were trying to work things out. I was excited about it.
Q: HAVE YOU MADE ANY HEADWAY WITH CHIP ABOUT RUNNING THE INDY 500?
KYLE LARSON: No, I haven’t talked with Chip about running the Indy 500 in a couple of years. It’s something that I want to do in my career; I just don’t know what the right time will be. I want to time it out when it’s right.
Q: HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR ALL THESE DIFFERENT PACKAGES?
CHAD JOHNSTON: That’s tough. A lot of testing, wind tunnel testing. You have the 550, you have the 750 with and without drag ducts, you have the Daytona package, the Talladega and second Daytona package is different from the first Daytona package, so there are a lot of things to throw at the wall. There is going to be a lot more crossover between the superspeedway stuff once you get through Daytona. Now trying to test as much as you can, download the data and see that you’re working on the right things.
Q: WHAT KIND OF RACING DO YOU EXPECT ON THE BIG TRACKS?
KYLE LARSON: I think there will be tracks where there will be really exciting racing and there will be tracks where the old package was better. For a track like Atlanta, I don’t know how it will be because you’re going to have off-throttle time and won’t be wide open and it will be harder to pass. Then you go to a track like Vegas and you see how exciting the truck races are there, and I think out style is similar to a truck package so it will be really exciting. That’s just kind of a guess.
Q: MIGHT WE SEE A SURPRISE WINNER OR TWO?
KYLE LARSON: For sure. You look at the speed AJ Allmendinger had at the All-Star race. I think you could see some surprise winner and guys run up higher in the points.
Q: WILL YOU HAVE TO BE MORE AGGRESSIVE WITH THIS PACKAGE?
KYLE LARSON: Maybe in the moves that you make. The cars are going to be so much easier to drive for the driving style is going to be less aggressive. The gaps will be smaller to try to fit in. The races will be tighter.