MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY MEDIA DAY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 13, 2019
RYAN PREECE, NO. 47 KROGER.COM CAMARO ZL1 met with media and discussed his first Daytona 500, this year’s rookie class, feedback he provides to the team and other topics. Selected quotes:
IT’S YOUR FIRST DAYTONA 500. WHAT ARE THE EMOTIONS OF KNOWING YOU’LL BE PART OF THIS?
“It’s slowly coming to me, for sure. I’ve been running around so much between running over to New Smyrna to get that car through tech, coming back here for practice and qualifying Saturday and Sunday and then going back to New Smyrna. I’ve been staying busy and haven’t had a lot of time to think about it. But it’s very exciting because this is what you work for to get here. Going from a quarter-mile in Riverhead in Long Island to a 2.5-mile oval at Daytona is totally different and very exciting.”
YOU’RE GOING TO BE COMPETING AGAINST SOME GOOD ROOKIES LIKE DANIEL HEMRIC AND MATT TIFFT. TALK ABOUT THAT A LITTLE.
“Daniel and I have come from different backgrounds but we met along the way. He may have run a modified probably back in 2013. We raced against each other throughout our career. I have a lot of respect for him. We’ve both have challenging paths. To be here at the same and fight it out for Rookie of the Year is going to be a lot of fun. It’s a huge honor to be Rookie of the Year. You see some of the names…it would be cool to put my name on that list.”
CAN YOU WIN THIS YEAR?
“I think so. I plan on it. It’s going to take a lot of hard work because it isn’t easy at this level. There are a lot of hard-working, smart people in this sport. But I feel like if our team works together and keeps building a package, a setup, a notebook throughout the season, we can be a contender. I hear a lot of people say that JTG is a small team; the way I look at it is that we aren’t a small team. We are a two-car team. We could be just like Ganassi where they contend for wins. Just because we haven’t had that reputation yet of contending for wins doesn’t mean we won’t get there. I’ve learned in all of my racing that you find a setup, you build upon it and you fine-tune it. That’s what it’s going to come down to. I can’t set up the race car but I can tell you which corner we need to work on and keep making gains so we constantly are making our car better.”
HOW IMPORTANT HAS THE HENDRICK RELATIONSHIP BEEN FOR YOU GUYS?
“Huge. It’s a huge legacy. Hendrick has had great, reliable power and everyone at our shop is excited about it. It’s going to be a game-changer, even though it’s going to be a different package. But you saw it… they’re the top four in qualifying. This is a horsepower deal… that and trimming the car to make it through the air. But it’s great power.”
WHAT TRACKS DO YOU HAVE CIRCLED ON THE SCHEDULE THIS YEAR?
“New Hampshire, Watkins Glen, Sonoma… I like road racing. It’s not my background, but I feel like there’s a lot of things you can take from short track. As long as you like downshifting and grabbing gears and all that…I feel like that’s why I’ve been successful when it comes to that.”
A PROMINENT CAR OWNER HAS SAID BEFORE THAT HE DIDN’T WANT A DRIVER BRINGING IN MECHANICAL KNOWLEDGE. HE DIDN’T WANT THAT DRIVER FIGHTING WITH THE ENGINEERS AND PEOPLE IN THE SHOP THAT ARE PAID FOR THAT. ARE YOU TEMPTED TO CONTRIBUTE MORE TO THE TEAM THAT SOME OTHER DRIVERS? HOW DOES THE CREW RESPOND TO YOUR INPUT?
“I think I get a lot of respect from the guys in the shop. I had one of them look at me and say get used to standing around. I was trying to help put up a splitter, and he said, ‘Nope, you’re the driver. Get used to putting your hands in your pocket!’ I told him I can’t do that! I’ll weasel my way in soon. To each their own. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’m not saying that I’m going to tell one of the guys that I want this bump stop or this spring in the car. But I can tell them that we have too much spring, way too little spring, we need more swaybar…. I’m lucky enough that I work with a team that takes what I say and runs with it. Every time we’ve run and I give my feedback, we’ve made the car better. So I must be doing something right.”
HOW MANY DRIVERS REALISTICALLY HAVE A SHOT AT WINNING SUNDAY?
“All of them. You look at years past and all the torn-up racecars, you know anything can happen at Daytona. The smartest thing is to stay out of trouble. Lap 50, Lap 75, Lap 150… they don’t pay. The last lap pays. So you have to be smart about where you are, keep your nose clean and at the end hopefully put yourself in the right position.”