MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 20, 2019
IN ADVANCE OF THE FIRST SHORT TRACK RACE OF THE SEASON, RYAN PREECE, NO.47 KROGER CAMARO ZL1 MET WITH MEDIA AND DISCUSSED THE YEAR TO DATE, HIS EXPERIENCE AND EXPECTATIONS OF RACING AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY, AND MORE.
YOU WILL MAKE YOUR SECOND MONSTER ENERGY SERIES START AT MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND, YOU ALSO HAVE A PREVIOUS WIN AT THE SPEEDWAY WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO APPROACH THE FIRST SHORT TRACK RACE OF THIS SEASON?
“I would say just approach it like any short track that I’ve ever been to be able to attack the corner, get it turned as quickly as possible. I feel good about our chances considering JTG with Martinsville, probably one of their best racetracks they go to. Definitely looking forward to going.”
I’D LIKE YOU TO ASSESS WHERE YOU THINK YOU ARE THROUGH THE FIRST FIVE OF RACES OF THE SEASON. I KNOW YOU’VE HAD GOOD RUNS, MAYBE DON’T HAVE THE FINISHES TO SHOW FOR IT.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s been really up and down right now. We started off really strong at Daytona, accomplishing our goal of finishing the race. That got us to where we were. Then Atlanta, we were running really well. Just didn’t really have anything to show for it. We went to Phoenix, Vegas and California. The West Coast swing to us, the 47, wasn’t really what we wanted. Going back yesterday in our meetings we assessed everything. I feel like we’re on the right track for what we have to, for what I need. Obviously the 37 showed a lot of speed. It shows our cars are fast enough to be where we’re running. It’s early. It’s only five races in. The goal is to really just keep up and keep making gains and don’t fall behind.”
NOW YOU GO TO MARTINSVILLE, WHICH FITS YOUR STYLE. YOU DO HAVE EXPERIENCE THERE. YOUR TEAM PERFORMS WELL THERE. WHAT ARE THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE ON YOURSELF? WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER A SUCCESSFUL WEEKEND?
“Man, the expectations? It’s hard to say without being there or running there with the team. I mean, my expectations when I go to a short track are to be a contender. Really at this point it’s to have a really smooth weekend, run top 10 most of the day. If we can get a top 5, that would be fantastic. Definitely short tracks like Martinsville, Bristol, New Hampshire, those are kind of in my wheelhouse. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. When it comes to the restarts and all those moments of being aggressive, it’s something that I enjoy doing. As far as what I expect, I expect that we should show really well and at least be running top 10 and hopefully get a top 5 by the end of the weekend.”
IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR ABOUT MARTINSVILLE? AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, YOU DON’T HAVE EXPERIENCE ON THAT TRACK. IS THAT ONE THAT YOU SEE AS PARTICULARLY ENCOURAGING FOR YOUR STYLE?
“Well, it’s what most of us that come through the ranks grow up doing, heavy braking, getting the car turned, being able to drive off the corner, pick the throttle up as quick as possible. It’s something that I’m used to doing. These mile‑and‑a‑half’s, it’s just a different package where you’re on the throttle so much, it’s kind of outside the nature of what I’m used to doing. Kind of going to a place like Martinsville, and I would say even the next few races, it’s going to be very familiar to what my background is. It makes me very optimistic. Obviously if you look back at JTG’s runs with AJ and even Chris last year, they ran really well. It makes me very excited to go there this weekend.”
I KNOW IT’S VERY EARLY IN THE SEASON. IN TERMS OF THE ROOKIES, YOU CERTAINLY ARE LEADING THE FIELD. MUST BE SOME SORT OF SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT EARLY ON.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s nice. It’s showing that we’re right there. But Daniel, he’s shown a lot of speed, especially during the West Coast swing. That’s something we addressed in the meetings yesterday. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the Chase. We’re kind of in a hole right now because of Atlanta and because of Phoenix. It’s really put us behind. We just really need to turn it around and get to where the 37 is running and hopefully sneak in some top 10s and be up front. It’s definitely not from a lack of effort. Hopefully we can turn things around and really fight these guys.”
THE LAST FEW RACES, ENTERING THE RACES, DRIVERS AND TEAMS, IT WAS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT IN TERMS OF WHAT THE RACE WOULD LOOK LIKE WITH THE NEW PACKAGE, BACK TO THE 750 HORSEPOWER PACKAGE AT MARTINSVILLE. IS ALL THAT DOUBT ERADICATED OR IS THERE STILL SOME DOUBT IN TERMS OF WHAT THE RACE WILL LOOK LIKE FOR YOU GUYS?
“We’re going to Martinsville. It’s a half-mile racetrack. It’s going to look like any short track across the United States, to be honest with you. There’s races where I’m in a modified and it has 450 or 500 horsepower and we have great racing. I think being able to go to a short track, where everything is just that much tighter, it’s going to make for great racing. I don’t expect any different. Hopefully we can all just look at the racing or approach the weekend as if it’s just any other race, not kind of focus on a different package.”
YOU MENTIONED YOU HAVEN’T HAD THE RUNS YOU’VE HAD OVER THE PAST MONTH OR SO. CHRIS’ SUCCESS, DOES THAT GIVE YOU MOMENTUM MOVING FORWARD?
“Chris, they’ve been really good. They’ve been consistently I would say right around the top 15. In Atlanta we were running top 10. It shows that we definitely have the speed there. We just got to close it up. I think we’re going to head in the direction of what the 37 has been doing and see what we got. It definitely makes me feel very optimistic that we have speed. All that work that they did throughout the off‑season is showing. We’re going to take these next few races, try to turn it all around.”
YOUR MODIFIED VICTORY AT MARTINSVILLE, MORE THAN A DECADE AGO. WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THAT? TO WIN AT A TRACK WHERE THE TOP NASCAR SERIES RUNS AT, WAS THAT SOMETHING YOU THOUGHT COULD PROPEL YOU QUICKER THAN IT DID?
“I mean, at that point I was still trying to get my first Whelen Modified Tour win. It was an overall shock, to be honest with you, to finally get that. It was a great feeling. As far as when I won that race, did I think it would propel me to getting to NASCAR’s top level or anything like that? I don’t really think so. I didn’t think about it that way. I just thought about winning races. If I did those type of things, ultimately hopefully it would take care of itself. That’s kind of how I feel about it. As far as what I remember about Martinsville, it’s a lot different with a modified. Just the way the cars work and the way they drive around the whole place, it’s totally different. I do love Martinsville because it one of those tracks you have to be able to attack the corners, but you have to be able to turn the center. You need to be able to get in and get to the center as quick as possible to be really good, especially to pass. It’s a place that has always suited my style, be able to get in, turn the center as quick as possible. I look forward to it.”
YOU HAVE A LOT OF SHORT TRACK EXPERIENCE IN XFINITY AND SOME IN CUP. THE ASPECT OF BEATING AND BANGING, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT WHEN YOU MOVE UP TO A DIFFERENT SERIES THAT TAKES A LITTLE BIT OF AN ADJUSTMENT TO FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH TO DO OR NOT, OR IS THAT A CASE OF YOU’RE A RACER, THIS IS THE WAY WE DO IT HERE, THIS IS THE WAY I’M GOING TO DO IT IN THIS CASE? HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT THE BUMPING AND BEATING ASPECT OF WHAT MIGHT BE NEEDED AT A TRACK LIKE MARTINSVILLE?
“I’ve never been somebody who really wants to put a bumper to someone. I always try to find a way around them without doing that. At the end of the day, I think we all just look for respect. You’re going to race somebody the way they race you. I’m going to fully intend on going into the weekend just like I would in a modified, that’s finding a way around without using them up. At the end of the day, as long as we’re respectful to others, I believe you get respect back. That’s kind of how I’m going to approach it. I don’t fully intend on going there and smashing people.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’VE APPLIED FROM MODIFIED RACING TO THE CUP LEVEL IN TERMS OF ON‑TRACK PERFORMANCE? F1 HAD A NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY LAST YEAR. WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO NASCAR HAVING A DOCUMENTARY TO REACH OUT TO YOUTH FANS?
“To answer your second question, I think, yeah, absolutely. I haven’t seen Formula 1’s documentary. I would think anything that helps racing’s typical fan base is a good thing. Can you repeat the first question?”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU’VE APPLIED FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A MODIFIED RACER TO THE CUP LEVEL IN TERMS OF HOW THEY DRIVE AND ON‑TRACK PERFORMANCE?
“As far as how a modified drives, a racecar is a racecar. They all drive pretty similar. At the end of the day, the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the aerodynamics. We don’t tend to deal with that quite as much as a Cup car does. That’s been the biggest thing right now.”
AT ALL THE TRACKS, PEOPLE ARE SAYING WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IF THEY’RE GOING TO A TRACK THAT’S A SHORTER DISTANCE OR LONGER DISTANCE. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO THE PEOPLE HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE THERE IS RACING ON A SHORT TRACK COMPARED TO A LONG TRACK?
“Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing we deal with on mile‑and‑a‑half’s, bigger racetracks, is the fact that aerodynamics play a bigger part to that whole thing. It makes it a little bit more difficult when you’re trying to run a certain line, and that car in front of you does the same thing. You tend to fight aero balance a lot more on a mile‑and‑a‑half than you do on short tracks. There’s just a lot more braking, a lot more maneuverability when it comes to the short tracks like half miles, the one‑mile racetracks. Those are biggest things you deal with. Having to set your car up for a mile‑and‑a‑half versus a half-mile or a quarter mile is definitely quite different than as if you were going to a mile‑and‑a‑half. It’s just a different driving style. That’s really all I can think of, is really the aerodynamics part of it.”
NASCAR HAS SAID RECENTLY THEY’RE GOING TO BE GOING TO MORE SHORT‑TRACK RACING. DOES THAT MEAN THEY’LL BE GETTING RID OF THE BIGGER TRACKS?
“I don’t know. I mean, I enjoy going. At the end of the day I like racing. I’m going to do whatever is best for our sport. I’m competitive, so I want to win races.”