chevy racing–nascar–richmond–matt mccall

MATT MCCALL, CREW CHIEF, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE met with media via teleconference and discussed the upcoming races at Richmond and Bristol, how he and the team have adjusted to the season with COVID-19 challenges, schedule changes, and more. Full Transcript:
GIVE US AN OVERVIEW FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS A CREW CHIEF OF WHAT THE SEASON HAS BEEN LIKE NAVIGATING INTO COVID-19 AND NOW, AS WE ENTER THE NASCAR PLAYOFFS AND HOW YOUR TEAM HAS DEALT WITH ALL THE CHANGES AND CHALLENGES.“Obviously, there are a lot of changes and challenges, for sure. There are a lot of unknowns going to the track and a lot let people. The biggest thing is the scheduling process for us, trying to work at the shop as a road crew and having to work what I consider different hours than normal. I don’t mind working late, but 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning is not really my cup of tea when you have kids. But we do what we do. We try to make all that work. It’s become somewhat normal now. Not that it’s that spectacular. We’re doing whatever it takes to prepare the cars as good as we can. But throughout the season, we started off three Darlington races ago. We started that race pretty good. We had a few decent races and then managed to have some consistency. We never had the overall speed we were looking for to try to put Kurt (Busch) in position. I don’t know that we’ve actually put a race together yet to give him a shot to win a race. We’ve had one or two chances probably, and probably stepped on our hand there with a couple of mistakes here and there, but overall, it’s been okay. We’re still looking for more, obviously. Last week was an okay start for us to see where we stack up in the Playoffs to start and I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot there. All-in-all, I would give us maybe a seven out of 10; and need to be three more.”
LOOKING AHEAD ONE WEEK TO BRISTOL, DO YOU KNOW YET WHERE THE TRACTION COMPOUND IS GOING TO BE AND IF IT’S GOING TO BE ANY DIFFERENT, AND HOW WILL IT BE DIFFERENT WITH A COUPLE OF RACES ON THAT TRACK BEFORE YOU RUN?“From my understanding and the team’s understanding, it’ll be the same as they’ve put down for the first Bristol and the All-Star. But the biggest part of that is the amount of races before our race. That’ll play a big role in how that is. The first Bristol, we had two competition cautions at 20 and 60; the track never really was somewhat raceable. But yeah, it should be similar from my understanding. A lot of times we don’t get that information sometimes until we’re actually unloading the car. Right now, they’re prediction is the same.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY SENSE, NOT HAVING BEEN TO RICHMOND THIS YEAR, AND BRISTOL, HAVING BEEN THERE TWICE BUT PROBABLY UNDER DIFFERENT CONDITIONS OF WHAT THE TRACK IS GOING TO BE LIKE, AND HOW TO SET-UP THE CARS?“Richmond, with this package, you can revert back to 2018 a little bit. Obviously, we had a different driver then. And so you change a little bit of the information but you’ve still got to find a way to correlate what we had last year and try to work through the different grip levels of the track because obviously there are a lot of races this weekend, hopefully before we race. So, that will dictate a lot of how you try to unload for your balance. And Bristol will be, at least for us, we didn’t make a ton of laps at the first Bristol. We got tore up, probably around lap 200, I think; unfortunately. I don’t know how we salvaged the finish we got. We got an okay finish out of it at the end there. Not a ton of notes to work off this year, but obviously history still comes into play. This weekend, the tire is going to be the biggest. It’s been many, many years since you’ve ran the same tire from Phoenix and Loudon that you would run at Richmond. I think that will come into play, for sure.”
YOU SAW RYAN BLANEY GET DOCKED POINTS FOR HAVING A FIVE POUND BAG OF LEAD IN HIS CAR AND ALSO WHAT HAPPENED WITH KYLE BUSCH AND CLINT BOWYER WITH HAVING THEIR CREW CHIEFS SUSPENDED FOR THIS WEEKEND FOR LUG NUT ISSUES. WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE AND WAKE-UP CALL DOES THIS SEND TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING WITH THE NO. 1 CAR IS ON THE UP AND UP SO YOU DON’T END UP HURTING YOURSELVES?“Yeah, for sure. That type of stuff, if it does happen; I think it’s probably been more frequent this year. You’ve seen lead come out of cars just from not having the same personnel final set the car and stuff like that. From the No. 1 car standpoint, I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot. Hopefully you’re not jinxing us here. I feel good about the guys we have. As far as changing the message, I don’t think there’s much to do there because the amount of effort that’s put in by my team, I feel really good about. Obviously, you pay attention to stuff that goes on around you and want to make sure you’re not put in the same boat to make a mistake like that. But I feel like there’s not a ton of change in the approach because I feel like every week we prepare the same way.”
GOING BACK TO LAST WEEK AT DARLINGTON AND THAT DECISION NOT TO PIT AT THE FIRST STAGE WHICH LED TO GETTING THE STAGE POINTS. HOW MUCH OF A GAMBLE WAS THAT? CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THAT THOUGHT PROCESS?“Yeah, obviously we had run long there. And you’re not really always banking on a caution. But our falloff had been pretty good to start with. So, I felt like that put us in a spot, you know, if we could run a little bit longer; obviously the race engineer is giving us a lot of information as far as how it would prove out toward the end of the stage there. And when the caution fell, it’s one of those things, it’s like you’re at Darlington, there were four or five green flag laps; yes, that’s getting on the verge of everyone else pitting. And it was one of those things if we thought we could get the lead, not that it was a no-brainer, but it put us in a pretty good spot. Also, I thought there would be more takers. And then when that happens and there’s only one taker, you’re like oh lord, Kurt’s got his work cut out for him. Obviously, he was the one that made it work in the end; choosing the right lane to start with, the No. 19 (Martin Truex, Jr.) got us there to start with, but then it took about, I’ll call it like 20 laps, and then I feel like it honestly leveled out right there. I think some of that was due to our long run speed seemed to be okay. And a lot of that is dictated as to where your track position is as well. It got spread out enough there to know sort of what you thought you had, balance-wise. There’s never a call you make that you always know oh, this is going to work. But it was one of those that I didn’t really feel bad about making. It thought it was going to be to our benefit, for sure.”
YOU ARE ONE OF THE TEAMS THAT HAS AN ENGINEER THAT COMES TO THE TRACK. SOME TEAMS KEEP THE ENGINEERS AT HOME. EVERYBODY HAS COMMUNICATION WITH THE SHOP. BUT HOW MUCH DO YOU FEEL IT HELPED OR DID IT HELP HAVING AN ENGINEER BESIDE YOU AS OPPOSED TO TRADING INSTANT MESSAGING OR DOES IT MATTER AT THAT POINT?“I guess the biggest thing for me is, I’m probably harping on my team a lot; but I have two engineers that know how to work on my cars. Not to beat engineers up, but I’m in a pretty good spot there that allows our team to sort of mobilize a position that still is not wasted on one end or the other. It’s still getting used on both sides. So, that makes some of it easier. Now once you’re on the box, I don’t know that necessarily that’s an area; you’re talking communicating back to the shop or sitting beside an engineer, I feel like that’s sort of how we started and we weren’t sure how it was going to work and we try to keep our consistency with how our process works and we’ve sort of stuck with it. I don’t know that it’s the end all be all, but it’s just sort of how we rolled out those first eight or so races and it’s like okay, this is pretty okay right now. We’re not making any mistakes that are glaringly obvious. So, we just try to fine-tune on all that.”
WHEN YOU GET A TALENT LIKE KURT BUSCH BEHIND THE WHEEL DOES IT MAGNIFY THE WEAKNESSES OR DOES IT GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHERE YOU NEED TO WORK ON TO JUST TRY TO MAKE THE TEAM BETTER?“For sure. I think he brings everyone up to the next level. He holds himself accountable, which I think allows every person, myself included, to be okay to admit when there’s a weakness. His caliber is above and beyond. It’s pretty impressive. I’ll give you an example. Last weekend, and we sort of make fun of at time and I don’t think he takes it the wrong way, but like last week we did a very small air pressure adjustment. And when we ran three laps, he’s like I think the tire is a lot softer. And I’m like man, there’s no way this guy gets it. But it’s about 90 percent of the time, he’s correct. So yes. It’s a great benefit to have a guy like him.”
OVER THE PAST FOUR RACES AT RICHMOND, KURT BUSCH HAS BEEN UNABLE TO FINISH IN THE TOP 10. AS A CREW CHIEF, HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE RACE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S A PLAYOFF RACE?“Yeah, I think obviously I can talk more about last year’s races and I know what we did wrong and I know what happened. But I think it’s a mindset that obviously he’s had success at Richmond before in trying to get what he’s looking for. I feel like right now, the communication we’ve been able to have is increased a decent amount the past four or five weeks. And with some stuff not that you push to the side, but obviously trying to get further ahead. Honestly some of the scheduling has allowed us to try to work more tracks further ahead. And I feel like Richmond is one of the ones we’ve been able to do that on. Honestly, we thought we were going to run it earlier in the year. We did a lot of prep work then of stuff we were looking to pinpoint to get Kurt happy and get better results. So, I feel like all that’s been rolling in the right direction. Now, once the race rolls around, we’ll know that for sure.”
ON THE NEWS THAT AUTO CLUB IS BEING RE-CONFIGURED TO A SHORT TRACK FOR 2022, WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON IT?“I think it takes away a really good race track. It was a good two-mile track. I think we beat-up some of these 1.5-mile races, but I feel like Fontana was a really good track for a two-mile, no matter what the package was, honestly. I feel like you go there and there’s a lot of good racing throughout the field. But, I’m a short track guy. So, I’m not going to complain about more short tracks, for sure. To me, that’s encouraging that maybe that’s the direction that we’ll end-up going as a sport, to more short tracks. So, I’m not going to be upset about that.”