MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DAYTONA 500 MEDIA DAY
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 22, 2017
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS/PEAK CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at the annual Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway. Full Transcript:
DO YOU THINK THE SEGMENTS ARE GOOD FOR SPONSORS WHO MIGHT NOT GET A VICTORY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
“Yeah I mean anytime you win something it’s a good thing. It opens up a few more opportunities per race to win something, even though the segments are just minutiae compared to the actual race win, but it still pays points and carries over throughout the year. That is all good, just like you said, just opportunities to get more points. I don’t know what happens if you win the first segment. Somebody is going to win the first segment next Sunday and we are going to see what happens, but I’m going to say that it’s pretty anticlimactic if you do win it, but it’s going to go down in the history books as the first segment winner.”
WHAT IS ON THE LINE FOR THIS ORGANIZATION THIS YEAR?
“We’ve got to win races. What is on the line is what is on the line for every organization that doesn’t perform the way it expects to. That is pretty much every organization that didn’t win the championship last year. A lot on the line. You’ve got to win races. That is the first and foremost, that is why we show up to the race track. The points that comes secondary, the playoffs that comes secondary, you’ve got to win races and then everything else kind of takes care of itself. Richard (Childress, team owner) definitely put that emphasis this year. I’ve put that emphasis on myself and our team. We are not going to points race, we are gamble and go for wins.”
HOW DOES RICHARD PUT THAT EMPHASIS? WHAT MORE CAN HE SAY OR DO TO REINFORCE THAT?
“He is the leader of the organization. It’s his company it’s his race teams and we don’t want to let him down. It just gives you a little extra step to see Richard happy. When Richard is mad it’s not a good day. When he is, happy things go well. We are going to do our best to make him happy.”
IS THERE MUCH YOU ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO TAKE FROM THE END OF THE SEASON NOW WITH THE RULE CHANGES?
“Yeah, we got behind early and we made a lot of changes throughout the year and kept trying to improve our cars. I think at certain times we took a step backward, but we learned from that and I think at the end of the year we all, all three of the cars, picked up our performance. Austin, once we got to the playoffs, he got to the second round and almost to the third round. Ryan and myself had some better finishes at the end of the year so that is just development of the cars which we are going to carry over to this year. We learned a lot the second half of last year that carry over to this year. Its something that is really promising for me is the three low downforce races last year, the two Michigan’s and Kentucky were some of our better races. We don’t have the finishes to show for it, but we had really good cars in the races. I’m hopeful for Atlanta.”
FROM WHAT YOU SAW IN THE CLASH AS THIS TRACK IS WEARING HOW MUCH DOES IT SEEM LIKE IT’S WORN FROM LAST YEAR?
“I haven’t run in a pack yet, so it’s hard to say. I do know that when we came here last year and we did get in the draft for Duel practice it was an eye opener how much it changed from the previous year. This year too early to tell for me, but watching the race the other day Jimmie Johnson spins out twice, some guys were pretty out of control, but that is also the Clash so you get a little more aggressive with handling and things. It’s Daytona. It’s getting back to be the way it used to be. One of the most, probably the funniest restrictor plate race I ever ran was the last race before the repaved it. It was almost like Darlington, you had to lift by yourself, run up by the wall, get momentum, come off the wall to try to carry momentum down the back. It’s not there yet, but it’s getting there.”
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT WHEN YOU GO INTO THE SEASON?
“Just to win a race, honestly, that is all I care about right now. Matt Borland (crew chief) has come on board, smart guy, built a really good team. A lot of new faces on our team, but everybody is gelling really well together. Good attitudes on all of them, so I think we have a strong team, we made those gains in the cars last year we will continue that push for this year. We are going to make a step forward. Like I said, to win a race kind of solves everybody’s problems.”
WHAT IS THE COMMUNICATION LIKE BETWEEN YOU AND MATT BORLAND?
“He asks a lot of questions. We will go for a single car run and not a whole lot, you do the little things, but he goes through a whole list of what did it do here, here and here. What did you think about this and that is at Daytona. When we get to Atlanta, it’s going to be a long debrief process I think. We are just trying to feel each other out and he has got a lot of really good questions he asks.”
DOES IT MAKE YOU THINK A LITTLE BIT MORE IN DETAIL ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS OR GET YOU TALKING ABOUT SOME OTHER STUFF THAT YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT?
“Yeah, both I think. He might mention something that you hadn’t thought of. Did the bump in Turn 3 hit any harder or not? Maybe a little bit harder, kind of hard to tell, but it makes you think that little extra bit to get all you can.”
HAVE YOU EVER RUN OUT OF GAS IN A RACE OR IN REAL LIFE?
“I have run out of gas in a race a lot. Since I started racing dozens of times I would say. In the Cup Series, I would say maybe five to 10 times where you actually run out of gas. Probably more than that, probably 10 times. In real life, the only time I ran out of gas, I actually coasted into a gas station, so I lucked out. I think I was in high school.”
HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU IN THE FUTURE OF NASCAR?
“I mean there are some challenges for sure. We have seen that the last few years. Why it is, I think it has a lot to do with the American youth’s attention span or lack thereof. I think that is just a huge part of it. There are just so many options. I went to Disney World Monday and Tuesday with my daughter and there were kids at Disney World getting pushed in strollers watching their parents cell phones. Just look around you. That tells you something right there.”
ON MICHAEL WALTRIP COMPETING IN HIS FINAL RACE:
“Everybody has their opinions on Michael. He is a one of a kind. I think the first ass-chewing I ever got at a race was from him. I really don’t know what I did. It was at Texas. I was running a partial schedule with Andy Petree and he got all bowed up mad at me after the race. I was like ‘whatever Michael’, but we’ve had fun together too.”
THOUGHTS ON THE RULE CHANGES:
“The rule change, I think it’s the direction we’ve been going. Better or Worse? That is up for the fans to decide. The segments for the fans to decide, for us the rule change is a challenge I would say because you have to redevelop the cars somewhat. It’s a huge challenge for Goodyear to try to make a tire that conforms to that aero package. The segments are just opportunities to gain more points throughout the year. Basically, just adds two different fuel windows in the race or fuel stages. So, you might see guys run out of fuel more often this year, trying to get a segment win and gain some points. Just opportunity.”
WOULD YOU DRIVE IN THE RAIN IF THEY COULD PRODUCE A GOOD RAIN TIRE?
“On an oval? At a road course for sure and I have. It’s fun. At an oval, no because there are just too many walls.”
THOUGHTS ON RACING AT RICHMOND:
“Richmond is a fun track. It’s been a struggle for us the last few years, but it makes for great racing. We saw last year that the groove really widened out which is very promising. Ten years ago, when I first started racing at Richmond the groove was really wide, we could run up by the wall, run to the bottom. Then that went away for a few years and now it’s getting back to that. Very promising. It makes for a great race. Richmond has great fans. Richmond is kind of a center for several big cities to come, Washington D.C. area, Baltimore, Charlotte and all that. Virginia is a short track racing hot bed, so to have a short track race in the Cup Series at Richmond is great.”
THOUGHTS ON MARTINSVILLE:
“Martinsville is just a throwback. It’s the oldest track on the circuit I think. It races like it. There is a lot of beating and banging it’s like bumper cars at 100 plus mph. Actually, I relate Martinsville and Daytona, Talladega comparable even though they are totally different. You still are at other people’s mercies a lot. Somebody makes a mistake a couple of rows in front of you a lot of times it trickles back and you can rip a fender off or something. Short track racing with a different feel.”
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THERE ARE TWO TURNS ON THE TRACK, BUT EVERYBODY CALLS THE TURN 1, 2, 3 AND 4. WHY DON’T THEY JUST CALL THEN 1 AND 2?
“I’m not sure. That is a good question. I’ve never really understood it. Pocono, it makes sense you have three corners. I know Carl Edwards used to call it six corners. Yeah, I don’t know. I think you could break up the corner a little bit better by saying 1 and 2 versus just Turn 1 because you have the entrance and middle, your car does different things throughout. As a driver, it’s kind of nice and as a crew chief probably more so you can’t get that feedback from the driver what it’s doing throughout. I think probably back in the day you had two different apexes’ so you maybe clipped Turn 1 and then you clipped Turn 2. That is probably where it came from. We don’t double apex these big tracks anymore.”
DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF CONCUSSIONS AND THE LONG-TERM AFFECTS?
“Yeah, I mean I have seen what happens with concussions. I’ve had concussions and they are no fun. I don’t know what it does way down the road. Obviously, we hear a lot about it right now. I know there are a lot of people that have had a lot of concussions that are totally fine at 70 years old, so I think it just depends on genetics a little bit and how bad those concussions were and things. Yeah, it’s something you think about for sure. It’s just something that you can’t predict. You break your arm and you have a broken arm you can fix it. A head injury it’s a little more under the surface so you just don’t know. I’ve had concussions. I’ve had one in a race car that I know of and a couple playing football. Everyone heals differently.”