Nascar—kansas—erik jones

ERIK JONES, NO. 43 BLACK ENTREPRENEUR INITIATIVE CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript: YOU HAVE SOME EXCITING SPONSORSHIP NEWS FOR YOUR TEAM. CAN YOU GIVE US A QUICK OVERVIEW OF THAT, ALONG WITH YOUR THOUGHTS LEADING INTO KANSAS THIS WEEKEND?”“We are partnering up with The Lonely Entrepreneur for three races. The first is this weekend in Kansas and then on to COTA and Nashville, as well. So, it’s a pretty cool company. I’m learning more about them and what they really are. But they provide resources to entrepreneurs who are trying to get their footing in the business world and helping them out; and we’re also really spotlighting black entrepreneurs as well, which is going to be a cool program and one that I’m excited to work with and have learned a lot about here in the last, really, just a few days. So, it’s been cool to learn more about it and get to know them a little bit.”
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD AT TALLADEGA WHEN YOU WERE LEADING THE FIELD?“Well, I was hoping it was going to stay green. I thought that was our best shot to try to win. Unfortunately, we had that yellow come out. But, just trying to defend the line and what was coming and just trying to keep that lead. So, I was just happy though to get up front and lead some laps with the Air Force on the car. That was our first race this year, so it was cool to get them up front. Obviously, I wish we could have closed the race out a little bit better. But overall, I thought it was a good race for us.”
IT WAS A STRONG WEEKEND FOR YOU BUT THE FINAL RESULT DIDN’T REFLECT THE GREAT DAY YOU HAD. WHAT DO YOU TELL YOU TEAM AFTER A ROUGH FINISH LIKE THAT?“Well, I think you just have to keep your head up and know that we did bring a fast car; one that was quick enough to win the race obviously. We were up front and leading laps. You’ve got to take it with a grain of salt. It’s Talladega and that’s how things go there sometimes but I definitely just want to keep those guys motivated and inspired and I think they’ve been doing a really good job and giving me some good cars. So, things come together. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing, really; and wait for the rest to kind of fall into place for us.”
TEN RACES INTO YOUR RPM TENURE ON VERY UNIQUE TRACKS ON THIS SCHEDULE. WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF RPM AND WHAT CAN YOU GUYS BE DOING BETTER AT THIS POINT?“I think it’s been good. I think overall we just want to consistently improve each week and still find our footing. We are getting better and better. With no practice it takes time to get to know each other and figure out what we need out of the race car and how we’ve got to go through the weekend. But I think we’ve been doing a good job and I think RPM does a good job. They’ve got good equipment and we just have to take advantage of what we have. We don’t have the same number of people as a lot of these bigger teams, but I think we’ve got really people in the people that we do have. So, we’re just doing what we can to take advantage of that and making the most of every week.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY RACES YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM SHOULD FOCUS ON AS FAR AS TRYING TO GET A WIN TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?“Yeah, Talladega was one of those races that we wanted to try to win. I thought we had a good plan and did have a shot. But moving forward, with Daytona coming up and obviously the season finale a little way out; but Darlington is in a couple of weeks and is a great race track for me. I won there a couple of years ago so we’re really putting a lot of weight on that one. So, that’s probably the next one on the schedule, I would say, is Darlington; that we’ve got to focus hard on and hope we can take advantage of that place.”
TEN RACES IN, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU’VE FOUND TO BE MORE OF A CHALLENGE THAN YOU ANTICIPATED?“Well, I think just no practice has been more of a challenge. Last year, I didn’t really think much of it, but I’d also been with that organization for a few years with the same crew chief. So, we had a lot of notes. We’re kind of going in a little bit blind this year with a new team and a new crew chief and a new car and a new manufacturer. Everything is a lot different. So, having no notes has made the no practice just stand out more for me this year over last year.”
GIVEN WHAT YOU JUST SAID, HAVE YOU HAD TO TEMPER EXPECTATIONS THIS YEAR?“I don’t think so. I think we just go out every week with the hope to run a Top 10. We’ve done that a few times. I think we are probably capable of doing it a few more; we just didn’t have things really work out for us. So, I think we’ve kept our expectations pretty similar to what we began the year with. And that’s just going out and trying to obviously, get those Top 10’s and take advantage of the places we know we can go up front and try to win at.”
WE ARE GOING TO DARLINGTON THIS YEAR WITH THE HIGH HORSEPOWER PACKAGE. WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT WILL DO FOR THE RACING AND DO YOU THINK THAT PACKAGE WILL BE BETTER SUITED FOR DARLINGTON?“Yeah, I think so. It’s been a few years now since we’ve ran it, but I was trying to look back through my mental notes of what the track was like last time we ran the low downforce package there. I thought the racing was good both ways; but I think the low downforce is going to be fun. As a driver, it’s definitely a challenge there with how slick and worn out that place is. So, I’m excited to get there and to give it a shot again. We were on the simulator today doing some laps and just kind of getting reacquainted with it and it was fun. I always like Darlington. We ran good there with the low downforce package. We were Top 5 I think, in all those races; so hopefully we can keep that trend going.”
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE DIRECTION AND PROGRESS YOU ARE SEEING AT RPM SINCE YOU’VE BEEN THERE AND WHERE YOU GUYS ARE HEADED IN THE LONG RUN?“Yeah, I’ve been happy with how it’s been going, I think. Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) have worked well together and what we’ve done this year has been good. So, I think we’re making gains and doing the right things we need to do to keep getting the cars better and keep getting the team better. It’s not a fast process. You’re trying to get a lot of different gears moving along in different directions, but overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the progress we’ve been making.”
YOU SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF SPEED ON THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS AND SOME OF THE LARGER TRACKS. WHAT TYPE OF ADJUSTMENTS DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM NEEDS TO MAKE SO YOU CAN HAVE THAT SAME SPEED ON SOME OF THE SHORTER TRACKS?“Yeah, I mean the draft is kind of a great equalizer. Obviously, I thought we brought a good superspeedway car but you’ve always kind of got a shot to go up and contend there, no matter what you do. But you know, it’s just more development on the intermediate side of things. We’ve got obviously some different kinds of cars that we run at different 1.5-miles, from Atlanta to Vegas. We struggled at Atlanta but ran really well at Vegas. But those were two totally different cars. So, I think we’ve changed our mindset a little bit on some of those tracks. And, going into Kansas this weekend, we’re running a car real similar to what we had at Las Vegas, so I think that’ll be pretty good. But just learning and trying to get a notebook together for what works and what doesn’t. I think we’ve done a good job of that and I think it’s going to start to show here as we start to go back to more of these 1.5-mile tracks.”