chevy racing–nascar–pocono–tyler reddick


TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript:  YOU START SIXTEENTH THIS WEEKEND IN THE FIRST RACE AT POCONO RACEWAY. YOU TWEETED AFTER THE RACE AT NASHVILLE, ‘I BEAT MYSELF TODAY’. HOW DID YOU BEAT YOURSELF AND TALK ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF POCONO RACEWAY?“The goals that you have in racing – if you don’t have realistic goals at times, it’s very easy to get pretty frustrated pretty quick. Considering the things that were kind of going our way, the goals that I had going into that weekend and the goals I had for Sunday, probably should have been shifted a little bit to be a bit more realistic. Or just set another goal in front of it – ‘Alright well, we’re two laps down, now let’s get back on the lead lap’. Ok well now, maybe we can get back to that goal of having a top-five day. I didn’t really run that through my head, so I just made a lot of bad mistakes. I could have just, overall, done a better job on Sunday; just coming in with a better approach and plan after that (spin) once we did get back on the lead lap to realistically set goals for our day and go tackle that.”
“Going into Pocono (Raceway), we’re starting 16th. It’s better than starting 26th where we did at Nashville (Superspeedway), but really, we should be starting much better than what we are. But the good thing is, we can still get a really good day out of it; 16th is still a much better spot than some of the guys that we need to score more points than. We’ll see how the day unfolds; what that means for pit strategies. It’s Pocono, so I would imagine those that are trying to go for the race win or get the points on the back-end of the day in the final stage will definitely split it up differently than others. Hopefully we’ll have opportunities to make those decisions; go for stage two points or a good finish in the final stage, or go after those stage pointes.”
AT POCONO, WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE WITH A DOUBLEHEADER RACE WEEKEND?“Unfortunately, we just had bad doubleheaders last year. It started with Pocono (Raceway). We had a pretty good car on Saturday; being really aggressive on a restart, made a mistake, drifted up into Erik Jones when he was trying to get around Kurt Busch who had slowed down – just trying to get him boxed in, if you will – and that’s how we collided. So, that was a bummer because it destroyed our day on Saturday; we were done right there on Saturday and weren’t able to run the rest of the day. And then we had to prepare a backup car and start pretty much dead last on Sunday. That’s when we had more damage to our engine than we realized. One of the pulley’s was seized up and it shot the power steering belt off when we took the green flag. We just didn’t get any points.”
“Basically, you have to make sure you have a smooth weekend. If you have a really bad day on Saturday and don’t get any points, it’s really going to set you back going into Sunday. One, you now have no notes really compared to the field that ran the entire race on Saturday and then, you’ll have to lean on your teammates. And then two, you’re going to a backup car. You’re not getting to work on the piece that you raced all day; you’re having to start from scratch and hope that you have a pretty good target or get within the target you’re searching for. We just had really bad doubleheaders at Pocono and Michigan. So, that’s going to be our goal; to race hard. We want to go get points and do this and that; but understand that Saturday is very important. You have to realize every risky decision and everything that you could do on Saturday that could be a risk potential effects what happens ultimately on Sunday, as well.”
I JUST WANTED TO ASK YOU ABOUT NASCAR COMING TO ROAD AMERICA NEXT WEEK. I BELIEVE YOU’VE DONE A COUPLE OF XFINITY RACES THERE. I JUST WANTED TO GET YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF ROAD AMERICA AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CUP SERIES COMING THERE, AND THE CUP SERIES ADDING AS MANY ROAD COURSES THAT THEY HAVE?“Those that have gotten to experience Road America, other NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers that are now Cup drivers like myself or some of the others out there that ran it years prior, understand how unforgiving of a place it can be. I kind of wish we didn’t have practice for all those Cup drivers that haven’t been there before because the amount of fun it would be until they figured it out that us guys that came from the Xfinity Series would have over them. It’s a tough track – it’s narrow, it’s fast. It intimidated the daylights out of me because I was very bad a road course racing at the time. You’re hauling the mail down the front straightaway, down the back straightaway, into Turn 4 & 5 there; in Canada corner, too. It’s a wild place and when you’re going to have the Cup Series there with the aggressive drivers that just like to sail it off into there in the corner, it’s going to create some great racing. There’s going to be some action, for sure. Just like at COTA and Sonoma, we’re going to destroy these racecars. I just hope I don’t tear mine up too bad because, again, the straightaways are pretty fast. So, keeping the nose and the body straight is going to be important.”
YOU MENTIONED THE FACT OF TRYING TO BE CAREFUL AT LITTLE BIT ON SATURDAY BECAUSE OF SUNDAY. KNOWING THAT YOU’RE THIRTEENTH IN THE STANDINGS AND THE PLAYOFFS ARE COMING UP, HOW MUCH IS THAT RISK VERSUS REWARD TO ENSURE THAT YOU’RE PART OF THE PLAYOFFS?“It’s a major part of it. Like I said earlier – I guess I didn’t totally go into the full bit of it, but I said that the doubleheaders were really bad for us and bad for making the Playoffs for us. You can pick apart your season; hindsight is always 20/20, but one of the biggest areas for us was looking at Pocono and even Michigan. Just the amount of points we would have gotten out of Pocono if I wouldn’t have crashed on Saturday and then had that parts failure on Sunday because of the crash – we could have had 30 or 40 more points than we did because I think we finished 37th and 36th both days and no stage points. We had the speed to get stage points and finish inside the top-15, even with mistakes. Pocono is the type of race where I feel like racing hard on restarts is important, but the way that you win that race or get a good points day out of it is picking and choosing battle and executing the race strategy perfectly. You don’t want to get caught up racing a guy for one point, one spot, and lose a 1.5-2 seconds battling someone and lose touch with the rest of the field ahead of you. It totally changes up your strategy and what options you have available to you to try and maybe get ahead of them in a pit cycle; whatever it might be. You have to race smart. That’s just the type of race that Pocono is with the package we have. You have to race a little bit smarter than hard; that’s what I meant by that.”
AS YOU WORK TO TRY TO ENSURE YOUR SPOT IN THE PLAYOFFS, WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU AND YOUR TEAM CAN BE EVEN STRONGER?“What never really stops, never ends, is the grind to find perfection, if you will. It’s not really possible, right? But just looking back to Nashville, we had a car that I thought could have qualified top-five pretty realistically. I thought I was paying attention to what line the drivers were using and kind of just missed it a little bit. I was running too high for where the grip was in qualifying and that turned a day that should have been pretty straight forward – getting stage points and all that stuff – it totally threw it out the window. That comes down to mistakes. I think the race at Pocono comes down to mistakes. Making the Playoffs comes down to that. Being able to recover from them is nice; but the more times you can go through races without having those big, critical moments and mistakes is going to help everybody’s peace of mind. You’re going to get more points because of it. It’s just a little easier if you don’t make those mistakes. Yes, it’s hard to be perfect all the time, but it’s a fun process in learning how to get better. I definitely am learning from those mistakes. You’re always going to learn from mistakes; they’re just never going to stop coming your way. New situations, new scenarios – I’ll just keep trying to adjust the best that I can to keep getting more points for my team.”
SINCE RCR AND HMS ARE, ESSENTIALLY, THE SAME ENGINES, DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE SAME SPEED AS THEY DO RIGHT NOW? “There’s something we need to continue to work on, on our end, to get a little bit better. I don’t know – we’re doing pretty good, honestly. Looking back to last year, I think Hendrick (Motorsports) was doing OK at times, but obviously they’re much better than they were a year ago; I would think they would agree with that. They’ve been winning a lot of races here the last month. We, have an organization, have gotten a lot better. Like I said, I think Nashville could have been one of those days where we could have been up there battling with those Hendrick Chevy’s. But those mistakes that I made really kind of derailed that for us. Daniel Suarez wasn’t the happiest with his car; they felt like they kind of missed it a little bit. But he was able to drive his way to a seventh. He’s kind of like my teammate, Erik Jones – unfortunately, he ran over bits and pieces that were coming off of cars as they were breaking on the racetrack, which really hurt their chances throughout the day. So, I think all of our cars had that potential to be inside the top-10. We’re trying to figure out what more I need for my driving style to limit those mistakes and have smoother races. We’re going in to the right direction. The push and the grind to get better never will stop. We’ll keep plugging along.”
HOW FAR AWAY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE FROM A WIN?“There’s definitely been some opportunities; even last year honestly. It’s just those little details. I’ve been learning that the hard way; at least I’m learning from it, right? All the little details that you can kind of overcome in the Xfinity Series – I guess I never really gave the attention to detail that I do now running in the Cup Series as when I was running the Xfinity Series. Find a way to overcome spinning out and just drive back through the field. You’re racing again 12 or 13 drivers in the Xfinity Series that are close equipment-wise; where on the Cup side, you could argue some weekends, the top-30 is pretty close. Dover, around a month or so ago, a lot of the top-20 were really, really close.”
“I think it’s right there, it’s just a matter of not making those mistakes that derailed days like Nashville for us. Sonoma is another one. We didn’t have the speed to go win at Sonoma, but we could have run top-10. It’s just a matter of those little things. Even back to Homestead – it was a great run through the field on that last green flag run, but that restart was my worst restart of the day. I lost like four or five spots and that was the difference in what that outcome was. It’s just those little things. You never know when it’s going to come, right? You may have a day where you’re not that great and you just don’t make a mistake, everyone else does and you’ll find yourself winning. I don’t know if it’s going to come that way. There are a lot of opportunities where, right now, I think our cars are good enough that if I run a good race, the pit crew does their part – which they have been – I think we could surprise ourselves and it could happen at a few different types of racetracks.”
YOU SAID YOU’RE PAYING A LOT MORE ATTENTION TO DETAIL IN THE CUP SERIES. WHEN YOU CAME FROM XFINITY AND MADE THE MOVE, WAS IT EYE-OPENING AT ALL?“Eye-opening is a way to put it. When you switch from running the Xfinity Series, you’re aware of all these tools that are kind of there, but you never really think to tap into. Like I said, we’d just adjust on our racecar a little bit, have a crazy restart, do something wild, bounce off the fence or whatever, and find our way to win. On the Cup side, it doesn’t quite work that way because there are more drivers that are really, really good and more teams out there that are really, really good. So, you can’t just bust through a couple of people and find your way to victory lane.”
“I guess it is eye-opening. The amount of resources that are available if you really take the time to look through it all; just like pit road, restarts, you could go through a lot of things. When you run the Xfinity Series, like I said, you don’t realize how much the last tenth or two-tenths mean in the grand scheme of things throughout your day. It could mean the difference between running 10th and running fifth. All that stuff really adds up and, again, those are the things that add up to winning races. The more that I can get better at all these other things will give us more opportunities when our car is really good that one day or really good one weekend to be able to go out there and get the job done.”
YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH RANDALL (BURNETT, CREW CHIEF), YOU GUYS SEEM TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE. HOW HAS HE HELPED PREPARE YOU ON A WEEKLY BASIS, JUST SO YOU’RE MORE ACCUSTOM AND COMFORTABLE TO EVERYTHING THAT COMES ALONG WITH CUP? “He does a lot to help me, but his plate has been a whole lot more full as we’ve gone Cup racing. There are more meetings, just a lot more going on. They’re not composite bodies; they’re bodies that are hung in our shop at RCR. So, there’s a lot more people he has to manage; more things he has to stay in the loop and be a part of. Meetings, meetings, meetings is like the big trend here. He’s been a big help in helping direct me to the things that I need to do. A year-and-a-half in or more, a fairly good routine has been set in and I kind of know where to go for what information. Our team works really together. I pretty much don’t have to ask anymore on a weekly basis for information that is good to have be sent my way, brought to my attention, so I can go through it and use it to prepare or reflect on the past weekend. Like I said, his plate is pretty full, so I lean on my team’s engineers, Nate Troupe and Andrew Dickson, to gather some of that information as Randall is busy trying to handle other things.”
“It’s working well. We’re finding more and more ways, that never will stop, to acquire better information that can be even more useful than what we have. Or just gather more stats and collect more data that we can look at. SMT, on paper and everything – you can go back and see how everyone’s race kind of went from their perspective; driver inputs and this and that. But it’s opened a door to collecting sector analysis, entries and exits of corners; breaking it down to the absolute detail of what driver times available, who’s really good at getting into the box and out of the box. There’s a lot of things to look at and it’s opened the door for me to kind of dive into that on my own so Randall can do what’s important. It’s allowed me to kind of work on that stuff so when I do have an idea, it’s not just like, ‘Hey, let’s look into this or talk about this’. It’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve looked at this and this is the direction we want to go’, so it’s efficient for Randall’s time and he can focus on what takes a lot of time; and that’s making sure the cars are getting built the right way, and all the right pieces and parts are coming together to make our race weekends like they are.”
DO YOU THINK THE CREW CHIEFS THAT HAVE HAD EXPERIENCE WITH THE COMPOSITE BODIES, WILL HELP THEM ONCE YOU MOVE TO THE NEXT GEN CARS?“It’s not really my place to say; I’d just be kind of guessing. It is a lot different. The composite body – it’s still got to be within tolerances, but you’re not working on the bodies like you are right now where everyone is trying to get all the little details that they can. The composite bodies when you buy them and they show up, they are what they are and you piece it together on the racecar, and see how it scans if you have a hawk-eye in your shop. And if you don’t, you kind of hope that it’s right when you get to the race track.”
“I don’t know if there is one or not. I think the way that it sits on the car – it’s not going to be the Xfinity composite body on the Next Gen car. It’s going to be it’s own different body, so it’s going to fit, I would imagine, differently and those guys are going to have fun figuring out how to maximize that, I’m sure.”