The Top Five: Breaking down the Bristol Night Race

Five thoughts after Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway…

1. Kyle Busch drinks his haters’ tears

At a Toyota appearance on Saturday morning, a fan in attendance stood there and gave Kyle Busch one long, continuous middle finger.

“I know I’m number one,” Busch told the fan. “I’ve been number one the past two nights.”

So then the fan gave him a double bird.

“All you’re doing is solidifying what I already know,” Busch said.

Like the greatest of wrestling heels, Busch has gone full villain this season as he’s come to terms with the fact he’s never going to be the most popular driver. It doesn’t seem to bother him anymore — and yes, it definitely did at one time — so he’s soaking up the hate instead.

As Busch was showered with boos from the 100,000-plus fans at Bristol after completing the three-race weekend sweep, Busch cupped his ears for more. Then, as the volume increased, he flashed three fingers — not Three for Dale, but three for the sweep.

To add insult to their injured feelings, Busch then climbed on top of his car, parked right on the frontstretch, and swept the roof with a broom.

“I’m sure they’re still booing and whining and crying all the way home tonight. They’re driving home mad,” he said later, then smirked. “So people, be careful.”

For Kyle Busch Haters, a group of people that probably rivals the size of Junior Nation, this weekend was absolutely disgusting. He dominated two lower-series races with glee (“In your face!” he yelled on the radio after winning Trucks) and then whooped everyone in the Cup race.

But I’ve got to confess something: The more Busch irritates people, the more hilarious I think it is. Seriously, Busch haters get SO twisted up when he wins and their livid reactions are so disproportionate to the outrage over everything in the real world that it’s just flat-out funny to me.

The hate is so commonplace now, it doesn’t affect him. He’s used to it, and he might even thrive off it.

Personally, I think he’s the most interesting character in NASCAR these days. And even though he can be a pain in the ass at times, I sure am glad he’s around to give me something to write about and talk about.

2. Yes, he’s that damn good

To those who truly despise Busch — even you have to admit we’re watching one of the great talents of all time, right?

I mean, check out this tweet from Kyle Larson from Saturday night:

Could Kyle Busch actually be the GOAT, as Larson’s tweet suggested? I can only speak in NASCAR terms on this, so you can debate sprint car drivers and other racers Larson may be including in the conversation. But in NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson has won six more championships, Jeff Gordon won a lot more races and Tony Stewart was more versatile as far as winning in different types of cars.

And yet, when it comes to sitting in the stands and watching which driver wheels the car the best, I think Larson may be right: Busch may be the best pure talent of his generation.

Yes, of course he’s driving the best cars in the lower series and makes it seem easy when he has a speeding penalty and gets back to the front in 50 laps (probably because it is easy for him).

But when he does it in the Cup Series, against the best drivers and teams, and makes it look like he’s back in an Xfinity race? Well, that’s damn impressive. It just is.

Busch now has 40 Cup wins, which tied Mark Martin on the all-time list. And he’s only 32! He probably has 10 more years in his prime to rack up more victories.

I’m not advocating for people to start liking Busch, because his attitude and demeanor and lack of grace are massive turnoffs to many fans in a sport where drivers are often judged on personality as much as results. And I’m also not suggesting people start enjoying what they’re seeing, because people need someone to root against.

But as a longtime Denver Broncos fan, I compare it to Tom Brady. I can’t STAND Brady, but I still recognize he’s probably the best quarterback ever (which is painful to admit).

So you truly have to respect Busch as one of the best and appreciate what we’re seeing. And if you can’t, your bitterness is getting in the way.

3. Erik Jones making big gains

Remember earlier in the season when the No. 77 car looked fast every week but always had something bad happen? Those days seem gone now.

Erik Jones has six DNFs due to crashes this season — many of which were not his fault but some which happened after he put himself in bad positions. But Jones really seems to be finishing races lately.

He’s reeled off four straight top-10 finishes, including a third at Michigan and now a career-best second at Bristol. And he led a race-high 260 laps during nine different times in the race, which is pretty impressive.

It’s a shame he’s likely going to miss the playoffs, because he’s coming on really strong at the right time. But I have a feeling he’ll be a playoff fixture in the future, though.

4. More frustration for Dale Jr.

At the tweetup on Saturday, a few of us started daydreaming about what it would be like if Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Bristol race.

Can you imagine? It would be even better than the 2001 Pepsi 400! The whole stadium would go freaking nuts!

Goosebumps.

But that was just a fantasy, because Earnhardt never had a chance after being way off in practice and qualifying 31st.

“I couldn’t find any speed out there,” he said afterward. “Whatever we got wrong came from the shop. You’re not going to fix it on that racetrack from pit road. We just missed the setup, big time.”

The struggles Earnhardt experienced all weekend at Bristol reminded me of the Lance McGrew Era. Personally, I thought it was the most frustrated I’d heard Earnhardt on the radio this season, but he disagreed.

“It’s frustrating every week, you know?” he said. “I don’t know how to quantify frustration. I don’t know how to measure it. None of it is good. We want to compete and run well this last season. I don’t want to be out there just packing it in. It’s a lot of work to run 23rd, I’ll say that.”

Earnhardt deserves a better ending than this season is shaping up to be, similar to what Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart got.

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like that might not happen — and that sucks for everyone.

5. Two to go!

It’s almost playoff time, and the picture is getting a bit clearer now that there are two races left where upset winners are a rarity.

Actually, I’m having a hard time seeing how the 16 drivers currently in the field change after Darlington and Richmond (you can see the standings below).

There are only three spots left, and it’s not close on points at all. Clint Bowyer is 58 points out — nearly an entire race — and he’s the only driver within 100 points (Joey Logano is 117 points out).

So that means someone like Logano would have to win Darlington or Richmond to get in. And really, is Logano even running well enough to do that right now? It doesn’t seem like it, even though he’s great at Richmond and had the encumbered win there in the spring.

There are no more upset winner type tracks, which lessens the chances Jones or Daniel Suarez could pick up their first career victories in the next two weeks.

Anyway, I think you’re already looking at this year’s playoff field, which is below.

——-

PLAYOFF PICTURE

By patron request, I’m going to start including the playoff picture at the bottom of the Top Five each week. Here’s how it looks now:

IN (13): Truex, Larson, Harvick, Ky. Busch, Keselowski, Hamlin, Johnson, Blaney, Ku. Busch, Newman, Stenhouse, Kahne, A. Dillon.

Points Bubble with two races to go:

14. Chase Elliott +69

15. Matt Kenseth +61

16. Jamie McMurray +58

—-

17. Clint Bowyer -58

(Everyone else more than 100 points or one win behind)

DraftKings Fantasy NASCAR picks: Bristol Night Race

I’m playing DraftKings this season and will be posting my picks here each week. Disclosure: If you want to play and sign up using this link, DraftKings will give my website a commission.

Last race’s results: Played $4 Brake Pad contest. Won $0.

Season results: $72 wagered, $80 won in 18 contests.

This week’s contest: $4 Brake Pad game (single entry).

Thoughts on Bristol strategy: There are 500 laps available to lead tonight, so I’m guessing the winning entries are going to contain the two drivers who have the most laps led plus another few drivers with solid finishes. I’m not worried as much about position differential this week.

Bristol picks:

— Kyle Busch ($10,800): Busch has been dominating Bristol this weekend and he’s on a mission to complete the Bristol Sweep again. I’m not going to be against him, at least in terms of dominating the race and leading a ton of laps.

— Kyle Larson ($10,500): He’s going to put his car where the other drivers aren’t and run in the top five for most of the night if all goes well. Like Busch, I’m not going to bet against his chances.

— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,700): Stenhouse has sky-high expectations for this race, and rightfully so — his average finish here is second among active drivers and he finished second in the 2016 night race. I like his chances of contending for the win.

— Austin Dillon ($7,500): Dillon knows how to get around Bristol quite well and has the seventh-best average finish here among active drivers (15th). He finished fourth in this race last season.

— Ryan Newman ($7,200): I was going to pick Kasey Kahne here because he qualified third and looks to have a good car, but his team made an unapproved adjustment (fixed a flat tire) and he has to drop to the rear. So my replacement is Newman because his career results here are pretty decent overall (16.3 average finish).

— Chris Buescher ($6,000): He crashed in the spring race, but Buescher was fifth in this race last year and has shown speed all weekend (he qualified 15th). For this price, you’re not going to find a better bargain.

Brad Keselowski expands on why he decided to shutter Truck team

 

When Brad Keselowski announced he would shut down his Truck Series team, many assumed it was directly tied to the high cost of running a truck — which Keselowski said causes him to lose $1 million a year.

And while that was certainly a factor — Keselowski acknowledged Friday his new contract with Team Penske resulted in a smaller piece of the pie for Trucks — he said in both a blog post and comments to reporters there was another major part of the decision.

Keselowski would like to be a Cup Series team owner one day, but he believes he cannot do so without a sustainable business. So the driver plans to start a manufacturing business of some kind — the specifics of which he said he was not ready to announce — to help eventually fund a Cup team. And he would use the current space in the Brad Keselowski Racing shop to do that.

“If you look at all the business owners at this level – and really all three of these levels – they have a sustainable, profitable business outside of motorsports,” he said Friday. ” That’s going to remain the key for any owner to have success.”

Keselowski said he could continue to fund his team through racing, but that would only last until he stops driving. Then his business would have to shut down because “I don’t have a profit center.”

“Having that profit center is what helps you get through the ebbs and flows that every race team has, so I need to have one of those profit centers,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that I’ll be a Cup owner one day, but that means when the time is right, if we achieve the goals that I have, I’ll have the opportunity to make that decision myself and not have it made for me.”

Anyway, it’s interesting to consider that while economics may have been the primary factor to push Keselowski out of the Truck Series, an eye on the future also played a role.

 

News Analysis: Brad Keselowski Racing to shut down after 2017

What happened: Brad Keselowski Racing, which fields two full-time Trucks in the Camping World Truck Series, announced it will shut down following the conclusion of this season. In a statement, Keselowski said: “The Truck Series is truly special to me given my family’s ties to the history of the sport, and this decision comes with much contemplation. But, for a number of reasons, and as I plan for the long-term future, I’ve decided not to field a team in 2018.”

What it means: In 2014, Keselowski said he was losing $1 million per year on his Truck team and told NBC Sports in June that figure has been consistent in recent years. “It’s a money loser,” he said. “Big time.” With small purses in the Truck Series and with most teams finding it difficult to find sponsorship that will cover the cost of racing (Keselowski told NBC it was $4.5 million per Truck, per season), it seems nearly impossible to consistently make money as a team owner in that series. Although it’s nice for a Cup driver like Keselowski to give back to the sport by providing an opportunity for young drivers (the team helped Ryan Blaney’s career get started, for example), that can’t be expected to continue when too much money comes out of a driver’s own pocket.

News value (scale of 1-10): Eight. Even though the Truck Series has well-known financial issues and top teams like Red Horse Racing have shut down recently, it’s still jarring and shocking to see Keselowski’s team announce it will stop running.

Three questions: What is the long-term future of a series where only 13 drivers have run all 14 races so far this season? Although NASCAR is working to reduce costs, how can teams continue in this economic environment if it’s such a money drain? Keselowski said he one day wants to be a Cup Series team owner and is “seeking to develop an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that would be housed out of our 78,000 square foot facility in Statesville” — so what does that entail?

Social Spotlight with Scott McLaughlin

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their social media usage. This week: Australian Supercars driver Scott McLaughlin, who has been dominating that series this season by leading in points, wins and poles for DJR Team Penske. I spoke with McLaughlin at Watkins Glen, where he was on hand to watch his Penske teammates in the NASCAR race.

I’m curious to see how social media use in Supercars compares to the NASCAR world because in NASCAR, it seems like almost all the drivers are on Twitter and they’re very engaged with each other and with the fans. How is the Twitter community for Supercars?

I’d have to say that the Twitter community is actually not as big in Australia as it is in America. For instance, I feel like it’s very popular in NASCAR, but for us in Supercars, Instagram and Facebook are far bigger, and not so much Twitter.

Is that because you guys have a little bit of a younger audience, as far as you know, than maybe NASCAR does?

I think so. It’s just Twitter isn’t a popular social media tool in Australia. It’s used by a lot of people, but for following, I feel like a lot of people love seeing the photos. They can do that on Twitter, too, but on Instagram…I don’t know, it’s weird. Australians are weird. Let’s say that. (Laughs)

What is your favorite form of social media to use?

I like Instagram. It’s quick, easy, picture, bang on there and it’s a cool little thing. Facebook is good because I like commenting back — it’s quite easier to do that. And Twitter, I like it for the news. I watch it all and follow the NASCAR teams and stuff, so when I wake up in Australia, I can see what’s going on. It’s sort of my news source.

Do you ever go back and forth with other drivers on there? Is there a dialogue at all?

Yeah, I do. I speak to most of my teammates from America on there, DM on Twitter mostly. That’s sort of my text tool in some ways. Instagram probably not so much, but Twitter is probably the main point I use for interacting with my teammates over here.

I noticed a post you just had recently where you took your mom and dad for a spin in your car. So you posted that on Instagram, and it also gets posted on Facebook and Twitter. Do you have somebody that helps you take those posts and put them in different places, or do you have to manually go yourself and put it on all the platforms?

I do it all myself on my Twitter. It’s something I enjoy. When I was growing up, my hero was Greg Murphy, a famous race car driver in Australia, and all I wanted to know was what he was doing. I’ve sort of taken that on board and gone well with it — that’s what I do on my social media, tell people what I’m doing. It’s a cool thing to bring the fans closer to you and it’s something that I enjoy. It’s not a burden to me at all.

What’s the fan interaction like? You said you go back and forth with people on Facebook, you comment back to them. Do you see what people comment on Twitter and Instagram as well?

Yeah, absolutely. You have your good and bad ones, sometimes you have some rude ones, but you shouldn’t be on social media if you can’t (deal with) the hate. I have a lot of fun with it sometimes. I’ve seen Brad (Keselowski) on there a couple times — he is so funny with some of the dudes on Twitter. But it’s all part of the gig. I enjoy the interaction, like I said.

If you get a negative one, do you block them, do you just ignore them? How do you handle it?

It all depends on what they say. If they say something really bad that I don’t want on my social media, things I don’t find appropriate, then I will block them because you don’t need that stuff, but it’s more for my own fans to see that. I have a lot of young people that follow me as well, and it’s just a bit of respect. Like I said, if you can’t (deal with) the hate then you shouldn’t be on it. I’m pretty sure I’m not too bad at it.

Do you have any accounts that you just use for your personal use? Because obviously you have a lot of public stuff, but you might want to have stuff just for your friends and family. Anything like that?

I have Snapchat, and that’s the only thing I’ve got that’s private. I have a private Facebook page too, but people still seem to find you on there anyway. But my Snapchat is something that’s quick, it’s easy and communicates with a lot of people over in America as well.

So any thoughts on making your Snapchat public, or do you just want to keep that as your own space?

I think that’s the only thing I’m gonna keep private. I feel like I do enough that people can see a lot of my life, and then I’ve got Snapchat there just for a little bit of fun.

Over here, I feel like a lot of young people are like, “Ah Facebook, that’s what our parents use,” and you’re starting to get a lot of the Millennials away from it and they don’t really use Twitter either. Do young people in Australia still use Facebook a lot?

Oh yeah. But I am noticing that a lot of the older generation is using Facebook. Even my Nana is on Facebook, and that’s pretty scary. It’s one of those things that’s quite diverse these days, but definitely the older generation is using that sort of stuff a lot.

How much time do you have to put into it? Do you get the pictures from people and have to say, “Here, can you give me a picture from last weekend?” and you go and try to find the right one for Instagram? How does that process work?

That’s what I do. I actually enjoy going through all the photos. I’m on a Dropbox file with my team so I get all the photos from the sessions across the weekend and I just pick out whatever I like and use it. I’m busier during the weekend with all the social media, but then when I’m away like this, I’m here with Penske and Jeremy Troiano, who’s the PR guy for them, and he takes photos for me or whatever, and I take photos myself. But I think if there’s a good photo of me and Brad or of me and Joey, it’s quite cool to get that from him, and then I’ll post it on socials.

So for NASCAR fans who don’t have a good concept, how big of a sport is racing in Australia?

It’s massive. It’s third…one and two is AFL and cricket and then it’s motor racing. Because we race so much and it’s on throughout the whole year, we do get popular at different times of the year, especially around the Bathurst race and stuff like that. But it’s very popular in Australia, and that goes to show how professional teams need to be.

I heard someone say you actually grew up watching all forms of racing including NASCAR. What did you gain from watching NASCAR when you were a kid?

I just gained a lot of respect on how they raced: The boys have at it thing, I loved that. They get a lot more things than we do, but it’s definitely a really cool thing in regards to how hard they race: Loose is fast, stuff on ovals, how they run the high line, the low line, the middle lane, whatever. I really take an interest in how they strategize throughout the races. It’s really cool.

Did you ever have a favorite NASCAR driver to watch when you were growing up?

When (Marcos) Ambrose came over here, I was a big fan of him. But I’ve always been a Jeff Gordon fan for a long time. Dale Earnhardt. Obviously, they’re the most popular guys, but I’ve always had a massive crush on Jeff Gordon’s car, his DuPont car. I’ve always liked that. The (paint) scheme was pretty cool, but I better say I’ve supported Penske all the way too, though. (Laughs)

Where do you think social media is going next? You obviously are on all these platforms, fans can easily see you and follow you. What is the future like, do you think?

I think it’s pretty good. I don’t know where they’re gonna evolve it from now because it’s very close now. I think live video is still where it’s at. It depends on the commercial side, but the live TV and stuff — now obviously I know that’s a very touchy subject with some of the broadcasters, but I think if you can bring a little more of the live stuff, you can join them in the race car live on Facebook or something like that. I reckon that would be sick, that would be something that’s really cool. And then you can get the data, that would be something cool, you know? I think that’s something they should look at, maybe restricting the rules on the commercial side would be good.

This interview was brought to you by Dover International Speedway. The cutoff race for the first playoff round takes place at Dover on Oct. 1. Here’s a link to buy tickets (and make sure to come say hi at the tweetup).

12 Questions with Brett Moffitt

The series of 12 Questions interviews continues this week with Brett Moffitt, who recently completed a two-race stint for BK Racing at Watkins Glen and Michigan. Moffitt, 25, was the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year and won the Truck Series race last year at Michigan.

1. How much of your success is based on natural ability and how much has come from working at it?

I would say up until I got to the Cup level, most of it was natural ability because it was all short-track racing. I didn’t really race any Truck races or Xfinity races, so it was all just short tracks — run as fast as you can and win the race.

After I got to the Cup level, it’s mentally a lot more challenging. I’d say that’s the biggest part I had to work at: Mentally how to break a race down and not get mentally exhausted by the end of the race, just know what strategy you’re on and everything like that. So I would say at this level, it’s probably 70 percent talent, 30 percent work.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and now Dale Earnhardt Jr. have all either retired in the last couple years or will retire soon. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

I would say I need to get a full-time ride here first. But I guess if you like me, that’s great, and if not, I mean, everyone has opinions. So I don’t really have a pitch, but I’m always just gonna be myself and if you like it, awesome.

How is the search for a ride coming? Do you just have to bide your time? Do you have to make phone calls? How do you work on that?

It’s all of the above. Starting the year out with Red Horse Racing, which was gonna be a really great opportunity for me, I was really heartbroken when that fell through (Moffitt was 10th in the standings when Red Horse shut down after five races this season). I felt like I was finally in good equipment and we could make something out of this.

So it’s been tough, but I guess everything happens for a reason, and that light came out of the tunnel (in late July at Iowa) by running the Xfinity race for GMS and now these next two weeks, running back in the Cup series for BK Racing. But yeah, you’re making phone calls, trying to stay in front of team owners and crew chiefs all you can.

3. What is the hardest part of your job away from the racetrack?

Finding a job. (Laughs) Yeah, for me, it’s trying to stay in a seat. I don’t have a bunch of money I can bring to the table, and I need to make a living doing this. So it’s really hard to just keep composure through all of this and not let your emotions get the best of you and just try to stay relevant.

Is it tough, staying patient like that and watching races on your couch at times?

It’s extremely hard. I’ve talked to a lot of people and they’re like, “Yeah, we really want you here, but we would need some (financial) backing to do it.” So it’s just tough. I want to be out there racing every chance I get, whether it’s Trucks, Xfinity or Cup. That’s why I’m just super excited for this month — I get to race at least three times. My birthday is (Aug. 7), so I guess this is a good birthday month. But yeah, it’s hard to watch.

4. Let’s say a fan spots you eating dinner in a nice restaurant. Should they come over for an autograph or no?

I’m all about it. Yeah. Bring me a beer, maybe. I’m good with that.  (Laughs) I’ll trade you a Bud Light for some talking time.

Seems like a pretty good trade.

Yeah! But even if you don’t, I’m good with it. That’s why we do this sport: We’re entertainers. I think I would honored to have people come up to me and ask me for my autograph.

5. What’s a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage?

I really like what they’re doing with all the pit crew guys now (on NBC), kind of spotlighting them because they’re extremely good athletes.

I would just say people don’t realize how much work truly goes into it, especially on these smaller teams who have a quarter of the employees and they still have to run the same 36 races that everyone else does. So just to see all these teams work with limited people is pretty amazing.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

It’s actually my hero, Jimmie Johnson. He was silly enough to give me his phone number for some reason, so anytime I have a question about a track or anything, I tend to lean on him first because he’s always been nice enough to respond. So I guess I’m not too much of a nuisance yet.

I’ve always looked up to him and so I asked him what the shift points were (at Watkins Glen), because I’ve never been here in a Cup car, and he was gracious enough to tell me what he does. He said, “I can’t promise you that with the new package (they’ll be the same), but that’s what I’ve been doing and I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

So totally open book from what you can tell?

Yeah, as far as I can tell, unless he’s holding out on me — which I don’t think he is because we’re not in the same caliber stuff right now.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers? I think you just said that you do.

I do. I think we’re definitely a sport, but at the same time it needs to be an entertaining sport. I think statistically we’re the second-biggest sport in the country, and I you’re not gonna compete with the NFL, at least in my mind. They play X amount of games in a week and everyone’s got a hometown city.

But yeah, I think we’re entertainers and it’s our job to put on a good show. I like the drivers that have been trying to have more personality outside of the car, too, and not just being a robot of just thanking sponsors and (saying) everyone had a good day and holding your tongue. I think that Monster helped influence that, where the more you speak out, the more rivalries, I think that’s gonna be better.

8. What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?

I’ve given it a few times. I’ve gotten it a lot. (Laughs) I don’t necessarily mean it like, “Hey, F you,” but like, “Dude, cut me a break next time.” Some people will race you way harder than they need to for a spot or make it harder to lap them for a spot. I’ll use it every now and then, but I try not to.

What’s your reaction when somebody gives it to you?

I normally laugh. Most of the time I know when I’m going to get it, and then if I don’t get it, I’m kind of surprised and I laugh a little bit. But you know when you’re kind of expecting to get it and when you’re not.

9. Some drivers keep a payback list in their minds. Do you also have a list for drivers who have done you a favor on the track?

For sure. It all boils down to respect. If I respect a driver, I’m not going to give him as hard of a time probably racing him unless it’s the last few laps. If it’s early in the race, it’s not worth slowing us both down.

But also the opposite of that. I mean, I’ve had guys point me to the bottom (to pass) and then get on my door. It’s like, “If you take all the air off of me, I can’t pass you.” So there’s definitely that list of how you race people.

Racing in Xfinity race (at Iowa), I haven’t raced many of those people, so I had to kind of learn that real quick. But the more you race around people, you kind of just have that, “OK, he’s gonna race me like this, I’m gonna race him like this,” and so on.

10. Who is the most famous person you’ve had dinner with?

I always joke around about this, that the most famous person I know is Simon Pagenaud’s dog. So I guess we’ve had dinner at his house a few times, so probably Simon or his dog (Norman).

I hope you had different food at least.

We did. Well, he gives his dog some steak every now and then. He normally cooks a good dinner for us.

11. What’s something about yourself you’d like to improve?

I guess lately I’ve been trying to open up more and be myself — I’d like to keep improving on that. And just keep learning, you know? It’s good to be in the place to learn and I’d like to get back to a place where I’m consistently at the track and consistently in a car and just able to keep growing my knowledge.

12. The last interview I did was with Johnny Sauter. His question was: If you weren’t pursuing racing, what would be a career path that you would pursue?

Oh man, I was ready for Blake Koch’s question. For some reason I thought that was the last one. (Laughs)

That’s the last one I published (as of the time of the interview), so you can answer that, too, if you want.

No, I’ll go with Johnny’s. My dad grew up homebuilding in Iowa and I was around that a lot. So I would say if I wasn’t in racing, I would be in the lines of being a general contractor or something like that.

Did you help him out on that kind of stuff?

Every now and then, if I was home, I would drive his truck around because he used to have to run from job site to job site, house to house all day. So I would drive along with him and try to pick up on a little bit of it.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with, but do you have a general question I can ask the next guy?

Hmm. Has anyone asked, “Whiskey or beer?”

I don’t think anyone has asked that.

I’ll say for the next driver: Are you a whiskey or beer drinker, and why?

This interview was brought to you by Dover International Speedway. The cutoff race for the first playoff round takes place at Dover on Oct. 1. Here’s a link to buy tickets (and make sure to come say hi at the tweetup).