12 Questions with William Byron

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with William Byron of JR Motorsports. Byron, a rookie, is currently third in the Xfinity Series point standings. I spoke to him at Talladega.

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

I’d say it’s probably 70 percent natural and 30 percent working at it. I started racing five years ago, so it’s kind of come fast and something that when I started, I just picked it up. I’ve been able to work at running the different racetracks and learning the different cars. So it’s probably 70/30.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and 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?

My pitch is probably just the fact that I race for Junior and I think running for JR Motorsports is a good way to support us and kind of branch out into something that he supports as well. Dale and I, we get the chance to go cycling and stuff like that, so we’ve had a chance to bond and hopefully bring over some of those fans in the future. We’ll just have to see what happens. But yeah, I think JR Motorsports is a good way to keep supporting.

That’s a pretty good argument. You’re like, “Hey, Junior fans, look at somebody who actually drives for him!”

Exactly, yeah.

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

The hardest part is probably the travel and stuff, just going to different places every week and being away from kind of a normal life. But that part’s all exciting; you get to go to a lot of different racetracks, meet a lot of different people and it’s a lot different than what my 19-year-old friends are doing in college. I get pictures of them going to football games and stuff. It’s different, but it’s what I love to do, so it’s fun.

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

Yeah, I think so. Absolutely. That would be a pretty cool experience to be noticed in a restaurant. You know, I had that (recognition) just outside the racetrack at the same weekend of the race, but if it was just a normal weekend, it’d be neat to have a fan come up and want an autograph. So yeah, for sure.

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

Probably just how much the teams work on the cars. It sounds repetitive, but there’s so much work that goes into this sport, and I think that’s sometimes lost in the fray of what we do. There’s so much practice and effort that goes into each weekend, so it’s just very competitive. That’s a credit to what the teams are doing, what the drivers are doing and all the engineering that’s going on to make that happen. 

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

Probably Dale. We were going riding last week Wednesday, and the peer pressure set in of going to ride with him. I didn’t really want to at first, but yeah. Dale and all of our group chat have just been talking about fitness stuff, that’s been the hot topic lately. So (I’ve) just been doing that during the week.

What’s your cycling experience? Did you just get into it recently with all these other people at the same time?

Yeah, I actually just got a bike. I wasn’t so sure about all the spandex and everything, but it’s fun and it’s actually pretty fast. As race car drivers, you know we love that. Going downhill is fun when we’re all in a pack drafting.

The thing that’s ironic and weird about cycling is when you lose the draft, you’re done. It’s like being at Talladega. So you gotta make sure you get tucked into the draft, stuff like that. But yeah, I’ve been doing it for the last month or so.

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

I’ve never used the middle finger. Five years ago, racing Legend cars, my second race, I was racing hard and I had no idea what I was doing. I got into somebody, whatever happened — and I got the bird. I got the middle finger.

I was kind of like, “Man, this is kind of a harsh way to start.” So I guess that’s just something that I’ve never chose to use after that; it kind of rubbed me the wrong way and it was kind of a tough thing to learn right out of the box that somebody would do that. So I just kind of never use it. 

8. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

Yeah, I think definitely so. When I watched as a kid, what was entertaining for me watching NASCAR was maybe not the same as I think now as a driver. When the cars are hard to drive and things aren’t going well, that’s frustrating as a driver but it’s entertaining as a fan. You gotta balance that.

I think you gotta really express your feelings about the race and not just hold back and always do what you think is best for you and your team. Sometimes you’ve got to make it exciting a little bit and that’s what makes it fun to watch.

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?

Yeah, I think you kind of build (it) up. When you’re in the race car, you remember the number on the car, you remember the way the car looks, the way the person drives. You don’t always remember their name, ironically — you just kind of remember, “Hey, this person raced me this way last week,” or “This person keeps running me over every week,” or whatever, stuff like that. You just kind of take a mental note of that and either apply it or keep it and just make sure you have that in the back of your pocket if you need to use it.

But I think if somebody races you really clean, you tend to develop a friendship or develop a respect in the garage and talk to them before the race and stuff like that. So people like Daniel Hemric or Elliott Sadler are people I race against that race me really clean. I just keep racing them clean and ask them for advice, too.

That’s interesting. So in some cases, it could be like, “That red No. 90 car got in my way again! Oh my gosh!” And you don’t even necessarily know who it is exactly?

I mean, I know who it is, but the car and the number kind of take a personality of its own — and I think of that differently than when I see the guy in the garage. I think we all change when we’re in the helmet. We definitely do, because it’s never the same as you expect that person to be, so that’s probably the biggest difference.

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

I’d say in racing, just probably Mr. H (Rick Hendrick). That’s probably, for me growing up, the most famous person that I could picture and Mr. H and really just Jimmie or something like that would be the most famous person.

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

Sometimes I don’t always say what’s on my mind, so I think sometimes I kind of hold it inside. I think that’s sometimes a good quality to have, but sometimes to get things done, you have to say what’s on your mind. So that would be the one thing I would change if I could.

12. The last interview I did was with Daniel Hemric. He wanted me to ask a driver who started out with some financial backing how you overcame the stigma of being a money guy to being someone known for his talent.

I think that I had the sponsors like Liberty (University) with me early on, so that was my way of kind of connecting myself with somebody, kind of showing that I had a sponsor. But that sponsor wasn’t really interested with what I was doing on the racetrack, so it was more off the racetrack, and I think that did affect me because people were like, “What is Liberty doing on his car every week? His dad must know them,” or something like that. That always bothered me a little bit because it was a real sponsor and they were helping me.

I overcame it just with my on-track performance. Just kind of knowing how I started, how much I wanted to race as a kid — just like every kid wanted to — and the fact that I did get that chance was kind of rare. So I just took that opportunity and ran with it to try and win races and show that I can do things that other people couldn’t. That’s how I got to this point, and now I’ve kind of overcome that and I’m able to just be with JRM and Hendrick with everybody that can support me now.

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

What sport do they watch outside of racing and what things do our sport need to take and apply from other sports?

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Daniel Hemric

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Daniel Hemric of Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity Series team. I spoke to Hemric at Richmond International Raceway. This interview is available as a podcast and is also transcribed below.

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

I feel like for myself, the natural ability was always there, but given my upbringing and having to work on my own cars and build my own race cars and do all that stuff, I had to work at it — like work extremely hard at it.

As you get to this level, it seems like that is even more of a difference. So even if the natural ability is there, you’re also talking about, what, the top 120something best guys at this in the world? So you gotta have both sides of that in order to succeed.

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

I consider myself kind of like an old-school asphalt racer of those guys’ style because of just working on my own stuff and having to do it a different way from hard work and knowing the ins and outs of a race car — not just the showing up part of the racing. And that’s something that I felt has kind of set me (apart) to hopefully have fans from Dale Jr. and Tony Stewart.

Those (fans) who are looking for someone to attach themselves to: Do it with a guy that’s had to come up in kind of the same route in order to work hard to get to where they’re at. I try to pride myself on that, and hopefully it gives all the other kids opportunities that were in the same situation I am, fighting tooth and nail for their lives in order to have the opportunity of getting into a race car.

For me to be able to do that, I hope to help other kids do that someday and hopefully (fans) get attached to that.

Do you think knowing the car in and out so well can give you an advantage when you’re giving feedback to your crew chief, whether it’s for race setups or during a race?

Yup, I feel like that’s something my crew chief Danny Stockman and I actually live and breathe off of. The new package in the Xfinity Series, the new car for myself — we’re at Race No. 8 here in Richmond, and we’re kind of both learning on the go. So just the little stuff I’ve done, especially when we go short-track racing that has helped me in other style of vehicles, I feel like has applied and continues to apply as our relationship becomes better and better.

So I like to think that it gives me a little bit of the upper hand compared to a lot of the other younger guys as they’re trying to make a name for themselves here in the series.

The backside of that is sometimes you get in a situation where you’re trying to do too much of that, knowing the race car and stuff, so you’ve got to know when to disconnect from that.

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

I think from other levels, short-track racing to get to this level, there was never any time. I know a lot of guys say, “Oh, we never have enough time to do what we want to do during the week.” I kind of disagree with that because I remember the sleepless nights, building race cars all night, getting up and driving the truck to the racetrack.

So for me, it’s knowing what to do with the time, not having to come home every night to clean your fingernails and scrub your hands just to go to dinner with the wife and go back to the shop. It’s knowing what to do with that spare time that has allowed me to take on some other endeavors in life.

So you have too much time, or you have more free time than you’re used to?

Yeah, I wouldn’t say too much, but I have more free time than I’ve been accustomed to over the last 10 to 15 years, trying to make a name for myself in racing. But it’s allowed me to take on some other sports and pay attention to other world news and stuff like that. It’s something I never did growing up, so I’m trying to reconnect with stuff that I’ve lost out on in the past.

What’s something you’ve picked up with your additional time?

Golf is one thing that I never saw myself doing, but a round of golf is four to four-and-a-half hours, no matter how you want to look at it, so that’s something I’ve tried to take to. And it’s also helped in racing a little bit, just how you can mentally take yourself in and out of the game really quick. So I’ve tried to connect to that.

Throughout that, I’ve made some great relationships: I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and (Kyle) Larson a couple of times, and Christopher Bell’s a good golf buddy of mine, so all of us kind of go in together and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed.

In golf, you only have yourself to blame if something goes wrong, and you can get mad at yourself in a hurry, you know?

Yeah, I had an old golfer tell me something just two weeks ago that made me think about it. Golf’s four-and-a-half hours, but the backside of that is you’re only playing for 90 seconds. Your backswing and your full swing is three-tenths of a second, so in 90 seconds, you can completely be in left field or at where you need to be. So I thought that was a pretty good analogy.

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

Absolutely. I feel like with where our sport’s at today, having those one-on-one encounters is gonna go further than maybe doing some meet-and-greets with large groups of people.

First off, if somebody notices me, that’s a plus in itself. I’m trying to do what I’m trying to do here. But on the backside of that, if I’m taking the time to make their encounter that much more special, it can lead to them trickling your name throughout other people (and) their family, which can lead to a big following. So come see me.

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

I think it’s everything behind the scenes. For me, I get a chuckle over a lot of the sponsorship stuff and how late some of these deals get put together.

A lot of people from the outside in, just the casual fans of the sport, don’t realize that there’s been plenty of times in all three garages, Truck, Xfinity and Cup, where cars are getting wrapped during the midnight oil and all that stuff, and (fire)suits are getting embroidered and all that stuff that makes the deal go around. A lot of people don’t get to see that side of it, so people in the background, they don’t get all the credit they need.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

The last driver I texted…here, let me look to be sure. I don’t wanna lie to you.

Brad Keselowski (his former team owner in the Truck Series). He’s the guy I always try to shoot a text to here and there, especially going to a new racetrack for the first time. And having a great relationship with him from running his truck, he’s always there to help me with what to look for and what not (to look for), so he’s the guy I always text.

So is he still willing to give advice?

Yeah, Brad’s honestly given some of the best advice, in my opinion. I know that I have a ton of depth in my RCR group as teammates, but Brad — doing all the things he’s done in the sport and being so successful in doing it a lot of the same way I’ve tried to come up doing it — he understands the trials of trying to jump in and not only go fast and perform, but do it at new places and do it in a quick manner.

It’s a lot to take in, so he kind of helps prep me on what to look for, what not to look for and how to get the balance of the race cars right. Just helping me do what I can do in the seat and trying to let the crew guys worry about the race car.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

Note: I forgot to ask this question. My bad!

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

You know, I think I’ve thrown two or three middle fingers out the window over time, I’d say more so in lapped traffic, going through those situations.

But when you’re racing a guy really hard and he’s not giving you any room, even for position or for the lead lap, I find a casual deuces out the window is more of a, “Hey, watch this, watch me drive away from you,” remark. I feel like it makes more of a remark than a middle finger.

So you’re like “peace out?”

That’s exactly right.

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?

Yeah, I think so. I feel like in the Truck Series, the racing was root and gouge. And the way the downforce in the trucks are, without getting too in-depth with the aero stuff, you can’t really get much room, so you find a lot of those enemies and things you want to pay back.

But in the Xfinity Series, having RCR and pretty much six cars, at the racetrack, we’re around each other a lot. So a guy like me and Austin Dillion spend a lot of time racing each other this year, and he’s a really smart racer at letting me go at times. We’ve both found each other in the situation of playing give and take throughout the course of the year.

Yeah, it’s crazy; you never forget all that stuff and it does go a long way.

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

I’d have to call it lunch, but I had a casual lunch in the hauler in my first year in the Truck Series (when) I was teammates with Travis Pastrana. It was such an interesting, crazy excitement, and the guy’s just always wound up.

I had a hard time eating and following where we were going with our conversation, but man, he’s such a cool dude and so down to earth, it was definitely an experience to sit down and have some time with that guy. Hopefully I can do a couple more of those.

It’s crazy how some of the bigger people in life don’t have the larger-than-life personality. I remember that Pastrana was so chill.

He was so chill, and if you can keep him on focused on what we’re talking about, it’s as good as it can get.

As we’re talking here, my mind goes one other place. It wasn’t a dinner, but just recently I had the opportunity to go to one of the top five biggest tennis matches in the world. I know nothing about tennis, but hell, I looked right, and three rows over sitting next to me is Bill Gates. I thought, “Man, here’s a kid from Kannapolis, North Carolina and Bill Gates is sitting less than 20 yards from me. Where am I at? How have I gotten here?” So that was pretty cool.

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

You know, I keep going back to the short track side of things, but you work all the time, and the healthy eating is hard to follow suit. At this level, working on yourself, studying races, doing all that stuff — that’s just stuff that I live for and thrive on, and working out I love. But I feel like I work out so I can eat what I want. I love food, I just wish I could figure out a way to get a more healthy lifestyle that way.

What are some of your guilty pleasure foods?

In downtown Mooresville, there’s JJ Wasabi’s Japanese restaurant. That’s my go-to. My wife Kenzie (Ruston) gets mad because I probably eat there three or four times a week and have no shame over it. But that’s my go-to.

12. The last interview was with Elliott Sadler. His question is: Should (NASCAR) draw a pill and invert a certain number of starting starts right before the green flag? So the polesitter would come out and draw a pill and then they invert X amount of spots. Would you be down with that?

Yeah, Elliott coming from a short track background (like) myself, that’s normal at a regular Friday or Saturday night local show. To go up and have six or eight Coke cans sitting on the wall and have a fan come down and flip one over and there’ll be a Sharpie number, you know, one through six or eight, and that’s where you’re gonna start whether you’re the fastest qualifier or eighth, you could be on the pole.

I don’t like the (full) inversion, but I like where you pick your random spot and you don’t know where or who you’re gonna be around. So I’d be all for that at some of the races, where we’re looking to amp everybody up a little bit.

I don’t know who the next interview is with, but do you have a general question that I can ask another driver?

I’d like to know maybe from one of the guys who maybe haven’t had to come up through it like Elliot Sadler or myself or Brad Keselowski — maybe one of the guys who had financial backing at a younger age — how do they transform from being that guy to being a guy who’s known for his own ability and not that paycheck?

So basically, how do you overcome the money guy perception?

Yeah, how do you overcome the perception of, “His daddy got him there,” or, “His sponsor got him there,” to, “This guy here means business, he’s gonna be here for a long time.”

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race next month, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Elliott Sadler

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Xfinity Series points leader Elliott Sadler of JR Motorsports. I spoke to Sadler at Bristol Motor Speedway. This interview is available both as a podcast and written interview, which is transcribed below.

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

I think it’s gotta be 70 percent from natural ability and 30 percent from working at it. From what I’ve learned in my career, I wish I worked as hard when I was 20 as I do now. I’m way in better shape than I was 20 years ago. I’m more mentally prepared each and every week for races now than I was 20 years ago. I just wish I knew then what I know now (about) working at it and staying right.

But I think natural ability and hand-eye coordination, just starting at an early age and getting adapted to it and adjusting to it as you go, I think helped me get to where I’m at today.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

Hey man, I’m kind of one of those old-school drivers, too. Don’t jump ship and go to these young guys yet. (Laughs) Stay with someone who raced against some of these guys.

It’s neat to see young guys coming in and I know our sport’s healthy, but fans, support the people who have been around for a while. Keep us going; stay on our bandwagon for as long as you can.

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

The hardest part of my job honestly is leaving my wife and kids every week, especially my kids. They don’t really understand why I’m gone for a couple days at a time. My son really wants to come with me every week, but we’ve got to do school and we have some other things going on. So by far, leaving is the toughest part.

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

Oh, 100 percent. You know, I’ve always had this rule: If you’re nice to me, I’m nice to you. So come on over if you want. A lot of fans have been really good about waiting until they watch you finish eating because, look, man, I’m a pretty messy eater. You might not want me to shake your hand or sign anything if I’m eating some chicken wings or something like that. But I’ve always been, “Hey, if you’re nice and courteous to me, I’m the same with you.”

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

Wow, a story in NASCAR that doesn’t get enough coverage. That’s really good. I don’t know of any right now because it’s not getting enough coverage, Jeff. (Laughs)

Everyone’s talking about the new stage racing and the bonus points for the regular season, but I don’t hear a lot of media people or TV talking about the actual bonus points that’s accumulated (for the playoffs). They’re showing all the bonus points that people are accumulating during the races, but they’re not making one for the actual championship Chase that you get to keep through the Chase the whole time.

That’s what they should be showing. That’s way more important. The one point that you’re getting towards the championship in the playoffs is more important than the 10 points you’re getting for leading the stage.

Yeah, it’s like, “This guy just got five points for the race during the regular season,” but you already know that he’s going to be in the playoffs. That bonus point, that’s what is really going to matter.

It is 100 percent way more important that I think the media or TV and all of that kind of miss the boat on. That’s way more important than the lists that they’re showing out now TV.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

I texted Dale Jarrett yesterday, does he count?

He’s a driver.

He’s won a few races. He and I were texting each other yesterday, laughing about some trips that we had to Bristol in the past when we were teammates. It’s good to have those memories.

I think the last one other than him that I raced with was Clint Bowyer.

That’s probably a good guy to text with. I’m sure he always keeps it fun.

Always, no matter what you text him. But you have to text him in really short sentences. He’s not going to pay attention, you know, (past) two lines on his phone. If it goes more than two lines, you’ve lost him. It’s got to be very short and concise.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

No. I don’t look at it that way at all. I think fans are entertained one way or another by what we do, but I don’t look at us as entertainers. I look at us as athletes trying to do our job and win races and run up front, and hopefully you’re entertained by that.

But I don’t think it’s my job to go out there and create a storyline on or off the racetrack to try to entertain what’s going on. My job is to try to put my car in victory lane.

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

I give it often and I get it sometimes. (Laughs) Mostly to the young guys that don’t really understand the procedures of the sport. You know, that’s the biggest thing why we miss Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin, some of those guys that will pretty much grab you and tell you what you did wrong. You can’t really do that anymore, so middle fingers are definitely used.

A lot of people use them. Just be careful what color gloves you wear, because they can pick it up pretty easy from outside.

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?

One hundred percent. I’ve always kept a mental note of, “I know this guy is gonna help me — like when we’re restrictor plate racing. This guy does this, this guy does that. This guy’s positive to work with. I’m not gonna work with this guy because he’s gonna bail on you as soon as something happens.”

So yes, you definitely have a list of drivers that you would rather work with or you can give and take more. Some guys won’t give and take at all with you. Some guys will, and you know that.

Bubba Wallace let me go by him last week, so this week when he gets to me, if he catches me from half a straightaway behind, I’ll let him go. So you give and take and understand who does that for you. Tony Stewart said from Day 1, “You race people the way you want to be raced.” So that creates a negative list and a positive list.

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

The most famous person I’ve had dinner with — Vince Vaughn.

Vince Vaughn, that’s pretty cool. How was that dinner?

That was pretty awesome and this was right when Wedding Crashers came out.

That was like peak Vince Vaughn.

It was peak Vince Vaughn. It was in Las Vegas through friends of friends and we ended up at the same table and hung out that night for a few beverages and I learned that he talks just as fast in real life as he did on the big screen. But that was a pretty entertaining dinner that I was part of.

So you were with a dude who was in Swingers in Vegas, hanging out with him? That’s hard to beat right there.

Yes, it’s pretty cool. That might be the highlight of my life in Vegas. (Laughs)

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

My English, man. I’ve got a Southern drawl. A lot of times when I talk, my crew chief can’t understand me because he’s from Michigan. If I can work on that — is there some kind of tapes that I can listen to to help me speak? I know you’re shaking your head no right now, like you can’t understand me, Gluck.

I don’t Rosetta Stone has come out with something yet.

See? I know she helps you with foreign languages, but how about like a Southern twang? 

Or Virginia. Why isn’t there that?

Exactly! We need our own Hooked on Phonics book in Southern Virginia.

12. The last interview was with Kyle Larson. His question was: You’ve seen all sorts of different drivers come through the ranks over the years. How has the racing style changed, especially with the influx of younger drivers coming in today?

The biggest difference I’ve seen is (that) younger drivers used to come in with not as good equipment. They used to come in on lower level — I don’t want to say lower level, but different-tiered teams. So they gave a lot more and went through the learning process.

Now I think younger drivers are in top-notch equipment right off the bat, and they can be more aggressive and they can afford to tear up a race car because they know they’re going to get another brand new one next week.

Before, when I came along, it was a lot different — you had to learn how to take care of your stuff, and if that meant that you had to slow down a little bit to make sure you took care of your stuff, you had to do that. So the biggest thing I’ve seen there is young drivers that are really good and they are also in really good equipment.

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

Yes. Does he or she think it would be great for the sport if they start pulling a pill and inverting the field right before the race starts? Let’s say you qualify and right before the race starts, and when we’re doing the national anthem — make a big deal out of it — the pole winner has to pull a pill out of a hat and it could be eight, 10, 12, four, whatever (amount of cars) NASCAR thinks is cool, and that’s how many cars are inverted, and you don’t know until right before the race starts.

You wouldn’t want to sandbag too much, but you’d want to maybe sandbag a little bit in qualifying.

Well it depends on what the rules are. Maybe it’s a pill in there with a zero on it. Make it unpredictable, but I think you could really build something around it, like see pre-race what (the polesitter) draws and then see teams scrambling because your car’s gonna run different depending on what you draw.

And you really have no time for strategy because it’ll happen right there.

Do it right before the race, ’cause that’s when the most eyes are on the race, it’s the pre-race, right? Everybody’s getting ready, national anthem, we want to see the start of the race, see what happens. Throw that kink into it.

I like that too because now it forces you to watch the pre-race.

That’s right, ’cause now you don’t know where your favorite driver’s gonna start, because you don’t know if they’ll be part of the invert or not.

I hope that happens.

Well, plug it along. It’s your idea. Go ahead and run with it. You could just cancel the tape, nobody knows it came from me and it could be your idea.

OK! I’m going to edit this part out, thanks!

Great.

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race next month, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Kyle Larson

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing. I spoke to Larson at Bristol Motor Speedway. This interview is available as a podcast and is also transcribed below.

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 NASCAR, it was probably all natural and I didn’t have to work at anything. But once you get here, it’s really tough and everybody else is working hard, so you have to at least do what they’re doing to try and become better. A lot of that is studying. I still don’t really work out, but I try to do that a little bit. So it’s become more of having to work for it when you get to this level, but still natural ability takes over everything else.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

I’m very similar to — I guess all of them kind of have an open-wheel background, so I got that going for me. I’m kind of a throwback racer where I’ll race anything as long as I’m allowed to, and I would love to race every day of the week if I could. So I would say I’m one of the only real racers left out here. So that can be my pitch, that I’m the last true racer.

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

It’s probably that our season is so long and our weeks are so short. There’s so much stuff that you want to get done during the week and it’s hard to accomplish all that. There’s lots of times where I see what my friends are doing, and I’d love to be doing what they’re doing, but our weekends are kind of our weekdays and our weekdays are weekends, where it’s opposite of everybody else in the world. I would say that part of it is probably the toughest part.

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

Yeah, as long as our main dish isn’t on the table, I think you can definitely come over. I’m not like a germaphobe or anything, either, so I’m not afraid to shake hands as long as they’re a decent-looking human being. But yeah, as long as our main dish isn’t on the table, feel free to come over.

So as long as the guy doesn’t have flies circling around him or something like that, it’s OK?

Yeah. If it’s not 105 degrees outside, as long as you’re not sweaty and greasy, you can come over and I’ll shake your hand.

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

I think you guys all cover the sport very well — good and bad. There’s some stuff that probably shouldn’t be covered that gets covered. But I wish I would see more good stuff about sprint car racing rather than all the negative stuff (about deaths and injuries) because that’s some of the purest form of racing. All the media kind of covers is the negative, so I wish that we would get more of the exciting part of it and how it develops great race car drivers rather than the tragedies.

The mainstream media doesn’t cover it every week; they see the danger, they see the accidents and then that gets written up.

Yeah, it’s easier to get people to read your posts when you have a title that is touching a negative topic rather than, “Oh, there was an awesome race in Illinois this weekend.” It’s easier to get someone to click on your link when it’s got some negative in it, so I wish there was more positive stuff about the sprint cars.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

Probably (Ricky) Stenhouse or Denny (Hamlin). I think we’re actually in a group text about golf, so probably those two.

How’s your golf game?

My golf game is really bad. Those two are really good. Denny shot a 74 (on Thursday), so two over par, and Ricky was five over par, so they’re good. I wish I could be 10 strokes better than I am, but I shot 101.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

I guess we are in a way, but I don’t think of myself as an entertainer. I think there are some other drivers that do think of themselves as entertainers. (Grins)

But for me, racing is just my love and my hobby more than anything. I know it’s my job, but I just do it to have fun. But at the same time, I guess we are entertainers where we’re in front of big audiences live at the track and on TV as well. So yeah, I guess we’re entertainers, but I don’t try to entertain outside the car.

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

I don’t feel like I normally give the middle finger to a lot of people, but if you’re like four seconds off the pace and you’re multiple laps down and you hold me up, you’re probably gonna get the middle finger. Thankfully there’s no good drivers that ever really get the finger, so I would say that’s my middle finger policy. Just don’t hold me up.

So it’s reserved for the scrubs, basically.

Yeah, I guess you could say that.

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?

You keep a payback list for sure, but you also have a list of guys that you probably don’t race as hard. I think of Matt Kenseth: He’s somebody who’s a veteran and understands give-and-take, and I’ve learned a lot from him of when’s the right time to be aggressive and when not to be.

So you’ve got guys like him where if they’re faster, you just let them go and then they repay the favor later in the race. But when it gets down to the end of it, you can race really hard. I would say most of us young guys are probably not the best at the whole give-and-take thing, but we can learn a lot off of those guys.

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

Probably Danica. You know, (Larson and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet) are great friends with Ricky and Danica, so we go out to dinner with them all the time. We probably eat dinner at their motorhome more than anything because she’s a great cook. But it doesn’t matter where we’re at — we could be at the middle of nowhere and somebody recognizes her.

It’s funny too, because they’ll see her and not have a clue who Ricky and I are, so it’s pretty funny. So yeah, I would say she’s probably the most famous person I’ve had dinner with. I know she likes being noticed out in public, too, so it probably makes her feel good that she’s the famous person with us.

Does she ever get free desserts or anything from the waiters?

Yeah, there’s a lot of times when we’ll go to a restaurant and they’ll bring out free appetizers that aren’t even on the menu that the chef wants to cook up for her. So yeah, it has its perks to be friends with Danica for sure.

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

Probably staying motivated to do the not-fun stuff of our sport. I guess going back to the work part of it, being motivated for that stuff. You know, I guess when you grow up racing, the racing thing is all you do and it’s natural ability — you don’t have to work at it too hard. But like I said, when you get here, it’s a lot more work and staying motivated to put the effort into being a little bit better is important, and there’s a lot time times I slack off on that. So I would say probably staying motivated to do the business/work part of it.

12. The last interview was with Daniel Suarez, and he wanted to know: If a competitive young driver came to you and asked for advice, how much would you tell him? Would you tell him 100% of what you know, or would you tell him like 90%? How much would you offer?

I always try to be extremely honest whenever anybody asks me anything. And honestly, there’s not a whole lot of people that go around asking for advice. I guess it would be the young guys. At Homestead last year, I felt like half the Truck Series was calling me, trying to get around Homestead because I go really good there.

I remember last Atlanta, I was extremely fast in practice before qualifying because I was running a different line in (Turns) 1 and 2, and Kyle Busch was asking me how hard I would run up there and why I would split the seams and stuff like that. I gave him an honest answer, and he got the pole and I qualified bad.

But yeah, I’m always extremely honest. I think coming from a dirt background, it’s easier for us to be honest — where people who grew up in pavement racing, it seems like pavement racers are more secretive than dirt racers.

The next interview is with Elliott Sadler. Do you have a question I can ask him?

He’s been around, he’s seen it all in every series. I feel like the average age has gone down a lot lately in every series. So how has he seen the style of racing change with the average age going down?

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Daniel Suarez

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Daniel Suarez of Joe Gibbs Racing. I spoke with Suarez at Texas Motor Speedway.

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

I really feel like you need to have some natural ability, but at this point of the sport — in the Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series — I feel like most of the drivers have the same ability and it all depends on how hard the team and the driver work for every single race.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

It’s hard to answer that question. I’m just trying to make my way into the sport and trying to be successful. Those are great names of the sport and they’re actually names I grew up looking at. For me, it would be very good if, someday, fans of these guys started to support me.

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

For myself, it’s just staying away from family for that long. My family is not in North Carolina or in the United States. And with the schedule we have, it’s difficult to travel every week to Mexico to see my family. That’s maybe one of the toughest parts.

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

Yes. Sure, no problem. Actually, I like that. Just 30 minutes ago, I saw a kid walking from the parking lot and he had a Suarez T-shirt. I stopped and signed his shirt. So I like that a lot.

What was his reaction?

He was scared at the beginning, but he was kind of surprised. I just like doing those kind of things.

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

I really feel like NASCAR has got everything covered pretty well. I don’t know, maybe seven championships for Jimmie Johnson? That’s a pretty big deal. I’m not sure if someone is going to get that done again or (win) five consecutive championships. I grew up watching a lot of that. I feel like it got a lot of coverage — that’s not the right answer to the question — but it’s a pretty big deal for me.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

Kyle Busch.

There’s a thing there with you where you’re always asking him for help.

Yeah. There is always something. Everyone on my team has been very good, but Kyle has been very good to me. We’ve spent some good time together. The last couple weeks, we’ve been working out on Tuesdays. That’s been kind of fun, working out with him.

Does he always text you back?

He texts me back, and if for some reason he doesn’t, I call him. (Laughs)

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

I think most of the race car drivers have a good attitude and a good personality. We’re always having fun and enjoying this. We do this every weekend. If you don’t enjoy this and have fun with interviews and stuff, you’re going to get tired of it. So I feel like we are (entertainers), yes.

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

I think (of) respect. I read somewhere this week where drivers are like elephants — we never forget what happened. And that’s very, very true. I still remember every single person who hit me when we were racing go-karts, and I hit them back the next week. So I know who races me clean and I know who races me with respect and I know who races me aggressively all the time — and I race them back the same way.

So have you ever flipped the middle finger?

Uh, yes. I don’t remember who it was last year, but I did it a couple times.

9. You just touched on this a big, but 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?

Yes, that’s what I mean with respect. Sometimes you’re running fifth and you’re slower than the guy in sixth, but he can’t pass you. You have to just try to help him a little bit and maybe next weekend or maybe later in the race, you’re going to be better than that guy and he won’t give you a hard time to get that position. I feel like how you race people is how they’re going to race you.

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

Carlos Slim. He’s a great guy and a good friend. I think my first dinner with him was when I was maybe 17 or 18 years old — I was never so scared. But now we’re good friends.

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

Sometimes just to be more patient. I’m very hard on myself and I push myself very hard, and when the results are not coming together, I just get mad to myself — and that’s not a good thing. Sometimes you just have to move forward instead of getting stuck a little bit. Maybe that’s something I have to improve.

12. The last interview was with Kasey Kahne. He wanted to know how living in North Carolina compares to living in Mexico and how you’ve adjusted.

It’s really different. In the beginning, my first couple years living in the U.S., it was very tough. I didn’t have money, I didn’t have family, I didn’t have friends, I didn’t speak the language. It was tough, but I had a dream in my head, and I wanted to work so hard for it. Luckily, it worked out well.

I think living away from family and everyone you grew up hanging out with and living around, that’s difficult. But you just start again and start making friends. Now in racing, I don’t have a lot of time to be in North Carolina — just a few days a week.

It’s been a big challenge, but right now, honestly, if you asked me, “Daniel, would you move back to Mexico?” I will say no. I prefer to stay in North Carolina, I love North Carolina and hopefully I can bring my family more often.

Do you have a question for the next interview?

As race car drivers, we’re always competing against each other. If a driver that is competitive asks you for advice, would you tell that driver everything, 100 percent? How much are you going to help that driver out to be successful on the racetrack? Because eventually, maybe he can beat you out.

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Kasey Kahne

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports. I spoke to Kahne at Texas Motor Speedway.

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

When I was younger, it was both, because my dad always was on me to learn about the cars and work on the cars. But from the first time I got on a four-wheeler, a car or whatever, I felt like I knew what I was doing — and that was nice. So I’d say I had a little bit of ability driving, but I’ve always had to work at it. Today, I’d say I work way harder than (use) ability, it feel likes at times, so it’s just tough. Racing’s tough. It’s always changing, so you can’t just drive. You have to be aware of a lot of other things if you want to go fast.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours?

Carl may come back; you’ll never know. But the other guys are doing other things that they’re enjoying, so that’s pretty cool. I feel like I probably have some of their fans — we probably have fans that are more of a Tony Stewart fan than my fan but they probably still like me a little bit because of our backgrounds. Same with Jeff Gordon, and then being Jeff’s teammate.

Those guys have always been my favorite drivers growing up because I enjoyed the way that they got to NASCAR and then what they’ve done along the way and in NASCAR and how dominant they were at times. So those have been some of favorites.

But I think just doing some of the same things and having some of the same passions for racing would maybe be able to get some of those fans on our side.

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

The hardest part of my job away from the racetrack right now is probably the schedule. I’m trying to get everything in thoroughly and do a good job at the things I need to do racing-wise (and) sponsor-wise each week, making sure everybody’s happy.

And then there’s also doing my things that I enjoy that I feel helps me in the car — which is working out and putting in the time and effort of reading the notes and trying to be prepared, watching the videos and things to be prepared for when you get to the next track. And then working all that together with taking care of my son, Tanner.

So, doing all those things together, scheduling and giving each one of them plenty of time and then having the most time going to Tanner would probably be one of the tougher things we do.

It looks like Tanner is a really happy kid on social media and I enjoy following him. Is he loving life?

He’s loving life, and it’s crazy because he’s super happy. He probably gets a lot of that from his mom (Sam Sheets) because she’s really happy. He’s excited, he’s happy, he’s a mover right now and he has tons of energy.

We’ll hang out (and) he’ll stay up all night if I let him. But as soon as it’s time for bed and I tell him, he knows because it’s later than when he usually stays up. At night, I say, “Hey, are you ready for bed, bud?” It takes him a second, but then he heads to his bedroom, so that’s pretty good for a 17-month-old that has a ton of energy and is a really happy little boy.

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

Yeah. I’ve never really minded that. I’ve always (signed) autographs or taken a picture. Sometimes like right in the middle of eating your main meal is probably not the right time; for one, you’re hungry, so that’s why you’re there and you can’t wait to get down whatever’s in front of you.

And for two, in my opinion, eating food and shaking hands is kind of dirty in a way.

That is gross.

That’s kind of gross. That’s what gets me.

But prior to a meal and as soon as you’re done, whether you’re having a drink or sitting there relaxing or leaving a restaurant, those times are really good times and it’s nice to do a picture or sign something if you run into a fan.

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

I screwed up and forgot to ask this question and didn’t realize it until after the interview. My bad!

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

It’s actually Dale Jr. Yesterday we were going back and forth. Jimmie was also on there and Chase, but Dale was doing most of the texting. We were just working on team stuff over the weekend.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

I think our job can definitely be entertaining. I think there’s times when it can be, but other times maybe not so much. I wouldn’t say that an actual driver is a whole lot of an entertainer. But I think maybe the sport and what we have going on at certain tracks can definitely be entertaining for sure.

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

I hate using it. I used it more when I was younger, and it’s truthfully pretty dumb when you use it. I feel bad the next week. I probably used it once this year and was mad because (of) whatever happened. Then you kind of feel like, “Man, why did you do that? What good did you get out of it? What point did you get across?” It was nothing. You probably just made the other guy mad and you (feel) the same. I got flipped off plenty of times, but I try not to do it too much anymore. I’ve kind of grown out of that.

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?

Absolutely. You know that just kind of builds up. A lot of it, the list kind of goes away and you forget about it and as soon as that person either does you wrong or does you good again, it comes right back and you instantly remember. As quick as it’s happening, you remember the past — good or bad.

You don’t think about the list daily, but if you have another deal with that guy, it comes back and you remember every single time you had a problem and why and what and so on. That list is never-ending on both ends.

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

Probably Blake Shelton. And that was with Clint (Bowyer). We were at the Super Bowl and we had Blake Shelton. Clint and Blake are good friends, I think. So having dinner with those guys, with Blake, that was a blast. Good times.

That had to be a pretty fun dinner.

It was a very fun dinner, very entertaining at that point.

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

I always just wish I was a little bit happier. I enjoy racing and I’m really happy with Tanner, but there’s a lot times throughout the week where I’m just kind of getting through the day, you know? It’d be nice to just walk around a little happier daily.

12. Speaking of getting through the day, you post workout videos, and that was something Clint Bowyer was interested in asking about. So, he wants to know: Why do you post workout videos on social media?

I don’t know why he cares so much about this. He’s had this talk with me already. He’s texted me. (Laughs) I think he thinks I’m trying to be like Danica or something, is what he was saying.

But I just think it’s just working hard and enjoying. I enjoy working out. I really do. I love it. And when you’re sweating and working hard, you want to show some of your fans that you’re getting after it. You’re doing things to try and improve yourself and be better. I think Clint knows that.

That’s probably what it is, because he doesn’t work out, so he’s probably like, “Man, you’re making me look bad. Stop posting these workout videos!”

That is definitely what it is. But, truthfully, every time I see Clint go run, and he’ll do it like twice a year, he’ll just take off out of the bus garage and then he comes back 20 minutes later and he did two and a half or three miles. And he doesn’t honestly look bad for not running that often, so he can probably do whatever he wanted and get in good shape in a hurry, I’d imagine. But he’s in good race shape, so that’s really all that matters.

The next interview I’m doing is with Daniel Suarez. Do you have a question for him?

I like Daniel a lot. We all know it’s a big step, what he’s doing this year. He’s working hard to do it right and do a good job with it, so that’s really cool.

I’m guessing he lives in North Carolina, close to Gibbs maybe? I really don’t know, but how does he enjoy living wherever he lives? Does he enjoy it as much as where he grew up (in Mexico)? I’m from Enumclaw (Wash.) and I live in North Carolina now and I loved where I grew up, and I really enjoy where I live now. I just want to get his opinion because his (situation) is from a lot further away than Enumclaw.

This 12 Questions interview is sponsored by Dover International Speedway. If you’re planning to attend the Dover race in June, please consider using my ticket link. Thanks!

12 Questions with Clint Bowyer

The 12 Questions interview series continues this week with Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing. The interview was conducted Sunday morning prior to the Martinsville race. Here is the archive of other 12 Questions from this season.

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

I would say with me, I don’t know why, but natural ability seems to be the case. This has always come relatively easy for me. The hardest part of our game anymore isn’t the fact you can drive better than the next guy; everybody at this sport, at this level, can drive and is capable of winning these races. It’s how well you work with your team, how well you communicate to your guys to get the most out of your race car.

2. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards have all retired in the last couple years. What’s your pitch for fans of theirs to become fans of yours? (Note: I know the following answer makes no sense, but it’s Bowyer, so I think he just got distracted.)

Man, it’s just trying to instill that same attitude, the same thoughts and culture. The fit factor has always been really good for everybody. I just like it. I like my teammates, I like the crew chiefs, I love the owners. The sponsors, the partners they have. There’s no weak link anywhere you look in Stewart-Haas. The manufacturer in Ford, Doug Yates, the Roush Yates horsepower. Every aspect of the program is spot on and exactly the way you would want it.

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

Right now when my wife (Lorra) goes to Charleston and left me with that two-and-a-half year old (son Cash). I couldn’t handle the two-month old (daughter Presley). Grandma — my mom — had to bail me out on Presley. (Lorra, sitting nearby with the kids, reminds everyone Presley is actually four months old, not two). Cash and I held the fort down and had a good time.

He’s still living and doesn’t look like he has any broken bones or anything.

No, believe it or not, he’s still breathing. No broken bones. We did pretty good on the potty training. Not bad at all. I was pretty impressed. (Pauses) Not with him — with me.

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

Of course, fans should always approach people. But the restaurant is a little different. Everybody is wired different. I don’t care. I don’t mind it. It is kind of awkward.

Just not the bathroom. God almighty. We went to Outback, took the family to Outback. We all go in there. Cash has to go to the bathroom, which, with a two-year-old, it’s a little bit of a deal. It was after (nephew) Lincoln’s baseball game. Lincoln had to go to the bathroom (too), so my brother Casey had him. I had Cash. (A random) dude finally gets done at the urinal, turns around and wants to shake your hand — and realized (the awkwardness)! He was like, “Eh, uh — can I shake your hand?” (Laughs) I’m like, “Well, damn. I guess.” So just not the bathroom. It’s the only place — just don’t go there.

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

(Spotter Brett Griffin, also hanging out in the motorhome, says, “Spotters.”)

My spotter, Brett, just said “spotters.” Can’t live without ‘em; can’t live with ‘em.

Man, I think the media, I think TV, everybody does a great job covering this sport. I mean, honestly. There are so many meetings, so much thought that goes into every aspect of covering this sport. I think they do a good job. I don’t know that you could fix anything or look at one thing and say, “Wish they would show that.” ‘Cause they do.

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

(Kasey) Kahne, actually. Kahne has been posting pictures of him working out on social media and I’m like, “Unless you’re a girl, don’t do that.”

Shirtless, even.

Good God! It’s so embarrassing.

And then my go-to, fun text of the week is always (Jamie) McMurray. He’s so much fun to pick on, because he cares so much about what his appearance looks like and what people think of him that I love to pick on McMurray. And his new videos on social media are ridiculous.

I’ve seen those.

He looked half-dead after California, too. He was sitting in the plane doing his little debrief video. I’m like, “My man looks so out of it and so worn out.” I’m like, “Go take a nap and let (McMurray’s son) Carter take over.” Because my man Carter is hilarious and I think he would probably do a better job than his dad anyway.

7. Do you consider race car drivers to be entertainers?

Yes. I think this is the entertainment business. If you’re on television, you’re in the entertainment business — whether you want to or not or whether you think you are or not.

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

Well, when you look over and you’ve got an in-car camera, you can’t do many of those. Going back to your question of what could be covered more in NASCAR, unfortunately you can’t even flip a guy off anymore without it being caught on camera or on TV.

Sometimes, I’ll flip a guy off — like a McMurray — we would just flip each other off just because it was him. Not that I was mad or anything else, just because I wanted to flip him off. It made me feel better.

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?

Yeah, I think that goes hand-in-hand. You don’t want to call it friendship, because you’re not friends on that racetrack. If it’s for a win, I’ll take advantage of anybody on that racetrack and I’ll be the first person Monday morning to say, “Hey man, I ain’t gonna apologize because I know that ain’t worth anything, but I hope you understand.” And I hope they do understand. If it’s for a win, I’m hungry.

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

(Looks to Lorra for help. She mentions Steven Tyler, John Fogerty, Blake Shelton. Brother Casey mentions Mike Helton.)

Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to have dinner with a lot of famous people. The people I love — truly, honestly, my brother just said Mike Helton. I don’t think there’s anybody that I respect more in my life than Mike. The reason is, I think he’s the go-to guy for our sport. He’s the spokesperson of our sport. He’s the face of our sport. And he doesn’t take that for granted and always has time for whatever aspect of the sport that needs attention. Whether it’s the drivers or whatever else, he’s always there to listen. The thing about Mike is he’s a good dude, a good person to go to dinner with. He’s a lot of fun to cut up and be normal as well.

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

Damn. Winning, right now. Gotta win, you know? This is a performance-driven sport and you’ve got to go out there and have the performance on the racetrack.

But those stars are lining up. I’m starting to have fun again and starting to get that confidence back, and that’s not only with myself but my race team as well. Buga (Mike Bugarewicz) is a young crew chief and he’s hungry and you’ve got to have that confidence instilled in you week-in and week-out. I see that in him right alongside of me.

12. Last week’s interview was with AJ Allmendinger and he wanted to know: If you could be any animal, what kind of animal would you be and why?

How in the hell does that — that’s what came to his mind?

Man, I don’t know. I would think a lion would be pretty badass. That’s pretty top of the food chain. The badassery in the lion is pretty spot-on. I dig a lion.

Do you have a question for the next interview?

The question to ask the next driver is why do you or don’t you post workout videos on social media?

What if the next interview is with Kahne?

Exactly. I want to know why.