12 Questions with Kyle Larson (2019)

The 12 Questions series of driver interviews continues this week with Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast, but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?

I’m an iPhone user. All Apple. It’s just simple. Life’s simple with Apple.

2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?

Usually when a dirt fan walks up and starts talking about a race, that’s a good way to get a good reaction out of me. Or just have your camera ready, and then usually I think that would put all of us in a better mood and more willing to chitchat for a minute. But I enjoy interacting with people.

So it pisses you off when somebody comes up and they’re like, “Oh, let me get a selfie,” and then they’re trying to unlock their phone…

They don’t even have it out of their pocket yet. Yeah.

3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?

Yeah, I guess a little bit. If somebody cuts you off or something like that, then at least in the race car, you can run into them and show your displeasure. Where I guess on the street, if somebody cuts me off, I just tailgate them for a couple miles.

A couple miles? Wow!

Yeah, or at least until they turn. So I would say it’s similar, just you can’t run into somebody on the street.

I don’t do any hand gestures though because when we’re on the racetrack, you can do a hand gesture because you know you have backup when you get to pit road (for a fight). If you do a hand gesture and somebody gets you to pull over on the side of the road, they’d probably beat you up and you don’t have any backup.

4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?

I’ve had times like where I’m rolling around yellow and maybe I didn’t get (the HANS device) clipped in all the way and it becomes unclipped under yellow, but I usually have enough time to get it hooked back up. Gosh, yeah, I don’t think I’ve had anything too sketchy. I feel like I have really safe equipment. My Arai helmet’s been safe and so yeah, knock on wood, I haven’t had anything crazy happen.

You wear like a strap version of the HANS, right…?

It’s a Safety Solutions (Hybrid Pro). Simpson owns it now, but it’s called a Hybrid Pro.

Why do you do that? More comfortable?

I was like their test dummy kind of back when I was 10 or 11 racing go-karts, back when they were first getting started, at least with the youth stuff. So I’ve always used their stuff; back then it was called like the R3. So I kind of developed their youth stuff and I’ve just always used it as I’ve gotten older.

I think it’s a safer device than the HANS, I think because it clips to you and it still is working somewhat if your belts were to slide off — which I’ve never had my belts slide off. But when I wear a HANS, I don’t feel like it’s that tight on me and it’s not doing as much for me. And it’s a lot easier on your collarbones too, especially for dirt racing. A lot of people break their collarbones with HANS (devices).

5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?

(Editor’s note: I accidentally skipped over this question. New season goof-up. Sorry.)

6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?

Maybe like a couple cheeseburgers and a root beer float. I wouldn’t recommend eating any of that.

I hope that’s not a personal experience.

Maybe a little bit of a personal experience. I really don’t want to talk about it. (Laughs)

7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?

Oh. I believe there’s life in outer space. I don’t know if they race, though. Maybe. Wow. Yeah, there’s gotta be life in outer space. I feel like I’ve seen some UFOs before, so I think there’s life. Do they race? I don’t know. I would hope they do. That way I could maybe go race in outer space.

When you cross over to the various series, you can be one of the first intergalactic racers.

Yeah.

It’d be like, “Dude, Kyle Larson is good on any planet.”

He’s out of this planet. Yeah, you’re right.

Where have you seen UFOs? When you’re on the ground? Or when you’re flying, like, “That’s something weird out the window.”

Dude, so I remember, I was driving through Sacramento, so this is right by ARCO Arena where the Kings used to play, and I’m cruising up (CA Route) 99 and out the right side there’s a bunch of little colorful objects, like zipping around back and forth as random as could be, like all different directions for a least a minute while I was driving. And I was just staring at them, I was like, “What the hell is this?” It wasn’t like a drone, because there were multiples and they were flying fast. Pretty low to the ground. Probably 50 feet off the ground. But just little lights. Maybe I was crazy for a second. But no, I swear I saw something funny.

8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?

I dread driver intros. Davis (Schaefer, his PR rep) could admit that I’m the last one up to the intro stage, just because it’s awkward. It’s like going to lunch in junior high and you’re like, “There’s the cool table and there’s the nerd table and there’s my dirt friends. I’ll go stand with my dirt friends.” So we usually just talk about dirt racing, so I’ll stand around (Ricky) Stenhouse and (Ryan) Newman and (Clint) Bowyer, and Denny Hamlin’s getting into liking dirt racing, so he’s usually around. We’ll talk about stuff because we’ve all watched (streaming service) DIRTVision from the night before, so we’ll talk about that.

But yeah, I hate intros. I don’t go up there early. There’s drivers that get up there (early) — I feel like Martin Truex is always the first one up there and he qualifies good (which means he show go up later). I’m like, “Man, what are you doing up there so early?” Because he’s quiet, he doesn’t talk to anybody. But yeah, so I don’t like going up there early.

9. What makes you happy right now?

That I’m getting to knock these 12 Questions out of the way before I have to wake up early in the morning or something, or when I’m tired and grumpy and getting ready for practice like at Pocono or something like that. (Editor’s note: Larson was bored during Daytona 500 media day so suggested we do this interview now instead of during the season.)

That makes me happy as well.

Yeah, so we both get to get that out of the way. But I don’t know. Doing the 12 Questions and just getting ready to get this season started. It was a short offseason, but I get to go racing full-time again.

10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?

No. (Laughs) There’s probably other sponsors out there that would sponsor us and not do that.

Take your chances?

Yeah, and I’d just go sprint car racing in that (case). So no, I won’t wear a clown nose. I would maybe wear the long hair, but not the clown nose.

11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.

OK, 62. When is this from?

This is from 2015.

So I’ve had this question before.

That’s true, actually. I should look up your answer and see how it compares.

OK. But don’t tell me how I answered it.

Do you ever get mistaken for another driver or celebrity?

So that was back when I had Target, so I was red. I didn’t get Stenhouse all that much. So now I get Stenhouse a lot.

Stenhouse?

Yeah. It even happened today downstairs.

What?!

Yeah. So I get Stenhouse and Chase Elliott the most.

At least Chase Elliott has dark hair.

Yeah. And Chase Elliott and I actually look a lot alike in our baby pictures and such. But yeah, I get Ricky a bunch. Ricky probably the most. And Ricky gets me a lot, too.

What? I don’t see that at all. I don’t understand how that’s possible.

Yeah, I don’t know.

Do you want to guess who you said back in 2015?

Probably Ryan Truex.

That’s correct. Actually, you said, “I used to get mistaken for Ryan Truex but now it’s kind of the other way. It’s nicer that way for me.”

Yeah. (Laughs) I don’t get mistaken for him, he gets mistaken for me.

12. The last interview was with Joey Logano. He wanted to know: What is your plan to help our sport and our community in the next year? What are you goals to make what we do better outside of the race car?

That’s deep. Well, Joey does a really good job at all that. He’s probably like the best these days when it comes to community stuff. I don’t have a Kyle Larson Foundation or a charity really that I have focused on or spent a lot of time or effort on helping. So I guess that’s something I can do in the next year or so, maybe set up a foundation, figure out what I want to give back to and help out, whether it’s sick children or just people in need, really.

There’s a lot I can do. I guess try to take the next step into all that as a professional athlete, because I think a lot of professional athletes, that’s what they do, is give back to the community. So that’s something I need to grow up and do, but I still don’t really know how exactly I’m going to do that.

Do you have the question I can ask the next driver? It’s Aric Almirola.

He recently introduced me to his grandfather who raced sprint cars, so maybe ask him what race stands out to him of watching his grandpa the most racing sprint cars.

Do you regret doing these 12 Questions? That’s the last question.

That’s been more than 12 questions now.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Kyle Larson:

— May 6, 2014

— March 18, 2015

— April 6, 2016

— April 26, 2017

March 20, 2018

 

12 Questions with Joey Logano (2019)

The 12 Questions series of interviews returns for 2019 — its 10th season — with a new slate of questions. Up first: Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano of Team Penske. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed below for those who prefer to read.

1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?

I am an iPhone person, just because I’ve always had one. And it’s funny because the Android people are like, “Oh my God, it’s so much better than the iPhone” and they’ve got to tell you why and all these reasons. And I just go, “I don’t need all that.” I just want a phone. I want to do emails. I want to text and occasionally take a picture and do social media. That’s all I want. I don’t need anything more fancy. Like all these new phones come out and…eh. But the waterproof piece? Big deal. I just tested it this week, by the way.

And it worked out OK?

You have time for a quick story?

Absolutely.

Me and (wife) Brittany were with (son) Hudson at the beach, and he’s loving it. So I have my phone in the back pocket of my swim trucks and apparently my phone falls out of my pocket when we’re walking through the ocean.

Five, six minutes go by, we’re back up by the pool area and I can’t find my phone. I’ve got Brittany’s phone, I keep calling it and calling it. Boom, somebody answers it. And I’m like, “Hey, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, I lost my phone.” They’re like, “Yeah, we just found it in the ocean.” I’m like, “In the ocean?” They said, “Yeah, we were walking looking for sand dollars and it was knee deep.” And it’s like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s working!”

So I run back down there, I meet them, I’m like, “Thank you so much, that’s amazing.” And the speakers were kind of drowning out, but eventually, it dried out, and it’s working fine. I’ve got it right here, and it works. Isn’t that amazing?

Yeah. It really is. I have been too afraid to even remotely test it, but yeah.

So how can you switch after that?

No kidding.

I mean that fact that he found it, and it wasn’t underneath the sand at that point. The waves usually kind of wash things underneath the sand. That’s what I thought would have happened. I’m lucky.

Did they recognize you as Joey Logano, the NASCAR driver?

No.

They just thought “guy who lost his phone?”

Yeah, that was it. That’s me. I was just some dumb guy that dropped his phone into the ocean.

2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?

I’m not a big autograph person myself. I don’t really understand the autograph as much, because I’d rather talk to somebody. If I want to meet somebody, I’d rather have some kind of interaction where you can know the person. I feel like a picture says a thousand words, so I would go with a picture.

With that being said, if you’re going to take a selfie, just know how to use your phone, because we’re in a hurry. And I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t want to take a picture, but sometimes you’re trying to go to the driver’s meeting, trying to get to your race car, it’s a time of work, and it’s hard to do everything at the level I want to do it at. So sometimes it’s hard and it comes across the wrong way. It’s like that for a lot of drivers in our sport.

That’s why I feel like autograph session, if we go to a Walmart or we go to a Planet Fitness, wherever it may be, it gives me more time to talk to the person. And I have more fun doing that, because keeping your head down and just signing an autograph, it’s boring, there’s nothing really there. But if you look up and talk to the person that’s there and ask them where they’re from and why they root for a certain person or whatever it maybe, that’s more fun for me.

Yeah. And they remember that.

It’s just a better experience for both of us, and I think that’s good.

3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?

It’s pretty similar. (Laughs) It’s probably worse on the racetrack because you have more on the line, but when you’re going down the road and someone cuts you off…well, I guess it’s not as bad. You’re kind of like, “Do what you gotta do.”

So you’re more like, “OK. That’s great that you’re doing that. Fantastic for you,” more than like, “Screw you!”

Yeah, it’s not that bad. I’m OK with it.

4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?

Yes, actually. I was actually here in Daytona when we did the tandem drafting stuff and I was in the Xfinity car. Brad (Keselowski) and I were out there tandeming — and this is when I still drove for Gibbs, but we tandemed out there a lot because we worked together well, even then. So he’s pushing me, and like Lap 2, my belts came undone. And I was like, “Get off the back of me!” (Imitates himself waving frantically) Immediately I’m like, “I’m coming in!” Especially in practice, when your belts come loose, you’ve got to come in. I guess that part was a little scary to me. But that was really it. At least I didn’t hit anything, but yeah, it was a little sketchy.

5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?

It was illegal? Yeah, I’d want to know about it. I feel like as a competitor, if you’re pushing the line, that’s one thing, but if you’re straight-up black and white out of the lines, I want to know about it for one, and two, I probably wouldn’t be OK with it.

I agree with pushing it — we have to. All of us as competitors have to push that line and interpret the rules the right way and play within that gray area that everyone talks about. But when it’s black and white and you’re outside of it, I want to know and I don’t want to do it.

Interesting. I didn’t anticipate that. So you’d be like, “Dude, don’t put me in that position. I don’t want you to.”

It’s not worth it. And Roger (Penske) is the same way. He says all the time if we’re going to rob a bank, he’s driving the car. Which means basically, “run everything by me.” If you feel like it’s in the gray area, we’ve all got to be in the same boat together, whether it’s me, Roger, Todd (Gordon), Travis (Geisler), whoever it may be, we want to make sure that we all understand the risk — if it is a risk — that we’re taking.

6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?

I love grapes. I love raisins. But for some reason, they do not sit well in my stomach. So about four days before a race, you’ve got to cut that out.

Four days? That’s a long time.

It takes awhile. I don’t know why, but it’s something that just, I don’t mess with it. It is what it is. I don’t really need to get into more detail than that. (Laughs)

7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?

I don’t know. That is a really random question you’ve got there.

It’s the 10th year, this is like the 120th question, I’m scraping the bottom…

You’ve been watching Star Wars or something. (Ryan) Blaney might have an interesting answer for you there.

I don’t care. How does that sound? I don’t care. (Laughs)

8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?

It’s usually pretty random. It depends on who you’re talking to. Most of the time it’s about kids a lot of times, or a previous race. If you’re around (Paul) Menard, he’s usually talking about hunting, which I don’t, so that’s an interesting conversation for me. I learn a lot just listening. They’re very random, just like it would be if you’re talking to anybody else.

You’re put there, right before you jump into battle. It’s an awkward spot. You go up there, you’re getting ready to race the car against each other, and now you’re standing next to the guy and you’re like, “Oh, hey.” What are you going to say?

So it just kind of depends. A lot of the times you ask about their car and how they are, try to get a little insight on what they think is going to happen, that’s usually about it.

9. What makes you happy right now?

A lot of things. I’m a happy person. To me, when I get home, it usually makes me happy because I see Brit and Hudson there. I guess that’s always the most exciting piece for me, is to see them when I get home at the end of the day a lot of times. It’s probably like that for everybody, right? You get home from work and you see your family and your little man lights up, he smiles or whatever it may be, or reach out for you and say, “Da da.” That’s the coolest part.

10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?

See, this is a scary question to answer because if you answer yes, your sponsor may be listening and go, “Well, guess we can do that.” (Laughs)

I would say no. I would like to say I can keep a sponsor without doing that. I feel like that’s a very desperate move, and Shell is with us for a long time, and I think that’s a great spot to be in. I think it just depends on how desperate you are. Right now it’s OK, so I’ll say no. But later on in my career, things may change.

11. This is the 10th year of the 12 questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past interview.

Well 22 just makes sense, so we’ll go with 22. I bet most drivers pick their car number.

This question is from 2011 and is definitely dating itself here: “Imagine for a second you could be the healthy version of Brian Vickers in 2010. So basically taking a year off in the middle of your career, knowing you have a ride waiting for you when you came back. Minus the blood clots, would you do it?”

Would I take year off?

Would you take a year off in the middle of your career, knowing you had a ride waiting?

No way.

So funny enough, I just pulled up the interview you did for this question back then, you had already answered this in 2011.

What did I say?

You said, “No, uh-uh, I haven’t been doing it long enough to say I want to say that. I can barely go through an offseason when people are going crazy, so forget half a year. While other people are racing? No way.” You actually said, “No way.” You’re very consistent.

And honestly, I still feel the same way before we get down to Daytona, when you’re still stoked to get back in the race car. I can’t stand the offseason. So nothing has changed in the last nine years. That’s nuts.

12. The last interview was with Landon Cassill. He wanted to know: Are you brave enough to share your Screen Time on the iPhone to see how much screen time you averaged last week?

(Navigates through settings and looks up his Screen Time.) Two hours and 26 minutes.

Two hours and 26 minutes for you! That’s not very good for me. I have six hours 47 minutes.

A lot of your job has to do with your phone.

Yeah. I’ve got Twitter on there for 12 hours, so yeah.

Social networking. But I am down 40 percent from last week.

OK. So that’s pretty good!

Most of that screen time is texting. There’s two hours of maps, and there’s an hour and 51 minutes on Instagram, and an hour and 20 minutes on emails. That’s the biggest things. And 41 minutes on the phone.

Why would the phone count for screen time?

I don’t know.

I guess if you just had it on speakerphone or something?

Yeah. Everything’s on speakerphone. I hate holding my phone.

But that’s a cool thing to try. I didn’t know my phone could do that. Another piece about the iPhone. See, why would you switch? It’s waterproof and it checks how much you look at it!

Do you have the question I can ask the next driver? I don’t know who it is.

Hmm. We were talking about this earlier, and Kyle (Zimmerman, his public relations representative) had a good question. Actually, I’m going to go with it. What is your plan to help our sport and community in the next year? What are your goals to make what we do better outside of the race car?

It’s a good question for all of us to ask ourselves before the season starts, I think, all the time, just to take a step back and say, “OK.” There’s obviously our little world and what we do, just driving a race car or writing great stories, whatever it may be. But if you take a larger scale and take a step back to really look at things, how do we help all of us together? I think that’s a fun question to ask.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Joey Logano:

— April 7, 2010

— Feb. 23, 2011

— March 7, 2012

— Feb. 28, 2013

— Feb. 26, 2014

— July 1, 2015

— March 9, 2016

June 5, 2018

 

12 Questions with Landon Cassill (2018)

For the 37th and final time in 2018, a driver answers the same 12 Questions from this weekly interview segment. And for the seventh year in a row, Landon Cassill occupies the last-but-not-least position. As a note, Cassill helped refine the questions before the season in hopes of making sure they were driver-worthy. Now it’s Cassill’s turn to answer them.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

The funny thing is, I have this belief about dreams:  Nobody cares about your dreams. Isn’t that the truth? Like, I do this to my friends and I do it to my wife. She’ll start telling me, “I had the craziest dream last night,” and I immediately go, “I don’t care.” I don’t give a shit. I don’t care about your dream. But you know how people are with telling their dreams, they continue to tell their dreams anyway. So the entire time I just continue to respond with, “I don’t care about your dream. I really don’t care.”

Just right off the bat.

I just don’t care. I don’t care.

But people will go, “Hey, damn, the craziest thing happened last night, I was here…”

…I don’t care. Your mother was there, but it wasn’t your mother, it was actually your aunt.

And you’re just like, “Sorry.”

And she was talking to you, but her lips weren’t moving, and it was insane. Yeah, I don’t care.

It’s kind of like when somebody tells you about their fantasy football team.

I don’t care. I don’t care about your fantasy football team.

Like, “Dude, I have these three receivers!”

I don’t care. Sorry. You drafted Jason Witten and you shouldn’t have because whatever…I don’t care.

So you approved this question to be on the 12 Questions, basically, and you endorsed it — and yet you don’t care about it.

Well, I feel like the answer to my question was good content. So isn’t that why we’re here? We’re here about the content.

But I will tell you the recurring racing dream that I have had my entire life.

I don’t care.

Exactly. That’s the point. Nobody cares. But since you asked the question, I’m going answer it.

I don’t know how often I have racing dreams, but I do have one recurring racing dream, and it is actually a footrace. I’m at the racetrack and the starting lineup with the rest of the competitors and it’s a 300-lap race, but I’m running. And I’m running in a tight circle. It’s not a big track either; I’m not like running a marathon. It’s like a tight little footrace and I’m elbowing people out of the way.

Like, “Oh my God, there’s Jimmie.”

Yeah, I’m like elbowing him, chicken-winging. So my recurring racing dream is that it’s a footrace.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

I don’t think it should matter. I don’t typically get into all that. I think it’s stupid to do the texting the Monday after. Sometimes I’ll converse with other drivers afterwards and just be like, “I didn’t mean to get into you that one lap.” But when I hit people or they hit me, in my opinion, it’s racing and I don’t take it personally and I think other people shouldn’t take it personally.

It blows me away how we go to places like Martinsville and then we get mad at each other for running into each other. It’s like, what did you expect? I mean at Martinsville, I hit J.J. Yeley for three laps in a row and I really wasn’t intentionally hitting him — I was just trying to run really close to him because I was faster than him and I wanted to get as close as possible to him so I could stick my nose in and get the position. And my splitter was hitting under braking and the car wasn’t driving really perfect, so I kept bumping into him.

And he started flipping me off. He was starting to get mad at me, and I’m just like, “Just get over it.” And I haven’t even talked to him about it, because it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t gonna text him after the race. So the whole texting and apologizing, I think it’s stupid.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

You approved these questions!

I did. What is the best compliment someone could give you? That’s actually a good question because you’re causing me to actually seek into my…like what is my vanity, what approval am I seeking from society?

So the subtext of this question is whether somebody is going to give a racing answer — which many have this year — or is somebody going to give an answer about, “Oh, I wanna be a great dad,” or whatever, which many have as well.

My mind instantly went to racing, like what do I like to hear from people. It always makes me feel good when people are just like, “Gosh, I don’t know how you did that.” That’s a compliment. Doesn’t matter if it’s your qualifying lap or how good you are on old tires: “I don’t understand how you do that. How are you so good on long runs?” Or “How are you just able to bust off a lap every time?” I feel like that’s a great compliment. As opposed to saying, “Oh, he’s good at this kind of thing.” Just someone just (saying they) don’t understand how you’re able to accomplish what you accomplish. That’s a compliment, that’s pretty nice, that makes you feel good because it makes you feel like, “Oh, that comes natural.”

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

I’d like to bring Kanye to a race.

Oh my goodness. That’d be very interesting. Like would he go on rants? A lot of times they bring celebrities onto the pre-race stage where the microphone is nearby and you guys shake their hand as you come off the stage. Would Kanye be standing there and like get on the mic and start addressing the crowd and going off on a rant?

Yeah. Like if he was like a grand marshal or something like that or spoke at the driver’s meeting, yeah that would be good.

Or Donald Trump. It’d be cool to have Trump at a race. He would be the team guest, we’d just see how polarizing the fans — if they enjoy it or not.

The problem with that is — and I wasn’t around when President Bush came — but a lot of people told me about the security nightmare that day, because like the Secret Service makes you go through so much to get in and out of the garage, to get into the media center, get in the parking lots. So that’s a whole headache in itself.

I think President Trump as a guest spending time at a NASCAR race would be a headache for Secret Service because Trump would strike me as a person that would just like to go off and do his (own thing) — like he would see a car in the garage and go, “Oh, I gotta go check that out,” and then all of them are like, “That’s not part of the schedule, he’s not supposed to be going there.” That would be interesting.

5. I’m going to have to completely flip this question around for you because the question I’ve been asking all year is, “In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?” But you are a vegan, or last I checked. 

Yes.

So obviously you would do it. So I guess the question is, for you, would you go off vegan for a month to get the No. 1 pit stall?

For one race?

For one race.

Absolutely not.

You wouldn’t do it?

No. Not even close. Nope.

Because that would just mess you up or because you’re just opposed to it?

I just have no interest in eating meat. Yeah. I don’t know.

I feel like it’s really hard to live the vegan lifestyle.

Now there’s always that debate of everything has a price, right? So it starts with the No. 1 pit stall. But if it was, “You get to have Cole Pearn as your crew chief for a year” or ” “You make the playoffs…” Or “Would you trade a Daytona 500 trophy to be able to eat meat for a month?” That raises the stakes. But that wasn’t your question. For a No. 1 pit stall, I’m out.

You’re traveling, you’re on the road all the time, and yet you’re able to keep this up — no dairy, no meat. That seems really hard.

It’s gotten a lot easier, ever since I started eating a plant-based diet. And really, the easiest default for me is to find a Whole Foods or a health food store. There’s places in Scranton, Pennsylvania that don’t have a Whole Foods and you would think, “Oh man, where am I gonna eat vegan there?” And there’s this fantastic health food store in Scranton, I go there and stock up every time I go. I’ve been vegan for five years now, and it’s gotten easier since I’ve even started.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. I’m going 10 years back for this one. However, the tradeoff for this is you were in a good car at the time, maybe you remember, it was your JR Motorsports days driving in the Xfinity Series. This is the 2008 Xfinity race at IRP.

I got a top-10. I think I finished sixth, maybe. Hang on. That is a special race that stands out to me. As you were describing the question, I was like, “I’m not going to remember,” because I have a horrible memory and I’m not like Mark Martin. First of all, I think Mark makes it up half the time. He goes, “Oh we had a 500 (lb.) right rear spring.” Yeah, whatever Mark. I’m just teasing. (Laughs)

But I think I finished sixth at Gateway the week before, and then at IRP, that race went really well for me because I started running the top, like rim-riding the top in that race. I also ran the Truck race that weekend, but I didn’t run very well in the truck. But I rim-rided in the race and I was really fast, and I either finished like sixth or eighth.

Actually it was seventh.

Yup, sixth or eighth. Got seventh.  (Laughs)

You started 13th. Kyle Busch won this race, you finished right behind Cale Gale and ahead of Joey Logano. This was a good time in your career, and you finished ahead of Logano, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer in this race.

Wow. I was a good driver back then.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

I don’t know who the best rapper alive is, but J. Cole went platinum with no features, so that’s pretty sweet. (Note: It was unclear whether Cassill actually believes this or was saying it because it’s a meme.)

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

It’s probably Kyle Busch.

A lot of people said either Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski this year.

I feel like Brad has a good genuine smile — like not his promo smile, but he’s got a nice smile to him. Kyle — come on, Kyle, he’s just got that (face). Kyle, I’m gonna punch you the next time I see you.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Pick one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

I want LeBron to be my crew chief. I think Tom can be the spotter, and Taylor can be the motorhome driver. I like Taylor Swift’s music, my wife likes Taylor Swift’s music, so yeah, she can drive the bus, she can set everything up, she can play with the kids and the wife and we can spend some quality time with her on her downtime.

And I feel like LeBron will be a good leader, a good coach, a good crew chief, and if Tom keeps me entertained up on the spotter’s stand, that would be good.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

Follow Ryan Newman.

Because he’s a blocker, or because he knows where to go?

Because he knows where to go. And because he’s a blocker. He just blasts through the crowd. (Laughs)

The best way to find the pre-race bathroom is I’ve pretty much been doing it long enough at these tracks that I typically know where to go, which ones have buildings and which ones have port-a-potties and where they’re at.

Another good way to do that question would be like, “When do you do your pre-race bathroom break, before or after…?”

Wait a minute. You helped come up with this question and now you’re changing the language in the last one of the year!

Well, you never know until you’re in the heat of the moment on how the question comes across.

This actually got some decent answers this year. Some drivers had secrets.

I don’t know if I have any pre-race bathroom secrets. There is a port-a-potty at Martinsville that nobody knows about that I always go to and there’s never a line. Martinsville has such a tiny infield; the main bathrooms are kind of at the start/finish line, but the cars always line up towards Turns 3 and 4. So there’s one port-a-potty that everybody goes to and there’s always a line with crew guys and drivers and everybody. But there’s one that I go to that is out of sight, and I never have a line. (Smiles)

11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by the Carl Edwards backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car following your next win?

If I knew I was going to get a win, then they wouldn’t have to pay me anything. I would just do it for free. I would just train for my backflip. If they can pay my medical bills — I don’t think I’m capable of doing a backflip. I think when I was a kid I was able to do one, like on a trampoline, but I haven’t done a backflip since I was a little kid. So that would take some training.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Austin Dillon. His question for you is: If someone sponsored you on the condition that you grow your hair out all the way to your knees, would you wear it that length and keep it that way until you were done racing to keep the sponsor happy?

If I knew I was going to have that sponsor for as long as I have my hair that long, then yeah. That’s just guaranteeing (funding), especially if it’s like a big sponsor. If it was enough money to be really competitive or something like that, yeah, it’d be worth the money.

That’s a lot of hair to tuck into your helmet.

It’s guaranteed. If you’re sitting here saying, “You have a guaranteed career-long sponsor if you had hair down to your butt or knees or whatever,” first of all, I don’t know if my hair could grow that long.

Seems like it’s well on its way some of these days.

Yeah it does. Yeah, I would do it, because from that point on, I would never need to seek sponsorship and we could just build our team and make cars go fast.

Do you have a question I could ask a driver going into next season?

I feel like I’ve had some good questions in the past. It’s hard to back them up.

This is the problem with the actual 12 questions themselves now.

Running out of questions?

Yeah. It’s been nine years.

I feel like the ultimate 12 Questions accomplishment is when one of the driver-submitted questions actually gets on the list to be one of the 12 questions. That’s when you know you’ve made it.

Now that I think about it, and I have to go back and check this, I think I stole one of your questions for this year. I think one of the questions that is on here…now I can’t remember this one. (Note:  This was actually last year, when Cassill’s question “What is your middle finger policy on the racetrack?” made the list.)

It’s probably one of the ones that I criticized.

One of the ones I took from last year might have made it on it permanently, and I made you change your question. But you’re right, they sometimes do make it on permanently. A lot of pressure.

It is a lot of pressure. I was thinking something social media related, it depends if your first driver is an active social media driver.

Odds are, yes.

I think my question is, are you thinking about quitting social media? But maybe the follow-up to that question that you have to tell them is, don’t just give me a generic, “Oh yeah, I would love to get off social media.” No, seriously — what will it take to just drop it all, to just put our phones down?

So you feel like the backlash is going to get some drivers at some point to think about, “You know what, why am I on this?” That kind of thing?

Yeah. I go through that sometimes, like, “Why am I spending so much time on my phone?” But we justify it because it’s just like, “Well, that’s part of the job.” Is it? Is it part of the job? It is part of building my fanbase? I don’t know. And then sometimes it feels like, “Oh, maybe my actual life within the confines of my personal space would actually be better if I wasn’t on social media.”

Well the new “Screen Time” thing on iPhones (that shows how many hours you look at your phone)…

Do we have the balls to pull out our Screen Time right now? Get your phone out.

Oh, God. I don’t know…

Get your phone out.

It’s very sobering though. It tells you and you’re like, “Damn. This is not what I wanted to hear.”

Maybe that’s my question. Maybe that’s one of the 12 questions next year, is “Get out your Screen Time.”

“Will you share your Screen Time with us?”

Mine is five hours a day.

I think mine was significantly more than that, recently.  (Cringes)

Really? Well, that’s a guy who probably works even more on your phone. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not. I don’t know.

That’s an excuse, though.

I don’t know. I’ll send you a screenshot of this so you can include it in the article. I spent almost eight hours on Twitter in a week.

(The following images are from Landon’s phone)

It looks like 35 hours of your week was spent on the screen. Not great, probably.

That is not great.

How soon will you let your children have screens? This is what I’m starting to wrestle with already.

I mean, I want them to, because I think they’re gonna live in a software/Internet society, so they need to be savvy. I think one of the best things for me was being Internet-savvy at a young age, spending a lot of time online.

But what are you saying is too much?

I think life would be happier if we didn’t have all that, but I don’t know. But I’m not gonna keep my kids from having technology when technology is what teaches you the skill sets that are important for our future.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Landon Cassill:

Sept. 1, 2010

April 27, 2011

Nov. 14, 2012

Nov. 12, 2013

Nov.  11, 2014

Nov. 17, 2015

Nov. 15, 2016

Nov. 15, 2017

 

12 Questions with Austin Dillon (2018)

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I’ve had a couple of dreams about racing, and one in particular was about the Daytona 500. I had this dream where I looked in the rearview mirror and no one was behind me and I was coming to the checkered flag. I haven’t had those memories (about dreams) very often, but I did have that one, which is crazy. I thought about it leading up this offseason, and that was a dream and it all happened. It’s weirded me out for a while, but it’s a cool one.

I haven’t really had any more. I’ve had one or two others that I’ve brought up at just random tracks that I’ve been on. When you get to focusing on them so much and you’re on the simulator, you can see the track in your mind and your mind just never sleeps.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

I think reaching out to the person is fine if it wasn’t intentional. If you didn’t do it on purpose and it was just a mistake, you overdrove and you hit them, it’s like, “Hey man, I screwed up there. I was over my head.” And that’s a good time to let someone know.

If you did it on purpose, I think they know themselves pretty much already. And then there’s a conversation about why you did it — if it was to get back at them for something earlier or it’s just, “Hey man, I had to go. That was kind of the deal and I’m sorry for it, but you understand.”

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

I think the biggest compliment you could get is (about) the person you are. Like you know, you’re a good person. Where your morals are: “Man you get it, you understand it.” That’s a good compliment to me. I’m more proud of the person you are than the driver you are away from the track. I’m a competitor, I’m very competitive, but hopefully still the person is what shows more than the driver and what I do out on Sundays, because that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

Who would be the guy I’d like to hang out with the most out of all these people? The cool thing is, I’m a huge Panthers fan, so all my Panthers buddies there, they’re awesome and real. Whoever I did ask to bring to the track, I would want them to be someone that I can just have like a friend. I want to be shell-shocked to be around them, but have them talk and hang out like it was another one of my boys, my buddies. So I’d want the relationship to be instant, whoever it was.

I don’t know why this popped into my head, but Will Smith seems like a cool person. I think that’d be pretty cool. That would be somebody I’m interested in having at the track. Seems like he’s nice, too. I watch some of his Instagram stories with his family, and he’s just him. That’s cool.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

Oh yeah. No problem. I do a lot of things to my diet to keep discipline, just as a person. I’ve just gotten back on it, actually I was there for awhile, just slacking. But my diet is pretty important, and it’s mostly because I’ve talked to (Christian) McCaffrey, and he got me started back on eating right and just taking care of my body. I don’t eat bread, cheese, chicken — and if I do pasta, it’s gluten-free, wheat-free. I just started that, and I’ve leaned down a little bit.

Do you feel better?

Yeah. I feel better, and some of it’s just about seeing it and not eating it, right? Like just teaching yourself you don’t have to have that to function, you know what I mean? And that’s cool because I used to eat a lot of Chick-Fil-A just because it’s convenient. Chicken’s great, but that’s something that I just kind of cut out, just to be disciplined.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished.

This is gonna be tough.

I’m going back to 2016 for this one, and it’s the Michigan spring Cup race. Do you have any memory of this?

I think so. I’m hoping it is the package that we tried with the high spoiler and I was racing Matt Kenseth back and forth. I think I finished fourth in that one? Or sixth?

I have eighth here.

Eighth, OK. Is it the high spoiler package? There was one in there I was running really well, but we started in the back and we stayed out on fuel and took the lead, but eighth might be correct. Well it is correct, obviously, but I’m just wondering if it’s the high spoiler package.

It might have been the fall race. Are you good at remembering races in general?

Not really. Not really the finishing orders — I’m not good at knowing where I finish somewhere. I know the vicinity, and I can tell you the details of each race. Like if you bring it up, I can tell you what was going on during the race and what happened, but I don’t focus on the finish number usually. Unless it’s a win.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

My era is Lil Wayne. I remember riding with one of my friends to go snowboarding every Thursday up in Boone and we would listen to Da Drought, we’d listen to that mix (tape) all the way down every day. We memorized all the lines, and it was pretty witty. I always loved that.

He just came out with The Carter V this weekend (this interview was conducted last month). Have you gotten to listen to it?

I haven’t listened to it, but I’ll be on it. Maybe tonight I’ll get on it after this race.

Because he says he’s the best rapper alive…

He is. (Sings) “Best rapper alive.”

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

I mean, it’s gotta be Kyle (Busch). I don’t know who he got punched by in Vegas, but I just picture his face when he had the blood running down and everything. That’s why (the answer), I guess.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Pick one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter, and one to be your motorhome driver.

Wow, that is tough. I’ll let Taylor spot because I think a woman spotter would actually be a good thing. I’ve always kind of thought that. There’s not any I don’t think on the spotting (stand), and I think they would take a lot of the bias out and just spot and give you what they see. Because women are kind of like that. I feel like women take out bias sometimes, which is nice. And so a woman spotter I think would be a good thing. I think Taylor would do good up there.

I would get Tom Hanks to crew chief because I feel like he would make light of tough situations, but he would stay in the game.

LeBron would be the bus driver because when I was chilling, we could go shoot hoops.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

That is a tough one. It happens last second. Not gonna lie, I’m gonna give you this story because this will be entertaining for your followers.

So a couple races in a row, I was struggling to remember to go pee early enough. Like I would go to the bathroom, but I’d drink enough water during the time walking to intros and going through intros, and then I would go straight to my car.

It’s very routine. When you get done with intros, you need to go use the bathroom, then go take the pictures by the car. Well I was going to the car a couple times in a row (before the bathroom), and the pictures would start and the national anthem would start and it would kind of happen all at once.

Well, I would have to pee after the national anthem. So I was like running to find a bathroom after that. You really have to get ready (to race) at that time, it’s bang bang at that point. So I always look for a port-a-john, I try to hit it before I get to my car to get my pictures taken.

Well this time (at Bristol), I got to the car and everything happened quick. National anthem’s over and I had to pee and I was not gonna get in the car and pee during the race — because it’s hard to pee yourself when you’re strapped in. So I just actually peed myself right by the left rear tire.

I had two of my guys stand there. I was like, “I’m just gonna pee myself right now.” And I peed standing like right there with my suit on, and the suit, you could see it change color. Then I just got in the car.

Couldn’t you just pee on the tire?

Well, Bristol is 400 stories up, so I figured there’s just that one person up there zoomed in taking a picture of you getting in your car and might get a real good picture of me peeing on the left rear tire. I thought about peeing in between the wall there, but it’s just so high up there at Bristol, so I’m just like, “Screw it. Just let it rip now and it’ll all be good. It’s a long race. Sweat will kind of dissipate (the pee).” But yeah, that happened this year.

So you had to race 500 laps in your pee from the start.

Yeah, from the start. Yeah, you know it’s gonna be a long one when that happens.

11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car following your next win?

I just don’t think I could complete the backflip, so I am going to take a risk of hurting myself. I could try it for $2 million, and it’s probably going to land in a back-flop, so I’m probably going to need surgery. Hopefully that covers it.

So $2 million plus medical.

Yeah, plus medical. There you go.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Chris Buescher. His question for you is: If you win at Charlotte again like you did in the 600, now that there’s artificial turf in the infield, will that alter your belly-slide celebration?

I’m definitely going to use the turf, that looks interesting. I wonder if it’s just gonna stick, though. Could be dangerous. Will definitely try it. All the football players are playing on turf, they get little burns. Hopefully I don’t get any turf burn or anything like that, but I’ll figure that out when it comes down to it.

It’ll still be worth it.

Yeah, for sure.

The next interview I’m doing is with Landon Cassill. Do you have a question I can ask Landon?

If someone would sponsor you to grow out your hair until it reached your knees, would you wear it that long and keep it that way for the rest of your racing career? Would you wear it to your knees until you were done racing?

So the question is the only way he’s going to get a sponsor is if he’s willing to do that, and would he do it?

Yeah. That, or even rock dreadlocks to the track, dread out his hair and just roll with it.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Austin Dillon:

July 25, 2012

Nov. 6, 2013

May 20, 2014

Sept. 30, 2015

May 25, 2016

Nov. 8, 2017

 

12 Questions with Chris Buescher (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with JTG Daugherty Racing’s Chris Buescher, a Texas native who heads to his home track this week. These interviews are recorded as a podcast, but are also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I would say probably once a week. It’s pretty often, I would say. If it’s not racing, usually it veers off to snakes or something.

You have a fear of snakes?

I love snakes, but my wife’s terrified of them and I think somehow that transfers into my dreams, which is not fair.

That’s not cool.

No, it’s really not.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

If it’s intentional, I don’t think you have any plans to apologize. I think that’s probably understood.

You’re gonna rub a little bit and you’re gonna race, and it’s kind of understood. I get run into, I don’t expect anybody to come say anything to me. If I get plowed or I get dumped for something what I consider dumb, I would expect something to be said.

Not that it makes it any better, but sometimes it is just the fact that someone did say something, at least they took the time to either own up or say, “Hey, I did that on purpose,” or whatever it was. But to have some kind of acknowledgment of it is nice sometimes.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

I’d say it probably wouldn’t go anywhere around racing. I’ve had people that seem to appreciate how normal I am away from this deal. I’ve made a lot of friends that just wouldn’t have expected it early on, and I just got to know a lot of people that said that it was actually a lot easier to talk to and become friends with (me) than they thought. And I always thought that’s pretty neat, kind of always my goal. I mean, I like to be as normal as possible, so I think that’s a compliment for me.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

I am very disconnected from that whole side of our world. I don’t have cable at the house. I don’t have anything but internet. So I don’t know a whole lot going on.

For me, it usually comes down to other action sports. Like Travis Pastrana, I got to race with him at Roush, and he was awesome to be around and that was really cool. There’s a couple of artists that I’d like to talk to or be able to show around our garage area, like Randy Houser. I get a little mixed up in my music choices — it varies from country to hard rock. So a little bit all over the board there.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

I’ll be in pit stall 39, man. Hate to tell you, but you’re gonna find me at the back of that list.

You’d be the last one to do it?

That just wouldn’t work for me. We have way too many sponsors that could not handle me being vegan. But beyond that, I’m a meat and potatoes and Bush’s Beans kind of guy. I couldn’t ever do it, no. As great as that first pit stall is, I’d just have to apologize to the team and figure something else out.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the 2015 Darlington Xfinity race from the year you won the Xfinity championship.

Was that fifth?

Yeah, it was fifth actually! Wow, you knew that right away.

I remember a lot about that weekend. We were racing Chase (Elliott) for the championship that weekend with Ernie Cope as (Elliott’s) crew chief, and he’s our competition director now. I like to give him a lot of crap, so this actually came up a few weeks ago, just talking about the Darlington race.

Practice was not that good for us. We were somewhere in the mid-teens, qualified OK, got started, I hit the fence Lap 1 — and the car got better. And we were actually able to drive up and run good all day.

It ended up when we left there, it kind of felt like it was a good turning point for us because we had hit a rough patch and it wasn’t looking up, and actually the 9 had their issues that weekend as well and ended up being a huge points day for us.

Yeah, I remember that one pretty well. It was the first time we ran the AdvoCare yellow and green checkerboard car, and I’m a pretty big green fan. I have the entire door off that car, actually.

So was this just a unique race, or are you always that good at remembering races?

No, that was a unique race. I love Darlington. You picked the race I remember a lot about. That one just had a lot more story behind it. There was a lot more going on that weekend than just a normal race. You could ask me where we ran at Kentucky in 2015, I couldn’t tell you what the car looked like, where we ran, anything. But Darlington, I remember that weekend really well because it was a big weekend for us for that entire season, really.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

I do not know much rap. I don’t honestly know what classifies rap from hip hop or any of that.

There’s some crossover there.

But I like older stuff, like Nelly. That’s really about all I know. Shaggy’s probably not rap, is he?

He does some rap, but I guess I wouldn’t really count him as a rapper.

I don’t venture far into that side of things.

You stop with the hard rock.

Yeah, pretty much. I listen to a little bit of Eminem and the older stuff again, but I don’t know a whole lot about that world.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

(Laughs) Oh man. Who ran into me last week? Where were we? Nobody really ran into me last week. Man, if you’d asked me the week after Bristol, I could have come up with something pretty quick. I had several people I could have gotten around to. But that seems like a loaded question.

It kind of is.

Sorry, I don’t have have an answer.

Next time I see somebody run into you, I’ll come running.

There. I would give you an honest answer then.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Pick one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter, and one to be your motorhome driver.

We’re gonna go with LeBron for crew chief. It seems like he’s assertive and likes to talk, so I think that will work out, make some decisions.

I’ll put Taylor as the spotter. Might make Radioactive, it might be a dramatic radio experience that weekend.

And we’ll put Tom Hanks driving the bus. I feel like that would be good. That’s the one you get to hang out with the most during the weekend, so yeah. I think I could handle that.

And then Taylor yelling at you or saying, “No don’t go there!” would be on Radioactive.

Exactly! I feel like I’d get yelled at a lot. I would be yelled at a lot the week after, right? She’d have all kinds of stories about it then.

Yeah, she’d write a song about her experience.

Exactly. To be the theme song for Radioactive the next week.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

I wing it.

You don’t strategize?

Do people do that? People honestly say they do?

Seems like they do. They scout it out.

No, I don’t. You’ll notice that when we come around from the back of the truck for a ride-around, we’ll get to Turn 4 and I’ll wave, but my head’s the other way. It’s nothing against anybody sitting in the Turn 4 area in the stands — like I am waving to you — but I am hunting at that point, just trying to see something on pit road. But it’s usually just trying to find something on pit road. I didn’t know there was a routine for that.

Seems like some of the guys have one. You might need to look into that.

You might need to tell me who’s got routines so I can ask and figure this out.

11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car following your next win?

Will they pay whatever I ask, is the real question.

You have to name your price or else they won’t have anybody.

I’ll do it, and I’m not afraid to do it, so it sounds like I need to give them a number that makes some money.

Pick a sky high number.

Yeah, I’ll just tell them a million dollars to do it and no problem. I’ll do it. I’m not afraid.

This backflip fund of theirs has been saving up money, they just need somebody.

You know, (Daniel) Hemric will probably do it for free. So they really should, in cost-savings mode — I know they like cost-savings ideas — Daniel Hemric will do a backflip for free.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Ryan Blaney. He wanted to ask about your famous Pocono win. He wanted to know: When you saw the big fog rolling in, did you know that you were going to win right then? What was going through your head?

First of all, I think his win is probably more famous than mine at Pocono. But I messed up. I didn’t realize we were in the lead, and we were running second, and the 1 pitted right before that fog rolled in.

Then it got really foggy all of a sudden and the spotter came over the radio and said, “Hey, I’m having a hard time seeing you back there, can you see anything?” I said, “Oh yeah, I’m good, no problem!” (Laughs)

They’re like, “No, you idiot!”

So two laps later, I got, “Hey, I really can’t see you, are you sure you can see?” I was like, “Yeah, it’s gotten pretty bad.” So I almost messed up my first Cup win.

But once it set in, everyone had radar, everybody knew it was coming. I figured when they evacuated the grandstands, we had to be minutes away. And then the next 30 minutes went by. They evacuated pit road. People put their pit boxes away. Figured, “Ah, we’re probably minutes away.” And we waited another 20 minutes until the lightning actually started hitting around the racetrack, and then said, “Alright, we’re gonna go to shelter, but we don’t know yet.” And then on our way to shelter, as the rain starts coming down, they said, “Oh by the way, we called it” — 80 minutes after we started our red flag. And it blew my mind that we waited that long.

So it was pretty awesome. It was a makeshift victory lane. Didn’t get to do a burnout, didn’t get to go to the famous Pocono victory lane. Did it under the crossover in the garage over that you drive under making laps around the garage, and went to the media center. The bottom fell out while I was at the media center, and I had to walk back to the hauler.

Everybody else was loaded up and gone because they knew it was called — everybody knew except the eight of us that were standing on pit road. And so my hauler was the only one in the garage area at this time, and the garage was under about eight inches of water across the center, and I had to go waddling through it in my suit and shoes. I had no way to get across this small river. It was a little bit miserable after experience.

Then the best part was we flew to Utah for a driving school that night.

Straight from there?

Straight from there. And we took Jack (Roush’s) plane, which required two fuel stops to get there, which meant it was like an eight- or nine-hour flight from when I left Pocono. Not much time to celebrate. So I think we ended up at Denny’s in Utah that night and (Ricky) Stenhouse bought dinner.

That’s a celebration right there.

That was a celebration to remember.

The next interview I’m doing is with Austin Dillon. Do you have a question I can ask him?

I wanna know if he wins a race at the Roval, how does he think his belly flop slides are gonna go on the new (artificial) turf? Does he think that’s still a possibility or is he gonna have to come up with a new celebration? I know he’s won at Charlotte before.

Yeah, you would think there would be some sort of a turf burn situation.

Like the turf’s got sand in it and stuff. It’d be gritty. It’s a thought. He might have to rethink the celebration.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Chris Buescher:

July 14, 2015

July 27, 2016

Sept. 13, 2017

 

12 Questions with Ryan Blaney (2018)

(Photo: Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Ryan Blaney of Team Penske, who won the recent race at the Charlotte Roval. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed below for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

It depends. I dream about races that never happened sometimes that you really don’t understand what’s going on. I’ve dreamt about bad races before, reliving wrecks or something. I guess you could call those nightmares. So yeah, those really are the only two times I’ve dreamt about racing, if it’s just a random occurrence or something that’s never happened before and I can’t really make any sense of it. Or the wrecks, there’s a few bad ones that you sometimes dream about I guess.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?

I definitely think it does, especially if it was unintentional. I think you should apologize for sure if it was your fault, and you hope the other person understands. Now if it was intentional, I don’t think you go apologize. You did it intentionally, you’re not gonna go be sorry for it. If it’s an accident and I screw up and I get loose under somebody and spin them out or we both spin out, I’ll try to find them as soon as I can or call them and say that was obviously my fault. But yeah. Different answers for intentional or unintentional stuff.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

Something that’s really cool to me is when parents tell me that their kids look up to me. That’s a super cool compliment because they’re talking about how their kids are huge fans of me and they love racing, they want to be just like you on and off the track. Like man, that’s pretty cool. I don’t know if I’ve met you guys before, but this kid wants to be like me and he doesn’t really even know me, he just knows me from around the racetrack or from racing and the social stuff that’s out there. That’s really cool and makes me feel good because that’s part of the reason why we do it.

You want to be as good of a role model as you can. I remember I was a kid who loved racing and was running around the garage and wanted to be like this driver or that driver just because I liked what they did. So to kind of have the roles now, me being in that spot, that makes me feel really good when parents tell me that or their kids come up to me and are wearing my shirt and they’re super happy to see me, because that just shows they’re big fans and they look up to me. It’s like a big brother moment, I guess. I think that’s the best compliment I can be paid.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

I’ll do a male and female version. I’m a big, big Ryan Reynolds fan, I think he’s an awesome actor. I’d love to have him. Did you say who’s the person or what would we do?

Just who would you like to take around?

Ryan Reynolds, that’s the guy. And the girl…ooh that’s tough. A lot of celebrity crushes. I’m a big Daisy Ridley fan. Do you know who she is?

Yeah. Well, you met her. She didn’t know who you were at the Lakers game.

She had no idea. But yeah, maybe that can be a second meeting. She probably doesn’t remember the Lakers thing, but I always will. But yeah, those will be my two.

Just next time be like, “Hey, by the way, I’m a NASCAR driver. Just come on out.”

Invite her out, yeah.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the pole for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

It’s only one race for the first pit stall? One month of vegan? That’s a hard one, that’s a good one. My sister is vegan, and I don’t know how she does it.

Which one?

The little one, Erin. And she’s in college and being in college and being a vegan, that’s tough. And I’ve seen what she has to eat, and it’s not pleasant. But I don’t know. I feel like I could only do the vegan thing for two weeks. I like meat too much and I eat way too much of that stuff. So I don’t know if I could do the vegan thing. I would try, but I just don’t think I would succeed.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished. This is the Kentucky Truck race from 2014. Do you remember this race at all?

Yes I do. I ran third. Kyle (Busch) won the race and Bubba got second.

Holy crap! Wow! That’s impressive.

It took me a second to think about but yeah, I remember that race. We had a shot to win, and the last restart didn’t really work out. Yup, I remember that. That was the old Kentucky.

Are you good at remembering races in general, or does that one just happen to stick out?

I’m pretty good at remembering races when people bring up what race it was, what year. I can usually remember that. But if I’m standing here, I’m not gonna be like, “Yeah, that race in 2015, so and so.” But if you bring up a race, I can usually think back and remember it. I don’t just think about races all the time. But when it gets brought up in discussion, I can easily usually think back on it.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

I don’t really listen to rap music. I don’t know. I think Eminem is a good rapper. I feel like there’s only a few rappers I listen to, but Eminem, Notorious B.I.G., I listened to Tupac as a kid. Kendrick Lamar is really good. I saw a J. Cole concert a couple years back when he came out with that album, he was really really good. Post Malone’s good, I saw him in concert in Charlotte like a month ago, and I got to hang out with him for a little bit. Super nice guy.

Would you get the Post Malone eye tattoos under your eyes?

You know, that might be an offseason thing for me. And then laser them off.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

That’s an interesting one because I’ve seen you, heard you ask that question before. It’s not even really who would you punch, it’s who has the most punchable face. That’s almost like calling someone ugly, I don’t know. (Laughs) There’s certain people that sometimes I look at them after the race and I’m like, “God, I want to kick your ass.” And it’s really nothing against them, it’s just how they raced me, if they fenced me in or something.

But most punchable face, there’s one I would say but I don’t know how to say it. Have a lot of people have said Kyle Busch?

Yeah, he and Brad kind of get most of the answers.

OK. I guess those guys have punchable faces. I don’t know what a punchable face is, but I could say those two would be a tie. I’m just going to go with what everyone else says.

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks.

I would like to hear Tom Hanks’ voice on the radio all the time, so I would do the spotter thing for him. LeBron should be the crew chief because of his work ethic. And Taylor can be the bus driver, because who wouldn’t want to be in a bus with Taylor Swift? (Laughs)

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

I think there’s multiple people involved in this. There’s myself, so when we’re walking out to intros and you’re kind of figuring out where the car is staged, look around for some port-a-johns. Ian (Moye), my PR guy, he’s good for looking for some bathrooms. And then my interior guy is also really good. So it’s a group effort. If neither of us see one while walking out, I’ll ask Kyle (Belmont), my interior guy, and he’ll usually have a good spot for me to go.

Is that because he doesn’t want to have to clean up if you can’t find the bathroom?

Well, I’ll never do that to him. I’ll rupture inside before I do that to him. But no, he’s always just on the lookout because, you know, those guys are on the grid for a while, so they have to scout out all the bathrooms. Yeah, so it’s a group effort, teamwork. Teamwork in everything nowadays.

11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the former Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

Not much. I just have to practice it. If I’m going out there green, I don’t know if I can do it. That’s hard. It’s hard enough to do a backflip on a trampoline. I can do plenty of stuff on trampolines, but off a car, that’s tough. If I could get like five shots at it off a car door into like a foam pit first, then I’d do it for nothing.

Just for the good of the sport.

Yup, for the good of the sport. That’s what we’re in this for.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Michael McDowell and David Ragan. Their question for you is: Why don’t you ever go sprint car racing?

The reason why I didn’t grow up sprint car racing, number one, was I grew up in North Carolina, and by the time I was old enough to drive, my dad was already racing NASCAR and there’s just really no dirt tracks around. It’s asphalt, Late Model stuff. And Legend cars and quarter midgets, but that was kind of the main deal in North Carolina and where we were.

But why I don’t do it now is I’m really not allowed. It’s not encouraged for me to go do it. I’ll tell you a story. It was 2012, I’d just signed with Penske, and we were at the Texas (Xfinity) race and I was doing that one in the 22 car. My dad, until 2011, 12, 13, was building his own sprint cars and was testing them and racing them. So I’d help him build them a little bit, and I go run some laps in them to go test it. And I was testing it in the week before Texas.

We got done with practice at Texas and Tim Cindric, president of Penske, comes in and we’re talking about the car. I’m just starting at Penske and he walks out and he turns around like, “Oh, by the way, no more driving sprint cars.” It was like, “Oh man. OK.” How did he know that I was testing sprint cars? That’s baffling to me.

And so I was telling my dad this story just a few weeks ago, and he was like, “Yeah, because you scared the shit out of me driving that sprint car and I thought you were gonna wreck and I told him to tell you that you can’t drive sprint cars anymore.” Like man, you threw me under the bus! I can’t believe him. Yeah. I just found that out. So much for trust in dad.

But yeah, that’s really why I don’t do it. I’d love to do it, it’s what my dad does full time right now, it’s what my family grew up on pretty much and I love going to the races and learning about those cars and absolutely love that side of racing, but it’s just not something I can go do really right now. Maybe when I’m done with this deal, I’d like to go do it just because it was a family thing, but not right now.

So Tim Cindric had to do your dad’s dirty work, basically.

Yeah. I know! Dad just should have come to me and told me, but no, he didn’t want to be that guy. He wanted to use a middleman. He was using Tim Cindric as a middleman. That’s pretty rough.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. You can either give me a general question or I’ll try to double back with you when I know the next driver.

Yeah, just get back with me whenever you know. I’m gonna ask a hard-hitting question.


Previous 12 Questions interviews with Ryan Blaney:

Nov. 5, 2014

Oct. 7, 2015

Feb. 25, 2016

July 5, 2017

 

12 Questions with David Ragan and Michael McDowell (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with a double edition: Front Row Motorsports teammates David Ragan and Michael McDowell are both included in this one. Given the format, it’s highly recommended to listen as a podcast — but it’s also transcribed below for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

DR: I have dreams every night in general, but I don’t really remember them. Sometimes about racing, sometimes about other things. But when I do dream about racing, it’s never really about the competition and trying to race and win, it’s always about trying to get to the racetrack or the cars being on the track on the pace laps and I can’t find my helmet or I’m stuck in the (hauler) lounge and I can’t get out or something weird like that. Or I’m late or I can’t get my window net up. It’s always things I’m worried about that.

MM: It’s very funny he said that. I have dreams about seeing the cars start the race, too, and you’re not in it. And you see your car and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, what happened?” That’s crazy. But I would say maybe once or twice a month. Like David said, it’s hard to remember. I do remember last night’s dream. It was turkey hunting, not racing.

DR: You should write them down and see if you see a correlation to certain things that are going on in your life.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize? I didn’t mean for this to be awkward right after you guys got into each other. (Note: This was recorded the week after the two crashed at Las Vegas.)

DR: It’s perfect timing. (Laughs)

MM: I don’t know if you picked up the audio, but my crew chief, Derrick Finley, was walking through David’s hauler and he just snickered as you asked that question. (Laughs)

DR: I’ll go first, being as I wrecked Michael last week and myself. I do think it’s important. Whether you wreck someone intentionally or whether it’s an accident, I think you should bring it up. If you wreck someone intentionally, you need to let them know you don’t like what they did and why you wrecked them. If you do it unintentionally, I think it’s important say, “Look, man, I’m sorry. I hated I did that.” Just to clear the air. Communication is important. We race with each other 38 times a year and the last thing we need are grudges on the racetrack that bring both teams down. Certainly that’s important with teammates, but even other people in the garage. I try to make it a point to reach out to someone if I wreck them.

MM: Yeah, I think it’s super important. Having been on both sides of it, the intentional part is hard, right? Because if you truly did it intentionally, there were things that built up to it. It doesn’t just happen. But a lot of times, those are the ones that are left undone. Like Ross Chastain and (Kevin) Harvick (in the Darlington Xfinity race). I mean, Ross hooked him. There’s no question and nobody can say anything otherwise. Harvick knows he hooked him. So then not having that conversation, that will be an issue down the road in their careers for both of them. So just being able to bring it up (is important). I had it happen with (Marcos) Ambrose— I intentionally crashed Ambrose at Martinsville. And he waited for me after the race. He came up to me — I’ll never forget it, because it was like the most awkward conversation ever — and he was like, “Well what happened?” I said, “Well, you chopped me two or three times and then I crashed you.” And his face, his jaw dropped. Because he’s like, “You’re saying you did that on purpose?” I said, “Well, I don’t want to lie to you. You chopped me off two or three times, so I crashed you.” And I think he said something like, “I should kill you” — it was something very angry and violent, which I get, because I get ramped up. But I remember the next week he’s like, “Most people would have lied to me. Most people would have said, ‘Hey man, I got in too deep, I locked up my tires and I ran into you.’ I didn’t know how to respond when you actually said you did it on purpose.” But just talking through it, what he said made a lot of sense. He said, “I figured you weren’t going to run the whole race.” Because at the time, I was start-and-parking, but Martinsville was always one of the places we ran because we could be competitive. So he said, “I chopped you because I figured in 10 laps you were going to come in, and if anybody could cut me a break, you could.” Well then all the sudden it made sense to me and I was like, “Maybe I overreacted a little bit because that’s fairly logical.” So what I’m saying is even though sometimes it intentionally happens, walking through it is an important step.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

DR: Just saying I’m a good dad and a good husband is the most. The racing thing is my career right now, but it’s not going be my career one day. It would be flattering if somebody told me I was a great race car driver or really fast, but that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. So I think the biggest compliment someone could give me is I’m a good son or a good husband or a good dad.

MM: I don’t really care. To me, compliments…it is what it is. Racing in particular, you’re only as good as your last race. So when you get done with your career, nobody is really going to care. So for me, it’s the areas that matter. It’s my faith and family. Those are the areas I want to do well in. But honestly, whether someone thinks you’re doing well in those areas or not really doesn’t matter.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?

MM: I actually got to do it. One of the authors and pastors and guys who have been really influential for me who I hadn’t met was Francis Chan. He was a guest of ours at California, which was really cool. I love racing and there’s lots of people I would like to host, like ex-Formula One drivers and things like that. But you can only talk about so much for so long. It’s cool to get somebody outside our circle who is doing other things aside from going around in circles.

DR: I’m at the racetrack to race. I would love to meet some different people outside the racetrack if we were going to sit around the campfire and tell a couple stories. But a lot of time, I feel like celebrities are kind of fake in whatever field they’re in, and I don’t care to hang out with anybody like that. I would say so no, I don’t have any interest in entertaining anyone at the racetrack, as long as I’m working. I don’t really care. I’m not big on celebrities.

I happened to know that.

DR: That’s why I don’t like being a “celebrity.” I don’t even like that. I want real people. I want the poorest person in the grandstands who had to borrow money to go buy their ticket. That’s who I want to hang out with.

MM: Yeah. And I think the reason some of us are like that is we know what it’s like to be in that role of celebrity. When you go to a dinner and you’re the person and all that, you feel this pressure to entertain. You feel like you’ve got to turn it on, like you’ve got to tell good stories and have good jokes. When David and I hang around, you can just be normal and have normal conversations. It’s hard when you got to a setting where people think you’re the celebrity. So you don’t get the authentic person — even myself — because you’re like, “OK, they invited me as the guest — as the race car driver — so you’ve got to tell race car stories and you’ve got to be funny and charismatic and all of these things,” and it’s like…eh. It’s not worth the pressure.

DR: Yeah.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the pole for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

MM: I haven’t really studied the vegan diet. But I’m on the Keto diet. And I don’t know if there could be a greater separation between vegan and Keto. I only eat fat and meat. So no. You can give me the No. 1 stall, but I’m sticking with Keto.

DR: I would go vegan for a month. I do eat a little steak and chicken and fish. It would be kind of a pain in the butt to do that, but if I had a chef that would help, I’d be OK with it. I wouldn’t want to do all the work — that would be a lot of effort. But as far as eating, I love vegetables and fruits. I could do it, and I would. I want it for Martinsville.

Real quick, for Michael: Does the Keto diet really give you more energy, as is billed?

MM: This would be a whole other 12 Questions, but it’s the best thing I’ve done in my life for my health. I’ve lost 35 pounds since doing it, and I’m stronger and better in the race car than I’ve ever been. I’m sure there’s lots of science behind both ends of it, but for me, I did it because I didn’t feel great after Sonoma. I was constantly fighting headaches and feeling depleted. I tried something different and it’s been amazing for me. It’s really been something that has changed my overall performance in the race car.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from both of your careers and you have to tell me where you finished. In the spirit of this interview, I went back and found a race where you guys finished back to back. This was the Kansas race last fall. Any idea where you finished?

DR: I know exactly where I finished.

MM: I don’t exactly where I finished, but I know real close.

DR: It was 16th and 17th. I was 17th, you were 16th.

MM: I was going to say 18th for me.

It was actually 17th and 18th.

DR: Who was 18th?

David was 17th, Michael was 18th.

MM: Oh, there we go!

DR: I remembered I was 17th, but I thought you finished in front of me!

MM: That’s funny! You know, I don’t forget top-20s the last few years because you only have a handful of them. So you remember them for sure.

7. I know I’ll get a great answer here because you guys seem like huge rap fans. Who is the best rapper alive?

MM: Well, I am a lyrical gangster. Not a lot of people know that. Eminem is by far the best rapper to walk this planet.

DR: I know rappers, but I don’t know who the best one is. I guess whoever has still got a job and has got the new CD that is out. I have no idea.

MM: I think Eminem is unchallenged, though.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

MM: Joey Logano. He’s just goofy. He’s just silly.

It’s just his face? You don’t actually want to punch him?

MM: No, I love Joey Logano. He’s one of the nicest, realest guys in the garage. But he definitely has a punchable face.

DR: I think whoever is winning a lot. Back in the mid-2000s it was Jimmie Johnson, just being so perfect and winning all the time. Now it’s probably Kyle Busch. He just wins everything.

MM: Fans ask me all the time to punch him in the face. Fans are weird, they’re like, “Hey man, just do me a favor. Just crash Kyle Busch this weekend.” I’m like, “OK, yeah. That’s exactly it. I’ll do that. Thank you for the advice.”

DR: Kyle is a friend of mine. I think he’s one of the best drivers this sport has ever seen. I like Kyle. So I’m not trying to punch anybody. Well, I don’t want to punch anybody first. But yeah…Kyle. (Laughs)

9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks.  Pick one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

MM: Tom Hanks would be the coach driver because I think he would actually be a cool guy to hang out with. He seems like an interesting guy. LeBron James would be a good spotter. He’s got a lot of energy. And Taylor Swift could be the crew chief.

DR: Well, we’re going to outrun Michael that race. (Laughs) I’d probably put LeBron on the pit box because he’s probably a good leader and a good coach. Taylor has been living in the motorhome on tours for the last 15 years, so I’d probably let her drive the motorhome. And then Tom, I’d let him spot.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

DR: Good experience.

MM: You’ve got to have it scoped out before it actually starts. If you’re waiting until you get off the truck and you go, “Where’s the bathroom?” — you’re done.

DR: I usually look when we’re walking out to qualifying. Less crowded, a little more time. I’m pretty religious about going to the bathroom right before qualifying or the race. So you’ve got to know.

11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the former Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

MM: Just whatever it would take to get proper training. I’ve always wanted to be able to break dance and do some flips. I don’t really have the physique for it, but if they’d train me, I’d do it.

DR: Yeah, if we could be trained, that would be awesome. I think a signature deal like that is really cool. If you get to win often during the year, it would be neat. I’d like to be able to do it if they provided a trampoline out by my car.

MM: Or a mat. Just a mat. My biggest fear would be if your toes hook the roof. Then it’s going to look real bad and feel real bad, too. That’s a lot of momentum.

DR: I’ll just do a cartwheel.

MM: I think David could probably do (a backflip).

DR: On a trampoline. I wouldn’t want to do it in front of everyone for the first time and fail, though. That wouldn’t be fun.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Timmy Hill, and he wanted to know: If you play fantasy sports, what is the name of your fantasy football team?

DR: I do play one league of fantasy football. With all the shenanigans in the NFL, I tried to back out of it this year, but I’m with a group of my friends so I stayed on board. I’m a pretty boring guy, so my team name is “Team Ragan.”

MM: Mine is worse than that. I don’t play at all. I did when I was at (Leavine Family Racing). One of the guys got fired and I took over his fantasy football team. I’ve never watched it. But that was actually really fascinating for me, because once I downloaded the app, I started to watch. Because I was like, “Ooh, I’ve got a guy running tonight.” So it made me realize how important that is for our sport. Because even if you’re not a David Ragan or a Michael McDowell fan, if you have us in your fantasy lineup for the day, you still want us to run top 15 and if you see us passing cars, it’s exciting. So it’s a cool element.

Do you have a question I can ask the next interview? It’s with Ryan Blaney.

DR: You want to ask a question the fans would enjoy. His dad and uncle are big sprint car guys. What’s the reason (he doesn’t) go back and run some sprint cars and dirt cars or something like that?


Previous 12 Questions interviews with David Ragan and Michael McDowell:

Ragan

April 28, 2010

March 3, 2011

Aug. 1, 2012

June 5, 2013

Oct. 20, 2015

June 9, 2016

July 26, 2017

McDowell

Feb. 24, 2010

April 7, 2011

Oct. 15, 2013

June 3, 2015

Oct. 26, 2016

June 24, 2017