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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: