A Good Day: Daniel Hemric, Ryan Preece get Cup rides based on talent

Just when you thought money was the only way to get an opportunity in NASCAR, along comes a trio of talent-first stories to provide at least some evidence to the contrary.

First there was Ross Chastain, whose ability to elevate his JD Motorsports ride earned him a chance with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Xfinity team — for whom he recently won the Las Vegas race. The rest of his story is still unwritten, but at least he got a shot.

Then, on Friday, two talent-first drivers were given the kind of opportunities that represent hope for the future: Daniel Hemric was named driver of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 Cup car and Ryan Preece was announced as the driver of JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47.

Both will compete for Cup Series Rookie of the Year and neither had to bring armored trucks full of money to do it.

That might be a small victory, but it’s still notable these days.

Hemric, a North Carolina native, grew up with NASCAR dreams while racing in the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He became one of the country’s best Late Model drivers and has consistently contended in NASCAR’s lower ranks — albeit without a win.

“It just says it can be done,” Hemric said of making it to the top without millions of dollars behind him. “To any racer out there who thinks it can’t be done, today is a huge step to show it can be.”

Then there’s the story of Preece, who took a gamble on himself by borrowing money to secure two starts with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series team. In his own personal must-win situation, Preece finished second to Kyle Busch in his first race with JGR and then won at Iowa. That led to a pair of additional races in 2017, when he had two more top-five results.

This season, Preece won another Xfinity race — and $100,000 in the Dash 4 Cash, which allowed him to pay off his loans.

It also opened the door for even more opportunities with JGR and caught the attention of JTG Daugherty, which hired him on talent alone.

“If you are going to fall down that hole of ‘Money, money, money’ you will never make it,” Preece said. “I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. There were a lot of nights I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know what my future was going to be. I didn’t know if I could even make it to this level.

“I was going to try, though. I was going to try like hell.”

The effort resulted in a job at NASCAR’s highest level — and it might not have happened had he never invested in himself, first. As it turns out, that was a necessary part of Preece’s journey.

“The fact that he has been able to win in Xfinity against the best of the best, obviously that put him higher up on the list,” Geschickter said. “He was definitely on the radar anyway … (but) it didn’t hurt.”

Will stories like these suddenly become a trend? Not likely, as money continues to rule in today’s NASCAR. But that makes them all the more notable when a team rewards a driver with an opportunity based on talent — not how much money they can bring.

12 Questions with Daniel Hemric (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with Daniel Hemric, who is in his second year driving in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast, but is also available in transcript form below.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

It’s kind of self-induced when I do have dreams about racing. It’s probably the anxiety of not running like I want to run, where I really have to put a lot more emphasis on that racetrack on a given weekend, doing a lot more studying or doing a lot more simulation. Whatever it is, when I lay down at night and that’s the last thing I’m thinking about, that’s when I dream about racing.

It’s more frequent, in all honesty, at this level than what I’ve ever had in the past doing short track racing. In short track racing, I would go through spells where you’re one of the guys to beat every single weekend, you’re winning races on a constant basis. So when I’d have those dreams, it was about winning races.

It’s crazy — over time, I’d win a race after I’d dream about it. And then (the dreams) happened often and I would win often in those situations. I was like, “Man, that’s kind of creepy.” But it always worked out.

At this level, I’ve had one of those dreams where we ran good. You know how dreams are — they don’t make sense a lot of how it’s all tied together. But it’s kind of all correlated. When I have dreams about running well, it all translates, and when I have dreams about rough weekends, sometimes we’ll overcome some of that, but a lot of it plays out roughly the way the dreams do.

So kind of crazy how it’s all worked out over the past, but I need more of those winning dreams. That’d be good for this series.

You might need to go down to one of those psychic places  and if you need some extra income or something, just pop in the store front.

You’re exactly right. Honestly, I wouldn’t even tell my wife (Kenzie) about it for the longest time. But it was starting to happen more and more and I’m like, “I’ve gotta share this with somebody, because it’s a lot to hold in.” It’s pretty wild.

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

For sure. I’ve got a new spotter, Branden Lines, and he’s doing an incredible job. But during Atlanta qualifying, we thought Joey Logano was on his fast lap and he was gonna shut down at the flag stand after making his one lap in qualifying. And so I rolled off pit road, only to find out he was getting the green. So long story short, I ran the top of (Turns) 3 and 4 coming to green, Logano goes to the bottom and he was coming to the checkered, but it just worked out that he merged right behind me — I’m talking two or three inches.

It didn’t mess him up, it almost kind of helped him draft to the line and run even faster, but I made sure when I got out I was like, “Hey man, it was just a miscommunication.” That’s more of a driver ethic code, because if I didn’t say anything, if we’d been in the race running side-by-side, if I was him, I would have been like, “Hey, this dude pulled in front of me in qualifying, I’m not giving him a break.” So I think it’s good to knock that stuff out and get ahead of it.

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

Coming from where I’ve come from and doing it the way I had to do it, often I’ll go back short track racing and because the parents of the kids that are trying to figure out how to get their kid to this level or even further, they’re always saying, “What is our next step? What should we do?” That’s always the question: “What do we need to do with our son or daughter next?”

That’s a huge compliment to myself without them saying it because (it shows) somewhere along the line, whatever you did made an impact on that level and they have enough respect andreally trust what you’re saying and how you can guide them.

And the answer to all that is there’s no right way. You just gotta make the most of every opportunity. That’s how I try to tell everybody what their next step should be with their children.

4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?

I think some sports icons or coaches, because all of our deals are so team-related. I was watching the Carolina basketball game — I’m a big Tar Heels fan — and coach Roy Williams. The passion and everything he shows on the basketball court, good, bad, or indifferent, you see him throughout the season change teams and change players and how they approach and handle situations. So if I had the opportunity to host somebody, that’d be the guy. I think it’d be cool to hear his knowledge, his info of how he handles every team different every year. He’s having to conform to whatever makes those guys tick. I’d like to get a little background and host that guy for a week.

That’d be awesome — get him to talk to the team, come to the hauler and stuff.

Oh my gosh, if you couldn’t get fired up after listening to one of those speeches, you probably shouldn’t be here.

5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?

Absolutely not. No way. Would not happen.

I’m all meat, potatoes, and no, absolutely not.

Not one driver has said yes so far.

Well it’s still open. Sound to me like if nobody takes it, the No. 2 pit stall is just as good.

6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career and you have to guess where you finished. This is the 2016 Truck race at the May Charlotte race.

I would have been in (Brad) Keselowski’s truck. I remember this race now thinking back, because the race got rained out. It was supposed to be a night race, and we came back and raced earlier that day. Really hot.

How did I finish? We led laps early, me and Kyle (Busch) raced early in the race. I remember him running the top and me running the bottom. Probably the most fun race I’ve ever ran in a truck at Charlotte. It was so slick that day. Something happened, and we got off on pit cycle or sequence. So I’m gonna say…ninth to 11th. I can’t remember because we got off.

The answer is ninth.

Oh, how ’bout that? So the first one was right! Yes!

That’s pretty amazing. You started eighth, you led 15 laps, and you finished ninth. You finished right behind Christoper Bell and ahead of William Byron.

How ’bout that? I do remember that because that race in particular, it was cool because obviously Charlotte’s my hometown, and that’s where I got my breakout, really, was at Charlotte Motor Speedway. So moving into one of the top three series, being in a truck, you go there and it’s the first time to lead laps on the big track, it’s the first time to have a solid shot or run solid in front of the home crowd. So you picked a good one to remember.

So I should have made it harder.

No, that was perfect. At least you gave me some good memories, good vibes here as we start the weekend.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

The only one I can really know and recite as a kid was Eminem. I can remember getting into a lot of trouble for saying a lot of stuff that he was rapping about.

Your parents didn’t like that?

My parents were not a big fan of that. I’m sure they have no idea how much I actually listened to it.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

There’s no way to answer this and not get criticized in some way or some sort. This is not necessarily because I want to punch him in the face, but it seems like the fans in the garage, Logano’s done it or tried to do it, and that’s Kyle Busch. I love the dude, I think he’s good as gold and he’s great for our sport, but a lot of guys take jabs at him. So I think from the fans as a whole, that’s probably the biggest answer.

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. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

That’s tough. I’d have to go with LeBron as the motorhome driver for the fact that he’s always in different cities, he knows the spots. He knows what’s going on, how to get there. If not, he knows the people to talk to to get us where we want to go so far for that weekend. So he’d be the motorhome driver, get everything set up. And he seems like a really diligent dude, like his stuff’s all nice and clean. That’s how he presents himself, so he’d be my motorhome driver.

Tom Hanks would definitely be the crew chief, without a doubt. I mean, you see him play any role or in anything he does, it’s incredible. So to know he’s got ability to just keep a group of guys working in one direction and pulling the rope in the same direction, I think that’d be a very interesting setup on top of the pit box.

And the Taylor Swift deal, would it be modern day Taylor Swift or early 2010s Taylor Swift? If it’s earlier Taylor Swift, I’d go with her being on the radio. Modern… not as big as a fan. I definitely need to know which one I have there.

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

A great PR person. And luckily I have Jay (Pennell) over here. He makes it happen for me. He knows, as soon as I walk off the stage or get done riding the truck, he knows exactly where I want to go, so he’s usually got it picked out for me. That’s key.

11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. I’ve been asking people much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win, but backflipping is actually your celebration, so I don’t think they’d have to pay you, I’m assuming.

That’s exactly right. And actually from the time we do this interview to when we actually make that reality, we’ll give them from now to the end to draw a crowd, make sure everybody’s tuning in, because it will happen the first time I can break through victory lane in the Xfinity Series.

So we talked about dreams earlier. That’s a dream of mine, is to be able to do that off a race car at one of these top levels. Whether the fans like it or dislike it with me doing the same thing Carl did, Carl was a guy I legitimately looked up to in racing. To see him do that, I was obviously young, racing Bandoleros at the time, and I thought, “Man, that’s pretty cool.” And nobody else for the most part is going to be able to do that, so that’s something I latched onto because I’ve got tons of respect for the dude. So hopefully I can be the guy that can latch onto it whenever it does happen.

Are you confident in your ability to do one? I heard a rumor that a couple of years ago, during a FOX preseason shoot, your leg caught on something or you didn’t quite execute it and you fell?

I’ll tell the story. We’re sitting in the green room and it was a “Three questions about yourself” where you said two true, one false, and let the fans decide what’s what. (One of the true facts was) I can do a backflip, and two other random things. (The producers) were like, “Can you really do it?” I’m like, “Absolutely.” So I sit there, and they say, “We’re ready.” So I take one step back, and me taking the one step back when I jumped, my foot caught the drop-down green screen and I went on and hit the ground. Very embarrassing, to say the least.

But a couple buddies in the garage, they’ve seen me do it. I can stand on flat ground and knock it out. So being on top of a race car makes it that much easier; you’ve got way less rotating and all that stuff. So I’ve got 100% faith in myself to do it. I’ve just got to be able to get to the chance where I can do it.

12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last week, I interviewed Alex Bowman.

I’ve never even spoke to that guy.

Yeah, he said he didn’t know you well. But he apparently used to come to Summer Shootout and watch you. So he was saying that he would see you kick some butt and your career was really on the rise and then he said it seemed like for a couple years there, your career sort of stalled out as you were trying to get this chance, and he could relate to that because his career stalled out, too. He was in a different level at the time when his career stalled out, but he was wondering how during that time, how you were thinking and feeling about what direction your career was going and were you worried and things like that.

That’s a great question. I’ve gotta make sure I thank him, that’s a great question. I guess thinking about it, our paths really sound similar in that aspect at two different points for sure.

For me, I was in a spot there after Legend cars, I was trying to break into the Super Late Model ranks. For the people that don’t know, there was no path. I didn’t know what was next, I had no goals of when I wanted to be at a certain point by when because I was already older than most of the people I raced against or been racing against.

There was a lot of stuff stacked against me, but as the years went by and I saw the people I’d been racing with over the course of time, they would either go take that next shot and fall short and give up on it, or they’d quit working for it. I didn’t know how to get there, but I knew that to stop working at it was not gonna get me there. I had to figure out a way to be in something if I wanted to get to this level.

Obviously, there was more people than I could ever begin to thank or even imagine to say their names on here to thank them for keeping giving me that next shot. But just staying in front of people, not really knowing what the end result was gonna be. It was just giving everything you had, no matter if it was going to sweep the floor for Jeff Fultz, because that was the only opportunity I had and he had Late Models in his shop that maybe I could get in one one day. Or going to work for Eddie Sharp and getting hooked up with the Gallaher family out of California that invested in me over the years and got me to the Xfinity Series.

It was so much stuff that all ties together. There were so many things that didn’t make sense, but I always just tried to put myself in that situation. So in the middle of the career stall, it was just staying hungry. Knowing that I really didn’t know how to do anything else, I had to put 100 percent effort into every single day of whatever that was, and that’s how somehow I was able to keep going and got to this point.

I don’t know who the next interview will be with. Do you have a general question I can ask the next driver?

Recently there’s been a lot of hype around top-20 prospects, or who’s gonna be the next guy (because of a list compiled by ESPN.com’s Bob Pockrass). Looking at that list, there was a lot of guys that either are currently still short track racing or trying to get to this level, but they’re still dabbling in some of that.

My question for the next person is, if they had the opportunity and they had made it, and they had their race team and they knew it was a successful race team and it was gonna run good regardless of who was in it, who’s that one driver at the short track level that you feel like could get the job done but they’d need that shot, whether that’s Alex Bowman or myself or anybody’s that got that shot and went on and prevailed. Who would that kid be, and what rank would he come from?

So like a kid right now that you see could have some talent that if you had a team, you would bring up?

Yeah, 100 percent. That’s the goal, is I want to get them talking about some other local short track kid specifically that they feel like may not ever get that shot. And he may get that shot, but getting the hype around his name would be a good thing for everybody.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Daniel Hemric:

May 10, 2017


12 Questions with Daniel Hemric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Who is the last driver you texted?

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

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

So is he still willing to give advice?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you’re like “peace out?”

That’s exactly right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of your guilty pleasure foods?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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