12 Questions with Erik Jones (2019)

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but are also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

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

Well I’m iPhone now; been that way for probably eight years now. I had an Android when they first came out and then I switched to iPhone right after. Back then (the iPhone) was better — I don’t know if they’re better or not now, but I’ve just stuck with it ever since.

Did you know up to this point we have had no Android people all year?

From how many drivers has that been now?

This is probably 12. (Editor’s note: Actually 14.)

All iPhone? I’m trying to think of who would have an Android. Do you have an Android?

No, no. Come on.


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?

If I remember when I was a fan and I would go and try to get autographs, I would always just try to say something to a driver, whether it was, “Good luck,” or “Nice job” on this race or that race. I think that means more than any autograph or picture you’re going to take.

Even just going up and a pat on the back — some drivers might not like that, but I don’t mind — and just saying, “Hey, good job,” or “Good luck,” I think you remember that more than any time you get an autograph.

You kind of get into a mode when you’re giving out autographs when you’re not even sometimes looking at who you’re giving them to and you don’t really remember that interaction.

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?

For me it probably does. I mean, I’m not a very aggressive driver on the road, but yeah, it feels really similar.

It’s funny to me how bad people road rage on the road. It’s not frustrating for me because during the weekends, obviously road rage is 10 times higher than anything you’ll ever experience on the street. So it’s always kind of funny to me to see people get angry about it.

I just got flipped off last Monday driving down the road. This guy was talking on his phone and he was just in the way. I wasn’t really tailgating him, I wouldn’t say, but he looked up in the mirror and I guess he saw I was just behind him. So I went and passed him on the right and I looked over and him and his girlfriend were flipping me off.

The girlfriend too?

Oh yeah, both of them. It was a combined effort.

What a team they are.

I’ve never seen a team effort like that.

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

Probably a couple. I had to get in a car once in NASCAR — I’m not going to say what car it was because I don’t want to get into trouble for this — but I had to get into a car and I put the lap belts on and it was a last-minute deal and the lap belts didn’t fit.

I was like, “Man, I don’t know what to do.” We didn’t have time to change them and they weren’t adjustable. They were sewn belts. So I took them and I just wrapped them up and then put them together and I finally got them tight by wrapping them like a rope. So I pretty much had a rope around each side of my hips — which I don’t know what would have happened if I crashed.

But yeah, that’s probably the weirdest situation, something like you shouldn’t have done safety-wise. Other than that I’ve been pretty good safety-wise. I usually focus on it pretty good.

Were you thinking about that once you started driving? Was it in the back of your mind like, “Uhh…”

Yeah, a little bit. You think about it at first, but once you get racing you kind of zone in, lock in, you don’t think about it. I noticed it later in the race because it was uncomfortable. You kind of had basically a rope around your waist, so it wasn’t the most comfortable thing.

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?

Yeah. I would want to know. I would be upset if we got busted for something I had no idea we were doing on a Sunday after the race. I would just be frustrated, like, “Why didn’t you tell me about this? You could have at least told me and I wouldn’t have been upset if we got busted after the race.” But if we win a race and we get caught for something illegal and I didn’t know, it would be frustrating.

Because you’d be blindsided.

You’d be thinking you’re celebrating this big win and have no thoughts (about losing the win). But at least if you knew in the back of your mind after the race, you’re like, “Well…”

You’re like, “I hope they don’t find this.”

“Eh, it might not work out.” That’s why I’d want to know.

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

Skyline Chili. Not personal experience, but I know someone that ate it before a race. It was really hot and they had a couple bowls of Skyline Chili and it didn’t go well for them. They finished the race, but it doesn’t sound like it was very pleasant.

This must have been like a Kentucky race or something?

It was a Late Model race years ago and it was in Nashville at the Fairgrounds. It was hot — July or September or August race. Yeah, I’d stay away from it. I usually just eat chicken.

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

Yeah, I think there’s life somewhere. I mean, the universe is too big I think to not have something out there. There’s so much we haven’t been to.

But do they race? I don’t know. You think of life out there and you can only think of your own logic, right? It’s human logic how we think. You wouldn’t know how they think. If you’re thinking like us, then they race. I mean, everybody races, whether it’s cars or on foot or anything. Everything becomes a race if you want it to be. So I have to imagine that they do race in some form whether it’s cars or anything they’ve got out there.

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

You know, I don’t really talk to the other drivers.


No, not really. I’ll go up and see a couple of my buddies out there, but for the most part I don’t really like making small talk. Most people that know me know that, so I just don’t enjoy going up there and being like, “What’s up man? How’s your week been? What have you been up to?”

I’m trying to go race. I mean, I always tell people (about being at the track) that I’m at work. Like I’m here working. It’s fun — I love to race — but I take it pretty seriously.

I’ve never been one to make small talk, but when we do, it’s usually about the car. If it’s one of my buddies, we’re talking about next week, maybe we can get together, grab dinner, go golfing, get out on the lake or something. Pretty small talk.

I’m kind of picturing your approach is like when I get on an airplane and I really do not want people to talk to me.

I’m the same way.

If people start I’ll kind of be like, “Yeah, uh huh, that’s right.” And then I’ll just kind of put my head down. So if you are at driver intros and somebody comes up to you and tries to strike up a conversation, are you just kind of like, “Yup, yup…”

Yeah, pretty much. I’ll go with it. If it’s someone I like, I’ll talk to them. But there’s some guys I don’t like, so I’m not going to like strike up a fake conversation with them just to be cordial, I guess.

But yeah, I’m the same way. I get on an airplane, I’ll just put headphones on right away. Hopefully I’m the first one in the row, and I just throw the headphones on and be done with it.

9. What makes you happy right now?

Right now probably my dog (Oscar), he makes me happy. My girlfriend (dirt racer Holly Shelton) makes me happy right now. Those two things are good for me I think.

Oscar’s been a really good addition since for almost the last two years now, and I’ve just enjoyed having him around — especially at the track. I get a lot of weekends by myself here, so it’s nice to go back to the bus at the end of the day and just see someone who doesn’t care what happened during the day. They’re just happy to see you, right? So that’s always kind of nice for me.

And your girlfriend’s kind of a badass.

Yeah, she’s a good race car driver. She’s not here this weekend (this was recorded at Talladega); she’s actually racing in California in the Outlaw kart stuff.

So that’s pretty cool and it’s been nice to have her around, to have someone that kind of understands the racing world and what goes on. If you have a bad day, they know how to handle that because she’s been in that situation and it makes things a little bit easier.

Do you ever get to watch her race? Do you get to go to her races?

I haven’t actually been to one. I watch her online. She’s actually racing tonight and I’ll be streaming it on my phone here after qualifying, so that’s kind of cool. Hopefully I get the chance to see her in the Indy one — she’s going to do hopefully the midget race there.

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 as long as you’re driving.” Would you accept that offer?

Just during the interview?


So like right now, or…?

I guess on TV, you’ve got to have that clown nose on, you’ve got to have the 80’s rocker wig on. But they’re going to fund you so you never have to worry about sponsorship again.

I could walk around pretty normal. Yeah, I guess I’ll do it. A TV interview is what, 45 seconds? I’d put it on for 45 seconds a couple times a weekend, and if that’s what it took. I guess you’re probably going against some moral standard in a way in some people’s minds, but yeah, I’d do it. Why not?

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.

How about 69?

This is the second straight interview that somebody’s picked 69.

Really? (Laughs) You want me to pick a different number? I don’t want to do the same question again.

I was going to make a different question anyway. I had good intentions to assign a number to every question and now I’ve just been pulling random crap out of my butt.

That makes sense. It makes the interviews better anyway, right?

This is something you’ve answered before in 2015, so I wanted to compare your answer now. What is your preferred method with dealing with an angry driver after a race? (Editor’s note: This was recorded before Jones clashed with Clint Bowyer after the Kansas race.)

I feel like my answer’s probably going to be pretty close. For the most part, if they’re mad at me, I’ll try to shoot them a call if I can. But for the most part, it’s not going to make things a lot better. If I can see them after the race, I will.

I haven’t made anyone mad in a long time, which has been nice. There have been a lot of people that made me mad. I’ve had guys call me right after the race, it’s like, “Honestly, I don’t want to talk to you right now.” So I’ll wait a couple days and try to get ahold of them. But a lot of times it doesn’t seem like it’s going to help. But if they want to talk, I’ll talk.

What did I say then?

Back four years ago, you said basically it would be nice to call. You had just had an incident with Ryan Blaney, I guess this is Truck racing at the time, and you said you guys had talked about it and you respected him for that. So probably over the years you’ve realized it doesn’t make a difference.

Yeah, so that’s pretty early in my career still and now I’ve kind of realized it’s like, man, you talk to them and then they kind of yell at you for a minute on the phone. It’s like, “I don’t know if you feel better or not” — I mean they’re still going to be mad at you next week when we go racing. You’re not going to get raced very good.

And then I’ve had more incidents with guys who don’t ever call me. So it’s kind of like now you kind of just move on. It’s racing. You race so much in the Cup level that you can’t pick every battle each week to go out and try to fix.

12. The last interview was with Tyler Reddick. He wants to know about 2015 when he was running against you for the Truck title. His question was: That year, you had really fast trucks and you had a dominant season in the end but you didn’t win until June of that year. So what clicked for you that season or what did you have to find within yourself to finally win that season and then how were you able to keep that up and go to the championship?

Well that year was odd. We had really good trucks all year, really from start of Daytona to the end of Homestead. And for me it was like, man, things just wouldn’t come together. It was one of the hardest years I had in terms of having a lot of speed and not being able to put the whole race together.

We came really close. That was the year Kasey Kahne just beat us at Charlotte. Kansas we ran out of fuel leading; we led the whole race with two or three to go. There’s a lot of races at the start of the year where it’s like you’re just missing out.

And then we got into a situation where I felt like I started pushing too hard and making mistakes, get myself in trouble, and I actually sat down with Kyle (Busch, his team owner at the time) and talked to him about it.

I was like, “We have really fast trucks and this and that, what do I need to do?” And he said, “You just need to think now that you can just top-10 it every week, and if you can top-10 these races every week, not only are you going to win some of them along the way but you’re going to win the championship.” And then I’m like, “Well, that’s probably right.”

So we switched our mentality, I did, even Rudy (Fugle) did, my crew chief at the time, and went into the races more of just saying, “Let’s top-10 them. Let’s stop getting into this mode where we know we’re fast, quit trying to go out and just lead every lap and dominate the races. If we can win and those days are allowing that to happen, then let them come to you. But if it’s a day where you need to run sixth and things aren’t going your way, take that sixth.” And that’s what we weren’t doing at the start of the year.

So it turned around for me and the wins came with that and even at some places where I wouldn’t have thought we would have won at. But it just kind of worked out from that point forward.

You’re off the hook for a question for the next guy because the next one is going to go into the Indy 500 and I had to already do the Indy interview for that. So you don’t have to think of one.

That’s good. It’s hard to come up with questions. I struggle with that anyways.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Erik Jones:

— April 21, 2015

— Sept. 21, 2016

— June 21, 2017

May 29, 2018

The Top Five: Breaking down the Dover spring race

Five thoughts after Monday’s race at Dover…

1. The natives are restless

How long did you think it would take before some in the NASCAR garage started making sharply critical comments about the rules package?

If you had 11 races into the season, you win.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and team owner Bob Leavine were among those who voiced…um…concerns about the rules package after the Dover race.

“The package sucks,” Busch told reporters, including Frontstretch’s Dustin Albino, on pit road. “No fucking question about it. It’s terrible.”

“Let me second @KyleBusch statement, this package sucks,” Leavine tweeted shortly thereafter. “Has nothing to do with where he finished.”

“Here’s the hard thing about the package,” Harvick told reporters, including Davey Segal. “NASCAR’s tried to accomplish a lot of things with one particular package, but you look at how the cars drive behind each other, and from a driver’s standpoint, it’s hard to race them. Anywhere.”

The NASCAR Foundation may be getting some donations after at least two of those statements, but that doesn’t mean they’re not true. NASCAR certainly doesn’t want drivers to bad-mouth the package, but the majority of the drivers feel the same way Busch does — they’ve just been biting their tongues for awhile now.

This rules package, aside from greatly benefiting the Talladega race, hasn’t lived up to expectations at intermediate tracks and outright hurt the racing at ovals 1 mile or less.

At some point, if that trend continues, drivers are going to get bolder about speaking their minds. The frustration has been bubbling and building just beneath the surface, and it was only a matter of time before an outspoken driver like Busch said something.

Now, will that change anything? Not immediately. If anything, Leavine’s comment may carry more weight — because it’s the team owners who would have to agree to any midseason changes to the package.

But if drivers start to voice their opinions and the momentum builds for a change, NASCAR ultimately might be forced into going a different direction.

2. Gibbs World

A hot topic one month ago was the combined domination of Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske — something that was interrupted only by a superspeedway-generated Hendrick Motorsports victory last week.

It was easy to look at JGR and Penske after eight races — back when JGR had won five races and Penske three — and go, “They’re kicking everyone’s butts!”

But now JGR has won SEVEN races (out of 11), so maybe it’s more like JGR is doing the butt-kicking by itself.

For example: Four Cup Series drivers have multiple wins this season — and three of them drive for JGR. Meanwhile, other traditionally strong teams like Stewart-Haas Racing haven’t won at all.

While Busch and Hamlin struggled on Monday, Truex stomped the field and won by more than nine seconds. So the organization clearly has speed, even on days when not all the team’s cars hit on the setup.

What’s the point of noting this? We’re starting to approach the time of the season where trends are identified and become storylines, like the Big Three hatching out of its spring egg last year. So just keep in mind JGR is starting to pile up a crazy total of wins — at least for the first week of May — and might have a chance to go on a historic run of trophy-hogging.

3. Dover needs a rain deal

Dover is one of the last tracks in NASCAR without some sort of weather protection plan for fans, which hurt some of the track’s loyal customers in the wallet this weekend.

Pocono has the “Worry-Free Weather Guarantee,” where if a race is rained out and your ticket isn’t scanned on the postponed date, you automatically get a refund.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp. have both adopted weather guarantees of their own, where fans can exchange any unused grandstand ticket for another race at an ISC or SMI track within one year of the originally scheduled race (or next year’s race at the same track).

But Dover — along with Indianapolis, as far as I can tell — are the lone remaining tracks without such fan protection programs.

Granted, a Cup Series race at Dover hadn’t been rained out in 12 years (which is a pretty incredible run). So it’s not like this was a big issue for the track.

After Sunday, though, the track should step up and implement a weather guarantee for the future. I received tweets from fans who had to eat the cost of their tickets because they couldn’t return on Monday — and some vowed not to make that mistake again.

It’s just not good to put your core customers in that position, which I’m sure is being made clear to track officials through fan feedback. Hopefully Dover can learn from this weekend and make an improvement soon.

4. Who needed it more?

Both Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman had great runs on Monday, helping Chevrolet retain some momentum and helping their teams move back into the playoff picture.

But in my view, Bowman’s finish was more important than Larson’s.

Larson finally had a race without a piano falling out of the sky and landing on his car, which is good for him. He needed a nice, clean run — and he got one. The thing is, I haven’t really heard people wondering aloud if Larson would ever get back to being competitive again. It was more a matter of time before his streak of misfortune ended and he started running well.

Bowman, though, is a different case. Since he’s yet to win in the No. 88 car and doesn’t run up front, it seems like he’s always getting mentioned as someone who could be on the hot seat. (His contract runs through 2020, if you were wondering.) So stringing together back-to-back runner-up finishes — with Dover way more impressive than Talladega — is a fantastic development for him.

Hendrick has obviously been down the last couple seasons, so Bowman has had somewhat of a built-in excuse. If a seven-time champion can’t run up front and win, would you really expect Bowman to do so?

But measuring success in that case really comes down to comparison against teammates, and Bowman was the best of the Hendrick drivers at Dover.

He’ll need more than that to stay with the team long term, but runs like that certainly help his cause.

5. What’s next

After three short tracks, a superspeedway and whatever category of track Dover is, it’s time for a return to the type of venues that make up the meat of the schedule.

Kansas is up next (a Saturday night race this weekend) followed by the All-Star Race and Coke 600 at Charlotte. Then it’s off to high-speed tracks Pocono and Michigan before an off week. 

Perhaps the package will work better at one of those tracks (Michigan, maybe?), thus temporarily alleviating some of the criticism. I’m sure NASCAR would more than welcome that, if so.

But it will also be worth watching these upcoming races to see if the Hendrick speed burst is an illusion, whether Busch can keep up his freakish top-10 streak (now 13 in a row dating to last year), whether the Penske cars can get back to the top tier of teams with JGR and whether drivers like Kevin Harvick or Kyle Larson can break through for their first wins of the season.

Inside the first test with Martin Truex Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing’s new No. 19 team

If the new combination of Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn and Joe Gibbs Racing ultimately results in a championship, let the record show their first laps together were a bit unusual.

When Truex strapped into the No. 19 Toyota for the first time Wednesday morning during a Goodyear tire test at Auto Club Speedway, he didn’t immediately drive onto the track.

Instead, Truex made laps around an empty garage so the team could calibrate a GPS system.

For eight minutes, Truex slowly circled a long, red-roofed building — over and over and over. He couldn’t help but chuckle at the strange start to his test.

“They told me to go drive around for a bit,” he said. “It was like, ‘OK, whatever, guys!’”

Truex eventually got bored and looped back to the Cup garage so he could buzz the members of his team, who were standing outside the garage stall watching the scene unfold. The crew burst into laughter as the 19 car passed by.

If there were any first-day jitters, they surely ended right then.

Martin Truex Jr. smiles after climbing into the No. 19 car for the first time. (Photo: Jeff Gluck)

JGR allowed JeffGluck.com to get an inside look at the No. 19’s first test as a group, and it certainly didn’t seem like there was much of an adjustment period between the team members. That’s because much of the old Furniture Row Racing team’s road crew lives on, just in a different uniform.

It wasn’t only Truex and Pearn who joined JGR — former 78 team crewmen actually make up the majority of the new 19.

Car chief Blake Harris, engineer James Small, interior mechanic Todd Carmichael, tire specialist Tommy DiBlasi and engine tuner Gregg Huls were all at FRR, and spotter Clayton Hughes also followed Truex to JGR.

Meanwhile, aside from the hauler drivers, only three of the current road crew worked on the 19 car last year: Engineer JT Adkins, front end mechanic Dave Rudy and underneath mechanic Ryan Martin. In addition, shock specialist Drew Bible joined the 19 from Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 car.

“The core of us are from the 78, and we definitely have our little ways we like to do things,” Pearn said. “It’s funny — I’m still not used to seeing the 19 (on the door) because it’s all the same people, it’s the same sponsors (as the 78). But then you’re part of a different group. It’s got a weird feeling to it.”

Pearn started working with JGR on the 2019 roster while last season was still wrapping up, but he said many of the decisions came down to which former 78 personnel were willing to move from Colorado and continue in racing after FRR shut down.

The California tire test, despite being across the country from their new homes, was a boost for a group that otherwise might have rolled into Daytona Speedweeks still unsure of its chemistry.

Not only did the crew get to shake any winter rust when it comes to making changes to the car, but everyone got to bond as well. A team dinner Tuesday night at the Mexican restaurant El Torito following a long flight was the first real chance to get the entire group together (they went to Outback on the second night).

“Everybody gelled really early, and then getting to do this test and be on the road together before the season gets started has been really helpful,” Pearn said.

Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn and the No. 19 team debrief after a run during their first test session together. (Photo: Jeff Gluck)

As for the test itself, nothing initially seemed abnormal.

“We’re going to run the black ones,” Pearn said, deadpan, while pointing to a large stack of Goodyears.

But it turned out to be one of the more unique tests Goodyear has conducted at a non-plate track. If the new rules package works as intended, all of the big ovals will resemble something akin to pack racing in 2019 — and everyone needed to get data about how the cars would handle around each other.

As a result, the three teams at the test (Truex, Joey Logano and Daniel Suarez’s No. 41) spent much of their time drafting together instead of doing single-car runs.

“Usually at a tire test, you’re out there by yourself all the time,” Truex said. “You go out there, you make your laps when you’re ready, you come back in, change tires. But running with other cars, you can definitely get a lot more information.”

Here’s how most of the test went for the 19 team: Truex would go out to do a run of 15-25 laps with the other drivers while Pearn ran up to the roof of the infield pit suites to watch. They’d return to the garage, where Pearn would lean into his driver’s window and say, “Whaddya got?” Truex, often animated with eyes widening as he spoke, would express his opinion of the latest changes. With no engine noise, other team members would gather behind Pearn to hear what Truex had to say.

Pearn said the biggest takeaway from the test wasn’t necessarily the newness of his team working together, but the new ways it will have to conduct business in 2019. Getting the car to work in a draft will now be more important than raw speed, so crew chiefs will have to find a balance between the two.

“It’s going to be hairy,” Pearn said. “The All-Star Race was short, and now you think you’re going to be four hours of that, basically being pretty chaotic the whole time, is going to be pretty mentally taxing. It’s going to be a lot more to deal with.”

Truex echoed that sentiment and said figuring out the rules package would be a much bigger challenge than figuring out the flow of his new team — which he believes is already in a good place.

“I feel like we’re already integrated into the JGR system and everything is going smoothly,” he said. “The question is going to be how do we make stuff better? How does that work? But with us as a group, so far everything feels like a little bit of a continuation of what we’ve been doing.”

Fans at the test asked Cole Pearn to bring their merchandise to Martin Truex Jr. for signatures. Pearn did, then jogged back to the fans after Truex signed. Pearn joked he was trying to get some “good karma.” (Photo: Jeff Gluck)

12 Questions with Daniel Suarez (2018)

(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The series of 12 Questions interviews continues this week with Daniel Suarez of Joe Gibbs Racing. Suarez must win at Indianapolis on Sunday in order to earn a playoff bid for this season. 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?

First of all, I don’t have dreams very often for whatever reason. When I’m sleeping, I’m sleeping. But (it happens) when I’m thinking too much about something — like Pocono (when he had a shot to win), for example. After Pocono, I spent days thinking about what I could have done different on that restart, and one of those nights I was dreaming about it.

So for whatever reason when you start thinking a lot about something, you just happen to dream something related.

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

I think it does. At least it does for me. I feel like as a driver, we race so often, so there’s always a comeback.

My mom makes fun of me that I don’t remember a lot of things she says to me, but when it comes to racing, I remember exactly everything. Like what the car was doing or who hit me or who was too aggressive toward me. So eventually, it turns around. We always remember that.

I feel like it’s always good if you did something wrong to apologize and move on. That’s the way I like to do things. It shows respect. But there’s always a line — sometimes the apology is not enough. So you still have that payback in the future.

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

For me, the biggest compliment I’ve had is I have a good personality. That’s what I like to hear, that I have a good personality and I’m smiling and stuff like that. Because at the end of the day, that’s not related to racing — that’s something on the side of it.

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?

You know, it would be awesome to have a race car driver like Fernando Alonso or somebody on that level so they can get involved with this sport. I’ve had some friends who have come to NASCAR (and raced), like Nelson Piquet — he’s been racing everything and he knows how difficult stock car racing is. So it would be awesome to have Fernando. He’s a great guy and he’s very competitive. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday someone brings him to the racetrack and he gets that itch to try it out.

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

No, man. (Laughs) I love chicken too much. I think I had chicken like how many times yesterday? Two times? No, that’s wrong — three times! And my sushi. Yeah, I think that’s enough to qualify well and still be close to Pit Stall 1.

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 NASCAR Mexico Series — the 2012 race at Aguascalientes. Do you happen to remember that one at all?

Let me think. I was always fast at Aguascalientes. Maybe second or third?

You finished second. You started on the pole, led 44 laps and Ruben Rovelo won the race.

I remember part of it. I was leading the race in the last restart and I missed a shift and I stacked up the whole line. He wasn’t even on the front row.

I had an agreement with second place that I was going to restart on the outside and he was going to let me in. And the guy who was on the inside, he just held to the agreement too long — because I missed a shift and he was waiting for me! We passed the start/finish line and Ruben made it three-wide. I went to third, and then I passed second place and at the checkered I was right on the bumper (of the winner).

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Maybe Eminem. I don’t follow rap a lot, but I think he’s funny.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

Punchable? Like to go hit them?

It could either be you want to punch them in the face or their face just looks like…

… Like it could take it? (Laughs) I think I can hit Ryan Newman and he wouldn’t even feel it. (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. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

OK, LeBron is the crew chief. Tom Hanks can be the motorhome driver. I personally think the spotter is extremely important, but if it’s an easy race, you can do without it. So we’ll put Taylor there.

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

Oh man. You ask your PR guy maybe 30 minutes before. For some reason, all the PR guys know as a driver, every time after driver intros, you’re looking for a bathroom. Because you have to do it. It seems to me every time I ask, “Hey, Tyler (Overstreet) — where is the nearest bathroom?” He knows it. But most of the time, we have to wait a little bit because there’s a line of drivers. Everyone is there.

11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

I don’t think they would have to pay me anything, man. I would love to do it. I’d just have to train for it. If you can guarantee me I won’t get hurt training for it, I would do it.

After seeing you at the Winter Olympic training last year and your workout videos, I feel like you’d be able to do it.

I honestly think I’d be able to get it done, but it takes training. More than being strong, it takes technique. And to develop that technique, you make mistakes. I can’t afford to get hurt. So that’s why I say if you can guarantee me I wouldn’t get hurt, I would do it. That would be a lot of fun.

Plus, Carl Edwards is a friend and a great driver. Obviously, nobody is able to do what he did after the race because after the race, you are tired. So to do that after a race, that means you are in pretty good shape. So he was pretty damn strong.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with Brad Sweet. His question for you was: Have you ever driven much on dirt, and if you did want to race on dirt, what car and what track would you want to race?

That’s a good question. In Mexico, we don’t have one racetrack that’s a dirt oval. All the dirt we have is for motorcycles. But in the west (part) of Mexico, in Chihuahua, they do have some dirt racing — but it’s with old cars. It’s more for fun, not professional racing. That’s the only kind of racing I’ve heard of with cars on dirt in Mexico.

So my background is just so different, that’s not something I have done. I’ve never been on dirt in my life. The first time I got invited to a dirt race, five or six years ago, I showed up with a white shirt — you could tell I was 100 percent a rookie. I wish one day I could try it — maybe a sprint car, because those things are fast. I saw your video after you did a two-seater and I was impressed you were impacted like that. So maybe a sprint car would be a lot of fun.

As for a racetrack? Maybe Eldora would be good.

Do you have a question I might be able to ask for the next interview? It will be with an IndyCar.

Yeah, actually. When I grew up with my family, I was watching more IndyCar than NASCAR. That’s because in my hometown (Monterrey, Mexico), IndyCar — actually Champ Car — used to go there every year. So I used to go there when I was 13 or 14 years old with my father and watch. That was a lot of fun to see the noise and the power of those cars. I enjoyed that a lot.

So my question would be: How much do they enjoy road-course racing versus ovals? And one day, would they be interested to try NASCAR either on an oval or road course?

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Daniel Suarez:

July 9, 2015

April 19, 2017

The Top Five: Breaking down the Bristol night race

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


The next time someone asks me what I like about NASCAR, I’m just going to point to this year’s racing at Bristol.

NASCAR was at its best on Saturday night. There were great battles for the lead all night, fantastic moves throughout the field, unpredictable outcomes, high emotions and almost too much to keep track of at times.

It was fun! Three hours of pure entertainment that never got boring and had intriguing subplots from the opening laps.

Is it being greedy to ask for more?

“Bristol is an awesome place,” Kyle Larson said afterward. “If we could race here every Saturday and Sunday, our grandstands would be packed, our TV ratings would be very high. Let’s build more Bristols.”

Amen! For all the talk of what ails NASCAR and how it could be better, the issue so often comes down to the tracks themselves. And it continues to feel like more short tracks could solve a lot of NASCAR’s problems.

Yet the reality of adding more short tracks seems so unlikely at the moment.  Instead, NASCAR is locked into this intermediate track racing and now has seemingly come up with a solution to slow down the cars in order to put on a better show next season.


If only someone in power could slam their fist down on the table and say, “NO! Enough. That’s not what we need. The real solution is to shake up the schedule and start going to more short tracks.”

No, it wouldn’t change things overnight, but 20 short track races per season sure would do a lot for the health of the sport.

The problem is it’ll never happen. It’s a pipe dream at this point. So we just have to somehow accept there’s only two more short track races for the rest of the year.

Sigh. At least we had Saturday night.

2. Kurt makes case for No. 4

Any race winner who isn’t part of the Big Three at this point is going to spend a week being the focus of the “Are they the fourth driver?” storyline.

It just happened with Chase Elliott after Watkins Glen. Now it’s Kurt Busch’s turn. Kurt, c’mon down! You’re the next driver to get the spotlight as No. 4!

But “Who is the fourth?” is a valid question because it seems so up in the air, doesn’t it? I have no idea who would be the last driver at Homestead if all of the Big Three were to advance.

Elliott? Busch? Clint Bowyer? Denny Hamlin? Larson? Those seem to be the top candidates, but that’s a lot of drivers for one spot.

Seriously though, it might very well be Busch. He has playoff experience, is still at the top of his game and Stewart-Haas Racing continues to show it’s consistently the best team at this point in the season.

But there’s also a chance by the time you read this column in a couple weeks, we could all be focused on someone else.

3. Common sense, please

I totally get that people were angry with Kyle Busch for wrecking Martin Truex Jr. while going for second place in the final stage.

But to say he did it on purpose? C’mon, guys.

There would be absolutely no logic or reason for Busch to suddenly wreck Truex, his pseudo-teammate (Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row share information and debrief together) and fellow title contender (how dumb would it be to start a feud at this point in the season?).

It wasn’t a battle for the lead and it wasn’t a bump-and-run situation, because there were still plenty of laps to go. Busch just screwed up. I would bet almost any amount of money he didn’t do it on purpose.

He said as much after the race, though surely not everyone will take his word for it.

“I crashed the 78, so that was my bad, totally,” he said. “Totally misjudged that one just coming off the corner. Knowing there were still plenty of laps left, I wasn’t even in a hurry and I just misjudged it by four or six inches, whatever it was and I clipped him there and sent him for a ride.

“He knows that wasn’t intentional at all and we’ve worked really, really, really, really well together these last two or three years and that shouldn’t ruin anything between us.”

Busch and Truex crew chief Cole Pearn have a good relationship as well, so again — while the 78 team might be mad in an emotionally charged moment, they surely know it was unintentional.

“Maybe I’ll send them a sorry cake to the Denver shop for the guys having to work extra,” Busch said. “They’ll probably throw that (car) away anyway, but it ruined their day from being able to get a win or even a second.”

4. You’re ruining it for everyone, you idiot

After the race, Kyle Busch walked out of the infield tunnel and up the ramp to where drivers get in their golf carts. Fans typically line the chest-high fence there for autographs, and Busch actually stopped to sign a few despite his sour mood.

As he got in his golf cart, though, a fan went after Busch. According to several eyewitnesses, the fan gave Busch some not-so-friendly pats on the arm before reaching into the golf cart and making much harder contact. That brought Busch out of the cart to defend himself, and the two men were chest to chest as public relations woman Penny Copen stepped in between them. Police then arrived to detain the fan.

As if it wasn’t obvious, that is a totally unacceptable situation. No fan should ever, EVER confront a driver after the race. Between this and the guy who accosted Denny Hamlin on pit road at Martinsville last year, everyone is walking a fine line. It’s not going to take much for fans to completely lose access to the drivers, which is something that has made NASCAR great over the years.

Busch, no matter how much you may dislike him, shouldn’t need to be fearing for his safety when he’s leaving a racetrack. This is ENTERTAINMENT, after all. The drivers are putting on a show. It’s not some political demonstration where two sides clash in the streets.

Don’t make NASCAR bring in riot police to get drivers out of the track. If you see this start to happen at a track, don’t be afraid to alert security. You’re not snitching, you’re saving your fellow fans from losing valuable access to the stars of the sport.

5. Playoff picture

This is turning into such a weird season. Not only have three drivers dominated at the top, but there’s virtually zero points drama at the bottom when it comes to the playoff bubble.

I can’t remember if there’s been a cutoff race where it was only win-and-in, but this year’s Brickyard 400 is shaping up to be that way.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. missed a chance to capitalize on his best track, pitting under green twice with problems Saturday to finish five laps down while Alex Bowman snagged a top-10.

That leaves Stenhouse a whopping 79 points behind Bowman for the final spot with two races left.

Even if someone else wins Darlington or Indy — like a Daniel Suarez or Ryan Newman — there still won’t be much playoff drama with the points. That’s because Bowman is 32 points behind Jimmie Johnson for the 15th playoff spot, which is where the line would move to.

This storyline is not a huge deal — since whoever is the last person in the playoffs isn’t going to beat the Big Three anyway — but it’s kind of odd to see the standings look this way.

12 Questions with Denny Hamlin (2018)

Denny Hamlin has done a 12 Questions interview in all nine years they’ve existed. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing. These interviews are recommended as a podcast, but also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

Four times a week.

That’s a very exact answer.

I just feel like most nights in my dreams, I’m thinking about racing of some sort — whether it be why my car is doing this or that or why we didn’t do this or that or why we did good. Four nights a week I feel is like a really solid number.

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

Yes. I’m on the record for saying this many times. Even if you’re not sorry, you’ve got to fake it. If you don’t fake it, you get Matt Kenseth’d into the Turn 1 wall at Martinsville.

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

If they tell you you’re underrated. I think that’s the biggest compliment.

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?

Drake. Lil Weezy (Lil Wayne). Any rapper. I like them.

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

I only get the pit stall for one week?

Yeah, just for one race. You look conflicted.

Couldn’t do it.

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 not going to be good at this.

You’re not good at remembering races?


Do you happen to remember the 2012 New Hampshire spring race, the July race that year?

July. OK. We were fastest in first practice, fastest in second practice. Hold on — I may be thinking of the fall race. (Thinks for a moment) I’m just going to go ahead with this.

I think I was fastest in all practices, we qualified with race pressure air in the tires — we qualified 28th I believe — and got to the lead about lap 100 and won the race.

No, sorry.

That was the race after?

I wouldn’t pick a win because that would be too easy.

Hold on then. Yes, I remember the race I think. I think I finished second to Kasey Kahne. That was when we had the debacle on the radio with me and Darian Grubb and he says, “You need two or four tires?” I said, “I don’t know, I just need tires.” And he took it as I needed four tires. We restarted 15th and only got back to second.

I don’t remember the radio part, but that’s correct. You finished second to Kasey Kahne. You led 150 laps.

OK. I had the right year.

So you remembered both races that year. But you said you don’t remember races!

I know. But specific ones where you’re really fast, it’s easy. Ask me about the one I ran eighth at Kansas in blank year, I would never know.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Alive? Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive. I would just say Jay-Z — you can talk about, great history, fabulous rapper. He’s amazing.

But I just feel like as far as natural talent, Lil Wayne is the best alive.

Nobody’s said Kendrick Lamar all year. Why do you think that is? Am I just overrating him or something?

Probably. Nas said rap was dead many years ago (the 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead) and I just believe that it’s different now than what it used to be. But Lil Weezy can still kick it. It’s a shame he’s in contract disputes with his label or whatever, and got all these probably awesome songs that we’ll never ever get to hear because they’re arguing. (Editor’s note: Lil Wayne’s three-year legal battle with the label was ended last month, potentially clearing the way for a new album).

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

Oh geez. I don’t know. If I want to punch somebody, I need to make sure I can beat them up. I don’t wanna get beat up.

Maybe Brad (Keselowski). That’s probably a popular answer. (Laughs) But I like Brad, just for the record.

Chase Elliott said a couple weeks ago you were his answer last year, but he seemed to indicate that is not still the case.

Yeah, we’re good.

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.

Taylor’s for sure gonna be the motorhome driver. We’ll say for obvious reasons there.

LeBron, for his vision, is going to be the spotter. Great court vision, and I see it as great track vision.

And I’ll go with Tom Hanks — smart guy — he’s gonna be the crew chief.

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

Go before you leave the garage or bus.

You’re not one of these people who go last minute?

No. I’ve never understood that. Like I’ve never had to go and then five minutes later had to go again. Now everyone’s different, but I never understood the people who got off the truck after intros and hauled ass to the bathroom. I never understood that. Don’t know why they do that.

That’s true. I guess why not just go in your motorhome before you walk out to intros in the first place? It’s only a 20-minute difference.

Yeah, I guess. Unless you’re Matt Kenseth’s age and then you have to go every 10 minutes.

11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

They wouldn’t have to offer me anything as long as it wasn’t against asphalt or concrete. I’d give it a try.

Do you feel like you’d have a shot to land it?

No. But I’d give it a try.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Kasey Kahne. He wants to know how much time you spend a week on the Golf Guys Tour and the Hoop Group, because it seems like you spend a lot.

It is a lot of work running two leagues between basketball and golf. I’ll estimate between the chats, making rules…(it takes) 12 to 14 hours a week.

So a couple hours a day?

Yeah, somewhere in that range. That might be on the low side. It depends. If there’s an event that week, it’s 40 hours. Have you ever tried to line up 16 divas’ schedules? It’s not easy.

I didn’t think about that. You have arrange the tournament, but you have to make sure everybody is available.

What we try to do is we all meet for dinner in January or February and we say, “Alright, these are the dates we’re gonna hit.” We’ll look to see if anyone has any conflicts at that moment. And if not, we all lock it in on our schedules and then we build our real jobs around it.

So each driver or whatever has to go to their manager or PR rep…

…and mark it on their schedule and say, “Look, we’re locked in, can’t do it.”

What if a conflict pops up? Do you have the change the whole tournament date?

No. If there’s only one or two who is going to miss it, we move on and add a sub.

So they get no points?

Yeah. We have eight events and we drop two (worst performances). So there’s two drops.

That’s painful though, because you don’t get to drop a bad day if you’re absent.

That is correct. People think, “Oh, it’s just a throwaway.” But now you put pressure on yourself to perform in the other events.

Better have a good manager.


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

What’s the most disappointing loss you’ve ever had in your career?

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Denny Hamlin:

Nov. 10, 2010

Oct. 26, 2011

Nov. 7, 2012

Aug. 8, 2013

Oct. 14, 2014

May 28, 2015

Sept. 7, 2016

July 12, 2017


12 Questions with Erik Jones (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues with Erik Jones, who is in his second year driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. 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?

Not a whole lot. Every once in awhile I’ll have one. I guess when I’m really thinking about a given race coming up or thinking about certain things. Maybe I just watched a racing video or something before I go to bed, and then I’ll have a dream about racing. But in general, I don’t remember a lot of my dreams anymore.

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

It does and it doesn’t. I’ve had guys that have gotten into me that have apologized and haven’t apologized, and I’ve gotten into guys and apologized and haven’t apologized.

You know when it’s intentional and when it’s not intentional. And if it’s not intentional, honestly, it is what it is. I mean, you’re frustrated as a driver — I’m frustrated if it happens to me — but you can’t be all that mad. It wasn’t their intention to do that, you know they already feel bad enough about it. But if it is intentional, I don’t think there’s much that needs to be said there, either.

I guess there are times where I really feel like if I did something completely wrong, I’ve gone to guys and apologized. But if it’s something small, I usually don’t say anything about it. You just kind of move on.

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

Overall, I’d have to say that someone was proud of the work that I was putting into whatever it may be — not only racing, but I think just anything that I was up to in life. Just proud of the work that I was putting in at that point in time, the effort was paying off and it was helping everybody and better for everybody. That would be a big compliment to 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 really excited to host at a race?

Matthew McConaughey. I’m a big Matthew McConaughey fan, so that’d be pretty cool. I think he’d like it too. I don’t know if he’s ever been to a race, but that would be kind of neat.

It seems like he would. He seems like he’s kinda got the Southern relatability going on.

I think he’d just be a guy who would kind of sit back and not be a big ego guy. He’d kind of just be along for the ride and really want to take it all in and explore. So I think that’d be pretty neat.

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

No. No way. No. I couldn’t. I like a salad every once in a while, but not that much.

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 2016 Fall Charlotte Xfinity race.

That’s a tough one, because we ran second for a long time that day but we had a restart at the end and we didn’t run second. Did we run fourth?

Fifth. That was pretty close.

It was hard to remember because that day, we ran second all day to (Kyle) Larson. We had a caution with like five to go or something. We got shuffled on the restart and didn’t finish as good as we should have.

Wow. Do you remember all races that well, or is this just one that sticks out?

No, that one sticks out. That was the first year of the Xfinity playoffs, and we’d gotten ourselves into trouble about advancing in the next round and we had to finish pretty well that day, and I just remember trying to very conservative. Fortunately, we had a really good car and we just ran really good all day, and when the caution came out, I got nervous because I didn’t want to get wrecked and not advance to the next round.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

It’s hard not to say Eminem. He’s from Detroit, that’s where I grew up — close to Detroit. I’m a big Drake fan, too. Those two guys right there are probably the best ones for me, but I guess if I had to put one above the other, it’d be Eminem. He’s a home state guy for me, so it’s hard not to say that.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

Wow. Anybody in NASCAR? I don’t know, that’s a tough question. I feel like somebody’s gonna get mad at me. I mean, the funny one for me to say is Kyle (Busch) because he’s my buddy, and I know people would like that.

I don’t know. There’s probably not anyone I really want to punch in the face right now. I mean, nobody’s really made me mad. I think (Ricky) Stenhouse wanted to punch me in the face after Bristol (when they had an incident), but I told him at Talladega, “You finished good. I spun you out and you finished well, so I can do that weekly if you need me to.” But I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anyone that I have marked down on my list right now.

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.

Taylor’s driving the motorhome. Then we’ve got Tom and LeBron. I’ll take LeBron as my spotter because I think he’d be motivational. I think he’d pump me up. I think he’d do a good job. I don’t know what he’s like, but you watch him and he coaches the Cavaliers, as they say a lot.

And I guess I’ll take Tom Hanks on the box. I think he’d be pretty calm and cool and be able to sit back and make some focused decisions. So me and LeBron would be rockin’ it, keeping it pumped up on the racetrack.

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

Well, a lot of times Alicia (Deal, Jones’ PR rep) will map one out for me. Sometimes I’ll watch as I go around the track. You can kind of map it out. Sometimes I’ll do it at qualifying — you’ll see right away if they’ve got port-a-potties on pit road. That’s the key. That’s the best racetracks right there.

But if they don’t, that’s when you run into a problem and you’ve gotta kind of find the bathroom back in the garage. That’s when it’s a struggle.

I really try to hydrate a lot the days before so I don’t have to drink much water on race day, which sometimes works, but not always.

But that still means you have to make the stop.

I do, I still make the stop. I get nervous.

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

Do I have to complete the backflip, or just attempt it?

Just attempt it. It’s up to you.

I don’t need a full rotation?

They just want you to try it.

Oh man. I’d do it for $75 grand. I mean that’s a big number, that’s a lot of money, but yeah, I’d attempt it for that. Into the grass, because I wouldn’t make it.

They might have to pay your medical too, though.

It’d be fine. I’ll ask (Daniel) Hemric for some tips first. He’s good at it. He can do them right on the ground. Like he can do it right here.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Matt DiBenedetto, and his question for you was: Who do you think is the next guy that is going to come up and be the next breakthrough driver in NASCAR?

Like in a lower series?

He said it could be somebody from a lower series who’s going to come up, or it could be somebody who’s around now and is just going to start winning races.

I would say from lower series, it’s Todd Gilliland. He’s really talented. I’ve been impressed with him for awhile. He’s just really good in stock cars. I watched him in Late Models for a long time and he didn’t have a lot of success, but once he got into K&N and Trucks, he’s ran really well.

At our level, at the Cup level, I’d love to say it’s me. I’d love to come and break through and win some races. But I think all of us are right at the cusp of having a lot of race wins. I think myself, Chase (Elliott), Ryan (Blaney), Daniel (Suarez) — all of us are right there and we’re just trying to find that last little bit to really get there and really be super competitive every weekend.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with, but it’s going to be an IndyCar driver. Do you have a question I can ask somebody in IndyCar?

Is IndyCar racing really about how hard you can possibly drive the car with all the amount of downforce you have — how hard you can actually push? Or is it super finesse?

NASCAR is very finesse, especially with the low downforce. It’s very finesse and very having to back everything up and slow everything down. Is IndyCar more of all-out, high downforce, just getting all you can get, hustling as hard as you can, or are there tracks that you go to that are very finesse? It’d be interesting to me.

Editor’s note: These interviews were posted out of order due to the Indianapolis 500, so Jones’ question has already been answered by Alexander Rossi

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Erik Jones:

April 21, 2015

Sept. 21, 2016

June 21, 2017