12 Questions with Ryan Blaney (2019)

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Ryan Blaney of Team Penske. 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?

I am an iPhone person. I don’t think I ever had an Android. I had a (Motorola) Razr was my first phone — a flip phone. I actually had a Blackberry for a little bit, it was like my second phone. And then I just had an iPhone ever since.

I don’t really know why. I think they’re just pretty easy to use. I see ads for other phones, Androids and stuff like that, and I’ve just never really thought of switching. They get a bad rap (from Apple users). You know, iPhone people give Android users a hard time with the green bubble (text) message, and I’ve never really gotten that. Like it’s his phone. Who cares about what it is or not?

But I’ve stayed with an iPhone, it’s what I’ve known for the longest time and I don’t want to relearn a new software.

So green bubble message doesn’t bother you?

No, I don’t mind it.

It annoys me.

It bothers you? Really? What’s the downside to it?

You can’t see whether it was delivered, you can’t see if it was read, it just pops up and you’re like, “Did it get there?”

Yeah, I see you on that, but it just has never really bothered me. You can’t judge someone for what they’ve got on their phone.

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?

Signing something is easy. Let’s say you want to sign a hero card. You can walk and sign a hero card and chat with them at the same time you’re signing with them; that’s the easiest part, so you kind of get the two in one.

The selfie thing I prefer. I like taking pictures with people, because I see a lot of stuff I signed for fans at the racetrack end up on the Internet. I’m like, “Oh, you just want me to sign this so you can turn around and sell it?” So people who want photos, it’s a lot more intimate. They are actually a big fan of you, they like it.

But they’ve got to learn how to learn how to use their phones. (Laughs) Going back to phones, I can’t tell you how many times guys are like, “Can I have a selfie?” I’m like “Yeah,” but he doesn’t have his phone out yet and doesn’t know how to work the camera. I’m like, “I’ll do it.”

But I like them all, but it just depends. I can get you an autograph and chat with you while you’re walking, which is great, or I’ll stop and take a selfie. But the only advice I have on the selfie stuff is to have your phone out and ready and know where the button is to take the photo.

Do you see cars you sign on eBay and stuff like that?

Yeah, sometimes. It’s out there and people do it. Some folks want you to sign with a certain color, especially on hero cards. I’m a black Sharpie guy and use a silver Sharpie for windshields. When people ask me to do blue Sharpie on a hero card — I don’t mind like gold Sharpies on windshields because it looks cool if it’s the right color car; I think it will look neat — but when they hand you their own blue Sharpie to sign that hero card, I’m like, “You’re selling this.”

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?

I think you can compare it because most of the bad moves that people pull are unintentional. On the racetrack and on the road, sometimes they just don’t see you, they make a mistake, it’s usually not malicious. Other times it is, and I feel like it crosses over, too.

I hate on the street — it absolutely drives me insane — when someone pulls out right in front of you. I mean, right in front of you and you’re slamming on the brakes, they don’t even give you a wave or nothing like, “Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” It infuriates me.

So yeah, I think it can compare, but most of the time I feel like it’s unintentional. But there are some times where people are actually being jerks on the racetrack and on the street. The other part about that is race car drivers, we do this professionally — so we’re supposed to be good at it. But drivers on the road, you don’t know their comfort level and there’s a lot more variation in their skills behind the wheel.

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

Not really, not that I can think of. When I was young, I flipped a quarter midget pretty hard and the whole side of my helmet was almost scraped off from hitting it on the pavement, but it did its job. So that was interesting. But no, never like a failure, never like a belt coming loose or tearing or anything like that. So that side’s been pretty good to me.

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

I’m kind of torn on that. I don’t really know. We don’t do that over here at Team Penske.

I don’t think I’d want to know about it. I mean, why should I know about it? I wouldn’t want to know. You can’t really get away with that stuff anymore, the super secret illegal parts. NASCAR finds that stuff pretty quick. But let me focus on what my car is doing just like a normal weekend. I don’t want that in the back of my mind: “Oh we’re going to get caught, we’re going to get caught.” I just wouldn’t want to think about that.

Plus, if the media comes to you later and you got caught, you can say, “I didn’t know.”

Exactly. And I wouldn’t be lying if I didn’t know about it, so it’s good. I’d feel better inside.

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

I think any kind of Mexican food will upset your stomach, if you have tacos or something. Things like that, beans or whatever, is probably not the best for your stomach. That or like Thai food, I’m guessing. Anything spicy I don’t think is going to be very good, especially if it’s a hot day. You don’t want that. I’m usually pretty easy; I’m a chicken and rice guy before races.

But yeah, I had a bad experience. I ran a K&N car at Sonoma two or three years ago, and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I really didn’t think I was going to make it. I was really hurting, and we ended up breaking — truthfully breaking! (Laughs) I didn’t wreck on purpose. We broke a gear or something. But I was feeling really bad. I think it was what I ate the night before.

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

I think there is life in outer space. There’s got to be. There’s too much galaxy to not have anything. If there wasn’t anything, that would be more terrifying than if there actually is something.

Do they race? Just depends how advanced they are, I guess. I mean, are we talking about living things as far as parasites on other planets or are we talking about full-grown aliens? I don’t know.

I’m sure they were racing when the cavemen discovered how to make wheels. They were putting them on these little buggies and they were racing their buggies, I swear. I mean, it’s just part of nature. So I’m sure (aliens) race if they have the knowledge of round wheels or hover cars.

That’s what I was wondering. Do you think that some of the stuff we see in Star Wars when they race in their kind of vehicles, do you think that exists somewhere? Can you envision that?

It’s hard for me to envision outer space movies as depictions of outer space. The only reason we think of that stuff is because they’re in movies. If we never would had seen a photo of Area 51 alien, we’d have a completely different idea of what an alien would look like. I’d like for aliens to look like us where they’re just other humans on other planets.

But it’s crazy how you pick up on things that are in movies that you’re like, “This must be right. Somewhere out there, they must do it this way.” They might. Maybe they’ll come say hey one day. That’d be nice.

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

Oh, now you’re getting into the dirt. Really, it just varies. I mean, it really is just small talk. “How’s it going?” You don’t really talk about much of the race, like the upcoming race. We might talk about practice a little bit, like, “Oh, how are you?” and stuff like that. That or your week or if you have a crazy story from the weekend or something. I’m sure some of us will have some crazy stories about this Friday night after the bash (at Talladega); we’ll have some good stories we can share on Sunday at the intro stage. But not a lot gets talked about.

9. What makes you happy right now?

There’s a couple new things. My nephew (Louie) makes me real happy whenever I get to see him. That’s been a lot of fun to get to watch him grow over the last few months. And my dog (Sturgill), I’ve been able to watch him grow also and at about the same time period. So those two things make me pretty happy.

Honestly the nephew thing is cool because whenever he’s at a race and things like that, you’re like, “Why am I getting upset?” He actually calms me down. It’s just kind of neat, you just kind of think back on it. But yeah, those two things are two pretty recent things that make me really happy.

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?

That’s tough. That’s a good question. I’m curious what other people said about it. Like the rest of my career? However long I wanted to go, until I was 50? Full-time, 25 years. Every single interview. (Thinks for a moment)

I feel like after the first few years it would just become normal. The first year would be awkward and people would be like, “What the hell is he doing?” But I think after that it would be like, “Oh, it’s just part of the deal.” And down the road it just gets to be, “That’s just how it is.” So yeah, I would probably take that. Just have to fight through that first year of the public kind of humiliation, but I think after that you’re fine.

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. Actually, it’s not really completely random. I only have two questions for you to pick from. Basically it’s going to go odd or even for the question.

We’ll go even.

This question is a question that you’ve answered before, but I want to see how your answers compare because this was five years ago. You get to have a lot of cool experiences away from racing through your job as a NASCAR driver. What is one experience to you that sticks out?

I feel like a really cool experience has been just meeting a lot of people. You meet a lot of great people. I’m a big music fan and I’ve gotten to meet some of my favorite artists. I’ve been able to be on a couple of TV shows. To be a voice in Cars 3 was really cool because I loved that movie as a kid. To be on a couple TV shows has been tons of fun.

I just think the neat opportunities and the people you meet along the way is cool, kind of seeing and talking to them about their background, where they come from, how they end up doing this job, I think it’s kind of neat. And you respect other people, what they do professionally — and they have questions for us, too. I’ve made a lot of friends outside the racing world and like the entertainment business that have never been to a race before and they come out to Fontana or a race in Florida or something and they become fans for life. So I think that’s been a lot of fun to meet some great folks like that.

12. The last interview was with Josef Newgarden. He wants to know: What is your opinion on mullets and mustaches? Do you like them? Do you dislike them? Do you have one personally? And if you don’t, do you want to have one? And also, are you allowed to have one?

I saw this on social media, and when Ian (Moye, Blaney’s public relations representative) said I’m doing 12 questions with you, I’m like, “Oh, awesome. I get to answer this question.”

So Josef, a very clean cut guy. He’s like “Ken Doll,” we call him. And yes, I love mustaches. I like long hair, I like mustaches, that’s kind of how I’ve always been. I don’t know why I enjoy them; I just do.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to grow both pretty well, and that’s kind of my offseason look. I grow my hair out throughout the year, I might get it cut once a year, maybe twice; one and a half, really. And halfway through November I start on my mustache kick, and then I have a pretty solid month of a pretty full thick mustache after that.

Am I allowed to have them? No. That’s just the way it is. (Team Penske has) been very good being lenient towards it; they know I have a big fanbase that kind of likes that stuff. So that’s been nice to not be completely kind of shut off from everything.

But there’s times you have to know when to be presentable and not. The hair thing, Penske’s kind of let go a little bit and loosened reins on it. At the beginning of the year, I got a massive haircut and shaved my face for beginning-of-the-year photos and that kind of stuff, and then it just kind of grows throughout the year. I’ve done a pretty good job keeping my face pretty clean throughout the main part of the year.

But if I could, I would have long hair and a mustache all the time. But hey, you’ve just gotta be responsible and respectful for who you’re driving for and things like that, and that’s fine with me. They know my fans like it, but it’s a big give and take thing, which has been nice to have. Not just completely shut off.

Maybe the more vocal your fans are about how much they like it, the more they’ll let you go with it and keep it potentially?

No. They’ve (already) been pretty vocal about it. But like I said, I know kind of the limits and boundaries and things like that and when you have to be responsible. So it’s a good balance, I feel like throughout the year. Start the year off baby-faced and throughout the year the hair gets a little bit longer and then like the last month of the season I start on the mustache. So it’s kind of a progression.

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

We drove trucks together for a little bit (at Brad Keselowski Racing). In 2015 I drove a part schedule in that 29 truck, like five races. Most recent Xfinity championship winner — how did he celebrate? What was his favorite part about winning the championship, and what was the coolest thing he did? What experience did he have after that?

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Ryan Blaney:

— Nov. 5, 2014

— Oct. 7, 2015

— Feb. 25, 2016

— July 5, 2017

Oct. 23, 2018

12 Questions with Josef Newgarden (2019)

Photo by Joe Skibinski, via IndyCar

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the current IndyCar points leader. 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?

I’m definitely an iPhone person. I’ve always had Apple products; probably a bit of a fanboy of Apple. I see people go back and forth on the debate where (they say) the capabilities of Android are probably better and the infrastructure people say is better to some degree. But I’ve just always liked Apple products. I like the styling and the design. I remember when the very first iPhone came out and I was so pumped for that and I got the very first iPhone.

You were an early adopter?

Oh yeah, I was right away. I actually remember, Apple had a partnership with a different cellular brand (other than Verizon) — I don’t know why, because they could have chosen a better cellular brand for their partnership for sure — but they came out with a phone that had the iTunes button it. And you could put music on your phone, and that was like really cool to me, because I always listened to music when I was younger. From that moment, I was like, “Man, they’ve got to do something more with phones.” And then obviously the iPhone came out pretty soon afterwards.

But why I use an iPhone is because I integrate everything on Apple. Like I have an Apple computer, I have an iPad — when I need something lighter for travel I’ll use my iPad — and it’s all integrated. Everything that I do is over Apple, so I try to keep it consistent.

2. If a fan meets you in the paddock, 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 you’re asking me what’s most impactful? A comment is most impactful. It’s great to give a photo, it’s great to give an autograph, and that’s going to last. But I think the personal interaction is what matters most. Whenever you meet someone and you truly meet them instead of just trying to run through people — because it’s hard. You get pulled left and right when you’re walking through the paddock and you don’t want to just brush people off; it’s easy to get caught up just focusing on what you’re doing.

But if you give them a genuine amount of attention and say, “Hi, nice you meet you,” and you maybe learn a little bit about their story or where they’re from — Are they here locally? Did they travel in? — and you give them a nice comment about the track or what you’re doing or thank them for coming. I think as long as it’s meaningful and genuine, that goes the furthest than anything else. I think people will appreciate that the most, in my opinion.

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?

No, because it’s more of a jerk move on the track. Because the people driving the race cars know what they’re doing, generally, so when it happens, it’s very purposeful.

You kind of have to take into account that there’s a lot of people on the road in the U.S. who just are so unaware and don’t know what’s going on half the time. So they may have done something to offend you and they have absolutely no idea why — or they’re not even aware that they’ve offended you. So to me, it’s way more of a jerk move on the racetrack.

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

The biggest thing that happens is belts that come undone. That’s a very scary situation. I’ve had that happen once in my career — thankfully only once. It was at a road course, too. I think at an oval you’d be even more timid if your belt came loose or unbuckled.

What happened to me was I had my left side harness, my shoulder strap unbuckled. And I was like, “I don’t know what to do in this situation.” So I just kept on driving. And then fortunately, I’m pretty sure we had an exhaust failure, like I caught on fire and I had to come into the pits and I retired the race, thankfully. So like it coincided with this terrible safety issue. But that’s the one I hear about a lot.

Oh! I have an even better one. I have had a wheel fall apart in my hands while driving down a straightaway at 150 miles an hour, going into like a 40 mile-an-hour right-hander on a street course. Walls really close, not a lot of runoff, and the wheel literally just came apart.

It’s not like you can just put it back on. I’ve seen that before where guys have the wheel come off. I think Dale Jr., it happened to him once — the wheel popped off and he put it right back on immediately and he was fine.

This thing like, the bolts fell out of it. The hub was completely disconnected. So I just had the wheel in my hands and just fortunately the caster of the car just straightened it out and I just went into a runoff zone and I didn’t hit anything. So then I radioed in — I was like, “Hey, I’m just sitting here. I have the wheel in my hands. I can’t go anywhere. You guys have to come get me.” So that was the worst situation that’s ever happened, and it I think it was quite embarrassing for everybody. But yeah, you don’t want your wheel to just fall apart in your hands when you’re doing 150 miles per hour.

Where was this?

St. Petersburg. I think it was 2013, it was my second year in IndyCar.

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

Yeah, I think I would, because I’m a control freak, and I crave information — but in a positive way. Like I feel the best when I have the most knowledge of something, whether it’s the session we just ran or the way I’m driving the car. I want to have as much knowledge as possible and understand everything. So I think I would want to know about it.

But at the same time, if I didn’t know about it and we were just fast, it wouldn’t bother me. You asked me if I wanted to know, and I’d want to know, but it wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t 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?

I would definitely say don’t experiment too much, which I struggle following myself. It’s hard to not experiment on race weekends. It depends on the driver. If you drive a race weekend where you’re in your motorhome for instance or if you take a motorhome to the track then you can generally control the food you’re eating for the weekend. There’s a lot of guys that don’t do that. I don’t have a motorhome, and outside of the Indy 500, I don’t take a motorhome anywhere.

So I’m at hotels, and finding food is different every night then. You’re going to all sorts of restaurants so it’s hard to not experiment and eat different stuff. But that’s where you get in trouble. Sometimes if you experiment with like a seafood dish, it’s probably unwise, but it’s definitely bit me before.

But then you also get bit by things that you think are fine. I had a lamb dish last year at the season finale — it was just lamb. You know, lamb’s a pretty safe choice, I would think! But I got food poisoning the night before the race in Sonoma last year. So you just never know, it can bite you whenever.

But yeah, seafood to me is the most risky thing in the business. If you’re eating seafood, make sure it’s at like a reputable establishment. That’s the best advice, I would say.

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

I hope so. Goodness, I hope so. I’m a Star Wars fan, so they race in and out of space, they race all sorts of stuff. I think it’s impossible to say that there isn’t life in outer space. I don’t think we know. I think we’re becoming more and more advanced as humans and maybe one day we’ll be able to answer that question from a more educated standpoint. But I would say I think there’s a high likelihood that there’s other life outside of planet Earth. Do they race? I sure hope so. It’s very sad if they don’t.

It would be sad.

We should totally spread that message one day if we meet them and they don’t race.

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

All sorts of stuff. There’s a lot of people sizing each other up. That’s happening. Actually, everyone in IndyCar is pretty cool for the most part. You’re kind of mentally sizing everybody up, but you’re also not because I think we find that doesn’t really work in IndyCar. You can only do so much of that. You might be doing that with one individual, but for the most part, 90 percent of the people that are there, you’re really just catching up.

It’s like, “Hey, how’s your weekend been? Where are you staying? How’s your car?” Or if you know somebody had a bad qualifying session you talk to them about that. Maybe you both had a bad qualifying session. Like for instance, Ryan Hunter-Reay and me (at Barber Motorsports Park), we were sitting together at driver intros and we’re just like, “Man, this has been a bad weekend.” We both were just struggling. And I think 90 percent of the time you’re talking about what’s already happened that weekend, why your car is not good, how the race is gonna be, if it’s about to rain. Whatever it is, you’re generally talking about racing in those moments.

9. What makes you happy right now?

At the moment, this cookie in my belly makes me very happy. Penske hospitality only travels to like four events now. (Editor’s note: Some IndyCar teams and manufacturers bring hospitality tents to the track with catering for their teams and guests to enjoy.) They used to travel to a lot more. I’m so sad because we have awesome chefs and they always make good cookies. They actually make too good of cookies because then I eat them all. I have like 10 cookies on a weekend, which is not good. So that makes me happy.

Food in general — I’m big into food. I just like to eat. Whenever we’re going out in a different city, I really want to find a good restaurant. But everything makes me happy. Honestly, I’m so fortunate, I live a great life, get to work for Team Penske — which is the coolest. I’m healthy. My family’s healthy for the most part. So no dramas, man. That makes me so happy. I mean, that’s the biggest thing. You wish health for everybody just because you see it all the time, people who have all sorts of struggles. But if you’re healthy and happy and you’ve got a good opportunity to work in life, then that’s all you can ask for.

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?

Yeah, no problem. It’s absolutely zero issue. I mean, I would like to think I don’t need to do that now to get a sponsor, but if I had to get a sponsor and that’s their gig and they’re gonna support me, I know they’re supporting me and I have to do this, then no problem. Like, can I reveal that to people? I would just tell them that it’s just part of my program. If this is what these guys like and I support them for liking it and they sponsor my race car, no problem. If I can reveal it, then that’s like no issue for me. Whatever you need.

That’s actually not such a terrible request. There could be worse requests, right? I don’t know what people would require, but if that’s the requirement, I could get down for that. That’s OK. Yeah.

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

OK. I’m gonna say 81.T

The question is: Where did your first paycheck come from?

Like a real real paycheck? Or can it be, “Hey, you got a check for mowing lawns?”

Thinking back when I asked this question, it was like where was the first paycheck you got that like went into a bank account. Did you mow lawns?

Yeah, I did. I mowed lawns. I had a car cleaning service at one point.

A car cleaning service?

Yeah, I was big into that because I’m kind of like OCD. So detailing cars was something I was very into. I’m into cars, and for me, everything’s got to be pristine. So I kind of fell in love with detailing vehicles and then just parlayed that into a job. Like you can do that for a living. Some people have very successful detailing companies.

So yeah, I mowed lawns and I detailed cars. That’s how I had some income when I was younger. I did this when I was like 15 to 19 years old. I got checks for that, I put them in my bank account, that’s probably been my more successful forays into business when I was younger.

But see, to give the real real job answer, the first time I started making real money was when I got hired in IndyCar. I was 20 — in 2012 — and you don’t get written a check; they send you a wire straight to your bank account. And that’s cool. If that starts happening where you’re driving for an establishment and you’re hired and they’re just transferring you money monthly per a contract, that’s pretty cool. And I remember that very distinctly.

That’s something I would enjoy as well.

It’s awesome, man. And you get to drive the race car! It’s so cool. It’s the greatest!

12. The last interview was with Matt DiBenedetto. He wants to know: What do you think is harder about racing open wheel cars than stock cars, and what do you think is easier about it?

I genuinely believe physically IndyCars are harder. That’s not a knock, it’s just what it is. But I would also preface that by saying the physicality is different. I think overall it’s more physical. If you’re talking about heat management, I think the NASCAR boys have a lot more difficulty than us. The temperatures in their vehicles are much higher, so they have to deal with probably 140, 150 degrees Fahrenheit of temp. We’re not nearly that high. But there’s no power steering (in IndyCars), there’s much higher G-loading because of the weight and downforce that our cars produce, so laterally we make a lot more grip. We go a lot quicker through the corners. I think physically they are tougher to drive.

That doesn’t speak to the difficulty skill-wise to drive the cars. I think physically you have to be a bit more fit to drive an IndyCar. Even Juan Pablo Montoya is a great example, him coming back from NASCAR to IndyCar, he knew he had to lose quite a bit of weight just to fit in the car and then also be fit enough to drive it. So I would say that part is harder.

What is easier? Pitting. Pitting is easier in IndyCar. We have a pit lane speed limiter, we can push on a button, it’s automatic. You still have the difficulty where you can’t speed coming into pit lane, but you don’t have to modulate your speed through the pit lane — whereas NASCAR they have to modulate that off of RPM, they have to do that off their foot. I think that’s more difficult than what we do on the IndyCar side.

I bet a lot of NASCAR drivers would love to have the button.

It’s amazing. I mean, there’s still some skill. You’ve got to get down to the speed limit, you’ve got to be the quickest in that segment. But then it’s easy street for the rest of pit lane. They would love that.

Do you have a question I can ask somebody in the NASCAR garage?

For the next person, what is your opinion on mullets and mustaches? Do you like them? Do you dislike them? Do you have one personally? And if you don’t, do you want to have one? And also, are you allowed to have one? That’s my question. It’s very loaded. If it’s Blaney, you can have a great conversation about that.

Previous interviews with Josef Newgarden:

Social Spotlight: June 1, 2017

12 Questions with Joey Logano (2019)

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

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

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

And it worked out OK?

You have time for a quick story?


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

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

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

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

So how can you switch after that?

No kidding.

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

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


They just thought “guy who lost his phone?”

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. And they remember that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four days? That’s a long time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What makes you happy right now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I take year off?

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

No way.

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

What did I say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK. So that’s pretty good!

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

Why would the phone count for screen time?

I don’t know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Joey Logano:

— April 7, 2010

— Feb. 23, 2011

— March 7, 2012

— Feb. 28, 2013

— Feb. 26, 2014

— July 1, 2015

— March 9, 2016

June 5, 2018


The Top Five: Breaking down the Martinsville playoff race

Five thoughts after Sunday’s Round 3 opener at Martinsville…

1. What if….

I recently invented a special machine that allows me to travel between parallel universes and watch NASCAR races in two different dimensions. I just arrived back from the alternate universe where Joey Logano elected to race cleanly and NOT move Martin Truex Jr. for the win at Martinsville.

If you’re wondering how that decision went over with everyone, I brought the postrace transcript from Logano’s runner-up press conference from the parallel universe. Here it is.

REPORTER 1: “Joey, it looked like you had a chance to move Martin out of the way on that last lap and backed out of it. What was going through your mind there, knowing that may have cost you a chance to reach Homestead?”

LOGANO: “Look, I love winning. But clean driving is everything to me. If I can’t have the respect of my competitors, I don’t want to be doing this. Martin raced me fair and square, so I wanted to do the same in return.”

REPORTER 2: “That’s great, but what do you say to your fans and team after passing up a guaranteed shot to make the final four?”

LOGANO: “Martin is a classy guy. We attend each other’s charity events and he’s always so nice when my wife and I see him in the motorhome lot. I know we’ll be friends for years to come. It’s just not worth it to ruin that relationship. Heck, we’re supposed to go out on the lake together this week!”

REPORTER 3: “Joey, it looks like Twitter is lighting up with fans who say you must not want a championship badly enough if that’s how you race. How do you answer critics who say you get paid millions of dollars to do whatever it takes to win?”

LOGANO: “Have you ever been loudly booed by a crowd? Have you ever had a driver’s significant other tweet something negative about you? I mean, geez. Those things hurt. I don’t want any part of that. I would rather be a good guy and keep my reputation intact than do anything to make people think I’m a dirty driver.”


SPONSOR: “Joey, we like you a lot, but we’re paying $20 million a year for our car to win races and championships. We’re going to be moving on.”

LOGANO: “Aw, OK. I hope we can still be friends!”

2. Respect for Truex

Is it possible to agree with Logano’s last-lap move and still empathize with the obvious anger felt by Truex and Cole Pearn?


Truex had an incredible drive on Sunday. He had his qualifying time thrown out and started in the back, only to make it through the field — at Martinsville, no less! — and contend in the top five almost the entire day.

Truex fought his way toward the front, then patiently and cleanly worked Logano for the lead until making what seemed to be the winning pass.

Had Truex won, that would have been one of the highlights of his career: First short track win, a win-and-in ticket to Homestead, high stakes with his team getting ready to shut down and people loudly saying he’s the most vulnerable of the Big Three drivers to miss the final four.

Instead…Logano ran into him. And now making Homestead is no sure thing.

Frustrating! Super, super frustrating! Who wouldn’t be angry about that?

I still don’t blame Logano for making the move, but it’s completely understandable why Truex and his fans would be upset about it. When looking back in a couple weeks, that one moment could very well be the difference between competing for a championship and missing out altogether.

That said, as mad as he may be now, I see no scenario under which Truex retaliates. He’s just not that kind of driver. Even if he doesn’t make Homestead, Truex isn’t going to go out and ruin Logano’s championship race with a crash. He might race Logano hard, but Truex won’t pull a Matt Kenseth. No way.

3. What’s the code?

I’m not a driver, so this is just one interpretation of what’s OK on the last lap in NASCAR and what isn’t.

— If you can move someone out of the way and do it without ruining their day — i.e. without wrecking them or costing them more than a few positions — then it’s not only acceptable in NASCAR, but expected. And even encouraged by series officials.

— If you have a chance to door someone for a side-by-side finish, it’s a coin toss as to whether the other driver and the general fan base will think it’s an acceptable move. This often depends on the person initiating the contact.

— If you accidentally wreck the person while trying to move them (like Denny Hamlin on Chase Elliott), that is considered off-limits and there will be repercussions from both the other driver and fans.

— If you crash the person in a reckless-but-unintentional way (not necessarily on purpose, but understanding there will be full contact like Noah Gragson on Todd Gilliland), people may view it the same way as a blatant takeout.

— If you completely crash someone on purpose in order to win, that’s viewed as a dirty move that takes no talent and the fallout might stain your reputation for years.

Logano’s move on Truex — like any bump-and-run at a short track — is about the least offensive way to physically move someone and falls into the first category. That’s the type of move that can only happen in stock car racing and is a hallmark of what makes NASCAR fun. You’re not going to get that in Formula One, let’s put it that way.

4. Stuff that doesn’t matter

Over the last four weeks, I’ve taken a step back from NASCAR as I got off the road for the birth of my daughter. Though I’ve tried to follow the news as much as possible, there’s no doubt having a newborn at home makes it difficult to be as immersed in the NASCAR bubble as the weeks when I’m on the road at races.

And I’ve got to tell you: Looking at the big picture, it’s a bit alarming how the NASCAR world seems to get caught up in minor, tiny crap that doesn’t really matter and actually detracts from the sport.

One example is the race day morning inspection where qualifying times get thrown out. Here I am as a TV viewer who woke up excited to spend my Sunday watching some short-track racin’ across the country. I opened my Twitter app, and what was the big storyline of the day? Drivers getting their qualifying times disallowed, starting at the back for unapproved adjustments, crew members getting ejected, etc.

Seriously? This is what we’re talking about on playoff race day morning?? For a short track where aero doesn’t even really matter???

Officiating things that way certainly seems excessive. And yes, I know all about the reasons why they do it; I’m explaining the big-picture view of why it seems silly.

Another example was the race a couple weeks ago at Talladega. My wife was in the hospital that day and I was unable to pay much attention to the race, though we had it on in the background on mute.

When I tried catching up with what happened, the big controversy was apparently about whether NASCAR should have made the caution one lap shorter and whether officials should have thrown a yellow for a wreck on the last lap instead of having it finish under green.

Look, I completely understand why those are significant debates for those in the NASCAR industry and fans who are super passionate about the sport. But can you imagine how all this looks to casual fans or people who might want to give NASCAR a chance?

Headlines like Drivers criticize NASCAR for running them out of fuel with long caution! and Fans angry NASCAR chose drama over safety on last lap! just seem like such minor things from afar. As does Defending champion will start at the back today for failing laser scan on first try!

I’m not suggesting I have the solution to all this, because I don’t. And I’m not criticizing the media, certainly; when I get back at Texas next week, I’ll be all-in with the bubble once again.

But if these are the storylines, NASCAR has some real work to do. It cannot afford to be stuck on the minutiae, because there aren’t enough people left who care that much. Simplify things, focus on what really makes people want to spend their time on the sport (great racing and interesting driver storylines) and everyone will be much better off.

5. What’s next?

Logano taking a guaranteed spot at Homestead means at least one of the Big Three is going to have to point their way into the final four. After Martinsville, Truex and Kevin Harvick are tied for the last two spots, 25 points above the cutline.

I think both will be OK, as will Kyle Busch. Harvick is probably going to win Texas, Phoenix or both; Busch might win one of those as well. That means Truex, with a pair of top-five finishes, should be just fine.

Aric Almirola, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch are already facing big points deficits after just one week. Are any of them going to win a race in this round? I actually think it’s more likely a non-playoff type like a Denny Hamlin or a Brad Keselowski will win, which would open up an addition points position for a Big Three member.

So as it turns out, perhaps all of the Big Three will make it to Homestead after all — just maybe not exactly how we expected.

12 Questions with Ryan Blaney (2018)

(Photo: Getty Images)

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

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just who would you like to take around?

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

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

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

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

Invite her out, yeah.

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

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

Which one?

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

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

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

Holy crap! Wow! That’s impressive.

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

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

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

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

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

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

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

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just for the good of the sport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Ryan Blaney:

Nov. 5, 2014

Oct. 7, 2015

Feb. 25, 2016

July 5, 2017


12 Questions with Will Power (2018)

The series of 12 Questions driver interviews continues this week with Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, who drives for Team Penske.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I do definitely have dreams about racing. I’m trying to think of the last one I had. I’ve had dreams about winning races and that sort of thing. Winning the championship, I think that was my last dream, actually.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize? And I guess in IndyCar, you would never mean to do that.

Yeah, I’m sure it does. It’s good when you hear from someone if they took you out. If they don’t say anything, it’s kind of rude, I suppose. If you take someone out and it’s your mistake, you should talk about it and apologize.

Am I correct in thinking there’s no intentional wrecking in IndyCar?

There isn’t. Guys at the end of the year take more of a risk when you’re in certain situations and you have to beat someone. But you just can’t intentionally wreck someone in this series. It’s too dangerous.

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

I think the biggest compliment is that you’re a clean, good, fast racer and a good guy off the track.

4. IndyCar 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?

Dave Grohl. That’d be pretty cool to have him. I don’t know if we’d put him in the Penske corporate (suite) — he needs to be in a Snake Pit type scenario. But that would be a celebrity I’d love to host.

5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, IndyCar 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?

Yes I would. For a pit spot? No. 1? Absolutely.

Have you ever tried going vegan before?


But you’re a healthy eater, I understand.

I am, yes. But I do eat a lot of protein — meat. But I’d do it because I’d like to try it anyway. And if you get Pit Out, it’s worth 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. This is the 2014 race at Barber Motorsports Park. Do you remember this race at all?

(Thinks deeply) Did I win that one?

No, I didn’t want to make it too easy.

Yeah. OK. Let’s say fourth place and I was saving a lot of fuel.

You were fifth. I don’t know what the fuel situation was. But you led 15 laps and ultimately Ryan Hunter-Reay won.

I think that might have been that race.

Are you good at remembering races in general?

Not anymore. There’s just so many. Earlier in your career, you could remember every race you’ve done. Now it’s so hard to recall, I couldn’t even remember all my wins.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Alive? I’m into 90s rap, so Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre. Tupac is obviously gone. Biggie is gone.

Definitely not Jay-Z.

Oh! Not a Jay-Z guy, huh?

Nah. I’m not a big Jay-Z guy. He’s not bad. But I listen to NWA and Public Enemy — No. 1.

I don’t know who it is, but I’d say Snoop Dogg. He’s kind of the guy who comes to mind now. There’s so many good 90s rappers, man. Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Tribe Called Quest.

8. Who has the most punchable face in IndyCar?

Most punchable face. That’s an interesting one. Who would I like most to punch in the head in IndyCar? I don’t know. Let’s go through the field. (Thinks for a moment.)

I don’t know that anyone has a punchable face. That would be very, very mean to punch someone in the face. It happens. I’ve punched people in the face and been punched in the face in my life, but it’s just not a good thing.

Let’s just pick a random person. No. There’s no one there who I’d like to punch in the face.

9. IndyCar 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 chief strategist, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.

I’d have Tom Hanks on strategy. He’s probably a pretty cluey guy in that respect, having to learn lines and memorize well. (Editor’s note: “Cluey” is Australian slang for wise or knowledgeable.)

LeBron would be very good at spotting. He’s always looking to understand what’s going on on the court.

And Taylor Swift is always on a bus traveling, so she’d have some sort of idea of how a motorhome is run.

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

Actually, I usually scope it out beforehand. The best ones are when it’s a port-o-potty right on pit lane there. Indianapolis is the worst, like the Indy road course. You have to go searching into a room and try to find one.

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

What, do they have an unlimited budget? You’d take big money, as much as you could go. A million bucks. You could make money off it if they said they’d give anything. Then you’d learn and do the backflip.

Or you don’t learn at all. What is it? If they say, “We’ll give you a million bucks if you backflip,” can you go off and learn? Or do you have to turn up without learning and they’ll say, “Bang?”

You can have time to learn.

OK. Well then the highest amount of money you can get. It’s business.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Daniel Suarez. His question for you was: How much do you enjoy road course racing versus oval racing, and would you like to try one of those in NASCAR one day?

I would love to try an oval in NASCAR. And a road course, actually. For me, I really enjoy oval racing a lot more than earlier in my career. It’s almost to the point where I’d much rather do ovals each week. But you’ve got to have both in IndyCar. They’re just such different disciplines for us. Really enjoy ovals though. Really, really enjoy understanding how to get the car working and where to run and running in traffic. It’s just a lot of fun.

Do you have a question I might be able to ask for the next interview? It’s with Rico Abreu, the sprint car driver.

Yeah, I think I would ask him: Would he like to try an IndyCar out on an oval or a road course? That would be interesting to see what he thought.

Brad Keselowski’s pit crew adds to Kyle Larson’s string of frustration

By John Haverlin

If Kyle Larson’s final pit stop were a mere tenth of a second quicker, he probably would have beaten Brad Keselowski off pit road and won the Southern 500.

Larson’s No. 42 car had looked untouchable all night. He swept the first two stages and led 284 of the 367 laps at Darlington. But when it came down to the key moment of the race, it was Keselowski’s crew that turned a lightning-fast stop instead of Larson’s.

Once again, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver came away with a frustrating ending to what could have been a perfect night. For two consecutive races, he’s settled for something short of what he might’ve deserved. It’s not that his pit crew was bad during the race; it just didn’t have the extra bit of speed necessary to top Keselowski’s group.

“We didn’t get beat off pit road by much, but it was enough,” Larson said. “Being the control car at any racetrack is huge, and we just didn’t have that. … Just lost a little bit of our edge there for the restart and I was pretty loose on that last run and lost a lot of ground there.”

Although he didn’t dominate Bristol two weeks ago, he was the pole winner and finished second to Kurt Busch. For the final 13 laps of that race, he pushed as hard as he could to catch the Stewart-Haas Racing car. 

The Bristol night race is an event Larson has said is the one he wants to win more than anything in NASCAR — other than maybe the Daytona 500. It was agonizing for him to not win after going to victory lane the day before in the Bristol Xfinity Series race.

Now to come up short again after dominating one of NASCAR’s most historic races is just another punch in the gut.

But Larson sees the silver lining: He gained two playoff points and earned 54 of a possible 60 points overall. That’s the type of performance that can help him in a few weeks when the competition intensifies during the postseason.

“We got some stage points, which is good for the playoffs,” he said. “Disappointed, but happy about the car we brought.”

So was there a difference for the No. 2 team during the race? Well, actually there was.

Winning crew chief Paul Wolfe admitted the pit crew did something new, but he wouldn’t reveal the secret.

“If you watch closely, you’ll probably see a difference, but I’m not going to talk about it a lot,” he said. “We’ve had an up-and-down year on pit road, and we continue to try and work on that and get better. We did some different things tonight, and we’re still learning — a good bit of confidence for those guys going into the playoffs.”

Keselowski’s Ford was a top-five car all night, and Team Penske finished 1-2, so you can’t take that away from Joey Logano and his race-winning teammate. Penske has been a ‘B’ team compared to the Big Three of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. most of the year, but it found something in the setups this weekend that no one else could replicate.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my pit crew,” Keselowski said. “We were running second and that last stop they nailed it and got us out in the lead. I thought Kyle was really good, and he was flat-out flying. … In 2015, we led a bunch of laps and lost it on the last pit stop, and today my team won it on the last pit stop.”

Does Keselowski know what his team did to help him beat Larson off pit lane?

“I’m not privy to that information, so I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “But I’ll take it, whatever it was.”