12 Questions with Tyler Reddick (2019)

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Tyler Reddick, the defending Xfinity Series champion who drives for Richard Childress 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?

I don’t have a very good explanation; I guess I’m a creature of habit. Ever since I was really young, I had one of the first iPhones. I realize they are more expensive than most Android phones. But I’ve always been an iPhone guy, always been a MacBook guy ever since I was really young.

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 mean, in a minute I feel like you can get a lot done. You can sign an autograph, you can take a picture with a fan. What was the last thing, a comment?

Yeah, they could say something to you.

I feel like in a minute you can easily accomplish all that stuff. You can walk and sign easily — obviously as you’re walking they can say stuff to you. Taking a picture is sometimes hard (with) older phones. (With newer phones) the motion stability and all that stuff, you can pretty much take pictures of anything on the go now. So I feel like there’s plenty of time for all three.

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 handle what happens on the racetrack a lot better. I lose my mind on the road.


Yes. Absolutely. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but the last incident happened on the racetrack and I handled it pretty well realizing I’ve got a long race to go. Like “I can get to the end of the race to win this thing.”

What happens on the road, there’s no race to win, I’m just driving. So I handle road rage off the racetrack a lot worse than I do on the racetrack. On the racetrack, I have no problem — I can run into the back of somebody and wreck them and I’m not going to go to jail for it. If I get mad at somebody and wreck them on the highway, I’m probably going to get into a lot of trouble and lose my license if you get caught. If there’s no witnesses, they never know.

Wow, you’ve thought this through.

I’ve gotten pretty mad a few times on the road. You know, it’s kind of funny when you’re a race car driver — you expect other drivers to drive the same level that you would and be smart on the road and not do dumb things like pull out right in front of somebody on a highway and then don’t speed up. When you’re a good driver, you expect people to drive like good drivers. But when you’re a bad driver, you’re just OK with everybody else being a bad driver.

I think Richard Petty got busted one time for doing something on the road. Have you heard of this?

No, I never have.

I’m pretty sure that Richard Petty was running for political office one time and he had to bow out because he put his bumper to someone in the fast lane who was riding slow, and he got impatient with them and he got in trouble or something and that ruined his political campaign.

One time I remember driving to meet BKR (he drove a Truck for Brad Keselowski Racing) for the bowling league and I flashed a guy in front of me that was just riding the left lane as fast as the people in the right lane. And he got mad, sped up, pulled over, then when he pulled over I went to pass and he tried to drive me off the road, blocking me, and then when he pulled up to the side of me, he pulled a gun on me.


He was crazy. And I’ve had other situations where I lost my cool on somebody and then they tailed me for 40 minutes. It’s funny because I don’t know what that guy was hoping to accomplish, but I had a full tank and I just drove around in circles for 40 minutes laughing while this person had his high beams on, his horn blasting constantly. They were videotaping me, but they didn’t catch beforehand what made him mad. They surely had the video tape of them tailing me. There’s some sort of law, I was told, that if you tail somebody for so long where it’s obvious they’re following you for so many miles it’s like against the law. But they had that on film at least.

I’ve seen some interesting things happen on the road whether it’s road rage or just pure accident. The other day when I was heading to RCR, I was just going down the road and I happened to glance over on the left lane, I saw a car hit the K-rail and just started flipping. It was wild. Right in front of me. And it was construction, so I couldn’t stop. There was nowhere to pull off the road and stop. I mean the car is still flipping and there’s people already out of their cars running towards the accident. It was crazy. I don’t know what ended up happening to that person, but crazy things happen in construction areas, that’s all I can say.

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

One time when I was really young racing Outlaw Karts, I used to wear arm restraints. If you ran open wheel, you ran arm restraints, it was a given — unless you’re crazy and you just had balls of steel.

But my arm restraint, my dad used to help me to put my seatbelts on when I was really young. And this was probably the last time he ever put my seatbelts on for me. I was just so young, I didn’t know what I was doing; I was like five or six years old I think.

My arm restraint got underneath the latch, and I didn’t realize it because I just had my hands resting on my side. When I went on the racetrack and turned it in a corner with my arms for the first time, it undid my seatbelts in the go-kart. And that was an Outlaw Kart — I was only going 50 miles an hour — but those things flip and crazy things happen. So it was unsettling to say the least.

But in recent memory, I can’t remember having a seatbelt fail or anything like that, so I’ve been pretty fortunate.

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?

Absolutely, yeah. I mean, we’re all in this together. Like I understand that there’s some grey areas they don’t want me to know about, probably to give them their own safety. The people work so hard on these race cars now and there’s such a tight window around each car and there’s so many gray areas and so different many places that I don’t know if anyone ever really is super blatantly cheating.

But if it ever was super super obvious, if I could know to help keep us from getting in trouble at times, that would be good. But maybe at the same time maybe it’s best that I don’t know.

Being the driver, working on my dirt cars and trying to push all the limits we could, I never tire doped, but apparently that something that was a huge gain on the dirt tracks. You can’t do that over here on the asphalt, just the way it all works.

It’s one of those things where if I could help keep our secret, then yeah. But if it’s an area where I can’t help keep the secret, then it’s probably best I don’t know, because then I’m not potentially messing it up and exposing it if we are trying to get away with said secret.

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

So when I was in Vegas, I had lobster. I like eating seafood because I feel like I can eat a good amount of seafood and other than the one off-chance that it makes me sick, I feel really great on race day and I feel like I ate something that’s fulfilling but doesn’t make me feel bloated or whatever when I get in the race car.

But for some reason, the lobster I ate disagreed with me a little bit. I wouldn’t say I was having issues in the race car, but all day leading up to it, it was messy business.

That’s unfortunate. I don’t envy that.

It happens. When you grow up eating Taco Bell on the road and eating nothing but volatile food, you get pretty tough. So I’ve been fortunate to only have a few mishaps.

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

I mean there’s always racing of some kind, right? We have runners that race in the Olympics, we have swimming. That’s a race to me. Life in a sense is a race if you wanted to look at it. So, absolutely.

I think there’s something out there. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if human beings as we are today understand or can say that there is life, because life can mean a million different things and how something lives could be beyond our comprehension. I think there’s a possibility. If there’s planets out there, there’s got to be something out there. There’s a reason for it other than for us to look at and say, “Oh look, Pluto.” Oh, that’s not a planet now, my bad. It’s not good enough anymore.

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

It depends on who you’re around. When I’m around guys like Matt Crafton who I know I’ve made really mad on the racetrack in the past, I like to go up (and say something). Sometimes when I was a little bit younger and I was a little more stupid at times…

I remember the first time I was ever in Kentucky when I got no practice, no qualifying and we lined up based off owner points. I went up to Matt right before the start of the race and I said, “Hey, Brad (Keselowski) told me we don’t have to lift around this racetrack.” And this was old Kentucky (more worn out), and he looked at me like, “No, you have to lift!” I freaked him out, I think. I’m going to tell myself I got to him, because I beat him on the start. My first-ever laps on Kentucky Speedway, I led them — and I didn’t even know where I was going.

So I’ve said stuff like that, and then I’ve been the guy that just sits there. Normally I’m pissed off so I don’t really want to talk to anybody right before the race since I’m never really happy unless we’re two or three tenths better than everybody. So I’m always mad when I’m getting ready for the race.

That’s so funny though. You trolled somebody — and a veteran at that. You’re just like, “I’m going to go troll a guy.”

Well, that first year I ran full-time up against him, he was always getting mad at me for racing too hard. I’m just a dirt guy and I like to race really hard, and I didn’t understand the consequences of side-drafting people too hard. So I just raced really hard all the time when I didn’t have to. And I’ve understood that a little bit now.

So when I asked him that, he thought I was being dead serious — and he really thought I was going to do it! Like I know he did. I think that’s why his reaction was such. He would have known I was joking now, but I had no experience and I was known for driving way too hard all the time. So I’m sure I had him convinced I was actually going to try it.

9. What makes you happy right now?

That’s a tough question. You know, having fast race cars always helps on the weekends. Going back to the house and having a good stable home — me and my girlfriend are doing a lot better, and having things good at home is nice too.

I’ve had a little bit of chaos with the lawn mower breaking down and my yard’s not the way I want it and stuff like that. That gets me a little bit. But race cars are fast, so my job, my career, everything like that is going well.

There’s a couple things on the other side I want to…well, you’re never going to be perfect, right? Life’s never going to be perfect, so you can always have ways to improve on it. But this year so far I’ve been really happy, I’ve been having a lot more fun at the races, and because I’m having so much more natural fun, I feel like I’m able to just focus on what I should be doing a lot more just naturally than I feel like I have in the past.

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?

Totally. I mean, stability is something people die for these days in this sport. So if I got to do that, by all means, let’s do it and win races. I don’t care. I mean, I’ll wear the wig. Whatever it takes, I’m willing to do it.

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.

Because it’s Talladega, and because Barstool Sports is going to be here and this place is known for the party, the Big One, I’ve got to go with 69.

How often do you talk inside the car without hitting the radio button?

I did it a little bit at first when I came from dirt racing over here, because for some reason in the dirt car I just lose my mind sometimes and scream. But I realized when I come over to here I’ve got a lot more people I’m working with.

When it was just me and my dad we didn’t have radios. It was dirt racing, so no one is ever going to hear what you have to say. But no, I don’t really ever yell in the race car about this guy blocking, doing this or wrecking me. I stay pretty silent. If I key up, if I have something to say, that’s when it’s going to be said.

12. The last interview was with Ryan Blaney. He wants to know about your Xfinity championship and your celebration, like how did you celebrate it, do you have any stories from celebrating it that night, what was your whole reaction afterwards?

Well, it’s funny. This question’s actually been asked a lot because I guess people think I like to have fun or something, I don’t know. But you know, that night was great, we took the pictures, me and Dave (Elenz) had a couple beers as we were taking our pictures in Turns 3 and 4, enjoying the moment. We get home, we go to the classy joint of Saeed’s until it closed down and then we went to another fine establishment — that’s all I’m gonna call it.

We had a good night. We enjoyed that night. But from that point until the banquet I don’t think I drank, I didn’t do anything, I didn’t celebrate.

I got home from our party that night and went in the early morning and my cat was sick. I had to take her to the emergency vet, and I was at the emergency vet all night.

Then I had other things going on. I was running around like crazy until the banquet and I really didn’t have another moment to take it in and absorb it. It was odd. You know, Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) told me, “Make sure you enjoy this championship. It’s special. Make sure you take the time to enjoy it.” And I didn’t know what he meant by that at first, but I kid you not, time just moved by. I was doing this, doing that, and I never really — other than that night we got home and the banquet (and party) at Whiskey River — I didn’t really take and have a lot of time to celebrate it. But that’s life.

You said your cat got sick like right after you got home from Homestead?

Yeah. It was sick. My cat wasn’t doing well when I left for Homestead, I thought she was gonna snap out of it. You know, cats are creatures of habit and they get in weird funks sometimes.

My cat was hiding, no one could find her, she had lost like half her weight, wasn’t eating, wasn’t going to the bathroom. She had a blockage in her system that almost killed her. It was pretty crazy.

I mean, a cat’s a cat. Say what you will about cats, but my cat is pretty bad-ass, more bad-ass than most dogs. So I take pride in owning a cat.

So that’s how you celebrated? You just got back from partying and holding up the trophy and there you are in the vet’s office?

Yeah, I was sad thinking that my cat was getting ready to pass away. I was like, “What is going on?”

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

I’m terrible at asking questions. I’m not good at asking questions, just answering them. This part is new to me. I’m not used to asking.

My question for Erik refers to his 2015 Truck Series championship run. He was so fast all year long, looked to be the favorite to win the championship, but did not win in 2015 until June. What did he have to find within himself, what did he have to figure out to finally break through and win and then from there go on and win three races and ultimately close out and win the championship?

12 Questions with John Hunter Nemechek (2019)

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with John Hunter Nemechek of GMS 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?

I’m an iPhone person. I’ve been Apple pretty much my entire life, other than middle school when we had to use Microsoft computers. I feel like the Apple generation of being able to share notes and have everything backed up from an iPad to a Mac to an iPhone is definitely way easier than having to transfer files on a Microsoft computer. Once you learn the software, it’s a little bit easier to use and more user friendly — even though Microsoft is what we use here at the racetrack for all of our data and everything else like that.

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?

Normally I can sign and take a selfie at the same time, so I’m pretty good at multi-tasking. I feel like when people say stuff to you, it goes to heart. So whether I’m in a rush and running around, you’re always going to make time for the fans. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re able to do what we do.

I definitely think being able to take a selfie and sign an autograph is more than just someone saying something, because it gives them something to look back on from then taking a picture with me — especially kids. When you see a kid in the garage, you want to do everything in your power to make sure that kid gets an autograph or that kid gets a picture.

Growing up in this sport, growing up around Dad (Joe Nemechek), I was in a little different situation where I necessarily wouldn’t take pictures with drivers just because I was always under Dad’s wing. But being an outsider looking in from a kid’s experience, that’s something that they’re going to remember for the rest of their life — no matter if they cheer you on or the next guy on. Whoever it is, when you take that picture and you sign that autograph, that’s something they will remember.

Do you think the way you view fans is shaped in part by what you saw your entire life growing up?

I would say so. Seeing where the sport was, where it’s come to and where it’s going back to, I would say it’s huge from every perspective from growing up in the sport. I was two weeks old the first time that I came to a racetrack, so I pretty much grew up here. And to see the younger generation starting to come back to the racetrack and kids and more interaction from Monster being the title sponsor for the Cup series and Xfinity doing events and stuff like that, it’s pretty spectacular to see the growth in the sport continue as I grow in the sport as well.

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, I don’t think so. I more or less laugh at people on the road from the perspective of them getting mad from being in traffic or whatever it may be. I mean, it’s part of life. There’s cars on the road, there’s people on the road, everyone is driving the fastest they can go on the road doing the speed limit.

Traffic jams do suck, but I think it’s funny when you’re sitting in a traffic jam and everyone’s blowing the horn, flipping each other off and stuff like that. It’s like, where are you going to go? If I move over, you’re going to go one spot forward. It doesn’t really matter. So I sit there and laugh and just take it all in.

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

Yes. When I was young coming up through the ranks, I wouldn’t wear a HANS in a quarter midget. We would just wear a neck brace. And I flipped once in a quarter midget — and I wore a HANS after that the entire time.

There’s also been times where I’ve been out on the racetrack and have reached back and only one HANS tether was hooked up, but that was early on. Now I get in with everything strapped on, make sure it’s all bolted up and ready to go.

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?

I think me being on the technical side, I’d like to know what it is that’s making me go so fast. But from a driver’s standpoint, I’m more or less trying to focus on the driving aspect more than the engineering aspect like I was on the truck side. I think I can continue to grow as a driver if I focus on that, I think it’ll only help me in the long run.

So I’m going to have to say I don’t want to know about it. Let’s just show up to the racetrack, let’s continue to make adjustments and if there’s something secret and fast, the less people that know, the better. Because most of the time when you have an advantage, it ends up beating you to the racetrack because someone can’t keep their mouth shut at the shop or whatever it may be.

So the competitors get wind of it?

Yes, exactly.

And it shows up in the garage?

Exactly. So the less people who know, the better off it is.

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 don’t eat a lot before races. I’ll have like a bland salad and chicken or something along those lines. I haven’t really had any personal experiences before from eating foods or like getting disturbed in a race car or anything.

I have had butterflies so bad when I was young that I’ve thrown up before as I was strapping in before a race. Those were pretty interesting times with nerves.

Thrown up in the car?

Yeah, so that was during my transition from motorcross back to stock cars. So I really hadn’t done it that much. We qualified on the pole at Motor Mile, my first ever pole in a stock car. And I threw up right before the race, which wasn’t good. I didn’t throw up in my helmet, so that was good. I didn’t have to deal with that the whole race.

But I would say you don’t want to eat anything heavy before the race, anything that’s going to upset your stomach because you’re stuck in there. I’ve heard stories of guys who have had accidents in their seats or thrown up and whatnot, and I don’t want to be that guy that sits there in that for three hours, four hours, however long it may be. The smell after the race, could you imagine? That would be so bad.

You couldn’t pay the interior guy enough.


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

I’m going to say yes and yes. I’m not really one to say there’s aliens or whatever it may be, but I would definitely say there’s other universes and stuff out there that we don’t necessarily know about, and I definitely think they would race. Why not? Race spaceships, whatever. I mean, in theory it sounds cool, right? I would love to do that. That’d be awesome, that’d be a lot of fun.

As soon as we get the technology to get to other planets, we can start exchanging drivers or pilots or whatever they call them.

I would say we already have the technology in my theory to go to other planets and stuff like that. I think we have sent life to other planets, just no one knows about it. I have that theory. There’s a bunch of different theories from watching documentaries and stuff like that that you can come up to, but I like to have my own.

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

I’m not a huge conversation person before the race; most of the time I’ll have earbuds in listening to music or kind of getting in my zone. When Cup guys are around like Logano or Kyle (Busch), I like to pick their brains. They’re some of the best in the business, right? So pick their brains about what they’re kind of fighting, trends of the race. I have raced against Kyle forever in Late Models and trucks and now the Xfinity Series, so we talk about Super Late Models before the race. If I see CBell before the race, if we talk, we’re kind of just hanging out mentioning race car stuff or talking about fitness or whatever it may be. But really not a huge conversation person before the race.

9. What makes you happy right now?

Being here at the racetrack, being able to do what I love and just being blessed with the opportunity that I have to be one of the 40 guys competing full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and trying to make a living out of it. It’s a rare opportunity. There’s a bunch of kids who are at home sitting on the couch who say, “Hey, I want to be there someday,” and sometimes reality’s not there. I’ve been blessed for this situation and the pieces of equipment I’ve been given to continue to grow and continue in this sport, and I’m just really thankful for that.

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?

Yes, I would. NASCAR as a sport has come to more of a sponsorship standpoint sport rather than a driver’s ability or whatever it may be. It’s very rare that you see a guy get hired for talent now. It’s mostly the “Hey, what can I do as far as business to business with the team owner and his companies?” or “What sponsors can I bring to the table?”

So to be able to grow in the sport and continue to progress and have the opportunity and have a sponsor that’s going to back you for a lifetime, that’s something that is unheard of right now in this sport. So to have something that would come and say wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig? Heck yeah I’d wear 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.

We’re going to go with 23.

This is from the 2011 12 Questions. When you eventually quit racing, what do you want your retirement story to say about you?

When I eventually quit racing, my retirement story, I want to be one of the best in the sport — one of the guys that when he walks up and down pit road, his smile shines and he’s known in the garage area. I feel like with my family’s history in the sport, my last name is definitely a present in and around the garage area just from Dad’s success.

But I want to outdo him. I want to be one of the best in the sport. I want to win Cup races, I want to win championships and I feel like it’s a realistic goal to get there with the hard work and the determination and the commitment I have to the training aspect, the hard work aspect and just continuing to try and make myself grow as a person and become my own person is huge.

I want to have some Tony Stewart stories, Richard Petty stories, just stories that you can go back to after you’re retired and tell. I think Ken Schrader is one of the best for telling stories just from being around the garage, and he was Dad’s teammate at one point and we’ve raced around him at Eldora and stuff like that. He’ll sit down and he’ll just tell stories. It’s pretty remarkable to hear what has happened in the past and what those guys went through. There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

You mentioned working hard. I hear you’re one of the most hard-working, driven guys — that you really go above and beyond. Why do you think it’s so important for you to stand out like that?

Whether I get recognized as a hard worker or not, it’s self satisfaction. I want to know that I’m coming into this sport giving my 100 percent. Whether it’s watching video, taking notes, being on a bike, running, being in the shop with the team guys, being hands on — whatever it may be, I’m going to put 100 percent into it. And if I don’t, then I don’t need to be here.

I was brought up the way that you better do stuff right the first time, and like I said, not everyone gets an opportunity like myself to be able to be in this garage and continue to progress through the ranks like I have, and have great people around you and great supporters and great sponsors that have backed me for many years. So I feel like I owe it to myself to be 100 percent on my game each and every week that I show up to the racetrack.

12. The last interview was with Corey LaJoie. In light of the recent McDowell-Suarez dustup, he was noting that Suarez wasn’t necessarily that guy that people would have picked to be the tough guy in the garage. He wants to know: Who do you think is another sleeper in the garage who is a sneaky good fighter that maybe nobody would anticipate?

Cup garage, Xfinity garage or Truck garage?

I’ll leave it open to wherever you want to go with it.

Well, I’ve seen a few guys throw punches at a couple MMA training events from the Truck Series who have now moved up to the Xfinity Series, and none of them can really fight. So I’m not going to go with any of those guys. (Laughs) I’m not going to name names. But when you punch with your fist upside down, you know that is not going to be very good.

I would say from the Cup garage, probably Matt DiBenedetto. He’s a strong guy, right? Like he does Crossfit and stuff like that. I’ve never seen him throw a punch and he’s always seemed like a nice guy, but every nice guy has a hot side. So if you push certain buttons, I would say that it could come to that.

I would not want to fight Matt DiBenedetto.

No. You would probably get knocked out first punch. I would say Ross Chastain or Jeremy Clements. I know that they got into it at Bristol, but I would say on the Xfinity side, those are two guys that are nice guys in the garage and always have a smile. But like I said, you push a wrong button, they’re coming after you, that’s for sure.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver?

So I got my first tattoo yesterday.

Are you serious?

I did. So I’m going to say, if you could get any tattoo in any location on your body, what would it be and where would it be? 

Do you care to share yours or are you going to keep it a secret?

Yeah, I got a cross yesterday. Last night actually. When it heals, it will lighten up a bit. So it’s a wood grain cross. Something that went into a lot of detail and thought. I’ve been a Christ follower all my life and continue to go to church. I think things happen for a reason, right? I mean, He’s watching over us and I’m blessed to be in the spot that I’m in and he’s always Lord on board.

But when I go up and shake someone’s hand, I’m a man of my word and a man of God, so you know that you’re getting the truth out of me and 100 percent out of me. I’m right handed, so that’s why I did it on my right arm.

Right where your wrist is.

Yup, right there.

You can see the detailed little waves in the wood.

Yeah. So the same guy that did Ryan Blaney’s tattoos actually did this last night. London Reese is pretty good, check out his artwork.

This is the first 12 Questions interview with John Hunter Nemechek

12 Questions with Chase Briscoe (2019)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Chase Briscoe, who races in the Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

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

iPhone, 100 percent. So I was in like 10th grade and my parents were like, “Alright, we’ll get you a smartphone.” So we go, and I was committed to getting an iPhone, right? And we go and the (sales) lady was like, “You can’t get weather on an iPhone. The radar won’t work.” I was like, “OK…”

So I got an Android, and I hated it. It was awful. So now I’ve been an iPhone guy ever since. They’re just so much more simple. Like an Android, I feel like, never worked. I don’t know, I just like the simplicity of an iPhone.

And you can get the weather now.

Well, come to find out, you could have gotten the radar back then on the iPhone.

It was probably a sales thing.

They were probably getting a cut back of Android sales, so they were like, “We’re gonna sell this guy an Android instead of an iPhone.”

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?

All three. There might be a rare instance where I’m in a hurry, but I always will stop. I think it’s so cool when somebody wants my autograph or selfie or anything. So going out to driver intros for example, (I’ll leave) 15 minutes early. Every single time. Like I’ll go and sign every single autograph.

I was in their situation at one point where I thought it was super cool to get an autograph or just get to see (drivers), so it drives me nuts when guys just walk by. Like I get that you have (somewhere) to be at some point, but don’t blow by everybody, and don’t even say, “Hey,” or wave or high-five or anything like that. It drive me nuts.

My biggest pet peeve is when guys act like they’re so cool and blow everybody off. Like I don’t get it, because without them, you don’t have a job. They’re the whole reason we get to go do this. So yeah, I’m pretty big on that. Anything you want me to do, I’ll do it.

What are some memorable autographs that you got when you were younger?

I didn’t personally get them, my dad brought them home. I got a Jeff Gordon one one time in his rookie year. It was personalized to me and everything, because he and my dad used to race together, so that one was cool. I had a Tony Stewart one. I remember when my dad brought home this sidewall with a Hoosier sprint car tire and it had Kasey Kahne’s autograph on it. So those were probably my favorite three growing up, was Tony, Jeff and Kasey.

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 worse. Way worse! Like to me, when we’re racing, it’s your job to make it hard to get passed. Where on the road, you’re just cruising down the road. Like if I’m coming up 15 miles per hour quicker, just let me go. The biggest thing that drives me crazy is guys are just riding in the left lane, and you get over in the right lane, and then I make it a point to almost cut them off back in the left lane just to prove, “Hey, get out of the left lane.” And then they just keep cruising down it, like less than the speed limit! So to me, it’s worse if somebody chops me on the road than it is on the racetrack. Like it literally makes me mad.

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

I personally haven’t. I know there was a time in a sprint car, I forgot to strap my HANS, but it was under caution before hot laps, so I clicked it and was good to go.

But I have a good story about safety equipment. So Jack Hewitt, legendary guy in sprint cars, drove for my grandpa. He ran at Eldora, I think it was the last half of the race, without seatbelts. They broke off at Eldora. Ran a whole half of the race without seatbelts.

He didn’t pull in?

He won the race.



Oh my gosh, that is crazy.

Just running Eldora by yourself is sketchy. Now imagine in a race without seatbelts. And he was running like an inch off the wall.

Wow. One slip and it would have been it for him.

That’s brave.

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?

That’s tough. So a little backstory on me, I know absolutely nothing about cars. Like I can’t work on them. I can do very basic things. Like I know what springs do, but I don’t. Like I know the basics of them.

So you could tell me that you had something super illegal on it, but I probably wouldn’t even know what it is in the first place. But I would like to know about it, because I feel like any time somebody gets caught cheating, the driver gets ridiculed for it online. Like just gets blasted. When at the end of the day, I had nothing to do with it. So I would probably like to know, just so I had a heads up.

But nobody cheats in NASCAR. (Grins)

I understand where you’re coming from, though, because you don’t want to have all these people tweeting at you and being like, “Chase Briscoe the cheater,” and you’re like, “I didn’t do anything!”

Yeah, I didn’t do it. Like, I drove it. I feel like that happens a lot, guys get in and they win — well, come to find out they’re cheating. But they didn’t know they had something illegal on the car. Like that’s the team’s job to push it each and every week, where I’m not the guy bolting the thing on there.

So I feel like I would like to know. But at the same time there’s a part of me that I would just rather not know, just get in and drive. Because if I win the race, I would like to know it wasn’t because of an illegal part. Like I would rather think, “Hey, our team did a really good job, they had the car set up right, I did my job behind the wheel” — not because I cheated. I would like to think we did our job right, not that a part did its job right.

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

So I think I told you on our last 12 Questions that I’m super picky. Like never had a hot dog, never had peanut butter and jelly — I’m super picky. So what I eat is very limited and very fried food.

So before the Roval (where he ended up winning), I go to Ford’s little RV bus thing, and they have chicken tenders and nacho cheese. So I down these things, right? Well, last 10 laps of the Roval, I was starting to get a little sick. So as good as it was, and it obviously worked out for me, I feel like it probably wasn’t the best thing to eat before the race — chicken tenders and nacho cheese.

So when you win a race, does that stomach pain go away? Is that like the version of Tums or Pepto for a driver? Or were you still getting out of the car being like, “Ugh.”

No, I for sure forget about it as soon as we won. But 10 to go, I was like, “Man, my stomach is like…” I felt like I was gonna throw up. But then five to go, I was good after that.

The Ford people still give me a hard time, like, “We’re not having chicken tenders and nacho cheese again.”

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

I have no idea. I don’t get into that stuff honestly. I don’t care about aliens, if there even are any. I don’t think there are, but that’s like the least of things I think about.

Are you not like a Star Wars guy or anything like that?

Never watched a movie.

Never watched any of the Star Wars movies?

Never. Never saw Star Trek, never seen any of that stuff.

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

So I always try to talk to guys about dirt racing and try to get them to come race dirt.

You try to convert them.

Yeah, I try to convert them. And then other than that, we always talk about how hot it is normally. Like “Man, it’s gonna be brutal today. It’s too hot to race.”

And then — I’m giving away my secrets here — but I always try to find out how their car is (by saying), “Man, I’m struggling over here.” And I may not be struggling there, but I want them to be like, “Yeah, I’m struggling there, too.” That way I know during the race that’s a spot they struggle with. So I try to make a little notebook.

Hopefully none of them will read this.

So you just kind of float it out there that you’re bad in a certain spot and hope to get information from it.

I’m like, “Man, I am terrible going into (Turn) 3.” And they’ll be like, “Yeah, me too. In practice, I was so loose.” And then in the race, I’m thinking, “If I just drive up on their back bumper (in Turn 3), they’re really gonna be loose.”

Now next time I’m going to ask somebody this, and they’re going to be like, “I ain’t telling you.”

Right, I know. Well, not enough people read this, so…

Well, I don’t know. I read it every week.

9. What makes you happy right now?

A lot of things. So I got a dog, so that’s one thing I never thought I would be into. Like I had a dog growing up, but I’ve never really took care of it or anything. But now that I have my own dog, I’m a helicopter parent. Like I’m always making sure he doesn’t get into anything or get hurt.

I’m recently engaged, so that’s fun. Me and Marissa do a lot of things together. Life’s good right now. Got a full-time ride for the guy I’ve always dreamed of racing for (Tony Stewart), so it’s good. Hopefully, we start running good now that the season’s started. And then it’ll be really, really good.

Well you’ve got to leave some room to be at max happiness. You don’t want to peak too early.

Yeah, you can’t.

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?

Oh, I’d do it. Absolutely. I would do it probably just for the fun of it. Not the clown nose, but I would wear like a wig, especially a mullet wig. I don’t want to give away a secret, but I’m probably gonna wear one of those Rico (Abreu) mullet hats at Darlington. That thing is pretty sweet. So I would do something like that.

Did you purchase one at the Chili Bowl?

I didn’t, but I’m gonna get one.

I don’t know, I heard they sold out.

I feel like I could probably get one. But in high school, I was that guy who always used to go to the basketball game and just dress like an idiot. So that kind of stuff’s not out of the question for me. Those days have kind of passed, but I feel like down deep they’re somewhere in there or I could do stuff like that.

You don’t mind putting yourself out there that way?

I feel like I’m less likely to now, but before I didn’t care. Like anything that I thought would get people to laugh, I would do it. Where now I’m not as much like that, but I would still probably do it. Like I’ll probably definitely wear the mullet hat if I can get one.

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.


This is from the 2013 12 Questions. And the question is, “What is your song of the moment right now?” Something you’re listening to a lot or you think fans should download, or I guess stream?

That’s a good question. I’ve got a funny little story for you. So this song I heard coming back from Homestead, we were riding back with one of the crew guys. And I heard this song on the radio, I’d heard it a couple times, and I was like, “Man, that’s a really good song.” So I could not remember it. Like, looked everywhere for it. Me and Marissa both were like, “Man, what’s the song called?” She didn’t really pay attention to it, and I was typing in lyrics I thought I heard on Google and I couldn’t find it.

So I come down to Daytona, get in my rental car, and it’s on — after three months of trying to figure out what this song was. So I instantly called her and put her on speakerphone and played it all the way up, I’m like, “Listen to what’s on!” She’s like, “What the heck is this? I don’t even know.”

So the song is called “Burn the House Down” and it’s like got this really good little trumpet beat to it. I don’t know, I thought it was really good. So I’ve been playing it a lot lately.

Who is it by?

Some three letters, AJ something, I don’t know. AGR or something. It’s on a pop station all the time.

(Editor’s note: The band, actually named AJR, was announced as the concert act for the NASCAR All-Star race after this interview was conducted.)


12. The last interview was with William Byron. I think he was gearing it towards the Cup schedule, but he wants to know as far as a weekend schedule goes, what would be the ideal weekend schedule in your mind? How many days, how many practices, things like that?

I feel like the least amount of practice, the better. It’s tough because if I’m in the car that weekend and we’re way off, I want as much practice as I can get. But at the same time, like if you go dirt racing, you literally get two or three laps, and then you go racing. So like a lot of times you go to places you’ve never even been before and it’s, “Alright, here’s your two laps and you’re gonna go qualify.” And it’s hard to figure a place out. I don’t think we need to go that extreme, but I do feel like we can cut back on a little more practice.

I wouldn’t mind seeing almost a random draw race. Like go for a random draw, and then we line them up Friday night and the winner gets a (playoff) point. You don’t have to race if you don’t want to; say some guys are like, “Man, we know we’re not gonna win, so we’re not gonna race,” so you might only get 20 cars out there. But then we go race for an extra (playoff) point and it’s random draw. So one week you might start on the pole, the next week you might start 20th.

So this is like a short heat race or something?

Kind of. It’s like 30 laps — that way you got enough time to get up there. But you have to run on your tires that you practiced on.

And this would set qualifying? Or set the starting lineup?

No, we would still qualify for the race on Sunday.

This is just a total bonus race?

Yeah, it’s a bonus race. And it’s free admission. Free admission, Friday night, 30 laps.

Racing for a playoff point, optional.

Yup. You don’t have to race if you don’t want to if you don’t want to tear your car up. And you have to run on the first set of tires you run on practice. So you might have 20 laps on them, you might have five laps on them.

Where did you get this idea from?

I don’t know, it just came to my head, but I feel like it would work. Free admission would be a hit.

Everybody’s already here anyway.

Exactly. So let’s race Friday night. Get Steve O’Donnell on the phone.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver?

I feel like the Cup Series is the best race car drivers in the world, right? So we go to short tracks, we go to intermediates, we go to road courses, superspeedways. Why don’t we run a dirt track? So would they be against running on dirt in the Cup Series or not? Because I feel like we should be challenged in every single discipline and that’s the best race car drivers in the world. So why not?

So would they be for or against a Cup Series race on dirt?

Yeah. Two of them.


Everything else gets two, so why not? And what two tracks?

OK. So if you are for the race, what two tracks would you want to see?

And if you don’t want to go dirt, what two tracks should we run in Cup that we don’t go to right now? It could be anywhere.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Chase Briscoe:

Oct. 4, 2017


How I Got Here with Josh Williams

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on their career path. Up next: Josh Williams, who races in the Xfinity Series for DGM Racing.

How did this all get started for you? Did you grow up thinking you wanted to be part of racing?

I played normal sports as a kid, started racing when I was four and a half years old, running go-karts. Kind of the typical race car driver story.

Did you have a racing family?

I did. My dad started racing in Indiana and moved to Florida. He raced on South Florida short tracks and won championships. Most of the track records I had to break in Florida were his. He’s the reason why I race.

Always went to the racetrack with him when I was little. When I raced go-karts or quarter midgets or things, he’d race open-wheel modifieds or late models or sportsman cars. I just loved it. Something about it intrigued me a lot. It’s just a different feeling, winning races and getting your picture taken on the frontstretch and things like that. The checkered flag is addicting.

When you were little, were you thinking NASCAR all the way? That’s what you wanted to be involved in?

Not really. Up until I was about 14, I was racing just to race and go to the next level. I wasn’t thinking, “Oh, I want to be a Cup driver.” Probably the year before I started racing in the ARCA Series, when I turned 15, I started thinking, “Man, maybe we could make this a career and stick with it and maybe race in the Cup Series one day.” I’ve always tried to make that my goal and open every door I can. It’s a tough road to do it if you’re someone like me and trying to do your own deal. I wear a lot of hats when I’m at the racetrack, so it’s a little different story than your typical driver.

I’m assuming no one was ever like, “Congratulations, here’s a pile of money.” You’ve had to do this yourself. How did you progress from ARCA ultimately to where you are now?

My family supported all of my racing up until the ARCA Series. We did have Musselman’s Apple Sauce as a sponsor there for a little while. We’ve had a few smaller sponsors — Go Puck, Krankz Audio. We’ve had a few people come in off the side when we were running in ARCA and help us out a little bit.

And we were low budget. We’d buy scuffed tires from some of the bigger teams and practice on them. They quit selling us scuffs after awhile because we were beating them and they were a little upset.

You see a few family-owned teams, even in Xfinity, but it’s tough to race against these big guys with all the funding and somebody who says, “Here’s a couple million. Go play.” We haven’t opened that door yet, but we’re not going to stop until we find it. We’re working with some really good people now in the Xfinity Series on a lower budget scale with Sleep Well and also Star Tron. They’ve helped us out a lot to get to this point. So just trying to build relationships and open doors and hopefully we knock on the right one and they hand us a pile of money and we get to go play.

When you won a couple times in ARCA (in 2016), were you thinking people would notice and things would get a lot easier? What was the aftermath of that?

Not really. I knew the position we were in and the way the racing model is held now compared to what it used to be. For us, that was huge. That was like winning the championship — having one car, having a dually truck pulling a gooseneck trailer and just running against the big boys and winning races. I knew it wasn’t going to be something spectacular — like, “Oh, I’m going to get a Cup ride tomorrow” — but it did open some people’s eyes who didn’t know much about me. They knew who I was, they knew we ran up front. But sealing the deal and winning a couple races in the ARCA Series, people were like, “Man, this guy is actually the real deal. He’s pretty good.”

How’s it been so far in Xfinity? What are some of the triumphs and struggles you have here?

The struggles are always the normal struggles you have here — tires, pit crews, motors, cars, quality of equipment. The good thing about it is I’m getting a lot of seat time, I’m learning a lot about the cars and the different setups, different tracks, things like that. I like it. It’s just a learning curve. I haven’t run all the races this year, just a limited schedule. But I’m learning a lot and I’m OK with that.

Since you don’t have the same funding as those you’re competing against, what’s your goal when you go out there? Do you have certain numbers in mind?

I don’t know if you’ve heard Corey LaJoie joke about his “GT Class” in the Cup Series, but we call it different levels. So if we can win our class — 20th, 25th — that’s great for us.

In Vegas, we finished 20th on two sets of tires and no pit crew. For us, that’s phenomenal. It’s tough, but you’ve got to just race your race and not worry about the circumstances. Like when you come down pit road and you know you’re going to put on 30-lap-old tires, you’re like, “Man, these guys are going to drive away from me for a minute.” But once it all levels out, it’s not so bad.

So when you have days like that, are you like, “Oh my gosh, people need to be paying attention to this?” Because from a media standpoint, everyone is looking at the front and focused on that. But are you like waving your arms like, “Pay attention to this second race, too?”

It would be nice for a lot of people to maybe focus on the latter half of the field. That’s where most of the good racing is. A lot of people miss it.

Talking about Vegas and Ross (Chastain) winning, that was big for drivers like myself and a few other drivers in the Xfinity field. Ross is just like me. We raced at the same racetrack in Florida. We’ve beat each other’s fenders off, we’ve wrecked each other, we’ve fought. We’re past all that now — we were like 14 years old.

But we work hard Monday through Friday and we race on Saturdays. We don’t just race on Saturday and wait until next Saturday. We’ve got jobs. So (when Chastain won), I was like, “Man, that’s cool,” because I can do it. You’ve just got to get that opportunity. You’ve got to be in that good car, you’ve got to be in that good piece and show everybody what you can do. If you can get in a good car and run fifth, then run fifth. Don’t tear it up trying to win a race — unless you get wrecked by (Kevin) Harvick, and then it’s an unfortunate situation.

What is your week like? What do you do during the week?

Me and my fiancee, Trazia, we own a property preservation company. We clean out foreclosed homes, we do maintenance on them, things like that. Fix anything that’s broken to get it ready for the bank to sell. So we do that during the week.

I also own JW Motorsports, which is what we used for the ARCA Series. We build some cars for people, do a lot of short track stuff — street stocks, modifieds, late models. We build some road race cars for some people. So there’s a lot going on in the week and we try to race on the weekends.

So a bank forecloses on a house and the previous owner trashed it before they left, and someone calls you and your fiancee to come in and get it cleaned up before it gets sold?

Yep, that’s pretty much what we do. We’re a third party, so there’s a middle person in between us. They just feed us jobs, and we go in and finish them.

So you’re doing the work yourselves? Repairing walls, things like that?

(Chuckles) Oh yeah.

How did you get into that?

A mutual friend of ours was talking about it and thinking about doing it. I talked to her about and said, “Let’s just see what happens. We’ve got a truck, we’ve got a trailer, we’ve got some equipment. Let’s give it a shot.” We started with it, and we’re still gaining on it — we’re not making a bunch of money — but it’s helping us out a lot as far as getting things prepared.

I guess I would think that would be kind of humbling. Here you just finished 20th in a NASCAR race that was watched by a lot of people and then you’re cleaning out these houses the next week. It would be like, “The glory was right there — and now I’m here,” you know?

Yeah. I don’t mind it, though. That’s just who I am. I’m just a normal person like everybody else. I think that’s what people enjoy about me. I’ll sit down and have a conversation with you at the racetrack, even if I don’t know who you are. We’ll be pushing through the garage somewhere and somebody will just be standing there and I’ll say, “Hey, you want to push a race car?” They’ll be like, “Oh yeah!” They don’t know it’s because we’ve only got two people pushing; they think it’s cool.

But you have a conversation with them, you get to know people and you make fans. I think it’s cool to give people the time of day. I don’t know if you’ve seen these children’s hospital tours we do when we go to these racetracks, but we go visit them all over the country and try to share the love. I’m a normal person, man; I’m just a race car driver on the weekends.

What else would you like people to know about you or your story?

I’d like people to know I’m a real racer. I’m the old-school racer, where people used to enjoy watching NASCAR and they liked the guy who is a little rough who is not afraid to voice his opinion or get out and go rough you up a little bit. And I also get along with people in the same way. I just want them to know I am the old-school model and a real racer, and I don’t want them to give up on the sport thinking there’s none of us left.

I always ask people for recommendations for those who want to make it to where you are. For people who are reading this and have the dream of racing, is it still possible to make it the way you have?

I think it’s still possible. Is it getting harder and harder by the day? Yes it is. The biggest thing is to always be yourself, focus on your dream, accomplish your goals and do what you have to do to accomplish those goals. If you’ve got to put in the work and fly here to meet this person to see if they want to sponsor your race car, even if you waste two days of your time and they say no, you never know. That could change in a couple years. But they know who you are, you went there and put in the effort.

You have to want it. On my Twitter (profile), it says, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” I try to base my model off that and give it all I’ve got.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rides again, wards off old unpleasant feelings

As the laps wore on and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 car kept running up front Friday night at Richmond Raceway, a familiar and unpleasant feeling began to come over him.

“A lot of those expectations I hated about this job started creeping back in,” he said. “And I’m sitting there going, ‘Nooo, don’t let this happen! Nooo! Don’t fuckin’ let this happen! Don’t get so freaking caught up in this that you make yourself miserable that you don’t win.'”

Pressure and stress were two sensations that robbed Earnhardt of so much joy in his racing career. And in his one-off return to NASCAR — fulfilling a sponsor commitment that helped his team survive — he wanted nothing to do with those feelings.

This was supposed to be carefree and fun, the opportunity to get out there one more time and even take a picture with newborn daughter Isla at his car before the race. A top-10 finish would certainly be enough to satisfy him, Earnhardt figured.

But as the competitive side took over and he realized he might actually win the race — he led a race-high 96 laps, after all — that happiness threatened to disappear.

As it turned out, Earnhardt didn’t win; a caution with 30 laps to go took away what seemed like a sure victory. One bad restart on the outside lane later, and he had to settle for a fourth-place finish.

But damn if he didn’t enjoy it.

“No expectations, no pressure, no points,” he said. “I could try any line I wanted. I could save the tires if I wanted to, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. I just felt a little more free.”

Earnhardt was asked about the last time he enjoyed himself this much in a race car. He thought for a moment, then replied: “When I was racing Late Models in the 90s, probably.”

There was a true sense of glee behind his smile Friday night. He didn’t just get out on the Richmond track, survive and make laps. Earnhardt proved to himself he still had his driving tools — even the peripheral vision and sense of where the other cars were, which he worried would be gone after a long layoff.

“The sport is elite, the drivers are elite,” he said. “This ain’t a hobby. You just can’t assume you’re going to miss eight months or 10 months and come right in here and win or run in the top five.

“I ran this race last year (while) racing in the Cup Series and I ran ninth or some shit. So it’s not easy to come in here and run well.”

But he did, and he also had enough fun to try it again sometime next year — perhaps again at Richmond or even Atlanta, he said. There’s just one catch: He wants to make sure his new job at NBC Sports is always the priority. And he felt a step behind with broadcasting on Friday because he was so focused on his own racing.

“Imagine (the racing media) showing up on race day without being here all weekend and trying to cover the race without all the knowledge you gain on Friday and Saturday,” he said. “That broadcast deal is something I want to work for a really long time, so I don’t want to take anything away from that.”

John Haverlin column: Ross Chastain dumped Kevin Harvick, but can you blame him?

By John Haverlin

Ross Chastain wouldn’t say whether he spun Kevin Harvick on purpose after the two made contact while racing for the lead in Saturday’s Xfinity race at Darlington.

But it was pretty clear he did — and it was absolutely warranted.

Normally, Chastain competes with the lesser-funded JD Motorsports, and top-15 finishes are typically a good day for him. But Saturday was the first time he ran with a top-tier, Cup-affiliated organization — Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 car — so the expectations were raised.

He lived up to them in the first 75 percent of the race, winning the first two stages after winning the pole. This was turning into a dream day for Chastain and had the potential to be one that launched his career to the next level.

But the incident with Harvick ruined all of that. What could have been the greatest race of Chastain’s life — and the biggest story of the Xfinity Series season — ended up with the Ganassi car finishing 25th.

With Chastain on the outside of Harvick’s No. 98 in Turn 2, Harvick pinched him into the fence. Then, going down the backstretch, Chastain turned left into Harvick’s quarterpanel and Harvick’s car ended up going nose-first into the outside wall.

Obviously, Chastain wants to prove he belongs in top-tier equipment. When Harvick pushed him against the fence, it’s understandable that Chastain would want to retaliate. His reaction was likely just a result of anger and frustration, so it’s hard to blame him.

Harvick was the one who initiated the contact and cost Chastain a chance to win in his first race with Ganassi. Chastain simply returned the favor to Harvick, who’s already a multi-time NASCAR champion with nothing to lose going for the win.

In addition to being a resume builder, a win for Chastain would have meant five playoff points and a guaranteed place in the series’ seven-race championship hunt.

Now Chastain potentially has only two races left to showcase his talent with Ganassi. The next two times he drives the No. 42 are probably the most important of his racing career.

That’s why it makes sense he retaliated immediately instead of waiting for another Xfinity start — or even a Cup race.

If Chastain — who drives for Premium Motorsports in the Cup Series — wanted to make Harvick’s day difficult in the Southern 500, he certainly could.

But Chastain is mature enough to realize team owners want intelligent drivers who can see the bigger picture in their cars. So if he were to give Harvick a hard time on Sunday, it probably won’t do him any good.

12 Questions with Garrett Smithley (2018)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Garrett Smithley of JD Motorsports. This interview was recorded as a podcast, but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I dream a lot in general. I’m actually fascinated with dreams.

How so?

I feel like it’s a gateway into a different realm. I don’t know — we’re getting deep here. But I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos (about dreams) and I think it’s cool. I wish I could go back and rewatch my dreams.

As for racing (dreams), I’d say 40 percent of the time. Before I was racing full time, I dreamed about it all the time. Now that I race full time, I don’t dream about it quite as much.

I have a recurring nightmare I’m not ready. I don’t have my helmet, I don’t have my stuff. I hate those dreams.

Do you think dreams mean something? Like they have messages?

I think sometimes. You can use them in your life. Different dreams have meaning, and I’ve looked some of those up — like when you dream you’re falling. I think they mean something.

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

Probably. A lot of drivers say it doesn’t matter if somebody apologizes. It actually happened a few races ago — somebody got into me and ended up wrecking us. He came over and apologized.

I think deep down you say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” but it does matter. Because this is such a mental sport. If you’re racing that guy, you’re going to say, “Well, he apologized, so…eh.”

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

Probably that I belong. I don’t come from a racing background and I started late — when I was 15. I’ve always been told I wasn’t going to make it to this level. So when people say, “Man, you’re doing a good job. You belong here. You belong in a race car,” I think that’s a really good 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?

Can I have two answers for this? Any of the sharks from Shark Tank or Camila Cabello, because I have a crush on her.

Did you like Fifth Harmony before she left?

I didn’t know they were a thing, and then Camila Cabello did her own thing and I went back and listened. I was like, “Oh, this is Fifth Harmony. I get it. I understand.”

I used to like Ariana Grande, but now she’s like married to Pete Davidson or whatever.

That killed it for you?

Yeah. Like I don’t have a chance. They’re in love.

Well, if you’d been on Saturday Night Live, you could have had a shot.

I’m not funny like that. (Laughs)

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. If it was like for a month, maybe. I could eat some Chicken Alfredo. Wait, can I eat Alfredo?

Nope. That’s creamy sauce.

Oh my gosh. No. Absolutely not. Not even for a month. Sorry.

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 Michigan Xfinity race. Do you happen to remember that one at all?

I was battling with Ryan Preece. I think we beat him by one spot. Uh…21st?

Nope. This was P17.

Seventeeth? Whoa! I need to give myself more credit!

You finished right behind Ross Chastain (his teammate) and ahead of Brendan Gaughan.

Brendan had some type of issue. I just didn’t think we finished that well. Seventeenth! Wow, sweet!

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Eminem. I’m not a huge rap fan, but yeah. Rap god.

Can I give a nod to Lil Dicky though? Because I really like Lil Dicky. I think he’s hilarious. He’s not the best, but he’s actually gotten me back into rap.

The music video for his song with Chris Brown is hilarious.

Oh yeah. “Freaky Friday.” All his stuff — “Save Dat Money,” “Pillow Talking.” “Save Dat Money” is my favorite.

I know he’s been around for a little while, but I just recently discovered him.

8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?

(Laughs) How am I supposed to answer this? Well, I guess I could have another two-part answer, right?

Myself, I would want to punch somebody I could fight. Tyler Reddick is pretty short, so I could fight him.

You’d have a chance?

I feel like I’d have a chance with Reddick. I like Tyler, but I feel like we could fight. It’d be a good fight. I’m not a fighter though.

But if we’re looking at past situations, with people wanting to punch somebody, probably Brad (Keselowski), right?

It seems like he comes up a lot.

I like Brad. I wouldn’t punch Brad — he’s never made me mad. But if you look at stats-wise who has the most punchable face in NASCAR — like a Racing Reference for punches — that’d be it, right?

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.

Well, Taylor is going to be the motorhome driver. So, yeah. She’s pretty cool. She can sing me songs when I have a bad race and come back to the motorhome.

LeBron is a champion, so I feel like he’d be crew chief. Because he knows how to get it done.

And then Tom Hanks — if I could have Woody (from Toy Story) spotting for me, that would be awesome. Woody or Captain Phillips or Forrest Gump. I could be like, “This car SUCKS, LeBron! What are you doing?” And Tom could just be like, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

I feel like we could make a whole race Radioactive with Tom Hanks up there. Let’s do it.

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

This is a problem in NASCAR. I want every track to listen to your podcast. We need drivers’ bathrooms — like three or four or five of them right where our cars are.

A lot of people don’t like port-o-potties. I like port-o-potties because they’re private, you can get away, meditate. I think Watkins Glen is one of the tough ones. Some tracks are good — you’ve got to scout them out — because right off the truck, I’m going to the bathroom. I’ve never peed in my seat. Seriously, if there aren’t port-o-potties, you have to make sure you know where you’re going before driver intros.

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’d have to give me lessons. I can backflip off the boat into the water.

Do you make it?

I mean, yeah. So last year, Harrison Rhodes was racing with us. He has a boat out on Badin Lake. We did a lake day with me, him and Ross — team bonding. And he’s got this two-level dock, and he said, “Hey, do a gainer.” That’s where you run to the end of the dock and do backflip. So I look over the edge — I had some “courage” in my bloodstream at that point — and said, “I’m just going to do it. Screw it.” So I start running and get to the end of the dock. But instead of keeping running, I stop and then do the flip — and I back-flopped. I was so sore — my back was red for days. It was awful.

So NASCAR would have to make sure I went and did lessons, paid for the lessons and if I get hurt, pay for the medical bills. I’m good with that.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with William Byron. His question for you was: Do you do iRacing, and how much does it help or hurt you?

I still do it. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. In the offseason, I’ll do it quite a bit because I’ll go crazy when I’m not in a race car.

It helps, especially for road courses — ahead of Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road America, I’ll be on there doing a whole lot of it. It doesn’t hurt. Even going to an oval, you can’t get that seat-of-your-pants feel, but you get that visual. (It helps with) coming to pit road, exiting pit road, the bumps are mapped. I don’t think iRacing has ever hurt me inside the race car.

But I will tell a funny story really quick. I ran my first Truck race in 2015 at Atlanta with Mittler Brothers. The way I have my wheel mapped (in the game), I have paddle shifters to look left or right. I was going down the backstretch (in real life), and I looked right, but I went to hit my paddle to look right. (Laughs) Because to that point, I had only ever done NASCAR on iRacing. I looked, but I instinctively went to hit a paddle. I’m like, “I’m an idiot! Why did I just do that?”

I hope people don’t make fun of me for that.

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

What was the first time they ever got into a 410 sprint car and how long did it take them to get up to speed?

Brad Sweet answered Smithley’s question in his 12 Questions interview, which you can read here.

Previous 12 Questions interviews with Garrett Smithley:

March 8, 2017