Aside from winning races and the championship and the Daytona 500, how would you prioritize your goals for the season?
That's our only goal every year. You want to make the Chase. That's certainly a goal. Our real goal is to go out there and compete for a championship and we know we've got to win more races this year if we're going to win a championship. We've made some changes that I think are real positive. And so I think our goals are also, let's see how those changes improve. And we're also looking at the championship a little bit differently this year. We want to start the season off right, but we want to build and get better as the season goes because of the way the Chase format is, we don't necessarily have to come out of the box on fire. We did that last year. The first 10 races, we were the best team out there. But we flattened out. And so our goal this year is to continue to get better as the season goes on and show our strengths not only for winning races, but also for the championship.
There seemed to be some confusion about the way the Budweiser Shootout ended and NASCAR's decision and all that. Right now they do a green-white-checkered and make one attempt in the last two laps. Should they look at maybe tweaking that to allow another attempt?
I'm hearing they are talking about that. Unfortunately, my schedule didn't allow me to be at the safety meeting this morning or I would have voiced my opinion on that and said, ‘One green-white-checkered and one green-checkered' (laughs). They could do 10 green-white-checkereds and we're still not going to make it to the checkered. It just needs to be a one lap, take the green and finish after we attempt one green-white-checkered. That would be my best throw at it. I just think that you've got fuel mileage issues. We're all cutting it real close anyway. And all you're going to do is set yourself up for another wreck. You give us two laps out there under green and we're going to find a way to wreck.
Can you do that at Daytona, though, because it takes so long for the cars to get up to speed on one lap?
You know, it's still an exciting race. It's amazing what happens from the time you take the green to the middle of the back straightaway. There is a whole lot of jockeying that goes on. Now maybe the guy who's running seventh or something like that can't win it. And, maybe if he's lucky, he could, if there was one extra lap. But I'm only talking about after one attempt at a green-white-checkered. I just think that after you do one attempt at a green-white-checkered and you have a caution, there is no reason to go do another one and another one and another one. That's not going to happen. What's going to happen is it's going to be two attempts, if rumors I'm hearing are true.
So are they just trying to correct what happened Saturday night?
I guess. I guess that one wasn't good enough. I thought it was. I thought it was way good (laughs).
If you went green-checkered, theoretically, they would never have to throw the caution until the leaders get back to the finish line, right?
I think if you go green-checkered, then there wouldn't be a caution because we'd maybe make it across the line before we had enough time to wreck! No, I think that I'm merely saying that I think if they do a green-white-checkered and we don't make it back around for the checkered under green, that you do a green-checkered and then call it good.
When you said you can't bump-draft in the turns, is that because you'll spin somebody, or with extra horsepower are you actually lifting in the turns here?
Well, no, you can get to ‘em. It depends on what stage of the race you're in. On new tires you can get right up to them and you might not even spin ‘em. You might just knock them out of the way. But the chances of spinning them are pretty high. But, as the tires get older, it is much harder to get up to their rear bumper just because you're sliding around a lot more. But no, no, it's not that you can't. It's that you can't without consequences; big consequences.
From a driver's standpoint, what did you think of Danica Patrick in the ARCA race?
I was impressed. I thought she was real patient, but she had plenty of aggressiveness. I think learning the draft is something that doesn't happen in one race. It takes a lot of time to understand it. Those cars do a lot more single-file drafting than the Nationwide cars and so I think it's going to be a big step. But it was great that she got that experience under her belt. I think the only thing is, what kind of standard are you judging by? If that had been Tony Stewart's first race, they would expect him to win.
So, I think she did a really good job. She was solid. And I think the next step for her, because of her schedule, is to do exactly what she's doing. And I'm as anxious as everybody else to watch. It's exciting. I think this could be one of the most-watched Nationwide races that we've ever had.
Is it overshadowing the Daytona 500?
I think it is bringing attention to the whole sport, and I think that's nothing but a good thing.