Ford Performance NASCAR: Bayne, Stenhouse, Majeski and Custer Q&A Sessions at Bristol

by Official Release On Fri, Apr. 13, 2018

Ford Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Food City 500 Advance (Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, TN)
Friday, April 13, 2018

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, is racing on his home track this weekend in Bristol. The Knoxville, TN, native came to the infield media center before practice to talk about this weekend’s race.

TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – WHAT SUITS YOUR STYLE ABOUT BRISTOL? “I always look forward to coming here for multiple reasons, but one is our cars seem to perform well here right now and they have for the last few years. The vertical load of the banking, our cars really like that when there’s no free-floating through the corner. A lot of the flatter tracks we seem to struggle at, but here at Bristol you’re able to drive the car really hard, load it up, get all four corners to work really well, so that’s a good thing for us. I think our last four races we have just under a ninth-place average and we can’t say that about many other race tracks, if any others, so coming here you know you’re gonna be competitive. That’s always fun. It’s not as fun to go to the race track when you think it’s going to be a weekend you’re going to struggle, but coming to Bristol when we have a shot to have a top-five car it gets me pumped up. I love coming here to see the fans that I’ve seen since I was five-years-old coming to this place. Last night in Knoxville we had our Food City Family Race Night and people bring by pictures and I’m holding them like as a baby and now they’re 14, 15-years-old, so even I feel old when I go to that. But I just love coming here and I’m excited to get the weekend going.”

DO YOU GO INTO THESE RACES THINKING YOU HAVE A CHANCE FOR A TOP-FIVE? “Yeah, right now, where we’re at, I’d love to be at a place where I could say, ‘We’re going to win every weekend.’ And we know that has to be our goal. If we’re gonna be in the Playoffs, you’ve got to win. That’s just how it is basically for any team, so there’s nothing more fun than being in that position when realistic expectations are going to win. We’re not in that place right now to where that’s realistic or where you set yourself up to make gains. For us, right now, it’s about the small gains, the small victories. Last week at Texas was one of those. We finished 12th. That’s our best run of the season, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s something to build on. We felt like we had fast cars and were able to make it through the demolition derby and two crashes and somehow still finished 12th, so we try to build on that. Bristol is a little bit unique because we have had so much success here, though. Daytona and Talladega, you go to those thinking, ‘You know what? We’ve got a shot to win and be in the Playoffs and just get another win.’ Being fast at Bristol, if you can have a top-five car, with the things that happen here as quickly as they happen, you know you have a shot to win. At the end of the day tomorrow, if we feel like we have a top-five car, then I’ll come back on Sunday thinking, ‘You know what? We’ve got a shot to come win here.’ But, again, it’s all about being realistic in your expectations. If you go to the race track thinking you’re gonna be top of the board every weekend and you unload 20th, it’s hard to make those baby steps that you need to become a top-15, top-10, top-five team and that’s something we’ve been preaching basically to our guys for the last four years is set goals and go meet them.”

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR TEAM AFTER SEVEN RACES? “Just pure execution hasn’t been what we want it to be. Some of the things have been our fault and some haven’t. You look at some of the mechanical issues we’ve had with tires or different components. Those have been things we can’t control. Things we can control are loose wheels and different things like that that have taken us out of the running. At Daytona I felt like we had a shot to win until we had that issue, so we haven’t done ourselves a lot of favors, but we’ve also been fighting hard and that’s all I can ask of my guys is to show up every week hungry to do better and to want to come and give it their all and not give up and dig in deep. It gets tough when you’re been digging deep for four or five years trying to turn things around when you don’t get the fruit of that and don’t get the results that you want. It can be real easy to lay down on a tough week, but we’re trying not to do that and, like I said, last week at Texas having a fast car and a decent run helps rebuild momentum and get us on the right foot again. We had the off-weekend and we had to kind of take that as a reset, but with the new structure I think it’s a little bit easier to turn things around now. The fact that the first five races may not affect your chances at a Playoff run is a really good thing. The fact that you’re still in the same slate as anybody else below 16th in points you just got to go get a win, that’s really nice to have. It does allow us to have some of the mentality we were talking about earlier – to show up and just win. You aren’t points racing per se anymore. You’re going to win and everything else is what it is. It allows me to go home at night and I don’t know if you guys ever watch Supercross, but those guys lay it all on the line, they crash and they get up and it’s like, ‘No big deal.’ I think that allows us to have a little bit more of that mentality in the situation that we’re in, where we know that we’re probably not a top-10 car on points at this point in the season, we’re able to go and go for the wins and if it doesn’t work out, then you move on to the next week and start getting hungry for that next race.”

WHERE ARE YOU AT IN THE RFR TURNAROUND? “It’s kind of hard to assess at this point because we’ve had so many execution and issues, but, on overall speed I feel like we’re comparable to where we were mid-season last year. I don’t know that we made gains, but we didn’t really lose as much as I might have thought we would in the off-season, just with different things happening in our sport with manufacturers and different things. I didn’t know where we were gonna stack up honestly into this year and, surprisingly, without many changes Ford is still on top and that’s really cool to see. Roush Yates has done a great job with our engine program, with the two-race sealed engine program. I think they’ve done a great job, so we have that. We have Fords winning races, so you don’t have any excuses if you’re in a Ford, that’s for sure. It gives us the ability to go in and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to work on our team. We have to get our cars faster and drive them better and work on them smarter,’ and do all of those things and execute well.”

ANY EXTRA PRESSURE RACING HERE? “I actually enjoy this race more than any other. I don’t really ever come here feeling pressure, it’s more fun for me. It’s close to home. I get to drive up the morning of and my family is here, my friends, people who have supported my career get to come and watch, so it’s fun for me. And then also being that we’re fast here makes it fun. I think if I wasn’t from Knoxville I’d still love Bristol because it’s so unique. It’s not your typical mile-and-a-half or mile track. It’s so different than any other atmosphere we race in that it’s a lot of fun to come to, whether it’s your home track, your favorite track or you hate it, it’s still a fun place to come.”

IS SHORT TRACK RACING LESS PHYSICAL NOW THAN IT HAS BEEN? “When he asked about Bristol there, it’s funny you asked that because I was just thinking about what makes this place fun and I think the fun part of it is it is such a physical race track, not just the cars touching, but on your body. The physical demands of this place are tougher than anywhere we go, so the reason that’s fun for me is I know I work with that. With AdvoCare and the bikes that I ride, all the training that I do, you can tell the last 100 laps if somebody has their tongue hanging out the right side of their mouth. They’re worn out and you know that you can go up and mentally push on those guys a little bit. We may not have to do it with the front bumper, but you catch somebody, you see them start missing their marks, and you know, ‘Hey man, this guy is hanging on by a thread. If I go push him a little bit harder, he’s gonna run out and he’s gonna make a mistake.’ So it’s more of the mental side and the physical side on the body that makes this place fun. There are times when you do have to put the bumper to somebody and you have to keep moving. We see that happen here. I think what has happened in our series, though, is kind of that mentality I was just talking about – that we don’t have as much is how important points are. We’ve learned that over the years. You can’t make a mistake. You can’t have a bad race. You’ve got to get in on points. I think people are starting to understand the importance of winning in the Playoff structure and the unimportance of points for some of the points. Some teams will get in on points, but that allows us to go and lay it all out there. A guy like myself, I don’t have to worry so much about the points racing and I can go, and if I need to push on somebody I can and if I get pushed on, well, I was in the way. But obviously the VHT and the stuff they’re doing here at Bristol has tried to help a passing lane where you don’t have to hit each other. If you’re all in one lane, then the only way to go forward is to move them out of the way, whereas if you have the bottom to use, you can make a clean pass.”

HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN TO THE FANS HOW HECTIC IT GETS IN THE TRAFFIC AT BRISTOL? “Well, If you’ve ever tried to leave the track after the race, just do that at about 130 or 140 miles an hour. That’s about how it feels.”

ANY SUPERSTITIONS ON FRIDAY THE 13TH? “No. That’s not me. What does that even mean?”

THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND NEXT WEEK? “I love short track racing. That’s what I grew up doing. That’s natural for me. I want to keep working on our cars to get them better I feel like our struggle every week is that we can’t turn the center well enough. We’re tight in the middle and we’re limited how much we can free them up because we get loose in, especially tracks where you have a lot of braking kind of bit Stenhouse and myself at Martinsville – being really free on the brakes I wheel-hopped, got into the fence. It happened to him in practice. Richmond is a place getting into turn three you can have that issue, so we’ve got to keep working on our cars to figure out what we have going on with our short track program to get them tight enough on the brakes where we can free up the middle of the corner, and that kind of transfers everywhere. That’s what we’re working on. I love short track racing when the car drives good, we just have to get them there so we can go and have fun.”

DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TO FIGHT AS HARD AS YOU HAVE THE LAST FOUR YEARS IN CUP? WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO FIGHT LIKE THIS? “It’s hard. When you’re growing up as a five-year-old kid in racing, or a 12-year-old or a 15-year-old, 20-year-old winning races, you expect to continue that. That’s kind of the expectation. You thrive off of that. You want to win. You see yourself as being a Cup champion or being the dominant guy. You see that promise growing up, so when you get here and you’re in this situation where you struggle, it’s really hard. You depend on the people around you to kind of motivate you, to encourage you and keep you going and then you kind of have to look at things and remind yourself, ‘Do I have what it takes? Do the people around me have what it takes?’ And you have to build on that confidence. What you can’t do is start second-guessing yourself, your ability, your God-given talents, and then you can’t question the people around you. You’ve really got to believe in each other and keep pushing forward, so that’s where we’re at right now. I have to go to the race track every weekend thinking I can drive as good as anybody out there, otherwise I’m not gonna get my best. You really have to work at that and it’s not easy. It’s not easy to struggle. It’s not easy to be questioned. It’s not easy to go to the race track even when you’re a 15th to 20th-place race car every weekend. When you know that you can go win and you want to go win, you want to prove that you can win that makes it tough. Normally, people can fight for a short period of time. You can do it for a year. You can struggle for two years maybe, and then you hope that you finally come out of that, but we’ve been battling for a long time. We’re still gonna keep battling. I don’t have any quit in my system and I don’t think the people around me do, but it sure would be fun to get the results from that. It would be really fun to be the team that can come here thinking we’re gonna win every week or run top-five. Not only would it be fun, it’s just what we all want to do. It’s what we all planned on doing our whole lives, so you just keep fighting.”

WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO TO TRY AND GET THOSE WINS? WE DON’T SEE MANY UPSET WINNERS ANYMORE. “That’s tough. I think the stages you kind of have known cautions, so we see a little bit less of the fuel strategy races playing out the way that they might have a couple years ago. I think you see the few fast guys being a lot faster right now. Like I was telling Harvick on the way to the driver’s meeting in Phoenix was like, ‘Man, you’re taking away our excuses of anything in our Ford camp. You’re dominating.’ And he said, ‘Man, I always tell Rodney I can’t drive a slow car fast. My car has got to be good.’ And you’re just seeing these fast cars dominate. It’s hard to do anything to outrun those guys. You watch Harvick last weekend have an issue on pit road and he still comes back and runs well, so it’s really tough to beat guys when they’re that fast no matter what you do. It almost has to come to a fuel strategy race, it has to come to a superspeedway or a short track where there’s a lot of attrition. For me, when I say that, if the opportunity does present itself you go for it. It may not work out, but you don’t have that second-guess of ‘should we try to stretch our fuel window?’ Well, of course you should. It just takes any of that second-guess out and for me as a driver it allows me to just lay it all out there and keep putting myself in every good position that I can. Does that mean be a wild man? No, because that doesn’t put me in position to win races. I have to be smart, but you can be aggressive and you can just go for it. Again, the race like California where I was outside Newman. Typically, you might not keep it on the outside when he’s coming up, but when the leader is right there about to put you a lap down, you’ve got to stay in it. When it bit us, when it did cut down the right-front, well, that really stinks for our points, but we need to win anyway. That’s kind of the way I see that and it allows you to move on. It would be fun to be able to points race and be able to do that. I would love to do that. I feel like I’m good at that and that’s one of my strengths is I’ve learned over time. At the beginning it wasn’t a strength, it was a weakness, but you learn over time how to take care of your equipment and get the best result you can. But now at this point it’s not really the situation I see us in.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion, and Ty Majeski, driver of the No. 60 Sunny D Ford Mustang, held a joint Q&A session this morning at Bristol Motor Speedway to talk about this weekend.

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion – “We’ve got two Sunny D Fords this weekend, which is really cool. Henk Hartong, who owns Sunny D. He’s a huge race fan of Roush Fenway’s and to see him kind of cross both series in the same weekend is really neat Like I said, he’s a big advocate of what we do at Roush Fenway Racing and helping his companies grow like he wants. It’s been a good partnership. Obviously, with the Zest company as well, when we had them on the car, but we also thought that this weekend my practicing hasn’t been going so well, so I figured I might let Ty practice my car and I’ll race it. I’ve struggled in practice lately, so maybe that’s news to Ty. I didn’t tell him that before we got up here, but that’s gonna be our suggestion.”

TY MAJESKI, No. 60 Sunny D Ford Mustang – “I’m excited to have Sunny D on the car this weekend. I’ve always been a fan of the drink. I got a chance to meet Henk, the owner of Sunny D down at Daytona last year and that was really cool to meet him and got to meet such a great partner of Roush Fenway Racing the last handful of years, and excited to carry the torch this weekend and hopefully we can give Henk and Sunny D a pair of good runs this weekend.”

RICKY STENHOUSE CONTINUED – WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE SOMETHING POSITIVE OUT OF TEXAS DESPITE THE MECHANICAL ISSUE? “Yeah. I think we took some positives away that once we get everything right we’re capable of at least running on the lead lap, like you said. That was a difficult race to stay on the lead lap, especially starting in the back like we did and only having a few laps on our car, so I think it gave the guys confidence that they can get the car right, even though we don’t have a ton of laps on it, but also we had some speed. Texas was a good race for us last year and all the numbers and things that we look at we thought our benchmark was probably the same as it was last year. It wasn’t our performance that was any better than last year, but it was nice because it was a step up from the mile-and-a-half race tracks that we’ve had so far this year. That was a positive. It was a bummer. I thought we were sitting in a really good spot there, restarting third with newer tires. I definitely wasn’t better than the 18 or 4, but we ran with the 4 at some points in the race when they had their issues coming back up through the field, so I was really kind of excited when that caution came out and we hadn’t pitted yet because I felt like we were probably a 10th to 15th-place car before the caution came out, but track position means a lot there and it kind of knocked the wind out of our sails. I was hoping I was gonna have a good finish and a good run coming into Bristol. All of the guys that we were kind of racing for that 16th, 15th position in points all had issues and I thought we were sitting there looking really nice, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We are at one of my favorite race tracks now, so that’s good.”

TY MAJESKI CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY? “First of all, I’m just very thankful for the opportunity everyone at Roush Fenway and Ford Performance has given to me and Austin and Chase as well, just an opportunity to prove ourselves in this series. My mentality is just to take it as another race. I’ve been racing late models for a long, long time and I’ve won quite a few races and I just take this as just another race. I think that’s the mentality you’ve got to have. You’ve got to go in with an open mind, just trying to learn everything I can. I did a lot of studying and preparation coming into Bristol. I watched the last two XFINITY races here multiple times and watched Dartfish in qualifying and leaning on Ricky as well. He’s always open to answering any questions that I have, so just leaning on my resources and trying to be as prepared as possible.”

RICKY STENHOUSE CONTINUED – HAS SHORT TRACK RACING GOTTEN LESS PHYSICAL LATELY? “I think all of us don’t like tearing race cars up and I think we all have a lot of respect for each other out there and have a lot of respect for the teams and the crew guys that are building these race cars that you don’t want to just go tearing up people’s cars, but I think if the opportunity lends itself and you have an opportunity to move somebody out of the way for the win, I think you’ll definitely see that. But, yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s less physical. I think it’s just a little bit smarter racing. It’s tough to really get to somebody and move them. It seems like our cars, even at short tracks, you’ve got dominant cars and track position means a lot. You have a handful of guys that can go to the back at a short track and run up through the field pretty quick, but you don’t have many of those so you kind of ride in line where your speed is.”

DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO A LOT OF THE NEWS OFF THE TRACK LIKE SPONSORS, NEW RULES FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE? “No. I’m not on the Driver Council, so I don’t really have to pay attention to any of it. The drivers that are on the council kind of keep us updated and send out stuff to us when things are getting ready to be announced. The pit gun issues, I have no clue what’s happened to some of the pit guns. My team, I think, has fortunately been OK so far with pit guns. The aero package, I found out I think a day before it went out, for the All-Star Race. We were actually talking in meetings at the shop and I was talking about things I wanted to try to get our mile-and-a-half program better, things I wanted to build into the car for Charlotte for the All-Star Race and they were like, ‘We think it’s gonna be a little bit different than what you think,’ so I was like, ‘Thanks.’ So I found out about that and then obviously the title sponsor. I think Monster has done a great job and I’ve had a lot of fun with them, so I enjoy them being a sponsor of ours and our series, but as far as really paying attention to it, no, I don’t. I show up at the track and get in the car and if I pull into the pit stall and they start using electric DeWalt pit guns, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s the same for everybody.”

THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND NEXT WEEK? “Richmond has been a good race track for us over the last few years, so I really look forward to going there. The tires that Goodyear has been bringing there has been allowing us to run all over the race track – the very top, the very bottom. I do like the day racing there better than the night racing, but, all in all, it’s still a great short track that we go to and definitely a lot of good racing. I think the crew guys are anxious to kind of see the transformation of that place on the infield and it will be cool to see.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ALL-STAR FORMAT? “Is the format different too? I only know the aero package. I think it’s interesting. I do think we’ll have to see how it plays out. I think the racing will probably be a lot closer. I do think that when you reduce the speeds the handling isn’t as big of an issue and so I think the racing will be probably a little more intense. We’ll just have to see how the fans like it. I think that’s the biggest thing we want to do is to make sure the fans enjoy our races and, however that may be, I think is something we need to look at.”

HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE IS IT FOR TY TO RUN A LIMITED SCHEDULE VERSUS WHEN YOU WERE THROWN INTO IT? “Yeah, 2009 I ran seven Nationwide races and that was tough. I had a few in a row and I kind of felt like I got in a rhythm and felt really good, and then you sit for a while. That’s always tough. You feel like the cars are always changing. You’re always out there. The guys that you’re racing with don’t really know who you are, especially in that car now that they have three different drivers. It’s just a whole lot of different situations come up that I feel like you have to be aware of and have to be ready for. I think Ty does a really good job showing up at the race track even when he’s not in the race car. I think that’s gonna go a long way and help making sure that he’s meshed in with the team. He’s at the shop all the time, things that I did when I was in the XFINITY Series – just spending a lot of time with the whole shop from top to bottom, but especially the crew guys. I think him having Mike Kelley as a crew chief is something that’s really gonna help the 60 car and those new drivers going in and out of the race car. Mike’s experience, I’m really looking forward to seeing Ty run here. I think Mike and I had a few that we let slip away and I know that he’s wanting to get those back and he’s probably already told Ty that already, but they had a really good test here and I think him having Mike leading that charge is really good, but it’s definitely difficult to go in and out of the race car and not be in that race car multiple weeks in a row.”

TY MAJESKI CONTINUED – DO YOU GET ADVICE FROM RICKY? “For sure. Ricky has run really well at Bristol in the past. I also got some good advice from him last year at Iowa. We went there and tested, I think, in late May and gave him a call after the first day of the test and just leaned on him and asked him some of the things he focused on at Iowa, so he’s been there for me – any type of questions I want, whether it’s on track or off track related he’s been there to answer them for me.”

WHAT WILL BE AN ACCEPTABLE PERFORMANCE FOR YOU TOMORROW? “The biggest thing is to just put a whole weekend together and a whole race together. I felt like we had spurts of being able to maybe run in the top five at Homestead early on and we just didn’t keep up with the race track as the sun went down and as the track got rubbered up. That’s something I’m gonna get better at is knowing where the car needs to be in the beginning of the race to be good at the end of the race. With four XFINITY races and my first one ending short, it’s been a learning curve for me just to know what kind of feedback to give to Mike to make sure the car is good at the end of the race. That’s something we’re gonna build on for sure, and something we’ve been thinking about coming into this weekend and hopefully we can put those things that I learned the past three races and make for a good fourth here.”

HAS ANY OTHER TRACK YOU’VE RACED ON PREVIOUSLY PREPARED YOU FOR BRISTOL? “Not really. There’s one short track up in Wisconsin, Slinger Superspeedway, it’s a quarter-mile banked like this, but you don’t get the same speed sensation there as you get here. It’s half the size of this and you’re doing it in about 11 seconds. Here you’re going like 15 seconds a lap, so the speed sensation is great. It’s something I had to get adapted to when I came here for the test, so I’m just very thankful we were able to come here and test. It shortened the learning curve so much for me coming here on race weekend, so I’m optimistic. Like Ricky said, we had a really good test here. I think a lot of guys in the organization are excited about what we came home with from the test and we’re coming back here with something very, very close, so hopefully it responds the same and we can go to work during practice and keep making adjustments and making our car better.”

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang, is competing for an additional $100,000 as part of the Dash 4 Cash program in tomorrow’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race. He was part of a Q&A session to talk about the race before today’s practice session.

COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO RACE FOR THAT KIND OF MONEY? “Obviously, $100,000 is a lot more than any of us usually race for, so I think it makes the race a little bit harder. You may race a little more aggressive at the end of the race, but it’s a really cool thing the XFINITY Series does for all the guys, so I’m looking forward to it and I think we’ll have a good shot at it this weekend.”

WILL YOUR RACE STRATEGY BE ANY DIFFERENT IN THIS RACE? “I’d say all four of us are just gonna be worried about the end of the race because that’s when they’re paying the $100,000. They’re not paying it after the stages or anything like that, so I think you’re definitely gonna set yourself up pit strategy-wise, whatever happens, you’re gonna worry about setting yourself up for the end of the race.”

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