Toyota Racing – Brandon Jones
NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day Quotes
RICHMOND (September 19, 2019) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brandon Jones was made available to media at NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day:
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Freightliner Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
How happy are you with the performance this season even though a win has eluded you?
“If it doesn’t bite us, one of us messes up. It’s been a heck of a season, it really has. The speed is there. We just have to clean up a few little things, that’s it. We’re really close I think to being really successful. This is four years now for me in this series full time with over 100 starts. I’m ready this year to compete for this thing.”
Do you feel you’re a dark horse?
“A little bit. I like being in the shadows. You’ve got the ‘Big 3,’ they’ve been talking about them a bunch, but we’re coming on. We’ve got the speed to make it to the end and it will be a shock to a lot of people I think if we get there. I’m trying as best as I can with all I’ve got. I’m leaning on my teammates, talking to our Cup guys, our Xfinity guys every single week to try to figure out how to pick up little sections. I’m not searching for big stuff anymore, it’s little things to find and that’s what makes you go from good to great. Taking big notebooks after these races, that’s one thing Kyle (Busch) has been pretty adamant on is having a good notebook after each race. Sit down, talk about your goods, your bads and then the next time you come to the track, you have that book to lean on.”
Does being a dark horse allow you to celebrate the small victories and quietly advance?
“For sure. It takes all that pressure off of you of doing well every single week. These guys are expected to go out and run for the win and if they don’t win, they’re pouting over second. We’re not. We’re taking second and fifth, third, whatever and having a good day out of that. We’re continuing to build. That’s what the 19 team is all about this year is continuing to build off of good runs, but then try to improve ourselves as well.”
How did you make it through the bad luck in the summer months?
“I’ve had years like that, that have happened that way. We’ve got the rest of the year to keep going. I kept telling myself, ‘There’s a next week,’ every single time. I sat down and would look at where we ran, what we did today, our stages were phenomenal, we were running good at the time of all this stuff happening. That’s where I kind of kept going. I see the disappointment in the guys. See the drive that they still want to try to get a win with me and that’s what kind of kept me going through that time. We’re starting to clean it up and starting to be where we need to be.”
Is it difficult when your teammates are able to win races?
“I just have to try to figure out what they’re doing. We’ve obviously all got the same car. We’ve got different crew chiefs, but we all lean on the same setups, we all show up to the track very similar to each other every single week so there’s got to be something that they’ve figured out and they have a feel for it. I’m still kind of looking for that, but I think once a driver gets that feel that they’re looking for, that’s when you see success. You see Christopher (Bell) doing really well, you see Cup guys doing really well on this team. That’s what I think has led to their success is they get a feel down for it and that’s what they do every single week.”
What do you do to try to figure out what they’re doing to get that feel?
“I try to talk to them, it’s tough. For (Martin) Truex Jr. or Kyle (Busch) or anybody to sit down and say this is exactly what I’m doing and if you copy this, you’re going to run really fast. If Truex says he’s using a lot of brake at one place, I don’t necessarily know what his a lot of brake is and I try to translate that to what I’m doing. The biggest help us truthfully having our simulator at Toyota. You go, you can sit down and you can look at data, you can look at brake traces and truthfully, we’ve got that really close to where it mimics the track. We go back and try to duplicate how the race went on that every Monday and Tuesdays and try to make that a little bit better for us as well. That’s our biggest piece we’re leaning on this year is really watching stuff like that.”
Are you in the simulator every week?
“Yes, for this weekend we ran Richmond. Next week it will be Roval and so forth. We try to do it a week in advance for a couple hours for a day. That’s plenty whenever you’re sitting in that looking.”
How do you see your road to advancing through the Playoffs?
“There’s a lot of scenarios, but I think if they have just a pitch perfect next couple races, they’re solid and they run one, two, three every single week then you’re going to want to try to win. There’s a lot of stuff that can happen. You see some of the big contenders at Indy had some issues so there’s some stuff that can happen. There’s still some races that stuff can go down so you just have to determine that midway through and see how those cars are running.”
Do you feel this is the best shot you’ve had in your career in the Playoffs?
“100 percent. When Xfinity went to the low downforce package, that was tough for me. I felt that I was really good with the high downforce, it’s obviously an easier car to drive. It’s a lot more stable when you get in traffic and when you get in those tough aero positions. Driving it now for two years, I’m starting to pick up on it and starting to figure out how you need to be on the edge in these cars. Also running for a Playoff championship a couple times now, I’ve learned how these drivers race each other when it comes down to the Playoffs. I know who to race hard, I know who to give extra room to I think so that’s going to help as well going into this one.”
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