Ford Performance NASCAR: Wallace and Reed Media Tour Transcripts

by Official Release On Wed, Jan. 25, 2017

Photo Credit: Brad Keppel

Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes
Charlotte Media Tour
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

DARRELL WALLACE JR. – No. 6 Leidos Ford Mustang – WHAT IS YOUR SPONSOR OUTLOOK FOR THIS YEAR? “I’m thankful for Leidos, a military defense company, has stepped up and has been a great partner to Roush Fenway and the number six team the last half of last season and they’re stepping up again for a handful of races. We’re in kind of a little tight spot here. We’re trying to figure out the rest of the game plan, but our goal is to be at Homestead for the season finale and win the XFINITY Series championship. We just have to overcome some obstacles, get over a couple hurdles to get to that point, but we will be at Daytona. We’ve still got the same mindset of going in to win every race, do the best we can each and every weekend and put ourselves in the right position, especially with this new format. I’m gonna really enjoy it.”

WHAT HAS THE OFF-SEASON BEEN LIKE? STRESSFUL WAITING FOR A DEAL? “We have the first six races right now with a 99 percent chance we’ll have more after that. The biggest thing is we haven’t had the best year the last two years, so we just need better results to bring and a more positive outlook. I believe the changes we have made, along with the new format coming up for the whole sport of NASCAR, will definitely help that out. I couldn’t be more excited about this season. Yeah, it’s not set in stone that it’s a full season, but that doesn’t change my outlook or my attitude or anything. I’ve still got the same old guy that walks around trying to put a smile on everybody’s face, and go out there and deliver out on the race track. We’ll go to Daytona, give it our best effort. We had a really good showing last year on speedway races. We didn’t have the best luck, but it’s still fun to be able to go out there and race side-by-side with your competitors and just give it your all and just go on to Atlanta, do some work there, but Phoenix really showed in that fall race that we were one of the fastest cars. The race is probably the highlight one that I want to take back and do over again, but no different mindset. The off-season hasn’t been any different. I’ve been making a couple more phone calls to see what we can do to be on the forefront of this, which we are at the forefront of it. We’re really close to finishing the deal. I have a great team at Roush Fenway and a great team behind me to get that process done, but I’m the same old guy.”

HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOUR NEW TEAM TO CALL YOU BUBBA YET? “They call me a lot worse, so, yes, they do.”

IS THERE AN OPPORTUNITY THAT LEIDOS WILL UP THEIR COMMITMENT AFTER THE SEASON STARTS? “Absolutely. That’s how it’s gonna work. We just have to show out this first six races, show all of our cards, show what we have done in the off-season. Coming into this pre-season right now a lot of changes have been made, a lot of personnel changes, a lot of key people have been moved around. I still have Seth, my crew chief, behind me. We’ve reformatted our team a little bit, and I think we have a great team going into this season. Like I said earlier, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity we have. Talking to the Sirius guys earlier, who doesn’t like a little challenge in front of them to go out and to secure the rest of the season for them, so I’m all about it. Give me a good challenge.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT STRUGGLING IN THE DAYTIME RACES. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO IMPROVE THAT? “I’ve tried to call Wayne and Mike and O’Donnell about putting every race at night. We’ll see. I don’t know if it’s a mindset thing that I psyche myself out during the day, but some races we would run good during the day and I was like, ‘Did I run like that in the trucks? Did I ever win during the day?’ Martinsville was two day races, so we won during that, so I don’t know. I think with the changes that we’ve made it will be interesting to see. We weren’t the best car at night either, so it’s not like it was a total night-and-day difference, but we just needed a better overall package and I think we’ve worked on that a lot this off-season to put us close to the right spot we need to be.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR MUSICAL EFFORTS WITH RYAN BLANEY? “Music definitely helps in touch situations. When there are tough situations like the hard ones where you’re trying to find a pick-me-up, I go to the heaviest music choice that I can. It’s like reverse psychology. It’s those good breakdowns that you look for, but then when Ryan comes in the scene that’s when the times are good and we want to make ourselves look like fools, just so we have a little bit of fall back room, that’s when we start making these crazy videos.”

WILL YOU AND RYAN BE CUTTING A RECORD? “Oh. We’ve got a lot of work for that. He’s got to figure out his vocal strengths and I’ve got to get better at drumming, so we’ll see. It’s a long shot.”

IS IT NICE TO COME BACK AND LIVE IN CABARRUS COUNTY WHEN EVERYTHING IS GOING ON AROUND YOU LIKE THIS? “Yeah. I love where I live. I bought a house, made a big boy move in 2015 and bought a house. I just love where I live. I’m currently looking at getting another house. I’m gonna sell my house now. I’m not like Denny Hamlin status right now, trying to be conservative and smart with my money, but I love coming home even after a tough race weekend. Coming back home to my roots, I’m two minutes from Northwest. My mom lives a mile away from the school, and my dad’s business is right down the street, right next to Stewart-Haas. Every location I know, every landmark I know like the back of my hand. Now, my girlfriend, who moved here when she was 14, she’s 23 now, so in nine years she doesn’t even know how to get to the house from work and she’s been doing it for a year now. It’s a little bit different for her, but we enjoy it.”

HOW DO YOU STAY SO UPBEAT WHEN THERE IS UNCERTAINTY IN YOUR LIFE? “Who likes a Debbie Downer person. I could be up here like this the whole time waiting to get out of here, but that’s boring. I want to make you guys laugh and see the smiles on faces – get those chuckles whether they’re laughing at me or with me, I don’t care you’re laughing, so job well done by me. It’s just having fun. It’s all about having fun no matter what you do. I enjoy coming up and talking to you guys. I love talking to everybody and giving everybody something to talk about and laugh about. It really goes back to my parents. My mom always said, ‘No matter what, give the media everything positive to talk about. Don’t give them anything negative. They’re gonna take it and run with it.’ Not that she’s bashing on you guys, it’s just the truth.”

RYAN REED – No. 16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford Mustang – BEING A DIABETES ADVOCATE. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO SHARE YOUR STORY? “As somebody living with Diabetes I understand how tough it is and all the challenges that come with it, so looking at where I’m at with racing and having a platform to spread awareness and definitely want to take full advantage of that, but, really, I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have the partners with Lilly Diabetes and Roush Fenway to do so. Everyone on board is extremely passionate about doing so, and even though it’s extremely important to me and something I’m very passionate about, I have great partners that allow me to do that. It’s aligned perfectly and when I get to go out there and talk about my partnership with Lilly Diabetes it’s so easy because it’s such a big part of my life.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO MAINTAIN THE POSITIVE MOMENTUM YOU FOUND AT THE END OF LAST SEASON? “As far as Daytona goes, I think anyone who has had success there knows that it doesn’t mean you’re gonna have success again. It seems like everytime I’ve been there we’ve had fast race cars and we found our way to the front at some point, but that doesn’t guarantee you anything. I just go into that race every year with an open mind and do what I can and try and be smart and keep myself out of trouble – just don’t make mistakes and if I’m there at the end we’ll hopefully have a shot at it. You talked about the last half of last year where we seemed to find some consistency and seemed to have more speed week-in and week-out, and certainly the finishes were a lot better. I started last year with a new crew chief, Phil Gould, and he taught me so much throughout the year, not just about driving the race car, but how to have the right mentality and not give up. There are a lot of weekends where we ended up with good finishes after unloading and being terrible. He’s really the one who taught me how to battle throughout a weekend and get better. The first half of the year I did feel like we had a lot of bad luck. It’s easy to make a lot of excuses and point to errors here and there, but the point is we got it together, we eliminated the mistakes, we figured it out and by the playoffs we were in pretty good shape and made a solid run at it. Looking back at it, if we would have done one or two things different, we could have easily been in the final four. That’s our goal – to go into the playoffs this year just like we did last year, make a run at it and find ourselves in Homestead and race for a championship. If we build faster race cars and I do my job and everyone checks the boxes every weekend, then there’s no reason why we can’t be standing in victory lane at Homestead.”

HAS LILLY HAD ANY INPUT ON HOW YOU WOULD LIKE TO DEVELOP IN THE SERIES OR WHEN YOU GO TO CUP? HAVE THERE BEEN ANY DISCUSSIONS ON PROGRESSING? “Yeah, there have been discussions. I discuss it all the time. I definitely want to go Cup racing. I got into this sport because I want to be a Cup driver, just like I think most people who have. With that being said, I’m extremely blessed and fortunate to be in the XFINITY Series. To be able to drive race cars full-time is unbelievable at any level, but, yeah, I think you saw obviously with Roush and Lilly I was able to run my first Cup race last year at Talladega, which was unbelievable for a lot of reasons. After being diagnosed with Diabetes, I never thought I’d even race again, let alone race at the highest level in motorsports. To see that commitment from Lilly and Roush is awesome and hopefully we can build on that and figure out a way to go Cup racing.”

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU CAN TAKE FROM CUP THAT HELPS YOU IN XFINITY OR ARE THE CARS TOTALLY DIFFERENT? “I think there are a lot of differences and after driving one I realized how vastly different they are in a lot of facets. And also, too, the competition level – it was a great learning experience, but with that being said I think the engineers and the people that are a lot smarter than me can go in and look at it and find the similarities and look at notes and look at what we do on Saturday to help Sunday or vice versa. And I think with the way the rules are headed they’re getting closer together. I definitely think there is a lot to learn from each other and I think that the Cup guys can benefit us and vice versa. I think at Roush Fenway we are definitely one team, one dream right now. We’re trying to figure out how to get Roush Fenway back on top and we have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to do so.”

ARE THERE CHANGES WITH YOUR TEAM THIS YEAR? “Honestly, no, not really. I talked earlier about the end of the year and the success we were having and I fought really, really hard to keep a lot of my guys together. There are small changes here and there, but the core group of guys is the same. I’m gonna have Phil on top of the box and the same engineer that I had last year. I think those guys are the guys for me. I’ve got their back and they have my back. I’m really excited about keeping us together because I think that we can have a lot of success together. So a lot of changes at Roush Fenway, a lot of changes across the board in racing. They were talking about rules package or format changes, but especially with all those changes going on it’s nice to have some consistency with the guys who go to the race track with me.”

HOW MUCH DOES LILLY USE YOU TO REACH OUT TO PEOPLE THAT STRUGGLE WITH DIABETES? “We do a lot. We go to the race track and if somebody reaches out or if we hear about someone’s story, whether it’s a kid or an adult living with Diabetes, whether they’re struggling with it or not struggling with it, there can be a lot of great things that happen just from getting together. I think anyone who lives with Diabetes knows what it means. When you meet someone else with Diabetes you automatically just have this connection because you understand the adversity and the challenges you go through and just the daily struggles, but I’ve heard so many different stories. I’ve met a lot of people and a lot of families that I still talk to today and have great relationships just because of what we have in common. When I was diagnosed, like I said earlier, I was told I would never race again, so when I hear someone tell their story and their dreams have been affected by it in a negative way, those are the stories that I really connect with. A kid two years ago told me that he got kicked off the basketball team after he was diagnosed. That’s just devastating to me. He was in his early teens – 12 or 13 – such a pivotal time in life as it is, so that story stuck with me and, obviously, I offered any help I could. ‘Is there anything I can do for you, man, just let me know.’ But I think that when you hear stories like that it kind of puts in perspective how tough this disease can be and what it can do to your life.”

HOW DO WE GET KIDS WATCHING RACING? “Hopefully, if they are on a screen they are watching racing. I think I’d get paid a lot of money if I knew the answer to that. I think what we’re doing, looking at these format changes, I’m a huge fan of it. I tweeted my feelings on it, that I supported it. That wasn’t just to make NASCAR happy. That’s how I truly feel, and I think we’re going in the right direction. I think Monster coming on board is gonna bring a lot of fresh ideas, and I think that in itself, when you have a brand like Monster come on, you’re automatically gonna get the eyes of a lot of kids my age. I know that me and my friends, whether they’re into racing or not into racing, a brand like Monster is someone that we associate with ourselves. We think of that brand as doing things that we’re interested in, whether they’re the sponsor at Supercross or whatever. That’s what we want to watch, so Monster just bringing its brand and being a part of NASCAR is gonna create a lot of awareness for NASCAR with my generation, with people my age. The format changes should bring more excitement. If we have good racing, then we’ll bring the attention.”

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