Ford Daytona Speedweeks (Friday Advance) – Bayne, Ragan, Gilliland

By Official Release On Fri, Feb. 15, 2013

bud_speedweeksFord Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes:

2013 NASCAR MEDIA DAY (Daytona International Speedway)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Trevor Bayne, David Ragan and David Gilliland were part of NASCR Media Day festivities yesterday. The trio have had recent success at Daytona, and spoke about that among many other topics.

DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Peanut Patch Ford Fusion — DO YOU GET ANY JITTERS OR BUTTERFLIES THIS TIME OF YEAR?  “I think that Daytona is such a spread out event that you have qualifying practice, qualifying.  You can use the car as your mentality for the race because you have your Duel race on Thursday, and you have just so much stuff over a long period of time that those butterflies kind of go away.  If it was more a traditional weekend, where you came in on a Friday and practiced, qualified and raced a day later, it would be a little more antsy the first race of the year and the biggest race of our season.  But being that Daytona is a long event, it definitely helps lessen those jitters, so to speak.  That’s usually not an issue for me.”

DO YOU GET THOSE FEELINGS FOR EVERY RACE?  “There are points over the weekend where you do feel the adrenaline rush in you and you get excited.  I think on the qualifying lap at short tracks for me, because you have to hit your marks, the qualifying lap goes by so fast and even at some of the mile-and-a-half races, you get one lap before your tires give away the grip and you’ve got to hit your marks because the lap is over in 18, 20, 22 seconds.  There are points throughout the year where you get that, but it’s not a consistent thing every week.”

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF RACING AS A CHILD?  “My first impression about racing was that it was exciting.  Going to the local short track where I grew up, it was a dirt track and my dad was racing some.  My uncle owned a car I raced and I just remember the fun.  That was a treat for me.  If I was good throughout the week and didn’t have any teachers call home and talk to my parents, I could go to the race track, so it was very much a treat for me.  And then I can remember the first time I was at a superspeedway.  That was at Atlanta and it was before they reconstructed it and just seeing all the grandstands.  The place was huge, and then the first NASCAR race you get to go to.  I think the first NASCAR weekend I really remember was Rockingham back some time in the mid-nineties.  But everything was exciting and everything was big when you’re a kid.”

WHAT AREAS DO YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL TO THE BEST ON THE CIRCUIT?  “That’s one of the perks of being a NASCAR driver competing week-in and week-out is being able to travel some and having some fun.  My wife likes going around Sonoma.  I’m not a wine drinker at all, but I do enjoy going out there and touring some of the facilities, but every place has a special little area that’s neat.  Coming down to Daytona, you feel like you’ve seen everything that you can see of Daytona Beach and then every year you find a new restaurant or a new little place and say, ‘I never knew this place was here.’  I enjoy coming to Daytona.  Vegas is a lot of fun.  It’s a great stop.  Pocono, there’s a lot of cool stuff to do around Pocono, so it’s fun because you can find something knew about a venue every time you go.”

 

YOU RECENTLY GOT MARRIED.  HOW HARD IS IT TO BE A DRIVER AND BE MARRIED?  “It’s difficult to be married and be a race car driver because of traveling and being away from each other a lot, but it would be even more difficult to have kids and try to raise a family.  I can’t imagine doing that.  Your wife and mom has to carry a lot of weight on her shoulders taking care of her family, and you do have to have different roles back and forth, so these guys like Jeff Burton or Jimmie Johnson, who have kids, kudos to them for making it happen and kudos to their wives for being good moms and being able to make it happen.”

 

WHO IS THE MOST COMPETITIVENESS AMONG THE DRIVERS IN YOUR OPINION?  “I think the most competitive driver is tough to say.  Every driver has a competitive nature to him.  That’s why we compete in this sport and that’s what motivates you to get to the next race.  In other sporting events, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of winning.  There are two teams playing, but here you can win three races in a season and that would be a good season, so it’s a lot different.  If you’re on a basketball team, you better win 60-70 times throughout the year, so that keeps you motivated and hungry for that win.  Everyone is very competitive and I think it’s tough to pick out that one person.  Different people show it in different ways, but I think you see Kyle and Kurt Busch, they show it when they’re not happy.  They’re very competitive, so you’d have to say those two guys, but that’s not to say the guy that finishes 43rd doesn’t have a competitive nature to him.”

DAVID RAGAN CONTINUED … HOW ABOUT OTHER AREAS LIKE POKER OR THINGS AWAY FROM THE TRACK?  “We’ll play some friendly card games and there’s a competitive spirit with who can fly back home the fastest.  Who can get to the airport the quickest after the race.  Who has the fastest golf cart?  We all want to better one another, but when it comes to being fast, whether you’re racing a charity go-kart race or you’re racing your Super Late Model on an off-weekend, you want to be the best and that’s what keeps us all motivated.”

ANYTHING COME TO MIND SPECIFICALLY?  “A lot of times it’s just leaving the race track.  You see another driver and maybe you’re in a different lane or your merging and trying to get to the airport – you’re not gonna let him in and he doesn’t want to let you in, so you’re always thinking about that regardless of the situation.”

WHAT IS YOUR PASSENGER VEHICLE OF CHOICE?  “I drive an F-150 every day.  I have a Ford Ranger – a 1998 Ford Ranger that I had in high school.   I’ll still drive that some.  I sold my family driver a few years ago, which was another F-150, and I just drove my Ranger for a year, so I didn’t get another car for a while, and then one of the Ford guys said, ‘Hey man, you need to drive something a little newer if you’re gonna be a Ford Racing driver,’ so I try to keep a new vehicle – but I am a Ford guy, a Ford truck guy.”

WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON WHY FORD HASN’T WON A DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP IN SO LONG?  “I think just the shear numbers of competitors has put Ford at a disadvantage.  We haven’t had the number of drivers, the percentage of full-time Ford Racing Sprint Cup drivers are less than the other manufacturers.  I don’t know how that really happened.  If you look back in the nineties, Ford had more cars than anybody else, so just from a numbers standpoint, I don’t know the percentages, but we had I think the smallest group of Ford full-time drivers – probably less than everyone else but Dodge.  There are several reasons.  The tides have been turned just a little.  I think Biffle could have won in ’05 and Carl very much could have won two years ago.  There could have been two or three other wins if things would have shifted one way or the other, but that’s a good question.  I know that bothered me being a Ford Racing driver, a Ford family and a Ford dealer.  The racing guys don’t like it and we’ve got to do something about it.”

DO YOU NEED MORE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE TEAMS OR NOT?  “I think that helps.  Interaction between all of the teams helps.  You want to have a friendly rivalry that keeps everyone motivated and working hard.  It pushes one team to excel in front of the others, and the addition of Penske Racing will certainly do that.  I’ve been in the Sprint Cup Series for the last five or six years and Roush has been the Ford team and all of the emphasis fed off of those guys back when Yates Racing was there, so when Roush was strong, everyone else was strong.  But if Roush had an off year or two, they had no other teams to fall back on, so I think by bringing in some new blood, that will make the rivalry more competitive.  And then for us at Front Row Motorsports, we’re a few years out from being able to compete on a more consistent level.  We’re not a championship contending team by no means today, but in the next four or five years, if we make the right decisions and have the right plan in place, we could be there in five years.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE DANICA-RICKY SITUATION?  “I’m just kind of an innocent bystander watching like everyone else will.  I think it’s fun. It’s probably blown up a little bit more than it should have, but two individuals dating in a top level sport is unheard of.  It’s a unique sport we’re in because both men and women are equal when you put the helmet on, so time will tell.  It will be fun and I guess it will be something 10 years down the road we can look back on in our 2013 yearbook and read something about.”

DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Taco Bell Ford Fusion – DO YOU HAVE ANY SUPERSTITIONS?  “I try not to shave on race days.  That’s probably a superstition I got from a guy named Jerry Dodd, the first guy I ever drove for when he was my car owner.  He made sure that if I shaved on race day, he was gonna yell at me, so that’s probably one.  And then I always try to get a note or  picture from my kids that they draw to put in the race car.  That’s pretty special to me.  As far as meals and eating, I try and eat chicken – just bland kind of stuff.  Chicken is usually the best.”

DO YOU EAT PEANUTS?   “Oh yeah.  We love our peanuts, for sure, but not on race day.  I don’t eat them on race day.  That’s kind of a superstition that I’ve never really wanted to try or test on race day.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE DANICA-RICKY DYNAMIC ON THE RACE TRACK?  “I don’t know.   It’s gonna be different, for sure.  I’m glad I’m in neither one of their positions.  I’m glad my wife is in the pits while I’m racing, so it’s gonna be different, but I think they’re both professional enough and established enough as race car drivers to be able to keep the on-track and off-track stuff separate.”

ARE YOU STILL DRIVING THE MOTORCOACH AROUND AS A FAMILY?  “Yeah, I think that’s the plan.  We love it.  We didn’t get to do it last year and we were really bummed about it.  My daughter is riding horses now and my son is racing, so between that stuff and me racing it’s hard to get all of our schedules coordinated, but this year my son is racing a different schedule with his quarter-midget USAC stuff, so we just put it back on the calendar and we’re excited about it.”

ANY FAVORITE SPOTS YOU TRAVEL TO?  “Yeah, we’ve always traveled in the summer and pretty much every time we’ve gone on a trip we’ve gone somewhere by Niagara Falls and kind of camped out and spent some time up there.  Two years ago we went into Canada and we just had a really good time.  My kids, the time I do get to spend at home with them, is quality time and I cherish it, but you’re at home and your crew chief is calling and business is going on as normal.  But when we get in the motorhome, it seems so different.  We’re all in the motorhome 24 hours a day for a long time and it’s neat.  It’s something I did with my dad growing up as he raced and we would drive to different races up and down the west coast.  I have some great memories from it and, hopefully, my kids will have great memories for a long time too.”

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FIRST ABOUT RACING AS A KID?  “My first memory was probably hanging on the fence at Ascot Park in Gardena, California.  My dad raced a dirt track and just hanging on the fence watching my dad work on his cars inside the track there I was just dreaming about being in there and being able to work on the cars and being around the race cars running.  That’s probably the first memory I have.”

WAS THERE A POINT ALONG THE WAY WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD BE A DRIVER?  “Yeah, definitely.  I built a dirt car and went racing at Perris Auto Speedway and the first time we went out and tested we were really fast and, really, from the first laps on the race track we were really fast and had a lot of speed, but that was probably the first time driving a dirt car.  So just being able to do it and go and hearing everybody say, ‘Man, you did a really good job.’  It made you think that, ‘Yeah, maybe I can do this.’”

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion – DO YOU HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH THE FENWAY PEOPLE?  “I don’t personally have a lot of contact with the Fenway people.  I know that Jack Roush and Steve Newmark are constantly in contact with them.  They go up to the park all the time.  I’ve done batting practice there and thrown Frisbees.   I threw out a first pitch at the Red Sox game and that was actually the first Major League Baseball game I had ever been to and that was last year in the middle of the season during our sponsor summit we do there.”

HAVE YOU BEEN ANYWHERE ELSE?  “I’ve been to Wrigley Field on the outside from the top of one of the apartments, so throwing out that first pitch was pretty awesome.”

SO YOU DON’T HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THE COMMITMENTS THEY’RE MAKING AS FAR AS BALANCING SOCCER AND BASEBALL AND RACING?  “I really don’t have any concerns about that.  I think that Fenway has been a huge partner for Roush and it’s been a great relationship.  John Henry has been a key part of it and they kind of let us take care of the racing and we let them take care of the baseball, so we just handle the areas where we’re good at.”

HAVE YOU EVER MET JOHN HENRY?  “Yes, I actually sat in the box with him and Jack during that game where I threw out the first pitch.  Unfortunately, they lost that one in extra innings, so it wasn’t the best time to be in the booth with him.  I think they played the Orioles that night.”

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE DURING THE OFF-SEASON?  “The off-season was a little bit different for me than normal.  Normally, I fly around everywhere and go to Kenya or Mexico and do some ministry stuff, which I’ve really enjoyed, and this year I kind of just stayed here and tried to get ready for the season.  I know this is a very important season for me with the Nationwide championship coming up, but I did get engaged, so that was the most exciting part of it.  I’m really pumped about that, but, otherwise, I just spent a lot of time at the shop.  Hopefully, our off-weekend in March – once everything has kind of settled – I’ll be able to go to Mexico again.”

ARE YOU HOPEFUL OF RUNNING CUP FULL-TIME IN 2014?  “Full-time Cup, I’m hoping next year.  That’s my plan.  Hopefully, we can take advantage of this Nationwide season this year and run for the championship and prove to Jack that we’re ready, and hopefully he’ll move us up.”

DID WINNING THE 500 THAT EARLY IN YOUR CAREER SURPRISE YOU?  ““I think that was earlier than most would have expected, including myself, but I don’t think that hurt any.  I think that was a moment that really propelled the sport and gave us a lot of credibility.  Whether it was looking for sponsors or Twitter followers, it kind of helped, so it was a good win.  I don’t think that hurt us at all.”\

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF OLD-SCHOOL OR NEW-SCHOOL?  “With this suit on I’m trying to be an old-school guy, I think.  For me, I like to be different than the normal cookie-cutter driver, but with that said, I also respect the older guys and they were more different than the guys are now.  Now when you see the drivers, we all kind of look the same and do the same things and say the same things, so when you look back at the character that the older guys had and how they carried themselves, I really respect that.  I think it’s pretty neat.  I just liked how real they were.  They were people that spoke their mind and they were just themselves.  They didn’t feel like they had to be anything important or special, and they didn’t see themselves for more than they really are.  At the end of the day we’re just driving race cars around and as cool as we might think we are, we’re normal people, so I’d like to see everybody just treat everybody like normal people.”

ANY BUTTERFLIES GETTING READY FOR A RACE?  “I do for qualifying.  Qualifying for me is kind of the most nerve-wracking part for me.  The race is not too bad because you know you have laps to make up for any mistakes and you can get better, but qualifying you have to be on your game because it’s one lap to get everything you can.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL COMING HERE?  “When I walked through Victory Lane to get over here it gave me some butterflies.  This race track is definitely special to me and it always has been.  I used to drive by going to the go-kart track when I raced here at the Municipal Stadium, and I just remember how big the frontstretch seemed, and then you get to come inside and it’s huge.  Every year when you come back it seems a little bit smaller and smaller, but it’s still just as special.”

DO YOU EVER STOP BY AND SEE YOUR FLAG THAT’S IN THE CONCRETE OUT THERE?  “Last year when I came here is when they put it in, so I haven’t done it yet this year.  Last year, I did get to see it and it’s pretty neat.  My signature looks a little sketchy in concrete, so I need to work on that.”

WHAT’S YOUR IMPRESSION OF MATT KENSETH?  “I think Matt is one of the most underrated drivers in NASCAR.  That guy has something special and I think this year he’s got a little bit more motivation and fire because he’s wanting to go prove a point.  I think he’s gonna be a good candidate for a champion.  Hopefully, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle and Ricky can turn it around for Roush and go after that championship for Ford.  We would love to see that, but I think Matt is gonna be one of their toughest contenders.  He’s just raw talented.  He doesn’t say a whole lot.  He doesn’t speak a big game, but he can get the job done.  Even on a day when his car is not that good, he can work on it and get it better and that’s what’s cool about him.”

AS A YOUNG GUY DO YOU TRY TO LEARN FROM HIM?  “For sure.  I think Matt is one of the guys you have to watch and learn from because at the beginning of the day he can be off and then all of a sudden at the end of the race he’s there battling for a win.  He can always recover.  He keeps his cool and that’s something you’ve got to do as a driver.  I think him and Tony Stewart are the best at that.  Homestead in 2011 at the end of the year when Tony had something go through his grille, those two guys can start at the back of the pack through qualifying or in the middle of the race, but can work their way to the front and figure it out.  But, like I say, I’d love to see Carl Edwards or somebody like that for Ford to win the championship in the Cup Series and we’ll try to get it done for them in the Nationwide Series.”

WHAT DID THAT FIRST WIN DO FOR YOU?  “I don’t think I carry it with me daily.  It’s not something that I wake up every morning and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m the 500 champion.’  It’s more like you have realizations every now and then, like if I went to the front and saw my name on the big trophy – it’s really humbling every year when you see that.  It’s new all over again.  You see the ring in the case and you’re like, ‘Man, I did win that.’  I’ve always tried to stay humble through it and not try to act like I did something special because I just got to be the guy who was a part of it that day with the Wood Brothers and it was really neat to me, but it really is like new.  It seems like a new thing everytime I think about it.”

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THE CELEBRATION?  “I think one of the most special parts to me was when Richard Petty walked Glen Wood to Victory Lane.  Richard Petty’s name was on part of the ownership because we had gotten points for him, so Richard Petty was actually on one of the owner’s list with the Wood Brothers, so for them being rivals and then to see Richard Petty grab Glen Wood off the pit box and walk down to Victory Lane was incredible.  You watch that and on the Glen Wood induction video it showed that and I was like, ‘Man, that was crazy.’”

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE LIST OF DRIVERS COMPETING FOR THE NATIONWIDE TITLE THIS YEAR?  “It’s crazy.  When you see that list I think it’s the toughest it’s ever been for Nationwide, and then you have Cup guys coming in like Kyle Busch that are running full-time in the 54 for Joe Gibbs.  You have so much stuff that it’s gonna be hard to win races this year, but I think we can.  After I’ve  hung out with Mike Kelley and those guys, it’s no wonder to me why they’ve won championships and why they’ve won so many races.  Ricky did a great job in that car, but I think those guys have something special there and I’m glad to be a part of it with him.”

IS IT BETTER TO BE COMPETING AGAINST GUYS WITH SO MUCH EXPERIENCE?  “Yeah, for sure, especially for somebody like that (Kyle Larson) who is coming in new and doesn’t have a lot of high expectations.  So anything he does, if he beats guys that are solid like Brian Vickers or Elliott Sadler, it does a lot for him.  Just like me, I came into the Nationwide Series when there were a lot of Cup guys every week, and that was when the Cup guys could run for a  championship still, so Keselowski and Carl and all those guys were running full-time and it was tough, but racing against them was really important for me to be able to mature and grow as a driver.  Now, you’ve got Cup guys racing but you can also run for a championship against Nationwide guys, so I think it’s the best of both worlds.  We talked about that in 2011 when they went to that point system, but I think it’s gonna be really solid year for all of us to grow and learn and we’re in for a tough championship.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS IN NATIONWIDE AFTER YOUR ILLNESS TOOK AWAY THAT OPPORTUNITY TWO YEARS AGO?  “For sure.  When I had to leave that year I was like fourth in points and only four or five out of the lead.  That was the year Ricky won and I feel like things were coming together for us.  We won a race later in Texas and I think we still finished seventh with missing five races, so now going back to it I feel like we’ve got a solid shot at this.  We’ve got unfinished business.”

HOW MANY GUYS FROM LAST YEAR’S CREW ARE BACK FROM RICKY’S TEAM?  “All of the same guys.  It’s a good deal.”

WHAT DOES IT SAY WHEN YOU’VE WON THE 500 AND A BUNCH OF PEOPLE ARE NEXT DOOR TALKING TO ANOTHER DRIVER ABOUT HIS GIRLFRIEND?  “I think he’s got a lot this year going on.  He’s taking over the 17 car and that’s no light task.  He’s worthy of having people around him to talk to him.  Whatever he’s talking about, I don’t know, but to be taking over a car that Matt Kenseth has made famous, that’s a big deal and he deserves it, so I’m excited for him.  I think it’s a really good opportunity for me this year.  I’ve got my own opportunities to take care of and if we fly under the radar into that opportunity, I’m OK with it too.  By the end of the year, hopefully everybody will be around us asking us how our championship feels.”

CAN RICKY’S PERFORMANCE ON THE TRACK BE OVERSHADOWED BY HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DANICA?  “I think Ricky is a serious guy on the race track.  He’s one of the best guys coming up right now and he proved that in Nationwide for two years.  He’s got it going on and hopefully he can move up to the Cup Series and be competitive with  or without other things going on.  The Cup Series is hard.  It’s hard to come in and make a splash and to win races like he’s used to, but hopefully he can do that and he can carry that banner for Roush like Matt’s done over the years and hopefully I can do the same thing moving into his ride.  I’ve got a big area to fill with two championships in a row, but I’ve hung out with Mike Kelley and that crew a lot and it’s no wonder why they’ve won championships and why they’re so good.  They’re some awesome guys and it’s cool for me to see how they work together and it makes me realize what a championship team should look like.”

HOW MANY RACES WITH THE 21 THIS YEAR?  “Right now it’s 12 sponsored, but they want to run around 18 races, so hopefully we can work on that.  The 12 so far are with Motorcraft and Quick Lane, which is what we always start with.  In 2011, we ran 18.  Last year, we ran 16 and it will be close to that.”

IF YOU WERE TO GO FULL-TIME IN CUP DOWN THE ROAD WOULD IT BE WITH THE WOOD’S?  “More than likely it would be full-time with Roush than the Wood Brothers.  As much as I would love to stay with them and see the program come along, Jack’s plan from the beginning was to have me in his car and now with the 6 open, that would obviously open up doors.  I don’t know if that’s what is gonna happen, but I want to go prove myself in the Nationwide Series and show Jack and Robbie Reiser and Steve Newmark and all those guys that I’m ready for it.  Hopefully, they’ll see that and be able to bring me up at the end of the year.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT GUYS LIKE KASEY KAHNE AND JIMMIE JOHNSON RUNNING HALF MARATHONS BEFORE QUALIFYING?  “I was gonna do it with them, but Jimmie actually wanted me to where one of his foundation shirts and run with him, but he would have smoked me, so I wouldn’t have done his banner very good, but I enjoy that stuff.  It’s so awesome and it’s cool to see these guys because they’re proving the point that they’re athletes.  They’ve always had to defend themselves.   Are race car drivers athletes?  Well, triathletes are athletes, so what are you gonna say about them.”

DOES IT CHANGE THE PERCEPTION FOR THOSE WHO DON’T FEEL DRIVERS ARE ATHLETES? “I think so.  I don’t think it hurts at all.  When you see guys like that.  I think Jimmie finished sixth overall in his Olympic trial that he did out in California.  That proved a point, yeah.”

HAS FITNESS BECOME MORE POPULAR RECENTLY?   “I think it’s more serious now than it’s ever been.  I think these guys realize that the competition is so hard that you’ve got to train harder.  You’ve got to spend more time at the shop.  It’s not just show up and race on Sunday anymore, and I think everybody is realizing that.  It’s hard to win championships now.  It’s hard to win races, so whatever you can do to make yourself better, whether it’s running half-marathons or just spending time with your guys at the shop, you’ve got to think about it.”

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