NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 26, 2016
KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed his connection to 600 Miles of Remembrance, being on the cusp of earning his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, the new rule changes and many other topics. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT 600 MILES OF REMEMBRANCE AND THE SOLIDER YOU WILL BE CARRYING:
“It’s going to be pretty cool this weekend. NASCAR has always done a great job honoring fallen service members. This week my Jackman Graham Molatch he is a former Navy Seal and when he was going through his training in Virginia Beach, he was roommates with Denis Miranda. They lived together for a little over a year. Dennis went to Afghanistan and his helicopter crashed and he passed away. Last year was Graham’s first time on our car for the (Coca-Cola) 600 and he thought it would be cool in the future to put a friend of his on our car to honor. Denis’ name will be on our windshield and his family will be her handing out. I went to New York earlier this week and did a couple of interviews with Denis’ brother Kevin. He will be in town here soon. Just looking forward to it. Like I said before, NASCAR has always done a great job with this weekend and really throughout the whole year. It will be exciting and hopefully we can have a good run for their family and just honor them in the best way possible.”
YOU ARE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF GETTING YOUR FIRST CUP SERIES WIN. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO GET YOUR FIRST CAREER WIN HERE?
“It would mean a lot; it would mean a lot to get it anywhere, but especially here at Charlotte, close to home. Friends and family and all sorts of people are here. All the teams’ families are here, it just means a lot when you can win in your hometown or for the race shop and all that. We have been rolling good the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going. Our car has been getting a lot faster. Everybody at the shop has been working really hard all year long. We started the year off not great, but everybody stayed positive and kept digging. Lately, we have been bringing really good stuff to the track. It’s been really cool just to see how hard work has been paying off and how we have been close. It would be nice. It will be tough though, the 600 is a really tough race. A lot of the times I’ve seen drivers in the past that run well in the All-Star race don’t run well at the 600. Hopefully, that is not the case this week, but we are going to work really hard to try and have a good run. Hopefully, it all works out.”
YOU TESTED THE NEW LOWER DOWNFORCE PACKAGE AT MICHIGAN. NOW WE SEE WE ARE GOING TO RUN THAT A COUPLE OF TIMES THIS YEAR. I WANTED TO GET YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT AND HOW YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE AT MICHIGAN COMPARED TO THE HIGH DRAG PACKAGE WE HAD LAST TIME WE WERE THERE:
“It will be a lot better than the high drag racing we had. I was a part of the test a couple of weeks ago or last week, whenever it was. We started out the test in our current package and was still running pretty high speeds and a lot of wide open throttle stuff. As we took the rule changes and put them in the car I only got a couple of laps because it started raining, but I was already off throttle a lot more. I think we were about 10 mph slower in the center of the corner. I expect the racing to be really good. I think with you lifting the groove will move up some. It’s just going to, hopefully, be really exciting racing. I think you can see every race track we have been to this year has been much better racing. That was just a smaller step in downforce. Another step will just make it better, we hope. I don’t think it will make it any worse. I’m looking forward to it. It was good to be a part of that test we get a little bit of data, but Michigan is always a really fast track, so if we can slow down any in the middle of the corner that is good. I feel like we accomplished that a little bit there at the test. It should be a good one.”
WHAT HAS THE TEAM CHANGED WITH THE CAR OR WHATEVER THEY ARE DOING THAT IS GIVING YOU EXTRA SPEED? WHAT KIND OF ADJUSTMENTS HAVE YOU MADE AS A DRIVER?
“Honestly, I don’t know 100 percent on what they have changed. I know they have talked about getting the bodies a lot better. I think Chad (Johnston, crew chief) has gotten to put a little bit more of his own input into how he wants the bodies and stuff like that built. I think when somebody new comes in it takes them a few months to build the confidence to make the calls like that. To put their 100 percent input into it. Lately, probably the last five weeks or six weeks or so he has gotten to do more steps of what he has done in the past or whatever and it’s showing up at the race track now. You can see in Chad as well he has got a lot more confidence at the track, in the shop, on the radio and everything. Not, that he didn’t have any before, he is quiet, but the last few weeks he is not. It’s been fun to see.”
DO YOU HAVE AN EDGE IN SOME AREAS OVER EXPERIENCE IN A 400-LAP RACE LIKE THIS ONE? OR, DO THE VETERANS HAVE A BIT OF AN EDGE OVER THE YOUNGER GUYS LIKE YOU?
“I don’t know; 600 miles honestly doesn’t feel any different than 500 to me, or 400. We’re still always out there racing as hard as we can the whole time. Here, we start the race with the sun out and go until sundown. I think that’s where experience probably kicks in a little bit. I would say the experienced guys probably have a little bit more of an edge over the younger guys like us who don’t have experience going from day to night like it does here for the 600. That’s probably the biggest thing that this race has different than other ones. Most of the time we start really close to nighttime if it’s a Saturday night race; or if it’s a Sunday race we have the sun out the whole time. So, this is the only one I can think of off the top of my head that really starts in the sunlight and goes into the sundown. So, there’s a big track change. And Charlotte has always been, to me, really temperature-sensitive. I think the experienced people probably have a little bit more of an edge over the young guys. But as far as mental or physical, I don’t know if there is much of a difference.”
THESE ARE NOW HENDRICK CHASSIS, CORRECT?
“No. They are still built in-house. The bodies and everything are built in-house.”
REGARDING THE MICHIGAN TEST, NASCAR TOOK OFF A LOT OF DOWNFORCE THIS YEAR AND THEY ARE TAKING OFF MORE FOR NEXT YEAR. HOW DOES THAT COMPARE DRIVING THAT CAR AT MICHIGAN TO WHAT YOU DROVE LAST YEAR?
“Well, it’s been so long since Michigan last year, I don’t really remember. Like I said, we got to run the current ’16 package and then the even lower downforce, and there was a lot more off-throttle time with the even lower downforce. So, I think that’s always a plus when you can lift sooner. With the current package, there is off wide-open throttle time, but you’re not ever all the way off the throttle. With the low downforce, I was having to lift all the way off the throttle and if you want to call it ‘coast’ into the corner at both ends, which I thought was really good.”
WITH THE GOOD RUNS YOU’VE HAD THESE PAST FEW WEEKS, DOES IT PROVIDE MORE MOMENTUM OR MORE FRUSTRATION FOR YOUR TEAM?
“Momentum. I guess you can be a little bit frustrated that we haven’t won the last few weeks of being close; but four weeks ago we couldn’t even run in the top 20 really, unless we got lucky; and never even thought about winning a race this year. And now, the last few weeks, we’ve come up just a little bit short; or, at least myself been frustrated, but we’ve come a long way in a really short time. So, that’s something to be proud of with our team. With that comes a lot of momentum; so hopefully we can keep that momentum going. In the short time I’ve spent in this sport of NASCAR, but I’ve raced for a long time and I know that having that momentum and confidence is such a big part of running up front every week. We’re starting to get that momentum and confidence back in our race team and it’s showing, also, on the race track. So, we’ve just got to keep working hard and making the right calls at the shop and at the race track and hopefully we can stay on top of it.”
COMING OFF LAST WEEK WHERE WE TESTED CHANGES TO THE AERO PACKAGE, HOW DIFFERENT WOULD THE RESULTS BE IN AN EXHIBITION RACE VERSUS IN A POINTS RACE LIKE WE DID LAST YEAR IN KENTUCKY AND DARLINGTON?
“I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t have an opinion on that. We’re just trying to make our sport better. I really don’t have an opinion. I think it’s good that they are making a call on trying to make the racing better. So, whether it comes at an exhibition race or a points race doesn’t matter to me. But there are a lot more points races than exhibition races.”
I REALIZE YOUR OPEN WHEEL BACKGROUND, BUT ARE THERE ANY SPRINT CUP TRACKS WHERE YOU ACTUALLY RUN THE LOW SIDE ANYWHERE? DO YOU JUST AUTOMATICALLY GO OUT AND START SEARCHING FOR THAT HIGH SIDE?
“There’s, sadly, a lot more track that run the bottom than the top. I wish there were more where you could run the top. In 2014, I felt like I could run the top more places than I can now. For whatever reason, I don’t know why. But yeah, definitely the tracks where I can move around and run up top and just find grip where other people are not running, those seem to be my best tracks (like) Bristol, Homestead, Chicago, Texas, here, during the day shows and stuff like that. I wish at Martinsville you could run the top, but that will never be that way. Yeah, I’ve been trying to get myself better at running the bottom over the last couple of years. I think that’s why, if you go back and look at the TV time I’ve gotten, you can probably see where I run the bottom a little bit more. I’m just trying to get better at that because I’ve learned racing stock cars now that you can look like a hero up top, but when it gets rubbered-in and the groove moves back down, you’ve also got to make the right adjustment and adjust your driving style to run the bottom. So, I’ve been trying to get better at that. I’m not great, but I’ve gotten myself a little bit better but the topside is definitely where I’ve been the best at because you can be aggressive. A lot of tracks I almost run it like a cushion on a dirt track.”
Team Chevy racing photos are available at:
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