MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
QUAKER STATE 400 PRESENTED BY WALMART
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 12, 2019
DANIEL HEMRIC, NO. 8 CATERPILLAR CAMARO ZL1 Media Breakout Session Highlights:
YOU ARE NOW HALFWAY THROUGH YOUR ROOKIE SEASON. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT SO FAR?
“I’ve gotten that question more and more over the last couple of weeks. I think that throughout the very end of the first 10 or so races, we started turning the corner as a group. We’ve been putting one foot in front of the other. We are doing the right thing as a group in trying to maximize weekends. We’ve got some room to grow and things we need to do better as a whole, and just cleaning things up. We’ve had some really clean weekends that we can have decent results. I’m looking forward to going back to some of these tracks and seeing what we can do.”
ARE YOU STARTING TO HAVE BETTER LUCK?
“I guess you can say that (laughs). Obviously, people at the beginning of the year were kidding around about eating Lucky Charms and whatnot. I’ve always felt like the harder you work, the luckier you are. I wasn’t feeling like I was getting that out of it, but in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got to go execute on your end and do everything you can. I didn’t do that during the first part of the year, so I’m trying to minimize mistakes and run a more complete race from start to finish. It might mean to give up a little bit here and there to make sure your car stays in one piece to get to the end. These races are long, so you have to be able to manage all of those things.”
DO FANS STILL SEND IN LUCKY CHARMS? IF SO, DO YOU STICK THEM IN THE CAR?
“The last two weeks, we were still getting stuff. I’ve been going short track racing and I haven’t even had a chance to go to the shop. On the flip side of that, I’ve yet to put anything inside of the race car. The majority of it stays inside of hauler in the team lockers for our guys. That’s about the extent of it.”
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR ROOKIE YEAR?
“I think just managing the day in and day out. Not just the expectations, but having a short memory. I think that’s probably been the biggest thing I’ve had to manage because I would get so down on myself for making mistakes, let it carryover and the next thing you know you’re making more mistakes. You might be magnifying a mistake from weeks prior that people had forgot about. I think just moving through these weekends and having a short memory when they are good or bad, and be able to turn the page the next week.”
HOW DOES THE TRACTION COMPOUND FEEL FOR YOU OUT THERE?
“I think it has given options. It’s interesting how the options that it has given has kind of taken away from other parts of the race track, where the bottom has been so dominate. For our race car and our team, I feel like we have to be in that stuff to make sure we have a good handle. Some of those guys have better movability in their cars. I can do that in 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 I have to be in the traction compound to make the balance that I need. We’ve spent more time in the second and third lane at Kentucky than we have the last three or four years. I think the nighttime might open up that window even more. I think some of the balance issues that some cars have right now will be masked some. I think you’ll still be able to go down there and have some grip. When it’s hot, slick and sunny, there is such a big variance. Having your car change balance quickly has been the biggest thing to get use to, but it’s definitely giving options.”
WHAT KIND OF RACE TO YOU EXPECT TOMORROW? DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE PASSING?
“I think there will be a select few that can pass; a select few that have very versatile racecars that can move and changes directions. If your car is right on that brink of being able to or not, you may be really affected by the dirty air. There is definitely a dominate lane in practice where the most speed can be made. If there were other cars around you are in that lane trying to make speed, you just couldn’t do it. I’ll kind of dive more into that as we go, but I think there will be some cars that can come through the field, cars that can maneuver, and there are going to be a lot of guys that will become trapped and equal to the cars around them. It’s just a matter of how much grip the lanes that aren’t treated will gain once the lights come on. I think you will see more of that versatility throughout the field when the lights do come and hopefully it opens up options for everybody.”
HOW HARD HAS THIS SEASON BEEN FOR YOU?
“I’m not sure that being a rookie in the Cup Series has been much harder than anything that I anticipated. I will tell you that by the time you get the opportunity to get in a Cup car for the first, you want to think you’re really high up there and you are driving at your full capability. You get to this level and you realize you have to grow more inside this garage area than you ever have before. It’s been fun over the last couple of weeks getting ourselves better and better. I’ve said this time and time again that I feel like I’ve always gotten into a program that is good, but never really a dominate program. It’s always been about not only maximizing the things I’m doing on the race track, but helping the program move forward and progress in a positive manner. That’s what I’ve had to do for myself and this race team. It’s been fun and awesome to see the gains that we’ve been able to make as a company over the last handful of races. It’s been a challenge in itself, but nothing in my life has been easy or handed to me.”
THIS ROOKIE BATTLE HASN’T BEEN FLASHY, BUT CLOSE BETWEEN THE THREE OF YOU. HOW HAS IT BEEN FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
“I agree with that. I think I said earlier in the year that Ryan Preece has done a good job of putting weekends together. I knew we were capable of it; it was just a matter of when we would be capable of putting together those weekends. As we did that, it has kind of shifted and put ourselves in a good position. It’s just been fun battling for Rookie of the Year with a guy that I respect so much (Ryan Preece), as well as Matt Tift. That team has been growing and doing a lot of the right things too. It’s just cool to know that a couple of 28-year-olds are battling for Rookie of the Year. I think Matt Kenseth was the last 28-year-old rookie, if I’m stating that right, and that’s a pretty cool stat. Hopefully this means a lot of good years to come.”
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