Overall, it was just an average weekend for us. Nothing spectacular. We would have liked to run faster, but it wasn't in the cards. We've been working to try to figure out why that was, and I think we've got some ideas for it as a group. I think all the Penske cars were very similar performance-wise, and I made the mistake of racing the racetrack and didn't capitalize as well as
For me, it wasn't very hard at all to push it out of my head. In the back of my mind, there was a thought that I was running 17th-18th when I spun, and I finished 21st. So I really didn't lose that much by spinning, and I certainly wasn't very intimidated by it, that's for sure.
Wrecks are just a part of the sport. Certainly we didn't want to have two of them in the first two races.. In my mind, it was a matter of risk versus reward. And from a risk standpoint, I pushed my car extremely hard at California until I spun out, found the limit -- and I lost very little in the process of doing so. I lost two spots. It's not a real big deal, two spots, so in my mind, it didn't really affect me.
Now, Daytona did. Daytona really stung a lot. You get a flat tire seven laps in with a car I really felt like was capable of winning the race, that really shocked me [he finished 36th]. But there was nothing I could do about it.
You know, somebody's got to get a flat tire and somebody's gotta spin out because they're trying too hard. Those were our days, and it'll go in cycles -- the trick is to just get through the bad ones.
I think it was handled appropriately once it happened. The problem is, it should have never happened.
From NASCAR's end, NASCAR doesn't build the tracks. They simply sanction the tracks. The problem was that it was allowed to happen to begin with, so hopefully the appropriate powers that be and other tracks in similar circumstances are taking note, and know how much of an issue that was.
You know ... there is no room for error in sports. There are so many choices this day and age that you need to be pretty buttoned-up. Americans just aren't going to put up with that.
I am on the side that there should be about 300 people there the day after bike weeks in March, cutting the track up and repaving it immediately. There's no better way to put it. If it broke in one spot, why won't it break in another spot? And to say the racing is good because the pavement's worn out is a very weak argument.
First off, you should never ask a driver what he thinks about a track. What he thinks is what is most advantageous to himself. It's just how it goes ... we're all that way. So from that perspective, most of the drivers that do not want to see the track repaved are on the side or have the thought process of, "I don't want it to be repaved because I don't want it to turn into Talladega... because I'm scared of Talladega." And that's the bottom line.
You notice drivers don't say, "Well, you really have to drive Daytona and you don't have to drive Talladega." Like that's ever stopped us before. There's just a handful of drivers who are scared of Talladega. They don't want to see Daytona turn into Talladega, and in some sick way they'd rather see a worn out track that has problems and pisses the fans off than risk their own butts and run being scared.
Racing at California has a laundry list of items associated with it. It's very hard to get peoples' attention in California, and then you fight the perception of NASCAR being a Southern sport, which I don't think sits very well. But even with that being said, it's not like it was extremely popular with IndyCars or anything like that either when they ran there.
You also fight the location issue, that it's to the East side of a major metropolis city that's very hard to navigate, to get to. And then you fight the actual racing issue, of how racing is there. But to put the racing itself as being the number one problem, I think, is somewhat naïve. I certainly would put it on the list of issues with the track, but it doesn't seem like anything they do over there is able to make anyone happy.
I feel bad for [Track President] Gillian [Zucker], that's for sure. I think she tries really hard, but there's just so many different items. Specific to the actual racing itself, they've had moments where it was OK. I think the media could do a better job, specifically the television media, of covering the areas where there is racing. Instead, we seem to focus on certain individuals, and we miss a lot of the good action that there is.
I understand there is an overabundance of good racing at California, and there is. Always something to watch. I don't believe on giving up on race tracks, that's for sure. I've never been one to give up, so I don't think California needs to be given up on. I think it just needs to be continually addressed and worked on until we can get to where we want to be.
A little bit of both. I'd be lying to you to say I haven't looked at the points. At the same time, we fully expect to get better every week. The weeks where you're going to be the worst are the weeks where you're just starting off. So, I'm not going to say I don't look at it, but I'm also not going to say I put a lot of weight in it.
Well, it creates a benchmark, for sure, and some continuity within the teams. It's really helpful to have the same driver in so many areas. Workloads... specifically with the crew guys it becomes a lot easier.
For example, last year maybe I had eight different drivers as a teammate. There was just no consistency. It just was very difficult to grow and get better. That's one area. The other area as far as continuity that people don't think of is having the same sponsors every week.
Man, if it doesn't win the funniest commercial of the year for NASCAR, I'll be very surprised. It was a lot of fun to do and a great time -- I can't wait to see the final product when it comes out. I really appreciate all the hard work Discount put in to get the whole concept put together...
You'll have to wait and see, just like everybody else (laughs).
I have not watched much. The one event I can say that I have watched is biathlon. I thought that was pretty cool, it caught my attention.
I like winter sports a lot, but most of the Olympic ones you can already see in some other form. Like hockey -- it's great that Team USA is playing well, but I can go watch pro hockey any old day. What I liked about a sport like the biathlon is that it's not something you see every day. So I thought that was interesting, and that it was a true Olympic sport -- a unique challenge that incorporated different skill sets. It was also an event that had some danger involved in it, because you're carrying a gun on your back. That's my take on it.
I don't fully understand the Olympics. That's part of the problem. In my mind, a true Olympic competition would be if you took 100 athletes, the best athletes from each country, and then picked out 20 random sports and made them play it. That would be a true Olympics to me. Otherwise, it's just this weird combination, and there's politics involved in it, and it's way over my head. Talking about attention span ... it's outside of my attention span.
Las Vegas is one of those tracks that has different personalities, which means a couple of different things. One, it drives differently based on a Nationwide versus a Cup car. And two, it goes through a transition during the weekend based on rubber buildup and the location of the sun, which can make a significant difference.
The frontstretch has a tremendous amount of banking to it, compared to other mile-and-a-half tracks. It's quite a bit, and the corner for the start/finish line is fairly sharp, so you need that banking to make it. It also means too that it's really easy to wreck down the front straightaway, so that's something to be careful / watch out for.
The entry of turn 1, you merge up to the wall very quickly and pull your car down very quickly again. It creates a weird transition into the corner that is exaggerated by the transitional banking into the corner and the large bump on entry to turn 1. It's probably one of the hardest corners in racing ... the entry to turn 1 in Vegas. So many sharp transitions there between the banking, bumps and so forth.
Once you get to the bottom of turn 1 and over that bump, turn 2 is fairly simple. Pretty wide, it's got a lot of grip, the cars seem to be pretty easy to drive up off there. They run side-by-side ... it's pretty cool. I like the exit of turn 2 at Vegas.
From there, you drive down the backstretch and into turn 3, which is a flatter, wide corner for a mile-and-a-half, similar to a Kansas. However, it's very, very rough and very bouncy, and on exit it's very narrow -- similar to Chicago. The wall swings in on you, so it has a tendency to throw you at the wall very quickly, and lose banking while it does that. It can really be misperceived to where you knock the wall down on exit really hard if you're not prepared for it. It can be a tricky corner.
The Luxor is cool, but the place I look forward to going to the most is Margaritaville. I really enjoy that.