NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
FEBRUARY 21, 2015
REGAN SMITH, INTERN DRIVER OF THE NO. 41 HAAS-AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed the preparation involved to drive in both the Xfinity and Cup races this weekend, making the most of the opportunity, learning the draft in the Cup car, team expectations, and more. Full Transcript:
EXPLAIN THIS DAY AND WHAT YOU’VE ALREADY DONE TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYTONA 500
“I think the obvious thing would be getting fitted up for the car and getting ready for the car. Things happened pretty late last night. We had a plan coming into this morning of what time to get up, which was quite a bit earlier than I would normally get up. But, we’ve worked around all that stuff and getting the seat stuff ready so we can go make some laps with Happy Hour, it’s kind of convenient that I can get a few laps in the car at least before Sunday and get acclimated and see where the switches are and see where the buttons are. Beyond that, we’ll get through practice; and for me, I’ve got to focus on the Xfinity car and making sure we get off to a good start to the season over there.”
TONY STEWART SAID 10 DAYS AGO THAT THERE WAS A CONTINGENCY PLAN. HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE CONTINGENCY PLAN ALL ALONG?
“I believe the team had a plan in place whenever that was. I spoke to somebody this past week at one point, and that was about the extent of what I knew what was going on. I’m kind of focused on what I had to do to get ready for our season on the other side and really haven’t paid much attention otherwise. So, if I was, that’s a question for the team.”
THIS IS YOUR THIRD LAST-MINUTE SUB. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT FOR YOU? OR, IS IT NOT DIFFICULT TO JUMP INTO A CAR COLD AND PERFORM?
“They all have their own different circumstances and scenarios. I think the fortunate thing is that I’ve done enough Cup races to where I’m familiar with most of the cars. They have changed a little bit over the years and obviously this rules package is a little bit different than what I had in the majority of my experience in. But for a speedway, the fortunate thing is the drafting is similar from the Xfinity cars to the Cup cars, so that’s not a big adjustment. Last time, with it being a situation where we had ten minutes to get a seat in and really had to go quick that was a little bit trickier than the other two circumstances; this one and when I substituted for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) in the No. 88.
“So, they all take their own kind of shape and form. You make the most of them. I don’t think anybody wants to be in the scenario where you have to sub under circumstances, whatever they may be. And with that said, if it happens, you want to make the most of that opportunity. And there are some guys, I don’t know how many, but we’ll say 200 employees because I don’t know how many Stewart-Haas has, but there are a lot of people that have had their hands on that race car and have worked hard on that race car and they deserve to still have the opportunity to go out there and win that race; and that’s what we’re going to try to do for them.”
YOU MUST HAVE COME TO DAYTONA KNOWING SOMEWHERE IN THE BACK OF YOUR MIND THAT YOU MIGHT BE RUNNING IN THE DAYTONA 500 IN ADDITION TO YOUR OTHER DUTIES. WAS IT DIFFICULT AT ALL TO BE NOT TOTALLY CERTAIN WHETHER YOU WOULD BE FOCUSED ON ONE THING OR MORE? DID YOU HAVE TO ALLOT ANY ENERGY TO THAT?
“Not really because I typically sit there and watch the Cup races and do whatever I would do to learn and understand for my races, for our Xfinity races; so I watch, whether it’s Cup or Truck or whatever it might be, I watch all of them when I’m not involved with them and just see if I pick anything up or learn anything to begin with. And I scan guys, different guys, to hear what the race track is doing and what the cars are doing and what the conditions are causing the cars to do. Knowing that there were some things potentially going on, again, I can’t stress enough that I really have not paid much attention to any of it. I do have other stuff that I’m focusing on, on the other side. But knowing there was some stuff going on really didn’t affect me at all and it didn’t take away from any of my focus on that side. And throwing this in is not going to affect one way or the other, what I do in either car. The same goals exist. The same mission exists to go our and try to win both races. The biggest difference is I got an opportunity to hop in a race car that’s more than capable of winning the Daytona 500 tomorrow, and I want to make the most of that opportunity.”
YOUR WIFE IS DUE TO HAVE YOUR BABY IN TWO WEEKS. DID YOU CONSIDER NOT BEING THE SUBSTITUTE JUST IN CASE? I ASSUME IF SHE DOES GO INTO LABOR, YOU’LL LEAVE
“My wife and I have a very good relationship, obviously; we’re having a kid (laughter). We’ve had those discussions prior to this even happening about if it were to happen for one of the Xfinity races and our same mentality for the Xfinity races is going to carry over to Sunday. Obviously, it’s a big opportunity for me to be able to race that car. I’ve asked her to keep her legs crossed as long as she can if she does go into labor (laughs) and we’ll do what we can to make sure I get back as quick as I can if that happens. But I will race both races this weekend.”
AS FAR AS YOUR SUCCESS HERE, YOU’VE WON HERE, YOU CAME REALLY CLOSE TO WINNING AT TALLADEGA; TO BE ABLE TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY LIKE THIS PUT YOU IN A POSITION TO AT LEAST SHOWCASE YOUR TALENT BECAUSE ULTIMATELY YOU DO WANT TO GET BACK INTO SPRINT CUP ONE DAY?
“I would say anytime you have a chance to hop in a race car that you know is fast and know is more than capable of winning races, it’s always an opportunity to showcase talent, no matter where it is, no matter what the circumstances or situations are, you’ve got to always think that way and you’ve got to always be prepared that way. So, yeah, I think we have a shot to go out and win this race on Sunday. I absolutely think we do and I’m going to go out and do everything I can to make that happen. And if that helps maybe get me to a situation where we can sit here and talk about these things and have it be strictly because somebody hired me to drive their car, then that’s the goal to go prove to people that I need to be doing that on a full time basis for the right reasons.”
YOU’VE GOT ONE PRACTICE TO GET FAMILIAR WITH THE CAR. WHAT’S ON YOUR CHECKLIST? OR, WHAT CAN YOU CHECK OFF IN ONE PRACTICE SESSION THAT YOU NEED TO DO?
“There are a lot of things we can check off. Just simply if we only made four laps, that’s four more laps than I would have had otherwise; and four more laps of getting acclimated. Feeling the steering box, feeling the car differences between the Xfinity car and the Cup car, getting comfortable, and seeing the switches and knowing which switches they run and which switches they don’t run, hitting pit road once, that’s going to be a big thing that we want to take care of. I don’t think we have any intentions of drafting today; we’re just going to shake down what the team’s got and make sure that everything is ready and there are no leaks for the 500 and things like that and get comfortable with that. Hit pit road a few times and keep it simple, but the simple things are the things that actually can sometimes be complicated in the races that you need to worry about and focus on; and sometimes it’s stuff that you might not even think about.”
HAS ANY ONE FROM STEWART-HAAS TOLD YOU WHAT THEIR EXPECTATIONS ARE FOR YOU IN THE CAR? ALSO, WHAT WERE YOUR PLANS FOR SUNDAY BEFORE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT? “I went to see Tony Gibson (crew chief, No. 41 Chevrolet SS) last night for just a little bit when everything was happening so we could talk about where they are at and how the week has gone so far, and however the last eight days has gone. He made it very clear that the goals and expectations are the same for tomorrow as they were two days ago, or three days ago. They have a car capable of winning the race, and that is what we are going to go out and try to do. That has all stayed the same, we’re fortunate; there is a fortunate side for us and me in particular is that I have nothing to lose in this race other than to go out and drive as hard as I can, and as fast as I can. Obviously, if it ruffles a few feathers, oh well! That is how it is.
“I was planning on watching the race on the couch just like anybody and whether it would be talking to folks through Twitter or whatever I would normally do to watch the 500. I was going to do that and enjoy the race at home. So, we will adjust those plans just a little bit. I’ll have a little bit better seat for the race.”
HAVE YOU HAD ANY CONVERSATIONS WITH KURT BUSCH? DO YOU PLAN TO HAVE ANY WITH KURT BUSCH? “I have not spoken to Kurt and I don’t know if I will or won’t before everything gets done. Naturally since he’s been driving the car, just purely from a race car driver’s standpoint it would be beneficial to me to talk to him and say hey, what can I expect out of the car if I get in the middle of three wide or if I get stuck on the high side on this part of the race track. If that opportunity presents, then obviously we’ll discuss that stuff. But outside of that, I haven’t spoken to him.”
WHO IS YOUR SPOTTER? HOW WILL THAT WORK? ANY OTHER INFORMATION THAT YOU NEED? “The spotter situation is actually a really good one. Rick Carelli will be spotting the car, and I’ve worked with Rick for two years prior to me going to JR Motorsports. I have a good relationship with Rick. It will be seamless. I know what to expect. I know how he calls a race. I know he describes things and the cars so that should be pretty seamless.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT IN THE DAYTONA 500? “I expect a different race than what we saw on Thursday. I think with the temperatures we are talking, almost 50 degrees warmer on Sunday than what they raced on Thursday, or darn close to it – we’ll call it 40, the cars are going to drive considerably different. The cars are going to have to handle better. Handling will play a factor in the race I think at some point. I don’t know without talking to them and seeing the situation on tires, if tires will play a huge factor into that yet. I know that no tires seemed like they did pretty good the other night, but also guys that took four tires seem like they had pretty good luck. I would anticipate the cars that handle better will migrate to the front. Some of the guys that have not got their cars handling good that maybe had speed the other night will maybe struggle just a little bit more. Because of that, it will be a little bit more challenging for everybody.”
HAVE THERE BEEN AND CONVERSATIONS ABOUT ATLANTA AND GOING FORWARD, OR IS THIS JUST A ONE RACE DEAL? “I’m just purely focused on the Daytona 500 right now and helping these guys get through this weekend. Outside of that I don’t know anything. We’ve got our plate pretty full just getting ready to run tomorrow. So, we are going to make sure we get through all that stuff.”
I WANT TO CLARIFY, ARE YOU DEFINITELY IN THE CAR TOMORROW REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE APPEAL I GUESS IS TODAY? MIKE ARNING – DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION STEWART-HAAS RACING: “I’ll answer that. Stewart-Haas Racing is planning on Regan Smith driving the No. 41 car in the Daytona 500.”
YOU SAID PLANNING, BUT ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGE? MIKE ARNING – DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION STEWART-HAAS RACING: “Stewart-Haas Racing is planning on having Regan Smith driving the No. 41 car in the Daytona 500.”
WHAT MAKES YOU SO GOOD AT THESE PLATE TRACKS, AND WHAT IS BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH TO BE THAT COMPETITIVE? “I wish I knew what has led to some success on the plate tracks. I guess there is just a certain level of comfort at this style of racing, and trying to out-think guys. I don’t mind when we have to race and kind of out-think each other. There is always the element of something happening that is out of your control whether it is a plate race or not. I go into it with a little bit different mentality that the other guys do. I’ve always looked at it as these races you get the same amount of points for these races as you do for any of the other ones, so you might as well embrace them and look at them in a positive light and not worry about the stuff you can’t control. Maybe that plays a part of it. I don’t know.
“Because we aren’t going to draft, the biggest thing I’m going to need Sunday is going to obviously be to learn the draft in these cars. There is going to be some variables. Some different things to worry with the Cup car compared to the Xfinity car. It may take me 15-20 laps on Sunday to really understand where they jump sideways; where they don’t just sideways. I think a lot of the situational stuff of where cars are at around you is going to be very similar so that shouldn’t take any time to really adjust to or get used to. But outside of that I anticipate it being relatively seamless and we will work on getting track position all day. I think we have to go to the back. I don’t know that for sure, but I am pretty sure. So with that being said, we’ll have the opportunity to work on track position to try and help us get up and get where we need to be.”
WHAT IS THE FAMILIARITY AND TIMETABLE GETTING A NEW CAR? “I was in one of the Stewart-Haas cars last year so there is an element of that that helps with that process; helps me get more familiar a little bit quicker. I don’t know from team to team where they are inside. But generally speaking the switches are always in a relatively similar location unless a driver wants something completely different for whatever reason. There are little things I still may have to look twice if I am flipping on a blower fan, or a radiator fan or something like that I may have to look twice. But I’ve already sat in the car. I have already seen generally where all that stuff is. Once we get through with practice, I will push that to the back of my memory bank for just a little bit and think about that tonight after I am done with the race this afternoon. I will worry about all that stuff tonight. But it shouldn’t be too big of a deal.”
YOU SAID YOU HAVEN’T SPOKEN TO KURT, BUT IS YOUR SENSE THAT HE WILL COOPERATE WITH YOU? “I would answer that by saying that he is the leader of this team. He is the driver of the No. 41 car. With that said I would anticipate that he would want to definitely help out in any way that he can. I don’t know what his time constraints or anything like that are right now. If the opportunity presents to chat about race cars, then we will chat about race cars.”
Team Chevy racing photos are available at: http://media.gm.com/product/public/us/en/gmracing/photos.html