Audio: Best of Media Day
Drivers spoke on a variety of topics Wednesday at the annual Daytona 500 Media Day.
Logano Ready to Defend Title
Joey Logano looks to become the first repeat Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion in more than a decade. But the Team Penske driver is well aware what happened last year is in the past and the need to focus on what lies ahead.
“I don’t know if it’s really any different at all,” Logano said when asked how it felt to come back to Daytona as the reigning champion. “It’s nice to have the box checked that you won a championship. That’s great, but, like I said, we’re back to zero and we’re not any better than anybody else now, so we need to try to defend that. Our goal is the same this year as it was last year and that’s to win every race that we sign up for and to win the championship.
“It hasn’t changed this year, last year or the 10 previous, so I think, really at this point, it’s not really any different. It’s nice to have that and to have the little thing on your suit, that’s super-cool — maybe the coolest part — but it’s the past now.”
New Home for Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch joins Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019 and will team with Kyle Larson as the team’s duo. The veteran believes he can learn as much from Larson as he can teach the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet but understands it will be a process.
“With Larson, the two of us think a lot alike,” Busch said. “He’s always had the right demeanor with making passes or yielding to a pass. The two of us have gotten along really well on track without having to communicate. I like that in him.
“There’s things I’m going to learn from him, things I’m going to teach him. I’m really looking forward to the fun aspect of a young teammate, but also to challenge him to make him better at the same time.”
Kyle Busch Eyes More Wins
The younger Busch brother Kyle, who reported a contract extension at Joe Gibbs Racing is imminent, is eager to get back to his winnings ways of a year ago. Busch put eight Cup victories on the board a year ago and is also hoping to add more wins to his impressive Truck Series and Xfinity Series records.
However, Busch understands whatever number he ends up with at the end of his career will not be on par with seven-time champion Richard Petty’s mark.
“No. Absolutely not because his number is obviously Cup wins and mine’s not,” Busch said about his cumulative total over NASCAR’s top tiers compared to Petty.
“I feel as though I’m chasing Jeff Gordon or maybe even David Pearson. Maybe – I don’t know if I can get there. I like to think I can get there. I’m at – what is it 51 or something? I’m at 51 right now, so if I can get another 50 in the next 10 years that would certainly be nice to go out with 100 Cup wins. Nobody will ever touch 200.”
Byron Relishing 500 Pole
Second year driver William Byron will lead the field to green in Sunday’s 61st running of the Daytona 500 after winning the pole last Sunday. He’s enjoying the time spent since putting his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in the top spot.
“No, it’s good,” Byron said. “It’s awesome to be on the pole. I’m looking forward to what it brings for us, what we can succeed with. I mean, just to be able to qualify on the pole like that is a goal of ours. It’s awesome.”
But Byron isn’t exactly sure what to expect in Thursday night’s Gander RV Duel as the final tune-up before the 500.
“That’s a great question,” he said. “I think we try to kind of see what happens. But I think with us starting up front, that’s a great thing. Hopefully we can keep it up there for a while and see what happens. Just kind of play it by ear, see how the race unfolds, if it’s calm or reckless like it was last year. We’ll see what happens.”
Shorter is Better for Hamlin
Many drivers spoke about the possibility of shortening races as well as the season in the future. Denny Hamlin believes it’s necessary in order to attract new fans as well as keeping the current base involved.
“I don’t know,” Hamlin said. “I don’t know really the analytics of it. What fans want to see, but I know that when you tune into the Olympics, the most popular event is the 100-metre dash. It’s not the 25-mile marathon. Maybe there’s something that could be said about that.”
As for the season, Hamlin is of the mind a more condensed calendar is for the better.
“I think that certainly it could be shorter,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s shorter as in races, but the length in time in the calendar year, it could be shortened up for sure. It’s not as easy making those changes as what we would all like for it to be because of all the stakeholder and what not that are in. I think in the next few years, you’ll probably see something.
“You always feel it about September or October that this is a very long seaon.”
Bowyer Drops the Mic
Leave it to Clint Bowyer to sum up last week’s crash-filled Advance Auto Parts Clash in his usual unique style.
“Man, I hit the 21 car,” Bowyer said when asked what happened at the end of the race and the multi-car crash. “… I don’t even know how he got turned around. All I know is that I went to Disney World with 20 people. My God. That wreck was nothing compared to the hell I have been through the last two days.”