Race Weekend Central

What They Said: Daytona 500 Media Day Quotes

In advance of the 64th running of the Great American Race, 29 of the 42 drivers stopped by the media center during Daytona 500 media day and shared their thoughts on a variety of topics.

Note: some drivers opted to have their 2022 Daytona 500 media availability earlier in the week via Zoom and did not participate on Wednesday.

Michael McDowell on returning to the Daytona 500 as the defending race winner

“The significance of this race and the history of it, it just has more meaning than just your average NASCAR race. They are all important and they all have significance, but if there is one you are going to win, this is the one. It is special. It is cool to know that regardless of what happens this weekend or what happens this year you always have that Daytona 500 victory and being a Daytona 500 champion is pretty special.”

Todd Gilliland on goals for his rookie season

“It is really hard to set any hard expectations. I would say for me personally it is just to not take myself out of learning opportunities. I would like to be on the track making as many laps as possible this year. I would say I definitely have a ton to learn the first half of the season but the second half of the season I would like to be competitive compared to Michael. I would say the main goal is to just finish as many laps as possible this year.”

Denny Hamlin on 23XI Racing expectations in 2022

“I think a goal for us to have both cars in the Playoffs. I think Bubba (Wallace) isn’t far off from that. It’s one DNF away – when you look at the standings of who is a contender to beat. I remember last year we were talking with two races to go from the Playoffs – two or three races to go – and it was like ‘We’re 30 points behind. That’s not that much.’ It’s not that much. You can gain a couple spots a week and on average change a drivers finish from 20th to 18th and you’re there.”

Kurt Busch on his first season with 23XI Racing

“We’ve set our expectations very high, and we have every ambition and every bit of focus and intensity to achieve those goals. Winning races, both cars in the Playoffs and for us making a run through the Playoffs to have a shot at the final four, that’s what we want to do on the 45 car. There’s no reason to think that we can’t with the information sharing and the technology that we have with Toyota. The notebook that nobody has right now. It’s a clean slate and we build from ground zero. Right now, we’re tied for the lead in points, and we intend to work all the way through the first couple months with a points-building frame of mind.”

See also
Target Acquired: Kyle Busch on Daytona 500 win, 23XI on Playoffs

Christopher Bell on how drivers and teams will adjust to the Next Gen car

“It’s going to be interesting to see if any of the veterans struggle with being quote ‘set in their ways’ and then the young guys coming into this sport that don’t have all of that experience and those notes of years and years racing the Gen 6 cars. The cream is going to rise to the top. The best drivers are going to figure it out. The best teams are going to figure it out.”

Tyler Reddick on balancing saving his equipment and racing hard

“I had (crew chief) Randall (Burnett) all pissed off last night because I was dragging the brake and laying back into (Kevin) Harvick so he could push me around the racetrack. So, I am already being a little bit more aggressive than I should be, but what’s new.”

Austin Dillon on joining the Drivers Advisory Council board

“Jeff Burton kind of reached out to me and felt that they could use me on the board, and I felt like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t. I feel like the driver’s opinion is very important in this sport and trying to establish a relationship with NASCAR and the owners and connect it altogether. I think it could build into something great that all the drivers that put their lives on the line each and every weekend, that their voices should be heard as much as anyone’s.”

Erik Jones on his run-in at the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum with Ryan Blaney

“He hasn’t reached out to me. So I guess it’s resolved. I don’t know… if I had a problem with someone I would talk to them. So I guess it’s over.”

Ryan Blaney‘s perspective on the incident

“I haven’t talked to Erik. I don’t have anything to really talk to him about. I’m over it. It’s funny, he thought I was supposed to apologize after I got fenced, but two people are gonna think differently. I haven’t talked to him, but I’m over it. It’s in the past and we’ll move on from it.”

Bubba Wallace on McDonald’s new clothing line release

“I think there are a lot of African American fans that are looking for, like, firesuits to wear on street wear. They are all about the fashion – they want the bomber jackets. It takes them back. I remember my sister – she may have had an M&M’s jacket in high school. I was in middle school at the time. I didn’t really follow that trend, because I had my own firesuit to wear on the weekends. That was so big to her and that generation, so to see them where they are at now – they are like we need that stuff back. It’s important to them. They are big into fashion. That group is big into fashion. I think that generation, I should say. They want to see that new swag, that vintage hip swag stuff get back on the shelves, so we are doing it with McDonalds. Creating a lot of fun.”

Chase Elliott on bigger teams still holding an edge over smaller teams with Next Gen

“I think that’s going to be tough to ever debunk that, in my opinion. Hopefully it opens the opportunity for people to come in and get up to speed a little quicker. But I definitely think that the teams that have the experience and have the resources to study, R&D and do all the things that you need to do are likely going to have the edge.”

Joey Logano on not holding anything back before the Daytona 500

“I can’t speak for the whole field on what they are thinking, but I don’t see myself racing any different in the Duel than I will in the 500. I am planning to go race. I think as soon as you get scared of crashing and those type of things you are never going to win. So, I am going to go race and if we crash, so be it, we will figure it out.”

Aric Almirola on if this will be his last Daytona 500

“Potentially. I’d have to talk to my wife and kids about it and see if I could get a hall pass to do it (again). I don’t know. You never know what the future holds. I came down here before thinking that it could be my last in year’s past, like when you don’t have a contract going past that year. You never really know when it is gonna be your last Daytona 500.”

Chase Briscoe on his eventful road trip

Last Monday, I bought a fifth wheel. I drove it down myself on Sunday and I was going down 95 and the leaf springs fell out of it. It was sideways going down the road. Luckily, it didn’t flip over, so I sat on the side of the road for I think 10-11 hours. It’s still sitting there. They haven’t found anybody to come fix it or tow it, so it could have been really bad. It moved the axle back about 10-15 degrees and it was sideways going down the road. Luckily, it happened literally an eight-of-a-mile before an exit ramp and I was able to get off, but I had both dogs, had the baby, had the wife with me and it was eventful.”

Brad Keselowski on his superspeedway prowess but lack of Daytona 500

“I have probably won some race sat Talladega I didn’t deserve to win and probably lost some here I deserved to win. I imagine it evens itself out somehow, it just hasn’t evened itself out in the way I would like it to here. I feel like we were really close last year and trying to make the pass for the lead on the last lap and the last corner. It doesn’t get much closer than that.”

Chris Buescher on what he expects from the reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway

“Leaving there I did not feel like you are going to have a Daytona or Talladega race. Handling was very much a factor. Yes, the throttle time was wide open but there were still some pretty big moments with very few cars. The racing surface is very narrow with the added banking. I don’t think you are going to end up with the product we have (at Daytona).”

Martin Truex Jr. on having no Daytona 500 victories on his resume

“I would certainly like to win it. I’m the closest one to winning it that hasn’t, I guess. That really doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s a big race. It’s the biggest race in our sport. It’s on that we’ve tried every year to win and been close. I don’t know I never have really thought about it. I think we’ve got a good opportunity this weekend.”

Kyle Larson on potentially running the Indianapolis 500

“If I ever run the Indy 500, I want to be prepared. I want to show up with the feeling that I have a shot to win. I don’t want to just show up and be like oh I get to compete in the Indy 500, that is really cool. Like I want to go there and be confident and know that I have a shot to run up front. With that takes a lot of preparation, a lot of work and I don’t think that’s something you can fully get done in a few months. I mean down the road, I’d like to do it, but I want to do it when the time is right and right now in February 2022 is not the right time. I think it is something more so down the road, but I definitely want to do it someday.”

Austin Cindric on the Rookie of the Year battle

I think it’s something that you probably focus on later in the year.  Right now, we’re not competitive with one another.  We’ll go workout together and try to one-up each other, but, otherwise, it’s not like we’re hiding information from one another and not talking about things.  Obviously, we treat each other like teammates, just like Ryan and Joey, so I don’t think it’s a conflict of interest in any way.”

Harrison Burton on the Rookie of the Year battle

“You look at the list of people that have won it in the past and it contains some of the best to ever do it.  Anytime you can kind of put yourself on that list as the same group of guys I think you work hard to do it.  It’s definitely a big deal.  I know it is to me personally, for sure.”

Kyle Busch on what he’s learned from helping son Brexton with his racing

“As I’m his driver coach, I’m helping him through things and I’m on the sidelines and I’m like ‘okay, what do I need to tell him? How can I explain this to a six-year-old so when he comes off the racetrack to go over things and watch film, I can talk to him about it?’ Now I’m using that too myself as I’m driving around the racetrack. I’m like ‘okay, dumbass, do this, look at this differently, don’t screw this up. Hey, you need to throw it into the top a little higher. You missed that corner, that was dumb.’ Just certain things in that nature. I’m talking to myself, driver coaching myself a lot more now. Whether that is good or bad, we’ll find out.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on JTG-Daugherty Racing downsizing to one car

“If there was a time to do it, it was now. I feel like we have more resources for our one car than we had for our two. I feel like we were running at a little disadvantage; maybe a little thin when we had two. I feel really good about where we’re at as a race team. We have the parts and pieces and a good assembly line of how we’re building our cars and how the process is going.”
See also
Michael McDowell on Team's Increased 'Legitimacy' from Daytona 500 Win

William Byron on the new brakes in the Next Gen car

“They’re definitely very powerful. I feel like they lock up easier. We all seem to kind of have that at the clash like where the brakes seemed to lock up, and we never really had that with the old car. Typically with the old car you’d lose the brakes before you had any other issues.”

Alex Bowman on how the Next Gen car will perform on different track types

I think it’s going to be really awesome on road courses. Phoenix, the test was pretty interesting. It’s just difficult, you can’t lean on the car as hard as you could with the old car, so trying to find that balance of not spinning the thing out every couple laps is tough. It’s definitely going to have places that it’s better than the old car and places that drivers felt like the old car drove better, but I don’t think that necessarily means it’s better or worse.

Daniel Suarez on Trackhouse Racing’s transition

“It’s been quite a big change, not just going from one car to two cars, but going to the change of our organization, getting a lot of help and support from RCR, and then being able to have the transition to everything that is Trackhouse today. We have over 100 people working right now, and we have two full-time operations there for two cars. It’s just such a big change.

Ross Chastain on his new teammate in Daniel Suarez

“Getting to know him now and talking about both of us kind of like our paths through the sport, we’ve been humbled a few times, and so I make the joke about being Spanish, but we speak the same language in a lot of ways because we’ve been humbled by some failed adventures with race teams, and it didn’t work.”

Kevin Harvick on putting his focus on the little things

“I just feel like the details of the day are going to be important and I just want to try to be as comfortable as possible. I think as you look at it, you are kind of starting over with everything and just trying to make sure that we check as many boxes as we can whether it is as simple as bumping another car, getting in and out of the pit box. All those things need to be addressed to make sure all the details are covered to try to minimize mistakes because I really think those details are what it is going to come down to.”

Ty Dillon on Petty GMS being his best Cup opportunity yet

“They have a very strong winning culture at GMS with the trucks. The championships and the wins that they have there and that is in the building already. And now we’ve brought in the Petty name, the most historic, winning, famous name in the sport. Infusing that in and building that into this Cup team we have all of the ingredients that it takes. So, absolutely I feel like this is my greatest opportunity that I have gotten yet. We’ve shown really good speed, more speed than I have ever been able to show. I’m building a new confidence with this new car that I don’t know if I had it compared to others. “

About the author

Davey is in his fifth season with Frontstretch and currently serves as a multimedia editor and reporter. He authors the "NASCAR Mailbox" column, spearheads the site's video content and hosts the Frontstretch Podcast weekly. He's covered the K&N Pro Series and ARCA extensively for NASCAR.com and currently serves as an associate producer for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and production assistant for NBC Sports Washington. Follow him on Twitter @DaveyCenter.

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Racers comment on the car and the race. Drivers talk about fashion. Denny just about admitted the plan for bubba is to let others drop out so bubba can keep gaining positions. No mention of racing others for position for bubba. I can’t wait for Kurt to get bubba depressed again.

Bill B

I will be very surprised if Kurt doesn’t produce better results across the board when compared to Bubba.

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