Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face – especially when they’re mad, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.
Throughout the NASCAR Cup Series season, there were quite a few of these moments. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.
“When we go to short tracks, we all kind of point to Chase. He’s been the most successful lately. Chase and I have really different driving styles at the short tracks. So, it’s hard for us when we have one car that’s really successful there and we’ve kind of struggled to go a different direction. But I think it’s something I feel like Greg (Ives, Crew Chief) realized that we needed to do. I was never going to be able to copy Chase’s driving style and it’s worked out here recently. So, I’m appreciative of him sticking with me and knowing I ask a lot out of the racecar at short tracks and want different things than most. But we’ve been able to figure out how to make it work.” – Alex Bowman
“It’s the 40 best drivers in the world so it doesn’t get much better that, but it puts it in perspective when you’re battling Cup Series champions for a top-20 at some places. It’s just crazy and that’s really when it sets it in. The other thing, you make one really small mistake and people think, ‘Oh, a Cup race is so long, it’s twice the length of an Xfinity race, you have time to recover when you make a mistake,’ but when you’re competing with this competition, you can’t make any mistakes.” – Anthony Alfredo
“We praise it. We like being the first. We like being innovators; we have been for 50 years. I think the proof is in the pudding for me when it comes to the concept. When I sit in the spotter’s stand and look down and see a packed infield, and see a ton of smiling faces, a ton of kids that have come through our 12 and under kids program, our free carnival in the fan zone, and do as a family business for our fans and partners is certainly special.” – Pocono Raceway President Ben May
“It’s fun being on this side because everybody knows how hard this sport is. I say everybody, most people, and they know we’re at the highest level of stock car racing in the world, so some of it takes a little bit of pressure off of you because you are an underdog and anything you do good, I’ve found, that people are really supportive and if you struggle you may get some negative comments here and there, but that’s just part of trying to be in a sport that’s difficult and you’re trying to make something from nothing.” – B.J. McLeod
“Some racetracks I feel like it helps and other racetracks I feel like it’s almost a crutch for just the layout of the track. Texas, I never got to run the old Texas, but I always thought the old Texas looked like one of the coolest racetracks you could go run at. You have all the way from the bottom to the middle to the fence it was just a fun-looking racetrack, and now it’s obviously pretty bottom dominant and even in 20 years I don’t know if we’re ever gonna be able to run to the middle to the top just because of how the shape of the track is and the banking and things like that.” – Chase Briscoe
“Chad’s (Knaus) new role at HMS I think is rolling these cars to the crew chiefs in a better place than they’ve been in the past. I think he’s a guy who pays the attention to detail that it takes to be successful at the Cup level and he’s fought the battle for however many years, a long time. I mean how long has he been around NASCAR, working at all different types of jobs within race teams. Absolutely, I think there are some good things going on and we just need to keep pushing. The whole season is important, but having your stuff right at the right time is also important, as well. So, we’ve got to keep our heads down and keep going.” – Chase Elliott
“The only way I got over my issues was making myself vulnerable. The only way I got over my demons was to basically lay it out on the table, become an open book, and wear my heart on my sleeve. Definitely a jarring approach for some people, but it’s what has helped me grow. I have talked very openly about my attempts with suicide in the past, and I use to that as a tool to talk to people who may be dealing with the same things. I don’t use it as a crutch, or thing that negatively affects me to this day; I use it to help people, and that’s what matters at the end of the day. I drive cars for a living, and it’s a real blessing and an honor, but the real things that matter when it’s all said and done and I’m on my death bed is did I help people? Did I make a positive impact on the world? Because even if I went out and won the Daytona 500, that’s not going to make an impact on the world, to help people, and I want to make a true impact on this world, even if it’s a little one, even if I just help one person. That would make me happy.” – Cody Ware
“I don’t think they need to ask me of my what opinion is, but I also don’t think they need to let the inmates run the prison. I think NASCAR is going to be taking the blunt of it so they should be making all the decisions now. The guys that are driving them have the best idea of how to achieve things that NASCAR is looking to do, I think there could always be more communication between NASCAR and the drivers. But generally, I think NASCAR has been an open book with what they’re trying and what they want to see accomplished. I think what I want to see is all the fans give it a minute to figure what this is. We’re only one test into the NextGen car and people are already writing it off or judging it a certain way. Like, let this thing have half-a-season, full season before you judge it because the drivers are going to put the racing on to the best of our ability and just like always with NASCAR, the drivers are always going to deliver a good show. There’s going to be the thrilling endings and battles with this car, just like what we’re used to seeing with the previous car.” – Corey LaJoie
“I really enjoy a lot working with Travis (Mack). He’s very smart, a great leader, a great person that work extremely good with people. He keeps me down. I’m sorry, he calms me down the entire time. I’m the kind of person that I get excited very easy. He does a great job making sure that I’m always calm down and relaxed on things. He doesn’t get to the chip on the rpm too often, which is a good thing. I really enjoy working with Travis, everyone at Trackhouse Racing. Everyone does an amazing job. We have a very good relationship, very good chemistry. I feel like it will only get better from here.” – Daniel Suarez
“I don’t think it really surprises me too much. I think the guys that have won are all guys that are totally capable of winning on a certain weekend. With no practice, it’s less surprising because it’s a matter of really hitting your car right when you unload and hit the race track. When you have practice, you always kind of see the cream rise. It’s the same guys that know how to get their stuff really good; especially at the tracks that they’re good at. And without practice, you lose that. So, you’re just totally relying on hitting it right. It’s a little bit of the flip of the coin, right? You hope that it lands on the good side and it’s handling good for you. It doesn’t really surprise me, but it doesn’t really change my approach to the Playoffs either. Obviously, it’s going to be a little bit harder to point your way in, the more and more winners we get. But we’ve still got to do the best we can each week and just try to continue clicking points off and moving up and taking advantage of the places that we can go and have a shot to win and hopefully win one.” – Erik Jones
“I feel like I have a great relationship with all the drivers I’ve had. But with Alex (Bowman), he is just very open with me. He doesn’t really let things get to him. If he wants to pick on me, he picks on me, as you have probably seen, or he’s serious with me. It’s really just an open relationship where he has the ability to be honest. If the cars are running great, he lets me know. If they’re not, he lets me know in a way that it’s constructive and allows us to be better. I think it’s vice-versa. If I tell him he needs to click a front brake, he does it. And if I tell him he needs to work on his entry speed, he does it. I’m not doing it to put him down, I’m doing it so we’re better as a team. I think that’s the thing that we have most in common. Yeah, we’re kind of quiet people. We like to be on our own a little bit. We like working on our cars. We like having our own race teams and just working hard. There are a lot of similarities outside of racing that we have in common, as well. I kind of get his lifestyle and where he came from. I respect about how he came up and that he didn’t always have things handed to him but was given opportunities and made the best of them.” – Greg Ives
“You go from the Xfinity race to the Cup race and there’s a difference and the intensity is higher and the amount of drivers that are just amazing drivers is higher, and you have to find a way to bring yourself up to that level and, for sure, it’s a jump. I don’t really know what the jump is gonna be like. I know it’s gonna be a challenge, but anything that’s worth doing is normally a challenge and that’s what excites me. Those are the things that motivate me, big challenges and how do you overcome them.” – Harrison Burton