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February 16, 2018

Scott Lagasse, Jr.

Joe Nemechek

Dayton Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our third‑place finisher, Joe Nemechek, driver of the No.87 DAB Constructors, Inc., Fleet Wing Chevrolet for NEMCO Motorsports, and our fifth‑place finisher, the pride of St. Augustine, Scott Lagasse Jr., driver of the No.20 American Cancer Society Screen Your Machine Chevrolet.
Joe, this is your best finish since 2014 at Texas, third place tonight, wild finish to this race. Please walk us through it from your perspective.
JOE NEMECHEK: Well, it was definitely an interesting race. I mean, right from the start, a lot of the trucks out there were definitely out of control, and just, again, I've been doing this a long time, and I've seen a lot of this stuff happen. Again, just trying to put myself in a position where I'm going to be there for the last two laps and not be wrecked out of the race. At one point we had a‑‑ my fault again messing up in the pits and ran over an air hose and had to go to the back, but it was pretty easy to get back to the front.
We had the new NT1 engine in, and it run flawless since we've been here. It was just a good weekend.
You know, the one thing I do have to say, just feel very fortunate to be here. This is a season that we're still trying to figure out what we're doing and what races we're running, and basically I have four employees, and man, we've re‑bodied about eight trucks over the winter and got two trucks prepared to come down here with four people. That's a pretty amazing feat in itself trying to do that.
But again, local sponsors, DAB Constructors out of Ingalls, Florida, was on my truck, along with Fleet Wing. They're out of Lakeland, Florida, my hometown, and between the two of them, we were able to field two trucks and had competitive trucks. Both of them definitely‑‑ I thought both of us had a shot at winning this race.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, you were in the mix there for that final stage, right up front. How close did that win feel at times to you tonight, and walk through the finish of this race from your perspective.
SCOTT LAGASSE JR.: You know, Joe was being nice there because he could have said I screwed up and helped everybody. No, the last four or five laps, I sat there and was trying to figure out how to get to the 21, and I drove that 24 last year here and know how good they are. So we're sitting there with a little bit of damage, those two, and I made the wrong decision, I guess, because I didn't end up winning the thing. But I hate that for Tyler. It's a good group. But I figured I'd do something nobody was expecting and see if it worked, and it didn't.
JOE NEMECHEK: That's racing.
SCOTT LAGASSE JR.: You know, I'm not running for points. They're not really going to run for a driver's point, so I figured I'd try to get them the win. I don't know, those GMS trucks are fast. I think‑‑ I would have liked to have gone back and not had some damage and redone it and see, but you don't get that. Next year maybe, Talladega maybe.
But great group of guys, great truck, and really had a lot of fun tonight.

Q. Joe, I was wondering if you could talk about racing with your son battling for the lead there throughout parts of that race and how you feel about his growth for the past couple years as he prepares to make the next step in the XFINITY Series.
SCOTT LAGASSE JR.: I'll answer that. He's fast.
JOE NEMECHEK: I'll tell you what, since he's been a little kid, no matter what he gets on, whether it's a motorcycle, go‑kart, he's been fast on everything. One of the coolest things that I get to see is they go‑‑ and I know Scott is not up there, but if he was, he'd be over at the GoPro kart complex. All the drivers go out there, and they battle like you wouldn't believe on that racetrack. I mean, it's the dangdest thing you've ever seen in your life. And they're all smiles, but I mean, I'm too heavy. They've got a weight advantage on me, and they just drive away from me. But they're competitive.
And he has learned so much‑‑ just like drafting. He doesn't have a lot of drafting experience, what, two years now, a few races, but he studies tape and he's in the simulator and he's doing all this stuff. And he was able to get to the front a couple times, took the lead, just doing everything. It's just unfortunate that quarterpanel got rolled up on the right rear tire. I saw it right next to me at the time, and I was like, man, this isn't a good thing, and he just didn't get to pit road when he should have. But it's just part of it.
Again, believe me, I'm the one that has to pay the bills to fix it, so that's the tough thing. But it's cool just knowing that our team, being as small as it is, we hang our own bodies, we build all of our suspension, we do all of our stuff in‑house. Everything is done in‑house with basically four people, and we can make some fast trucks. So he's going to have a good future at Ganassi's. I can tell you that.

Q. Scott, last year you were telling me how Dale Jr. kind of taught you the ins and outs of restrictor plate racing. Are you kind of surprised with your limited experience on them how much you've improved?
SCOTT LAGASSE JR.: I need to go revisit that conversation with him, because I didn't really know what to do right there. I think you have to do that. The neat thing about our sport is typically if you ask, people will help. You lean on them, the veterans, and he taught me a lot for sure. You know, there's no doubt that restrictor plate racing was not my favorite thing on earth until I started to understand what's going on, and you know, it's fun. It's really fun to do. It's aggravating at times. We weren't able to draft in practice yesterday because we didn't have a backup truck that was as good, so when we started the race knowing there was a caution, I was able to try some aggressive moves knowing that if I got spit out, I'd be fine. I actually tried to run by this guy about four or five times on the top, and every time he'd shut me down, and it wasn't by accident.
You know, so that's fun, but yeah, it's neat. You know, you sit back and watch and learn from guys that do it a lot, and like he said, John Hunter studies and asks questions, and he's a racer, and that helps a lot.
JOE NEMECHEK: I'll tell you, Scott is a good plate racer. I can tell you that. He's run good at a lot of other racetracks, but plate racing, he just seems to find that niche on how to get that nose in there, doesn't matter if it's a truck, Xfinity car. I've raced with him enough over the years; very good plate racer.

Q. Joe, out on pit road David Gilliland was talking about seeing you race John Hunter, and he said he'll get the opportunity to race Todd at Talladega later this year, and they've only raced against each other one time. He said, I was imagining what that's like for Joe and John Hunter. What was it like the first time you raced him at this level, and what might Todd experience a little bit later this year when he gets that opportunity to do so?
JOE NEMECHEK: Oh, I can guarantee you Todd and his son are going to have the same experience I did, and before you even get to the track, the trash talking starts and all the competitive stuff starts. Believe me, this goes back to when he ran the Al son legacy cars when he was 11 years old, and it never stops, through late models‑‑ I've raced him once there. I beat him there, too. He beat me‑‑ he's beat me more than I've beat him. But it's cool.
You know, the first truck race, I was able to start that race, didn't finish, but he ended up winning it. The plate race last year, we ended up finishing fourth and fifth, and our trucks were all beat to tar. His was destroyed and still ended up fourth. Just being in the right place at the right time.
There's so much luck that went into this. I was waiting with two to go that someone was going to get turned and everybody was going to be crashed, so I'm just trying to plan on all your exit strategies. You've just got to know everything going around you, who's around you, who's going to hit you. Just there's a lot of planning that goes into this.
The best I can compare‑‑ again, truck restrictor plate racing is about like it was back when we had the cars and they put those‑‑ I call them taxicab strips, the wickers on the roofs? Man, it was so much stuff because the closing rate was so big. There was a lot of things going on there, and it's about the same way in the Truck Series. Very, very tough.
SCOTT LAGASSE JR.: There was no closing rate on that 21.
JOE NEMECHEK: No, he was pretty tough.
But again, getting back to David, he's going to have a blast. It's a special moment in your heart, and to see‑‑ and I guarantee you his son is going to be in front of him when it's all said and done. Just that's the way it all works. I'll look forward to that day watching them do that, too.

Q. Joe, you talk about all the fun stuff, the trash talking and stuff between you and your son. How unnerving is it when you're out there and you see your son involved in a caution? I mean, do you just have to drive on? How hard is that to put out of your mind because at the end of the day it's your son?
JOE NEMECHEK: Well, I mean, it's pretty tough to get hurt in these cars anymore, with all the safety innovations that have come through, soft walls, the carbon seats. He's got the best equipment you can buy to stay safe. I know back in the day, I'm just lucky the good Lord was watching out for me in a couple of my crashes that I'm still here, but the safety technology has come so far, it's hard to get hurt in these things.
I mean, you've got to drive them hard. You've just got to be smart, and that's‑‑ at the beginning of the race we were talking about what‑‑ again, I've been wrecked leading races, and I got wrecked running last in these races just trying to avoid the wrecks. You just have to go out there and race. I mean, our sponsors, DAB and Fleet Wing and Slovacek Sausage and Rumco and everybody involved that helps us, they want to see that truck on TV. They're paying us to go out there and do a job, and again, the bottom line is getting the results, getting the finish. But again, there's so much that goes on in between all that, and so we have to do the best job we can.

Q. Joe, a third‑place finish, does it do anything for your team in terms of extra funding? Is that going to give you any little bit more to do more this year, or does John Hunter's wreck kind of wipe that out?
JOE NEMECHEK: Well, the good thing is I hope it didn't hurt the motor because this motor has got to go to Atlanta. The truck we don't need until the end of the year at Talladega, so that's not a big deal. A lot of cost involved in getting it fixed. You know, that wreck right there, that's a $30,000, $40,000 wreck. But we don't need it until the end of the year, so that's fine. We still have one good speedway truck to go to Talladega.
It's a boost for our team. I mean, we have so many good things going on, and that's what's interesting about the market out there. I should say about the companies that are getting involved in NASCAR. I mean, it's a tough market out there right now, but we have a lot of good companies and a lot of good people that are trying to help NEMCO Motorsports and help both myself and John Hunter keep racing, and without dollars, you can't keep racing. I mean, we rely on the purse, we rely on every cent we can raise to keep this program going. The NT1 motor is definitely going to help us, being a small guy, having to fight for every dollar that you have to make these things go. Again, this weekend I think I bought one set of tires for my 87 truck, and we run on used tires, just trying to get where we've got to go. I mean, it's‑‑ this is a little different. Atlanta next week it chews tires up, so you've got to have everything you can have there. You just be smart about where you're going and what you're doing, and Gere Kennon, our crew chief over there, we've got‑‑ basically we have four guys, and the guys we have there are smart. We're racers. We've been doing this a long time, and there's no substitute for experience and knowing where you need to spend your money to get your biggest bang to make them go fast.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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