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May 19, 2018
Charlotte, North Carolina
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by the driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota, Daniel Suarez.
Daniel, you showed a ton of speed today. You were right there at the end. Was there anything you could have done to get by Harvick?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, first of all I want to thank obviously my team and my pit crew. They did an amazing job. Every single stop we were gaining ground, moving to the front. So very proud of those guys. That's exactly the way to do it.
And speed‑wise, I feel like we had the car capable to win the race. But seemed like you needed to have the right helper behind you, the right pusher, a good push. And Denny, he did a hell of a job pushing me all the way to the center of one and two. He had some damage, maybe that's why for whatever reason he disconnected. After that, it was tough because the 4 and the 22, they were connected.
A little unfortunate there. But we try. We run well. We run in top five pretty much all night. That's something definitely to be proud of.
THE MODERATOR: How much confidence does the second place give you and the team going forward?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Definitely a lot of confidence. The team has been doing a hell of a job in the last month and a half, two months, being competitive, racing up front. It's been a lot of fun obviously racing in the top five, top 10 more often.
I feel like we are in the right track, we are in the right line obviously to keep moving forward. But we have to keep working to try to get a little bit better. I feel like we are good, but we are not great yet. Hopefully we can get there soon.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. On the last restart, was there any point at which you felt you maybe could have taken a chance to try to get up above Harvick?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Yeah, for sure. Actually getting into corner one, I thought I was going to be able to do it. But he didn't help me. He helped him (as Joey Logano joins). It was good, just like I said. We were moving forward, then for whatever reason Denny just disconnected from my bumper. Did a very good job staying connected until corner three. It was tough obviously to beat that.
Thank you, Joey (laughter).
Q. Joey, can you see the possibility of this package being used in regular‑season racing?
JOEY LOGANO: I wouldn't rule anything out. You never know. I would say that the race was really entertaining, but most All‑Star Races in my opinion are really entertaining. Any time you put a bunch of angry racecar drivers on the racetrack with $1 million in front of them, we're going to do some stupid stuff (smiling).
I think it was a lot of fun, a lot of passing in the pack. It was hard to pass for the lead. I noticed even some of the cars that weren't as good that got the lead made it as challenging to pass them.
In my opinion, kudos to NASCAR for trying something, right? We as competitors come into this racetrack and say, The heck with it, we'll go for anything. At least NASCAR has the same attitude. It's the race that you have nothing to lose. They looked at it that way.
I don't want this to come across like the race package that we have on normal weekends is bad. I think the Coca‑Cola 600 is going to be a great race. I don't think this discredits that at all. But I'm glad we tried something. I'm sure we'll go through all the statistics and rewatch the race.
I know I went from the front to the back, the front to the back a lot tonight. There was some close, hard racing on the racetrack. I think the fans got a great show. I know I was working my little butt off out there. It was a good time.
It does level the playing field out a little bit from some of the teams, the powerhouse teams, which you can take that different ways. That could be good or bad. At the end of the day you still had three of the best teams on the racetrack racing for the win. You had three great drivers up there. You had everything that you would typically see. Just the race is different.
But I wouldn't say it's bad or good. It's different right now. It's up to us to try to figure out what's best, try to figure out what to do from here.
Q. Daniel, after the open, did you have a feeling you could run this well in this race? Can you sum up your day in Spanish, as well.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Spanish (laughter).
JOEY LOGANO: Guacamole, avocado, arroz con pollo.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Every time I text Joey in Spanish, he come back to me saying guacamole. It's the only thing he knows (laughter).
In the open, I feel like we were good. For whatever reason once the sun was going away, we were better. In the first stage, the first 20 laps, we were just okay. I didn't have the car I wanted. Then seems to me that the second stage, the racetrack actually started gaining some shade, we gained some track position. The cars just changed completely. That definitely help us.
I felt like in that point I thought for sure we were going to have something good to race for the big show. Obviously I didn't know exactly how well because I wasn't racing with the best drivers, with the best cars out there yet. But definitely it was pretty good. My car was handling extremely well. Obviously even better up front.
It's just different circumstances to be able to win these races. Like I said, Denny did a very good job trying to push me to the front. It was working out well. Well, I feel like Joey did a better job pushing the 4 up front, so...
Just different circumstances, but I feel like we had a car definitely capable to run up front and maybe with the right circumstances win the race.
Q. We know they were going to add the restrictor plate for mile‑and‑a‑half tracks. Was there anything that you prepared for that maybe you ended up having to change? Did you overestimate a superspeedway setup for this track? Anything that y'all were surprised by tonight's race?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I thought for us coming into this morning, there was a lot of unknowns. Honestly Brad and I thought we were going to tandem. We thought that we were going slow enough that the cars would handle plenty good to be able to tandem and push and hook up. With the big spoiler, we thought that is going to be the game. We ran about two laps on the racetrack and we said, I think handling is a bigger deal than we would think. We went faster in the draft than we thought. Handling came into play. We both went to work on our cars, trying to put some handling into it. We did an okay job. There were definitely some cars that handled better than us. Honestly, I thought the 47 car was maybe the best car on the racetrack as far as handling, maybe not speed, but his handling was incredible.
I think it was cool to see that some cars were trimmed out and some were built for speed. I think as the track cooled off, the cars that were built for speed moved forward a little bit, especially the short runs, the tires don't get super hot, you're not lifting as much.
Definitely it's a hybrid of a superspeedway and a mile‑and‑a‑half or whatever you want to call it. You got to somehow have a little bit of both.
Q. Joey, Kyle Larson thought after you squeezed you up there, you paid him back a little bit. Would that be a fair assessment with the contact you had?
JOEY LOGANO: He fenced me, then I bounced off the wall, then there he was. After he fenced me, I bounced off. He happened to be there. Probably shouldn't have fenced me.
Q. Talk about how much side drafting was going on, if the bigger spoiler made it bigger other less than a normal week?
DANIEL SUAREZ: I think it was pretty effective, I would say maybe as much as before, but different. You were going slower. I don't feel like I was able to slow down as much as before maybe because we were going already slow. I don't know.
I felt like it was fun racing. A lot of moving around on restarts. It was good. I think it was a lot of fun. I bet the fans loved it because definitely there was some action out there. I don't know, I mean, I feel like side drafting and stuff, actually I was very wonder how that was going to work out with the big ducts we had in the front and stuff. I thought it work out pretty well.
What do you think, Joey?
JOEY LOGANO: I thought the side draft was a little bit less effective. Like Daniel said, I don't think it's speed, I think we were still going fast enough for it to work. I think the drag ducts have a big effect there. Typically the air comes up over the headlight, then you can dump it onto a spoiler. Right now it's coming out right in front of the tire, it's lower, the air coming through the nose is coming out there. It makes the side draft less effective.
Same thing that happened when we ran the Xfinity race in Indy with a similar package that had the drag ducts in it. Felt the same thing. For whatever reason, you had to be further up for it to work. It wasn't as effective, like it's blowing the air in the quarter more than the spoiler. That's my thought. I got no science behind that besides just taking laps. I don't have anything else behind that.
Q. Daniel, how much did those 50 laps from the open benefit you in that first stage? Did you feel like you had a leg up on everyone else?
DANIEL SUAREZ: I don't think so because the racetrack, like I said, it change a lot. I feel like in the open, the racetrack was on that transition from being hot or warm to being cooling down. Everything I was learning, especially in the second stage, when I felt like the racetrack was slowly cooling down, I'm sure all these guys, they were watching on the bus the race, paying attention, every single detail.
What I learn is that the top came in actually faster and quicker than what I was expecting. I'm sure that these guys, they find out exactly the same time than me. Maybe even sooner, because they were watching everyone, and I was just watching a few cars.
I don't feel like I had any advantage. For sure I was able to adjust my car a little bit for that. But other than that, I feel like we were in the same boat.
Q. Joey, where did you watch the open from? What were you looking for from that?
JOEY LOGANO: I went up to the spotter's stand to watch the race up there. Like Daniel said, just to get a great view of it. So many unknowns. Don't know what's going to happen, what's going to prevail. I learned a lot, especially for the first few laps, to figure out what to do.
Honestly, at the beginning of the race, the 47 got in front of me, I started following him. He figured out how to pass cars, just follow him. We drove all the way up to third or fourth. This is working pretty well, follow that guy (laughter).
He was aggressive getting to the outside of cars. That's where he was good. I saw that he was going to do that from the open. He did a great job. I was just able to go up there and watch with my spotter T.J. Just bounced ideas off of each other, did you see this, see that, what are you going to say when this happens so we're on the same page. Thought it was good for us. It worked for us. It was hot. Not as hot as we were in his car.
Q. Joey, you've been on a hot streak before. What is Kevin feeling right now?
JOEY LOGANO: He's feeling pretty good. Feeling like his pockets are a little deeper right now too, I bet. I'm looking for my little side bonus on that deal. I gave him a good push. Maybe I can get my 10% somewhere in there (laughter).
Yeah, when you're on a hot streak like that, you're just so confident, not only as a driver but as a team. It's like you can't do anything wrong. You just happen to be in the right spot at the right times. The cars are fast. They're really smart, really good as a team. Rodney is amazing. Kevin is a great driver. We all know that. I don't have to say that. They just find theirselves in the right spot at the right time making the right moves and they got fast cars. They're winning the game right now, for sure.
Even with a different package, you'd think it won't be the same. When you're good you're good I guess right now. He's confident. I know how that feeling is. We're working closer to that, which is good. We've been consistent, running a lot of top fives lately. I'm proud of that.
Q. For both of you, Ford won again. Granted it was Kevin, who seems to be the Ford that always wins. Do you think it's a 4 team thing or a Ford thing?
JOEY LOGANO: Has more than one Ford won recently than me at a superspeedway besides the 4? I think it's a 4 thing is what I'm saying (laughter).
I think last year, the Toyotas were on fire and really good. I think this year with some of the rules changes and really the way the rules have been regulated, enforced, has brought it more of an equal playing field. The Fords figured out how to go really fast right now. I'd say we're closer than what we used to be. The Ford is definitely ahead of all of us.
I don't know what Daniel thinks. He drives a different car, he'll have a different opinion.
DANIEL SUAREZ: Well, similar. I even mentioned on the radio before the last start, I really wanted to be in front of Joey to get a good push because I knew that Denny was going to do everything he could to push me. I knew that two Fords together are dangerous. They were strong.
I was trying to somehow on the radio, obviously that didn't work, to keep them away from each other. Kevin did a good job. I think in the previous restart, he went on the bottom, then he went up top. I think he did the right decision, trying to find the right guy behind him to push him to the lead.
Denny, like I say, he did a very good job. For whatever reason, we just disconnected. He couldn't keep moving forward. I felt like we were moving forward in the center of the one and two ahead of him. I just lost my partner.
Q. Daniel, this package was so much of an unknown for everybody coming into this, yet you seemed to gravitate to it even in practice. What was it? Was there something specifically about the way these cars raced that you felt comfortable enough to make some of the crazy moves you did tonight?
DANIEL SUAREZ: I feel like my car actually, even Joey mentioned it to me before the race started, my car was handling very well. I had a good car, a good handling car, that was able to race up front without dragging a lot of speed. I felt when you have a car like that, you can run top five all day. Just very proud of my guys.
I feel like coming to this race, like you just mentioned, it was a lot of unknowns, a lot of things to figure out. I mentioned this to my team yesterday. Whoever does the best job finding those things out as a driver and as a team is going to be able to win tonight.
I feel like we did everything that we could. If I would have to do it again, I'm not sure what I would do different. The car was driving well, maybe a little bit tight at times, but I was loose as well.
I don't know. I feel like just different circumstances maybe could give us the victory. Just didn't work out.
Q. Everybody was so aggressive in the final laps. We've all seen you start to get braver, make a lot more aggressive moves this season. Was there any harder you could have pushed on the final restart or was that as hard as you could have gone without potentially wrecking both of you?
DANIEL SUAREZ: Man, let me tell you, the second half of the race, I was racing as hard as I could. If I was wrecking, I was wrecking. If I was winning, I was winning. I didn't care about anything else. I was driving as hard as I could. Normally in a points race, you drive differently, throw everything you got in the last part of the race. Here I just throw that earlier. It work out well.
Like I said, we just needed a little bit more. I'm not sure where. Maybe a little bit power, I'm not sure. We just needed a little bit more. Like I said, Joey and Kevin did a good job connecting, and they moved to the front. I feel like just maybe different circumstances would help us. Who knows.
Q. After today, would you be comfortable with this package returning next year for the All‑Star Race? Would you like to see any tinkering towards one direction or the other?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it's too soon to tell right now. I think there is some tweaking. Personally I would like to get rid of the drag ducts, just to try it. I don't think that's the right direction. Maybe it is. You don't know until you try it.
I thought the racing was pretty entertaining from the driver's seat. I would assume from TV and from the grandstands it was pretty entertaining.
Like Daniel said, some of it's because you got a bunch of drivers out there that got nothing to lose, you fire up really early in the race, you run 90 laps at 110%, it's why I about crashed three times, because we're all racing that way. That's the product you get when you have a short race, and no points, and $1 million.
That part has a huge effect on how this race goes. But I don't see that it was bad. Like I said, it was different. I think just some small tweaks we could make to make it even better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports