Toyota Racing – Brandon Jones & Ryan Preece
NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
Daytona International Speedway – July 5, 2018
Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Brandon Jones and Ryan Preece were made available to the media at Daytona International Speedway:
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Comcast/NBC Universal Salute To Service Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Could you please explain what’s going on with the whole Salute to Service program that you’re associated with this weekend?
“Yeah, well, obviously it’s July 4th, you know, the whole week and the weekend. Myself, I’m extremely patriotic. I love our military and I love doing as much as I can with them, so whenever I heard the news that the Comcast Salute to Service was going to be on the race car this weekend, I lit up, had a big smile on my face, I saw Christopher (Bell) ran that car earlier this year, so I had kind of an idea what it was going to look like. When I came to the shop Monday morning, it was awesome to see it sitting there. Hopefully I can make the military proud. We also have the Air Force Thunderbirds on the car this weekend, as well, and in memory of the Cajun with the incident there and the training exercise they had. Pretty proud to be able to represent them. This year we started out with a flight with those guys to start the year off, so that feels like a pretty big connection to that group.”
Where do you feel like you are going into this long summer stretch for Xfinity, and where do you feel like you are compared to the beginning of the season?
“So we actually, myself and my crew chief, Chris Gabehart, have sat down and kind of assessed that, so the best way I can kind of describe it was if I came to JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), I’ll make a number up, but at 20 percent out of 100 percent, the amount of work you put into it and the amount of effort to get to 80 percent is going to be big. You’re really going to see a lot of improvement. But then to go from 80 percent now to 100 percent, you’re not going to see much improvement, much return, but you’re still working as hard as you possibly can. So it’s kind of hard when you get in a big stretch like this ‑‑ obviously now I think we’ve got a 15‑week stretch maybe coming up here. It’s really hard to try to stay focused on some of these races and not just kind of accept where you’re at and accept what you’re running at, so we’ve really got to stay after it, make sure all of my guys are still fully committed into it, and I think I’ve got the right guys to stay with that mindset. We had that conversation, and I think we’re going to keep improving on it.”
Do you feel like the schedule will benefit you?
“I think it’ll benefit us for sure. Sometimes when you have a couple breaks in there, I don’t say you really get off, but you kind of do have that one week where you relax and then you have to try to get hyped back up for those races. So when you’re in a stretch like this, it goes by extremely fast, but at the same time you’re learning every single weekend and you’re not kind of getting in and out. So I do enjoy this. I think it does improve the performance of the team.”
Do you like restrictor plate racing or do you kind of dread it a little bit too?
“I’ve been on both ends of the fence of these races. Like you mentioned, I’ve had a pole. I’ve been really close to winning a couple of these in the Truck Series and Xfinity, and I’ve also been in the biggest one possible at Daytona. I’ve been on both ends of the stick. I do enjoy it, though. I do enjoy the game that is kind of played throughout the entire day on the plate tracks, and the way you can position yourself throughout the whole day and the strategy behind it all. There’s a lot of stuff that we’ve been going over at JGR now on drafting and the study of it and really how to do it effectively. So I’m still learning a lot. There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot to figure out once you do take the lead and how you balance that lead. So I’m still not there 100 percent on how to race these tracks, but I do enjoy coming to them, and I know it’s just about anyone’s game once we get out there. That’s another reason that I really enjoy coming here.”
RYAN PREECE, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
At Bristol you were kind of semi‑joking that you had now gotten in the black and gotten back to square one. Are you going back into the red now or what’s ahead of you the rest of the year?
“Just keep racing, trying to win. Do the same thing we did at Bristol. That’s really ‑‑ I’m really looking forward to coming out here to Daytona and drafting, and I hear a lot of guys talking about being up front, and I don’t necessarily know if I’d want to be there. Just looking back at the first two stages is what I mean. It just looks like it gets pretty hectic in Stage 1, and if you don’t finish Stage 1, you aren’t going to be there for Stage 2 and 3. I’m just going to play the race pretty much how I think I would in a modified and take every lap and every scenario for what it’s worth and try to be there at the end when it counts, when you’re going to be in Victory Lane.”
How do you adjust getting back in the seat? And you did three races right in a row, five, six, seven. What’s your schedule this summer?
“I’m racing all the time. I was in a seat last Wednesday. It’s been a little while since I’ve been in an Xfinity car, but if you look at it, last year I hadn’t been in an Xfinity car since Homestead, and my first race was New Hampshire. I’d say it’s been a while since I’ve been on a superspeedway like this, but drafting, it’s all kind of the same. The only thing is just getting put three wide or getting put into scenarios or situations is what I mean when you don’t want to be in them, so you’ve just got to pick when the time to go or when the time is right to go. I think I’ll be just fine getting adapting. Today I don’t think we’re going to do too much practice, but I think we’ll be fine. When is my next race? I’m not quite sure. I’ve got to look at the schedule to be honest with you.”
Looking back, how much did your win at Bristol change your life and how much flexibility and luxuries did that give you?
“Well, I’ve built a race car with the Dash 4 Cash, and it got me to where I don’t owe people any money anymore. That was a huge part of when I went into New Hampshire, going into that and not knowing if I could pay people back ‑‑ well, hoping. I didn’t say, well, I’m not going to pay you guys back. I knew I had to go out, I had to run as good as I possibly could, which let’s be honest, is winning. You have to win. Life‑changing? I was just saying to my wife this morning, look where we were a year ago. What was our future? Know what I mean? And I still live in my condo, I still live in Connecticut, but I’d say there’s just a lot of ‑‑ lot more possibilities than there was a year ago, and I’m sitting here at Daytona right now in a JGR car, which is something that I would dream to be doing. I’m living the short‑track dream and just going to keep on trying to win just to solidify myself being here.”