– Driver 19, Daniel Suarez, great to have you with us.
– Thank you both, how are you guys doing?
– Doing good. How are you? You making the rounds?
– Yeah, yeah, man, I’m excited. I’m, finally we’re in the week of the Daytona 500. For me, it’s been a long wait, for whatever reason. I’ve been ready since four weeks ago. So I’m ready to go.
– All right so you went through all this a year ago, but this has to feel so different, because a year ago you still had not run a single Cup race. You only knew you were going to be a full time Cup driver for about a month or a month and a half.
– You know last year, last year everything happened, as you know, very quick. At this point I, I had just one test, a Cup car, that actually was two weeks ago in Phoenix, last year obviously. So, I didn’t have a lot experience, I didn’t know what to expect. I know the course, I knew half of the names of the guys on my team. Every day, everything was happening very, very quick, and, and you know, it’s not an excuse I hate putting excuses but everything, everything happened a little bit quick, and, and I feel like we did an OK job during the whole season. Really, I wish we could’ve done a little bit better. Before this year just, it just feels different, you know. Scott Grace, my crew chief, my engineers, everyone, we know each other, we’ve been together since December or November. We’ve been talking, we’ve been in communication, and we have a plan, and we have a goal, we have a challenge on everything. And I feel like that’s something very good.
– How would you measure your anxiety level going into this year’s Daytona 500, compared to the mess that you were a part of a season ago?
– Well the thing is that a season ago I was looking to a lot of information, a lot of notes from Kyle, from Denny, from Carl, from Matt. And you know, every driver express, they’re so different. And they, they put in paper, you know, why they feel in a different way. And when you go back and you read your own notes, you remember those moments. This I’ll do myself. So now that I can go to one year ago, my notes, what I learned, what I, you know, my mistakes and everything, I can remember those moments right away. So, for me, just very, very helpful to have already, you know, one year under my belt. I know what to expect for that next time. So, for sure last year I just, I just was a passenger, you know. I was trying to do my best, don’t take me wrong, but, and I was, I was working extremely hard to, to make it happen. But I knew that I had a lot of challenge in front of me. And I feel like we did an OK job, but I can’t wait for this year.
– Daniel, great qualifying effort on Sunday. Qualified seventh, that means you’re going to start fourth in the first duel. You had three teammates that were in the clash, and there seems to be a common theme, I had my hands full. Well, you didn’t get to run the class, but what sort of feedback have you gotten from your three teammates about the way these cars are driving?
– You know, for me it was really important to draft a little bit, and we did, in second practice.
– Saturday’s practice.
– Saturday’s practice. And we, we got, we had a big moment, actually, getting into turn three which, with Ryan Blaney, and myself, and a couple of other guys. These cars are all different, you know, that is maybe one of the biggest rule changes in a long time for Superspeedway. So, we’re trying to get used it. Everyone else, everyone is in that spot, but I don’t feel like nobody knows exactly, exactly where we are at, all the way until we get to Sundays, because the duels, the clash, everything is 15, 17 cars. It’s always been 30 or 40. So it’s going to change a lot.
– Larry said you had a good qualifying effort, but as a group, Joe Gibbs Racing was outstanding, all four cars advancing to that final round on Sunday in the qualifying session. Does Coach pull you together and say, OK, this is what I want to see as teammates in the draft, or does he let you guys go out and do your own thing?
– You know, we have had already had a few meetings before heading to the Daytona 500, and Coach, Coach is a genius when it comes to team play. And he, he puts his thoughts on the table, what he believes, what he would like to do, but he let us play it. And, as a driver, that’s all you can ask, you know, give me the advice, give me what you think, but let me make that decision. So, you know, we talk as a team, Kyle, Denny, Erik, Martin, myself, and what we can do together to help ourself. But you guys know, you guys have a lot of more experience than me. That once you are there, you are with 40 more cars, and if you see an opportunity, and that opportunity is not with your teammate, you’re going to take it, because you have to take care first of yourself and then for everyone else. So we’re going to try to help each other, I’m sure that we know that, but, but a lot of things can happen, and hopefully they work our way.
– Well I know it’s been a crazy year but there is no question you are equipped to handle it. I love your attitude, thanks for being here. Good luck on Sunday.
– Thank you guys, enjoy.