NASCAR Media Conference
March 18, 2008
TRACEY JUDD: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the NASCAR video teleconference ahead of Saturday's Pepsi 300 presented by Kroger, the first standalone race of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season.
Our guest today is Brad Coleman, driver of the No. 27 Cottonelle Ford. Brad, welcome. Thanks for joining us today.
BRAD COLEMAN: Thanks for having me. I'm going to like this. This is pretty cool.
TRACEY JUDD: It is pretty cool.
This is your first full-time season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Having come to Baker Curb Racing from Joe Gibbs Racing, where you had a successful part-time year last year in 2007. But Baker Curb offered you a full-time opportunity this year.
Can you talk about the switch and your season to date for Baker Curb, which is a team that's based in Nashville where we race this weekend.
BRAD COLEMAN: Yeah, it's been a good year so far. When I had the opportunity with Kimberly-Clark and Baker Curb Racing to do a full schedule, I had to just jump right on it. I loved being at Joe Gibbs Racing, they were a great team for me. They're like a family to me. Still are.
With Kyle Busch coming on, he wanted more Busch races. With the Kimberly-Clark opportunity, I had to jump right on it.
So far it's been a good decision. We've had a good year so far. We already had a top 10 at Las Vegas. Really excited about going into Nashville this weekend and performing for our home crowd.
TRACEY JUDD: Why don't we go to some questions for our guest, Brad Coleman.
Q. You've said in the past you use video games to help you out. How many times have you run the laps at Nashville for this weekend?
BRAD COLEMAN: I was actually doing it before I came to do this video conference, making laps, making a few adjustments to my car, getting it a little bit better. I've been doing it for the past couple weeks just really getting ready.
I've been really excited about this race. Always had good performances there at Nashville. It's been good to me. In my ARCA races, I placed third and second. First ARCA race was at Nashville. Got second. Should have won in the fall, but blew a right front tire. Came back to get third. It was a good race.
Last year with Joe Gibbs Racing I got 15th place. Should have done better there. Had a good racecar. So I've got some confidence coming into this race.
Q. Now with Baker Curb, what are some things you have noticed that are different between the two entities?
BRAD COLEMAN: Well, one big thing is they did move from Central City, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, which is great. Great crew members. The crew members we had that we really liked came along with us. We really haven't skipped a step or anything.
It was really amazing. They moved the shop from Central City to Nashville in about a week. They just did a great job. You could just tell everyone's spirits have been lifted a little bit. Still have the great sponsorship of Kimberly-Clark and Kleenex. Just had a great year in the off-season. It's only going to get better.
Q. How much better is it for you to be able to race every week instead of racing once and missing two or three and then racing again and so on?
BRAD COLEMAN: There's a lot less pressure when you get to do the full schedule because, like you said, last year I'd do one race, I'd skip three weeks. One time I had to skip six weeks. That was before Kentucky. I mean, it's just no fun skipping the races. It's really nice when you can go out there every weekend and know that you're going to do something. You just don't get bored.
Q. You and Colin Braun raced together way back when. 'Way back when.' You're still 18, 19 years old.
BRAD COLEMAN: Back when I was 15.
Q. Do you have any funny stories about racing with him? What do you remember about how competitive he was?
BRAD COLEMAN: I'm sure Colin can tell you some stories about me when we were go-karting. He likes to laugh when we were racing each other.
I don't know if we have any stories that I can really share at this moment (laughter).
Q. You've had to adapt to big changes fast in your young career. Do you think the ability to adjust and adapt is a driver's best skill?
BRAD COLEMAN: It's vital. It's vital for a driver to be able to adapt 'cause the track conditions change all the time. If the track temperature raises 10 degrees, it's going to be totally different than when it was 10 degrees cooler. You have to compensate for that.
Almost every time we come to a track, we have a different tire than we did the year before. You have to compensate with that because it totally changes how the car feels. One of the main characteristics a driver has to have is the ability to adapt.
Q. Do you think you'll have fewer learning curves going forward? You probably had a few in your young years.
BRAD COLEMAN: Yeah, I've definitely had a few learning curves in my career. First time I drove late models, I thought the thing was going to spin out, but it was actually just rolling over. I never had driven something that soft before. I had done the sports cars, the open-wheel cars. I didn't know what was going on. Once you get used to that, it's just basically the transition that was the toughest.
I mean, the learning curve is just going from the ARCA cars to the Nationwide cars. There's also a pretty good curve with the size of the spoiler. The ARCA car's spoiler is -- it's pretty big. The Nationwide car it shrinks a couple inches. You have a lot less rear downforce. You just have to watch out when you're underneath a guy or when you have a guy tucked up under you.
Q. The fans, they see the speed, but they don't feel it. Part of that learning is to learn to adapt to the speed. Can you describe that for a fan.
BRAD COLEMAN: The great thing about racecar drivers is, I mean, the speed doesn't get 'em. The first time you go -- the first time I drove a stock car was the ARCA car at Nashville. When I stepped on it, I will say that I was pretty amazed that I could spin my tires in second gear when I was going down pit road. Had to be a hundred miles an hour. These things have 700, 750 horsepower. But once you get going and get used to the speed, you want to go faster. You're not going fast enough. You just want to go as fast as you can on the straightaway. You want to accelerate faster.
What can I say? It's the adrenaline that's a big thing.
TRACEY JUDD: Brad, how is it to be working with a veteran of NASCAR like Shawn Parker as your crew chief? Talk about that.
BRAD COLEMAN: Oh, it's awesome to be working for Shawn. He was my crew chief back in the ARCA series when we did nine races. Got eight top fives. We have good chemistry. He knows when I tell him something, the severity of it, what adjustment he needs to make.
It's great to be back with him. I loved being with Jason Ratcliff last year at Joe Gibbs Racing. Shawn Parker, we have good chemistry together and he just knows what I like.
Q. Talk about your opportunity in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Hall of Fame Racing. You hooked up with them at the end of the 2007 season. What is your program looking like with that team as your career moves forward?
BRAD COLEMAN: Like you said, I signed a deal with them late last year to be their test driver and to possibly drive seven Cup races at the end of this year, and then hopefully we're going to do the full-time ride next year. All depends on sponsors, just like everything else in this sport. Just waiting.
We're going to start testing really soon. I'm really excited about that, either late this month or early April. So just really excited about that opportunity.
Q. The video games, you mentioned you were going to start testing the cars of today with the new spoiler and all that other stuff. Do they have that in the game? Have you run any virtual laps with that car?
BRAD COLEMAN: They do. And I've actually done quite a few laps in it.
It's really hard to tell how realistic it is because I've never driven the real thing. But I've had Michael (indiscernible), who is a good friend of mine come over, and drive it. He says he's pretty realistic. It's a good thing just to get the general feel and sights of what it's going to be like to drive the Car of Today, Car of Tomorrow, whatever the car is called.
Q. What do you think you've learned most from the veteran drivers? You've faced a lot of competition in ARCA, NASCAR. What do you think you've learned most from the veterans?
BRAD COLEMAN: The things I've learned most from the veterans is to get tougher. I mean, you got to be tough to race against these guys. You can't let someone bump you out of the way and think they can do that every time they want to pass you. You got to rub them back.
It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. It's really tough. I mean, just racing out there with the veterans like Carl Edwards, some of those guys, has been a really great experience for me. It's just cool when you can go out there and race all those guys and see them race on Sunday.
Q. Are you going to test any time soon with Hall of Fame, where that might be and when?
BRAD COLEMAN: We're planning on doing it either later this month or in April. But we don't know exactly where we're going to do it. We're just working out the details there.
Q. When it comes to the Cup Series drivers racing in the Nationwide Series this year, this is the first standalone event for you guys, you're going to have a handful of Cup drivers in there with you. Does that motivate you even further to get a top five or win the thing?
BRAD COLEMAN: It does. When you race a lot of those Cup guys, even if it is a standalone event like this one, because they do have the weekend off, so a lot of them are going to be there for that race.
Just going out there and getting a top 10 or top five is pretty much like a win. Our goal is to go out there and run as good as we can. Our team in the past, Baker Curb Racing, has run pretty well at Nashville in the past. Excited about going out there and seeing what we can do.
TRACEY JUDD: Brad, thanks for joining us today and participating in the video teleconference. We wish you best of luck this weekend in Nashville and best of luck to Baker Curb also.
BRAD COLEMAN: Thank you.
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