NASCAR Media Conference
July 30, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference with Ryan Gifford, driver of the No.3 Menards Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Gifford, a NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next member will make his first national series start at Iowa Speedway this Saturday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
Additionally Gifford will drive the No. 2 Universal Technical Institute/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota for Rev Racing in the K&N Series race Friday at Iowa Speedway. Gifford has one win and four top fives this season.
Ryan, what are you looking most forward to about your Nationwide debut this weekend at Iowa?
RYAN GIFFORD: The biggest thing I'm looking forward to is getting out there on the track and learning more about the Nationwide cars. You know, I have zero experience in one of those cars. For me I think I just got to take it a lap at a time and just feel the car out, hopefully by the end of the weekend I'll have the Menards Chevy up front.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now go to the media for questions for today's guest, Ryan Gifford.
Q. Ryan, I saw that you were hanging out with the Dillons after their big night at Eldora Speedway. I know you work closely with them. How big of a help have they been to you in kind of launching your stockcar career? What is the experience like working with them on a regular basis?
RYAN GIFFORD: Well, working with Austin and Ty is always fun. They're definitely full of energy. It's always cool to be able to hang out with them, see them go through the start of their career, how it all works.
For me, I've got to learn a lot from them. They definitely do a lot to try and help me out. Every now and then they let me get in the dirt cars and things like that.
It's been a fun journey throughout my career to be able to see them go, and go through their career. It's taught me a lot. Hopefully I can apply a lot of those things as things maybe get going for me.
Q. About Iowa this weekend, have you set goals for that? Do you have realistic hopes of what you hope to accomplish in your first run?
RYAN GIFFORD: Well, my goal is definitely a win. But realistically if I can go out there and finish all the laps is my first goal. Then from there, if you do that, you stay on the lead lap, you should end up somewhere between the top five, top ten, something like that.
Ernie and all the guys worked really hard in the shop getting this car ready. I talked to him today. He said it should be really good.
We definitely may have a shot even at a top five. I don't know. It's one of those things where it will be getting me comfortable, getting me up to speed. From there we'll just have to see how it goes.
Q. Ryan, you mentioned a little bit about learning from the Dillons there. Are there important traits or abilities that you've been able to watch in other drivers, in champions like Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, those kind of people, have you found something following them that helps you along the way?
RYAN GIFFORD: I think as I've learned as a racer and as a driver that one of the biggest things I've learned is you've got to be able to adapt, adjust yourself to whatever situation you're in.
I think some of those guys are the best at it, the guys you mentioned. They're very patient, really good racers. I definitely try and do some of the things that they do. Things that you see as a driver, little things you see as a driver, that they go about and do, I try and mirror that as much as I can.
Q. Was there a point in time when you realized when you were starting out that you might have the talent to go forward to the NASCAR level?
RYAN GIFFORD: Yes and no. It was always a dream of mine to be able to do this. Thanks to Menards, I get this opportunity.
When I was growing up racing, we always did it as a hobby. We were always having fun, never really thought about trying to go to this point.
But, you know, I went to a driving school. The guy said he was going to talk to some guys for me. It ended up being Mike Dillon and Richard here at RCR. It kind of got my career off to a big jump‑start. That was about six years ago.
It's been a long road since then, but I'm excited to be here running the Nationwide Series this weekend.
Q. Ryan, I was wondering why you chose Iowa as the place to make your debut.
RYAN GIFFORD: Well, I think that the best reason for me to make a debut at Iowa is I've had so many laps there in the K&N Series. We go there twice a year, I think since 2009. I've got a ton of laps there. I know Iowa Speedway kind of like the back of my hand.
I think there will be some things that change between the K&N Series and the Nationwide Series. But being familiar with how the garage is laid out, pit road, things like that, is a big help as a driver. That's one of the biggest things I think to make them want to let me run this race.
Q. I assume you hoped this opportunity would have come earlier. How happy are you that it's here and can you talk about the long road to get here.
RYAN GIFFORD: Yeah, I'm super excited to finally get this opportunity. It has been a long road. I've raced in the K&N Series for four years now, had a lot of success. It took me a while to get my first win. We've been in position a lot of times and had things not work out, whether it be something that I did, something go wrong with the car, things like that.
I finally got my first win this year at Richmond in the K&N Series. That raised some excitement around me, allowed people to want to stick their neck out and allow me to run this race.
If it wasn't for Menards and RCR, I'd probably be stuck in the East Series. Something else came along, so it's super cool.
Q. I was wondering how much are you looking forward to this race this weekend in Iowa.
RYAN GIFFORD: For me, I'm looking forward to it probably more than anything I've looked forward to in years. I'm really, really excited. I'm confident that I think I can get a good run. Just waiting on it to get here.
It's kind of like the last day of school: it doesn't get here soon enough.
Q. Whose driving styles would you say you try to emulate or take after?
RYAN GIFFORD: Definitely a lot after Austin. There's so many good guys in the sport. I think I try and have my own. But Austin and Ty both are really, really good drivers. I try to learn as much as I can from both of them. They're almost like complete opposites. But a guy right in the middle would be about perfect.
They're both guys that I try and learn a lot from. That's one of the things that I do a lot, is watch their races, just try and pick out things that they do that make them better than other guys. It seems to help me.
Q. Ryan, you mentioned the importance of your first win. Can you describe what that created for you and your team, if that created any momentum. Are you a strong believer in momentum in motorsports?
RYAN GIFFORD: Yeah, I think the confidence goes a long way. That definitely helped my confidence a lot. Made me feel like I can do it, I can go out there and win on a regular basis.
You're in position to win a lot of times, and things go wrong. You're like, Man, am I ever going to be able to get this done? To go out there and get my first win was big. It helped the momentum of our team so much and morale. All our guys are working hard to get a championship in the K&N Series. Hopefully we can get that done. I'm feeling really good about Iowa in the K&N car as well as the Nationwide car. So hopefully I end up with two good runs.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, thank you for joining us today and best of luck this weekend at Iowa.
Thank you to the media for joining us this afternoon.
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