NASCAR Preseason Fan Festival
January 17, 2009
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
RAMSEY POSTON: We're now joined here in the infield media center by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, driver of the No. 6 Conway Freight Ford Colin Braun. Tell us a little bit about your off-season and what you're looking forward to in 2009.
COLIN BRAUN: Well, so far I've had a good off-season, got the chance to come down here a couple weeks ago and do some testing for the Rolex 24-hour team I'm driving for Michael Shank. That went really good. Definitely just excited to get a chance to come and drive something. So that was fun.
Other than that, just getting ready to go do this Truck Series, Camping World Truck Series in 2009. We've got Conway Freight coming back as our sponsor and Ford Motor Company, as well, so we're excited.
RAMSEY POSTON: We're also joined by NASCAR Nationwide Series driver of the No. 6 Northern Tools and Equipment Ford, Erik Darnell. Eric, tell us about your off-season and what you're looking for this year.
ERIK DARNELL: Well, my off-season actually has kind of been spent not doing a whole lot. It was nice to get a little bit of downtime, got to go home, see the family in Illinois, got to go up to where it is very, very cold, got a chance to go skiing. My fiance and I got a house together. Other than that, I haven't been doing a whole lot with this whole non-testing thing. I haven't been in any Daytona prototype cars, nothing fun like that. Just kind of been sitting around waiting for the race season to get going.
I've been in the shop hanging out with Mike Kelly and the guys on the No. 6 Ford Fusion team, getting to know them a little bit. They're going to be my new team and I'm trying to figure out how they work and ready to get going when the season starts here.
Q. Colin, how excited are you to do the sports car thing? This is probably a stupid question, but do you ever think, man, you'd like to do more of that in addition to the Camping World truck races that you're doing?
COLIN BRAUN: Being a race car driver I'd like to go do something every weekend. Truck Series only has 25 races in this. It would be cool to do more of those races, more Nationwide races, do whatever I can to drive something. I'm looking forward to it this year in particular just because of the ban on NASCAR testing. It gives me something to do, something to keep busy, and I certainly enjoy that.
Q. Eric, can you sum up how much -- you know some ARCA Races and stuff, but how much stock car stuff have you done and how difficult or simple do you anticipate the transition from the Truck Series to the Nationwide cars being?
ERIK DARNELL: Well, I don't anticipate it being simple, but getting the experience in the ARCA car and getting the experience to practice and qualify the car for -- I did for Carl Edwards last year and David Ragan the year before, kind of gave me a little bit of a heads up of what I'm going to be getting myself into here, and every time I've been in the car, I've actually been pretty quick. We almost sat on the pole, qualified second at IRP second time in the car, and just been good at some of the tests that we did.
So I'm looking forward to doing it, and ironically the only race that I've gotten to run so far in the Nationwide series was at Mexico, and unlike Colin, I'm not a very good road course racer. So I'm looking forward to getting out there on an oval.
I think a big thing for me is just learning these cars on the mile and a half tracks and the two mile tracks. I've done testing here at Daytona with the Superspeedway stuff and it's quite a bit different than the trucks but I feel like I've got some experience doing it because I've been doing it the last three years. I think the aerodynamics are going to be a big thing on the mile-and-a-halfs. I assume they're going to be a lot different than the trucks are and that's going to be one of the bigger things that I'm going to have to kind of get used to.
But looking forward to it, got 15 races this year in the Northern Tool and Equipment Ford, and looking to go out there and run well. We're running with an established team, Mike Kelly and those guys have been together the last two years with David Ragan and they've run very well, and I'm looking forward to being able to jump in that car.
Q. Colin, your thoughts on how many full-time teams there are actually in the Truck Series now, and how that's all playing out right now? The second is what is the biggest thing you learned last year in the Truck Series, and what are your championship aspirations this year?
COLIN BRAUN: Well, I think to answer the first question, I think we're going to have a good collection of trucks, I believe. I think there's a lot of teams out there that are close to finding sponsorship to make their programs become full-time, and certainly, with the way the economy is and everything, it's tough, but I think hopefully it will come together here by the time the Daytona truck race rolls around. Hopefully we'll have a full field of trucks for it.
You know, the second question, I learned so much last year, I don't know if I can sum it up into I guess the biggest things I learned. I learned a lot how to race with these guys and race with the veteran drivers and get them to respect you and at the same time be able to race them hard and just trying to balance all that was quite a challenge, and I feel like I probably didn't do a very good job with that in the middle of the season but toward the end of the season I started to realize that and do a better job with that.
As far as the third question, next year, I think like anybody starting off with a full season program is going to say, we want to win the championship. That's definitely our goal. For me I want to keep learning as much as I can and get the respect of the veteran guys and just kind of go out there and learn as much as I can really, and I think if we can do that we'll be in contention for a few wins, and if we can keep having Top 10 and top five results that will give us in a good spot for the championship.
Q. First for Colin, in addition to the truck schedule, are you going to do any races in the Nationwide series, and do you have anything else that you know of that's on your schedule right now?
COLIN BRAUN: As far as I know of right now it's just the 25 truck races and doing the Rolex 24-hour race obviously, and then I've got Nationwide race in Montreal that we're going to be doing. So looking forward to that. I think 3M is going to be sponsoring that car. Definitely excited to go to Montreal. Got the chance last year to practice the car for Greg Biffle and didn't get to race it, so looking forward to doing that this year.
Q. You're doing a part time schedule in Nationwide. Are you going to run for Raybestos Rookie of the Year, and what other racing do you have on your docket, if any?
ERIK DARNELL: The plan is to try to run for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year deal, but we're only running 15 races so I don't know exactly how that's going to play out. I don't know exactly how many you have to run to be eligible. I think it might be 16 out of the 36. I think they count your best 16. If that's the case, we're going to have to try to get another race or two in there to be eligible for it. But I think there's a pretty strong rookie class.
I know Brendan Gaughan is running, quite a few other guys that are going to be out there. That's our goal is to try to run for that
But as far as beyond that, I have nothing else planned right now. I'd definitely love to run some truck races. We've still got some trucks left in the shop that we ran last year, and if something came along, sponsorship came along to run a race or two, I'd definitely like to do it, but as of now we have no other plans besides the 15 Nationwide races.
Q. Colin, what did you see from last year from racing with guys like Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson? Obviously these guys are veterans, they've won championships. When you were racing around them, was there anything that you saw and you said, hey, maybe I'm going to try that and see what I can do with it?
COLIN BRAUN: You know, when you race those guys every week, you just learn a lot just seeing where they put their trucks, how they play with it on the mile-and-a-half tracks and the way they can affect how your car drives just by where they put their truck. It's cool racing in the Truck Series because you can go ask those guys in the garage after the race, why did you do that, and when you put your truck there, what's that do. Having a teammate like Erik was a big help, and certainly going to miss him next year. You could go over to Erik and ask him lots of questions about different tracks, different places we were going, places that he'd been before that I had never been, and it was really nice having him as a teammate, so it'll be definitely different next year not having any teammates.
Q. For both guys if I could, if cameras can ride with the cars but the fans can't. Could you describe what you think the camera misses to a fan, both comparing a truck to a stock car?
COLIN BRAUN: You know, I think a lot of times I don't think the fans really see all the work that goes into having a car or a truck be fast. I mean, the work back in the shop that the guys do, the work back that the guys do when we go to the wind tunnels, when we go to the seven-post and the shaker rigs and we work on the motors and they come into the shop, they just see kind of the glitz and glamour of the sport, being able to drive fast cars and being able to race hard and having those fun things to do. But a lot of times I don't think people see how much work there is behind the scenes. My sponsor Conway Freight has a pretty cool program where they have a crew chief for a day thing. A lot of those people walk away from the racetrack, walk away going there's a lot more to it than I thought there is, so I think a lot of times the fans miss that.
ERIK DARNELL: Good answer.
Q. Along the same line that Dwight was hitting, talk about how these vehicles move, and how much -- this may be ignorant, but how much on the edge of terror have you been where you can't believe that you didn't crash the thing; is that an aspect that maybe the camera misses?
ERIK DARNELL: Absolutely. I can't sit here and describe -- it's hard to tell what we really feel in the car. You will obviously not be able to see just by looking through a camera, and unless you've done like one of the ride-along programs or something like that where you actually get the sensation of speed, to really know what we're feeling, it's kind of hard to describe. I mean, if you're out there and you're going fast and you're running up front, you're about on the edge of wrecking every lap. You come out of the corner, foot on the floor, about sideways, wrecking, it's just hard to describe the adrenaline and the rush that you feel that the camera obviously can't see. You might see it in the camera if the car gets sideways or something, oh, he did a good job saving that. But unless you're really there, I don't really know how to describe it.
COLIN BRAUN: I mean, for me it's certainly exciting, and I think that's why a lot of people pay a lot of money to come and watch these races and see what everybody does.
You know, it's something that I think when you're kind of driving by yourself and you're doing testing or something like that, you may have that similar feeling, but then you add 42 other cars or in our case 35 other trucks out there, and I think that just adds to it because now you've got people right behind you or in front of you or beside you and you're trying to stay off them and keep your own vehicle under control and watch what he's doing and watch that you don't make a mistake that is going to put you into the wall or wreck you. I think there's a lot of different things that you're being aware of that I think a lot of times the camera doesn't see. They see a bunch of cars racing fast and close together, but when you're sitting in the car you've got so many things in your mind not only about yourself but what other people are doing, the guy ahead of you, the guy beside you, you're always looking at what they're doing and making sure it's not going to have an adverse effect on you.
Q. There are a lot of teams with driver development programs out there. You guys have sort of been involved in that, as well. How great is the competition out there to get in these cars at NASCAR's highest levels? And now you've got guys like Michael Waltrip and Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., that are veteran guys that are developing these guys, as well, and they're looking for talent. What basically are they looking for when they see these young guys?
ERIK DARNELL: I guess in both of our cases, someone who can go out there and win races. I came from the late-model ranks, and I was fortunate enough to race where I was at and win races and get noticed by somebody to get an opportunity to do a tryout, and for those of you who don't know, I came through Roush's "Gong Show" process, got the opportunity to compete against 24 other guys for a ride with Roush Fenway Racing. I'll tell you right now, it's extremely tough to get into a driver development program, something like that. You've got to be very good in your respective divisions, and sometimes that's not even good enough.
You have to be in the right place at the right time and catch somebody's eye high up in the world or high up in the sport, and I mean, it's a tough thing to do. And if you are lucky enough to do that, you have to go out there and perform in front of them and show them that you can do it.
I feel very fortunate to be where I'm at right now because Roush has given me the time to develop in the Truck Series. I've got to run there the last three years, and now I'm getting the opportunity to run in the Nationwide series, and I feel like I'm a product of the driver development deal, and I just feel very fortunate to be where I'm at right now.
COLIN BRAUN: I agree with Erik. Obviously I came from kind of a different background to the stock car world through the sports car racing that I did. For me it's been big jumps and learning a lot. I think for everybody coming into the Truck Series obviously in their rookie year they're learning a lot, but for me up through the green flag at the Daytona Truck Race last year, I had only ever run five stock car races. It was a lot of learning that I did this year. I feel like having a good group of people behind me, that Jack Roush can put behind you makes a big difference. Certainly for me the way I kind of got in driving with Roush Fenway Racing was we had Roush Yates-built engines in our sports cars that I drove, and I got to know a lot of people at Yates and a lot of people at Roush and a lot of people at Ford just having those engines in there.
Like Erik says, you've got to be in the right place at the right time, and there's a lot of good talented people out there that probably don't have an opportunity just because they weren't in the right place at the right time, and I guess it's a pretty special deal to be able to be in a driver development program. You see a lot of different people in development programs and they're out the next year, and they're doing something else.
But I think one of the cool things about Jack Roush's organization is it seems like if you get into the driver development program you're going to be in there for a while and get a chance to grow. He gives you a chance to prove your skills and learn and grow as a driver, and I think that's pretty special.
RAMSEY POSTON: Gentlemen, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|