Toyota Racing NXS Post-Race Recap -- Daytona 8.15.20
BRANDON JONES, No. 19 Menards/Inspire Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
What was your perspective of today’s race?
“I had a flashback to Kansas there when they all pushed up into turn one. I hate there was a caution because I know (Austin) Cindric was lights out fast, but I think we could have at least gotten pretty close there the end to possibly winning this thing. It wouldn’t be possible without everyone at JGR, Menards, Inspire was a new sponsor for us – Special Forces Foundation. It’s been a good day here. Did not come here thinking I was going to have a shot to win the race. I stayed in the game, never locked the wheels up, stayed on track and it paid off.”
How was your run overall today and what was it like racing on the Daytona Road Course?
“We started the day off and had the weather. It was our call to put the tires on, the wet tires. So I kind of went around the race track and assessed it. Saw a lot of it drying up, but I saw a lot of it also damp with a couple puddles so I wasn’t really sure what we should do so they made the call to put on the wet tires. Obviously, it dried up way quicker than we thought so we came pretty quick and got those off of it. Started running really good lap times once we got stickers on the race car. We started about sixth to fourth-place lap times. Kind of maintained that all day too really. Just kind of stayed on track all day and made sure that we made no mistakes. A couple times I had some wheel hop, but never had any front lock up and never once went off the track. All those things eventually pay off. Obviously, you need some speed too, you can’t just ease around the race track all day and expect to finish good. You still need the speed so that was pretty good to see there. We have the Roval too, obviously that’s a similar race track so that gives me a lot of insight and kind of pumped up to go there now. This was a really big day for us. I think we needed this for road courses, confidence-wise. The last restart, I thought about Kansas all over again when they all pushed up and I thought this could possibly be a chance. I looked up the mirror and I had a pretty big gap, but it was just too many people spinning out there. It was fun racing (Austin) Cindric there. Me and him are finally racing really clean I feel like and having a good time doing it. All that was really good. I think just a solid day. Pit crew did what they needed to do. Crew chief did his job and I feel like I did mine. We’ll go back to the drawing board and figure out where the 22 (Cindric) is a little bit better. It’s every corner, he’s just able to attack harder I feel like. If that’s brakes or just experience, I don’t know. I’ll have to figure that out.”
How much do you feel lack of practice impacted the race?
“Honestly, I don’t think the outcome would have been much different. Maybe some guys would have fine-tuned their brakes, and some wouldn’t have locked them up as much. I feel like everybody that came here competitively this weekend ran simulators. I guarantee it, for weeks on end at this track. I know we did anyways just to prepare for it. I know lots of these guys are going to go-kart tracks and we’re doing the same thing. Everyone’s prepping really, really hard so I think we would have showed up and if anything, we all would have been a little faster to get going, that’s the only difference.”
Did you think you had anything for Austin Cindric at the end?
“At first, I kind of did in a way. Then, every corner, it’s just a little bit here and there and the next thing you know, you’ve got 14 corners and if it’s a tenth in each corner, you guys can do the math there. That’s a lot. I was really happy to see that for a few corners at least, we hung with him. Then we were able to maintain second.”
Did you feel what you learned in the simulator carried over to the actual race track?
“The biggest thing in the simulator is that you’re not scared at all. You go off the race track, you smash into the wall, you hit reset and you go again. Here, you don’t have that opportunity so you’re just more timid the whole time I feel like. That’s the difference between going there and here. I think it is really close. I don’t know exactly what the lap time difference was, but grip-wise it was really similar and all that. I would say the biggest thing that surprised me here today was how well our car held on. Sometimes you come to these road courses and start strong and really fade quick. I feel like today we didn’t really have a ton of fade. That was really good to see there.”
Are you planning to debrief with your Cup teammates?
“We haven’t really planned on it. We obviously do it between our drivers in the Xfinity race afterwards, but I don’t know. If they reach out to us, I guess we’ll share some info. I feel like that’s the way it is with the Cup guys, the Xfinity guys have to ask them to get information so I assume it would be the same way for us. I would say the biggest thing is that you need to make sure your exit speeds are really good and that you slowly apply throttle to get grip. The guys that were somewhat beating us would drive in deep, but then they had no grip on exit to where we would kind of power off there. I thought that was our strong suit in the race and I thought that’s what kind of made us hang on there.”
How did you prepare for this race?
“Going back to simulators, TRD obviously has one. I know pretty much every manufacturer has one as well. We used that a bunch. We were probably three or four weeks in advance on that, running laps and trying to get used to the race track. They threw that chicane in there so we didn’t have that for a couple weeks and then we got that added in. That was pretty good to be able to practice everything there. I used iRacing a little bit, but not much. That was more working on passes there, that’s kind of what that tool was really good for, not so much learning the race track. Then go-kart track locally, doing that kind of stuff. That’s at least weeks in advance doing that and that was prep for Road America as well. Everything that went into that. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing the last couple weeks.”
What do you and the team need to work on for Playoffs and what track are you looking forward to within the Playoffs?
“I really want to start working on trying to get stage points again and trying to get stage wins even. I think those are really big when you start getting to the Playoffs. The first round obviously we’ve got some wins, but I think even without some wins, it wasn’t going to be a big deal to try to get to that one, but as we go down the line here and as we get smaller and smaller, it’s really going to come down to winning these races and even some stage wins carrying over to the next round. All that stuff is going to be very big and I think that’s the area we need to work the most on is maintaining track position all day and not sneaking in here on these restarts at the end to try to win them, which is still good, but I just think that’s an area we can improve on a little bit. I’m looking forward to the final round if we get there, that’s Kansas and Phoenix and we’ve won both of those this year with really good race cars so if we get there, they’re going to be ready for it.”
Why did so many drivers miss turn one on the second-to-last restart?
“I think once one guy drives in a little too deep, the guy behind him thinks that it’s okay to go in a little bit deeper just judging off the car in front of you. Then the one car goes in too deep, locks up and then everyone is going to start locking up. At that point, you really can’t control what the car is going to do if you get wheel hop, you get front lock up – you’re kind of just along for the ride. There’s a few ways to defend against it and try to improve it, but when you’re that deep into the corner, it’s really tough. I think it’s just a domino effect that you saw there at the end. A couple guys over shot the corner maybe and it applied to a lot of people.”
RILEY HERBST, No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 7th
Talk about a crazy day at Daytona International Speedway.
“We had a fast Monster Energy Supra. We drove up to fourth, and then I wasn’t using my head and spun out in the bus stop. We got back on the strategy because we came down and put tires on. One of the restarts, it got hectic there and I had to drive through the grass and had grass on my tires. I started wheel hopping into (turn) three. Yeah, it was crazy. Luckily, we came back to seventh, but it sucks that we finished seventh. We should have been top-three to be honest.”
Talk about your preparation for this race. As a rookie, you have had several races where you were racing at the track for the first time. Did you feel like it was more of an even playing field today?
“Yeah, it wasn’t anything different for me. I’ve been to multiple tracks that I’ve never seen and had to fire off for the race with no practice. I thought I had a leg up because I kind of know what to expect in that nature. I prepared a lot for this track, hoping to get a good finish and I was in a position to have a good finish, my team put me in a good position to have a good finish and I’d didn’t capitalize on it.”
Next up, a doubleheader at Dover, where you earned a solid top-15 finish last season in just your third career start. Are you looking forward to the Monster Mile?
“Yeah, I’m excited to get back to Dover and get back on an oval. I know we will have a really fast Monster Energy Supra. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully, we can steal a Miles up in Delaware one of those days.”
HARRISON BURTON, No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
A very solid race, and you made a great rebound after a couple wild final restarts. Talk about your finish today in Daytona.
“It was a tough race for sure. Everyone firing off on the first lap in halfway wet, halfway dry race track, sounds like a pretty good recipe for disaster for me but I feel like everyone in the series did a pretty good job not wadding us up there in the first few laps. I was learning the track, and I feel like once I got the hang of it, we were not quick enough to win, but we were quick enough to finish third or fourth. We ran third for quite a bit of the day. That was good for us. That’s improvement for me on a road course, especially in a road course at a Roval. I’ve struggled at those in the past. Good to kind of run a little better. Still need to get a lot more speed to be faster than (Austin) Cindric, (Chase) Briscoe and (AJ) Allmendinger, but we made a step in the right direction. We didn’t get the finish we deserved, I don’t think, but we were able to recover and salvage a decent points day from it.”
How did you prepare for a race like this?
“The biggest thing about preparing is just trying to learn the race track as much as you can. We don’t get any laps here. That’s a big disadvantage to guys that have had laps here. It’s just a tough deal. It’s all about watching as much film as you can, and taking as much notes as you can from people that you know did a good job in the ARCA race or have done a good job here in the past in sports cars, or whatever that might be. It’s just a tough, tough deal. It was a lot fun. It’s a fun challenge to kind of prepare for something you don’t even know what to expect. Obviously, not the run I wanted. I made some mistakes, but able to recover and finish not terribly and we will move on from there.’
What do you think you learned today that you can apply to the Playoff race at the Charlotte Roval?
“I think it helped for sure. Just getting laps at a similar race track. I’ve been to the Roval before, so that’s nice to kind of know that ‘Hey, I’ve been here before and I know what to expect a little bit here.’ So, that’s a good thing. We are able to move on from this and get a notebook. It’s nice to be locked in the Playoffs, so this is something that if you don’t win or get a stage win, it’s not going to kill you. For us, it’s all about learning and being the best team we can be come Playoff time. It seems like we always have speed; it’s just putting the whole race together.”
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.