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Daytona Media Day: It All Seems So Very Familiar

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 13 2015

Danica Patrick was a popular subject on Daytona 500 media day Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

The thing that strikes you as you watch Media Day at Daytona International Speedway in February is the deja vu of it all.

It’s like they have this hat containing slips of paper upon which the same questions that have been asked every year since the Streamline Hotel meetings are written and reporters reach into the hat and pull out the slips of paper.

And there must be a corresponding hat that’s passed around the drivers’ motorhome lot as the answers all sound pretty familiar as well.

And if ever there comes a media day when one of the drivers has not just become a father, the entire event will only last eight minutes. That would be whittled down to less than a minute if NASCAR banned the question: What does it take to win the 500?

But, there were some, um,  interesting Q’s and A’s in Thursday’s edition of Daytona 500 media day and what follows are a couple favorites:

– Danica Patrick was asked: Have you talked to Richard Petty (since the Hall of Famer said that Patrick was, in essence, a gimmick)?

Answer: “I haven’t looked him in the eyes. I know that, because he wears sunglasses. So maybe he’s looked me in the eyes. I’m not sure.

“But I have nothing to say. I fully believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s not something I pursued.”

– Jeff Gordon was if he was excited about being honored at track in this, his final season?

Answer: If it does not take, cut into my normal average race day routine, then I’m cool with it. You got to understand, not only do have I more demands from those kinds of aspects, but my sponsors have more demands too and Rick Hendrick and them, there’s definitely going to be more demands, but I’m going to have my priorities just like I do every weekend and being recognized is awesome. Who wouldn’t want that? I love that. But needing me to be presented a rocking chair or a plaque or something like that, yeah, I would prefer to reward them by winning the race.

And then I do plan on coming back in 2016, that’s something we’re working through with the tracks now and doing just a full‑on fan experience with people that have been loyal an individual fans of the sport and myself for many years. That’s what I want to do in return.

– Brad Keselowski was asked: Do you wish you had better relationships with some of the other drivers?

Answer: “You always wish you had better relationships. Whether you are Jimmie Johnson or anyone you always want to have the best relationship you can have but the question is at what expense. I bet you probably want to drive a Ferrari around but you don’t want a $10,000 car payment each month. For me, whenever the car payment is high and in the sense of car payment for me that means having to give something up for my own performance, I am not that interested in driving a Ferrari.”

– Matt Kenseth was asked: Is it good for drivers to be outspoken or more even-keeled?

Answer: “I’m not an expert at what’s good for the sport and bad for the sport. I’ve had a lot of those questions. I don’t know what’s good for or bad for the sport, but I think it’s always good to have different personalities, different outlooks, different ways of answering questions, different behaviors, different driving styles. I think all that stuff makes it more interesting. If everybody was the same, it wouldn’t be very interesting.”

– Kasey Kahne was asked: Why didn’t you run in the Chili Bowl midget race?

Answer: “I went and raced Yuma and did a little bit of sprint car racing, so I took Chili Bowl off, but I realized about the second day of not being at Chili Bowl that I was missing it. Since then I have ordered a midget and I will get it probably in April and start building it for next year’s Chili Bowl. Sometimes you have to take a year off to realize that you want to be there again.”

– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was asked: Why did you grow a mullet haircut?

Answer:  “Yeah, it has been awhile. I just saw they posted a picture of Chad Little and Elton Sawyer as they got their new directing roles and I saw some older pictures of them and I thought, ‘Man, that needs to come on back.’ Jeff Gordon is the same way. It is his last year so maybe I will keep it for him.”

– More Stenhouse: Did girlfriend Danica Patrick like it?

Answer: “Ehhhhhh. Not so much.”

– Kyle Larson was asked: How do you handle negativity on social media?

Answer:  “It’s like people’s jobs. Or some of them; that’s all some people do. You just try and block it off. We get more positive tweets than negative tweets. For every hundred positive tweets, you might get two negative ones. So I just try to pay attention to them, or just laugh at them.”

– Jamie McMurray was asked: Is there any apology needed after dumping a guy on the last lap of a plate race?

Answer: “No, absolutely not. I remember being at Roush and everyone always talked about Jeff Burton because you would have four teammates which was more than any other group. Would say just don’t help me. I just want to get that out front don’t help me. If you do then that is great, but I don’t want you to because I don’t want to have to be committed to helping you at the end. Kyle (Larson) and I have talked about that. I tell him if you think that you need to make the best decision for you. If following me you think will benefit you the most then go with me. If you think it’s going to hurt you, but help me don’t. You are not going to be mad about that.”

– Joey Logano (and most other drivers) was asked: How many drivers can win the 500?

Answer: “I believe there are 43 different ones. Did we change that rule this year too? Nobody told me if we did.”

– Clint Bowyer was asked: Have you ever hit the pace car?

Answer:  “I’ve never crashed a pace car driver, but we’ve bumped them. You’re just excited because it’s the start of the race and oh by the way if you’re bumping the pace car, you’re running really good and you qualified good so you’re in a good mood. It’s always fun because there’s people in there – usually a celebrity of something – and you want them to have the experience too. You know they’re going to go home and say, ‘He hit me and the race hadn’t even started and he ran into us.’ I think it would be kind of funny to spin Buster (Auton, NASCAR pace car driver) down in the grass sometime though. That would be hilarious. He wouldn’t think that would be funny.”

– Danica Patrick was asked: In the context of coming into a new season, what does the Daytona 500 mean to you?

Answer: That’s it? That’s the best you’ve got?

Check please!

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 13 2015
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