ASHLEY ASKS…… Justin Haley
Entering his second full year of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, the 18-year-old shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?
JUSTIN HALEY: I think this season will be pretty good to us. Obviously, last year was kind of a learning experience – not with me and Kevin (Bellicourt) as we worked together before, but it was still a new partnership with GMS, and everything like that. Going into this year, we had a lot of success late last season – some good podium finishes, so looking forward to it.
PS: What are your goals and expectations?
JH: I think going into the season, like any season, you want to win the championship. I don’t know if we can necessarily say win the championship, but I think there’s no reason we can’t contend as we’re with one of the more dominant teams. I think we’ve grown as an organization at GMS, and the (No.) 24 team has grown within that. If we don’t make it in the final four at the end of the season, I’m going to be pretty disappointed in our effort. So that’s kind of my expectation.
PS: What track are you most excited for?
JH: I always look forward to the superspeedways just because it’s such a different type of racing. But, it’s always good to get back to the road courses. I’ve got some really good background in road course racing. I was in contention in Canada last year, but had a bad pit stop. We were also pretty good at the intermediates, too. I think last year we struggled quite a bit on short tracks as GMS as a whole, but I think Johnny and Kaz (Grala) and everyone last year found some stuff late in the season. As long as we keep sharing information like we did last year, there’s no reason we can’t win at any type of race track.
PS: You’ve got some new faces at GMS. What are your thoughts in working with your new teammates?
JH: I’ve actually been teammates with every single one of them, somehow someway. I was with Cody Coughlin in 2015, teammates in the ARCA Racing Series. Then in 2016, I was teammates with – maybe 2015, I don’t even know, but teammates with Dalton Sargeant in the K&N Pro Series. Obviously, Sauter was with me last year. So I’ve worked with all of them, some way or another. The crew chiefs will be the same, too.
I think we’ll be great working together. Mike Beam, the general manager, creates a good atmosphere and we all work together well. We’ve had meetings with drivers, crew chiefs, and engineers together to talk about forming as a Daytona, especially with our technical alliance with Niece Motorsports.
PS: If you could break through for your first career victory, what would that mean to you?
JH: It’d mean a lot. Obviously, I didn’t even know growing up as a kid that I would be racing in the Camping World Truck Series, for one. We would always work on my go-karts, and one day I was walking home from the shop and I said, “I just want to start one truck race. If I could start one, that’ll be it; I’ll be happy.” Then I started the one truck race at Bristol on my mom’s birthday in 2015 in the Great Clips truck for Braun. So to get that first win, it’d be a tribute back to her. Everyone in my family has put a lot into this to help me progress my career to get to this point.
PS: What was the biggest thing you learned last year you’re carrying into this year?
JH: There’s so much that I learned last year that it’s kind of hard to pinpoint one thing. But I’ve always had pretty good strategy last year. So I think going into this year, it’s just about the big picture. Obviously, you can get riled up or mad easily if stuff doesn’t go our way. At the end of the day, you have to keep the big picture in mind and continue working towards getting to the final four. We just need to keep our heads down and focus so we can be there.
PS: With having been through the stage racing for a year, does it change your strategy for this year?
JH: I think me and Kevin Bellicourt have worked pretty good over there. We’re both young guys and hungry. Having that background, I think what we have going right now is good. We’ve been building good trucks, innovating, making better speed. We had a good Charlotte test and figured some stuff out. I think we’re going to be really good this year.
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