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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

“They Said What?” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Edition

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Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

BARRY CANTRELL | NKP

Well, I think it’s really incredible for how far I’ve come from that. Even looking back on the 2017 season, there’s a lot of growth in there and it really took me until about halfway through that season to get back to feeling myself again off the track and that started to help me get better on the track again. There’s just a lot of changes and a lot of good things that has gone on since then.

I love the advocacy work that I’ve been able to do. I’ve gone to Capital Hill and talk to congressmen and congresswoman about policy changes, and more funding for brain tumor awareness and research, so that’s been really rewarding. Being given a clean bill of health has been amazing and I’ve been very fortunate to have that, and being able to continue on my career which is something that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do again.

Like I said before, doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to drive a racecar again. So to be able to have the opportunity to go into the Cup Series and race in the Daytona 500, I don’t think I would’ve believed that in 2016 if you told me that was going to happen in 2019. Just very thankful for that and I know now and I’ve taken my health more seriously. I feel that’s helped me a lot not only on the racing side, but just the general health side. I feel that carries over to brain health and everything. It’s been a journey transitioning and trying to put the pieces together ever since then and the recovery process. – Matt Tifft

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

I’m coming from Europe, and usually contact is something that is not very common – like touching and rubbing. I think the biggest I learned in the States, especially in my XFINITY debut at Mid-Ohio in 2016, is how aggressive the drivers are. I had to learn very quickly to deal with that. I wasn’t ready for contact and people started bumping me, rubbing, and pushing me out. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned is how tough it is with this competition.

I think it’ll help me this weekend as it’s a playoff race, and obviously I’m not going to get in the way of one of those guys. I know it won’t be easy; it’s going to be tough. This is the top level of racing. I’m ready for it. – Alon Day

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

Some of the drivers we’ve had on there – we had Dale on there, Jeff Gordon was on last year, Chase Elliott has been on the show – those guys have been really cool to have on the show and open up. That’s really what the podcast is for having guys come in and not necessarily talk about their jobs – we talk that a little bit, but really sitting down and hanging out and relaxed and not pressured into talking about their job because we do that a lot. We talk about racing on a daily basis multiple times on the weekend. This is just something for everyone to come in and feel like you’re hanging out with your friends, and talking about what you see during the week and have some fun with some laughs.

I would say the Jeff Gordon one, Dale Jr. was fun. We had Michael Rooker on, who was in the Walking Dead and also played in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. So he was a lot of fun. Kaitlin Olson was on – Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She was a really fun time that we had on there last year. I’d say those handful are some of my favorite. – Ryan Blaney

JOHN HARRELSON | NKP

I don’t hate the idea of some of our races being shorter. The marquee events like the Daytona 500, Talladega 500, Coke 600 – those are events that have to stay this way; that’s what makes them what they are. But I look at certain races that could maybe benefit from being a shorter race. I’ve heard Dale Earnhardt Jr. say it a bunch and that is if we’re providing a good enough product, then no matter how long it is, fans will want to watch it. So at the end of the day, I think we need to keep working at providing a better racing product and provide the best show and if it’s good enough, people will want to watch, no matter how long it is.

I don’t think – I’m not part of the group that believes if the races aren’t as long, say two hours, that everything will be better and more people will watch and the shorter attention thing. I think it’s a bit of baloney. At the end of the day, the NFL has very long games, there’s long baseball games –all sports are around the same amount of time, and we’re no different, and at the end of the day, if you can make the product compelling enough, then the time doesn’t matter. – Parker Kligerman

Kyle Petty Charity Ride

If you’re up for adventure, if you’re up to meet new people, and if you’re up for making friendships that will last a lifetime, this is what you need to do because it is the people that participate in the ride, the people that we meet along the way – it’s just fun. My advice is just do it because so many people see things and think 20 years later they wished they would’ve rode across America on a motorcycle, or I wish I would’ve gone to camp and saw those kids, and helped them. 20 years on, it’s hard to look back and do it again. But if you do it when you think about it, I’m telling you, grab a motorcycle and join in. – Kyle Petty

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

When I first met her, she was very determined. She’s a very good racecar driver. It’s like I told a lot of people – I would put her up against anybody in the garage, as far as one-on-one lap and driver feedback. She can give you the information that you need. The problem was IndyCar is totally 180 degrees different from NASCAR, where the closing rates, the position to pass – everything is totally backwards. So that was our biggest challenge in trying to get her accustom that when you go to pass somebody, you have to four foot off their back bumper, whereas IndyCar it’s five car lengths back. That was probably our biggest obstacle.

She’s gotten better over the years, but compared to a kid coming out of Late Models and that’s all he drove his whole life, that’s an easier transition. She’s done well. She’s had shining points throughout her career to where she’s looked good. She’s just learned more and more, but I think that was the biggest obstacle when she got into the sport. – Tony Eury Jr.

GETTY IMAGES

I don’t know if I really have a favorite. I have different animals that I like for different reasons. I mean, at home, we have dogs. They lay around on the couches with us, go places with us, and are comforting. At our one office, we have cats, and they interact with the staff – and they adore people more than anything. It is a little bit of a stress relief when they come in if they’re having a crazy day. I can’t say I really have an absolute favorite. I like them all for different reasons. – Krissie Newman

Matthew T. Thacker | NKP

I think just patience – not just on the race track, but off throughout the practice sessions and the whole weekend, and just focusing on doing what I know how to do and that’s drive a racecar to make sure we get it handling it right for the race. I look forward to growing in that as well, and building off that this season. – Ty Dillon

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

It’s a great racing scene. I think it’s as good as anywhere. For me, honestly, as far as a learning ground, it was great. You could screw up and make mistakes, and have an opportunity to learn and get better and have an understanding of things. Really, for me, that was where I cut my teeth. That was where I kind of grew up in a way. I still hold a lot of that with me every day. It’s a big part of who I am. – Cole Pearn on racing in Ontario

John K Harrelson | Harrelson Photography Inc.

I never thought about walking away. I thought I may get pushed out, and I thought I might not get the kind of opportunity that I hoped for and wouldn’t sure if I would be able to get to this position today. But, I never thought about quitting or thought about giving up, and just knew I was going to fight as hard as I could to get to where I wanted to be. – Martin Truex Jr.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.