Drag Illustrated Issue 178, September / October 2022 | Page 104

It ’ s remarkable that we ’ ve had the team we had for so long with so few adjustments or changes to personnel . When you can say that the two guys that left left because they just wanted to go home , it ’ s pretty neat .
You ’ ve talked at various points this season that you guys would come on strong again when it counted , during the Countdown to the Championship . How validating was it to get that Brainerd win with just one race left before the Countdown starts ? It ’ s huge . You need to be ready for war come Indy because the next six [ races ] are going to be an all-out battle between everybody . It ’ s been five years since I ’ ve went into the Countdown anything other than first . Now I ’ m coming from behind . Who knows how things will pan out at Indy . We may be able to climb up another spot and start closer , but whatever advantage you have is thrown out the window . Now it ’ s back to everybody is on a level playing field . There ’ s no cushion . Everybody has to perform .
Some drivers are going to let that get in their head and some drivers are going to make it through . Now that cushion that they had is gone or now that big spread they had is gone and it gives them confidence or it gives them anxiety . You look at that as a driver , you look at those points like , man , I ’ m catching up , or man , I ’ m falling behind . It ’ s going to be which team can handle the pressure , which driver can handle the pressure , and who can do their job the best .
What will you use that you ’ ve learned in past championship battles that will come into play as you go after another championship this year ? I ’ ll use everything . If I don ’ t go into race day thinking that I ’ m the biggest , baddest , 10-foot-tall , bulletproof , immortal , then what are you doing there ? Because you have to go in there with that warrior mindset . Step up and come against me because I ’ m going to win . Stay focused and stay driven because there ’ s one job , one goal , one thing at the end of the year that every one of us are going for , and that ’ s to be the champ . Right now , I still am the champ . I ’ m trying to defend that .
You ’ re obviously focused on chasing that fifth championship , but what is beyond that ? Where do you see this going from here ? I never saw this thing going where it ’ s at . Man , I ’ ve been through a whole lot of different situations in my life with health issues [ Hodgkin ’ s Lymphoma as a teenager and a heart attack in 2016 that was attributed to cancer treatment ]. It makes you not live so far out there , but just for the moment . As far as racing , we race for the race win . The next race win .
It ’ s not about winning championships ; it ’ s about winning races and enjoying that with our team , the guys , and living for that moment . You never know when that next win is the last one . I say it all the time : we don ’ t count points , we count rounds . We count wins . When you look at them like that , all that other stuff takes care of itself .
We ’ ve accomplished a whole lot in a very short period of time . Fifty-two wins , four championships consecutively , and this team has been together since 2012 . Ten years , you ’ re 40 percent on championships . I don ’ t know where we ’ re at on wins , but we ’ ve won a lot . We didn ’ t get there by having big goals . We just have a lot of little ones . I think that ’ s the mindset that we ’ ll continue to have . We ’ re going to race until it ’ s not fun anymore , then we ’ ll go do something else . But we enjoy what we ’ re doing . We enjoy doing it as a family .
I don ’ t know where this thing will be in two years or five years or 10 years , but we ’ re gonna go as hard and as fast as we possibly can with 150 percent effort and see where it takes us . DI
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