Monster Energy Series drivers had a lot to talk about ahead of Sunday's Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Take a look at what a few of them had to say Friday at the "Tricky Triangle."
Martin Truex Jr.
With the regular season at the halfway point, Truex currently has 18 playoff points. Between two victories all the stage points, he has the most bonus points racked up.
“Everybody comes with the same plan and it starts with being consistent and running up front each and every week and having fast race cars and we’ve been able to do that,” Truex said. “At the same time we’ve been able to not make mistakes, be consistent, not a lot of issues and I think our only really bad races was Talladega, and that’s Talladega. We’ve been able to just get more points than everybody so just a job well done by our team and all of our guys."
At this point in the year, Truex is just having a good time.
"It’s really going better than we even imagined so far," he added. "It’s been fun and it’s been a real treat to be consistently up front each week, leading laps and I’m having a blast right now so I’m having fun.”
Darrell Wallace Jr.
Making his first career Monster Energy Series start in the iconic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, Wallace laid down the 19th fastest time in Friday’s opening practice.
“What an incredible opportunity for me,” Wallace said. “When you said, ‘The driver of the No. 43’ that took a minute. It had a nice ring to it, though, so I like that.”
Coming off of his best career Monster Energy Series finish, the rookie Joe Gibbs Racing driver is hoping to continue the upward trend following his sixth-place result at Dover.
“I see these race tracks so far as a challenge,” Suarez said. “It’s not one of those places that I have a lot of experience. I’ve been here (Pocono) just once last year and it was a short weekend. We had one practice and we did qualify and we had a short race. It was helpful, we learned some good stuff but it’s going to be a different view. We can learn as quick as possible and move forward.”
They don’t call Pocono Raceway the “Tricky Triangle” for nothing. Each one of the three turns provide its own unique set of challenges.
The 2017 Daytona 500 champion shared which turn is his favorite.
“Turn 1 is by far the most fun,” said Busch. “With the restarts we have going down the front straightaway, sometimes five-wide, you’re always trying to find that slot to get back in line. Turn 2, if you’re fast through there. The three times that I’ve won here I felt like my fastest corner was Turn 2. Then Turn 3, it’s changed over the years on how they put the strip of asphalt in the high lane for a few years, the way the curb and the bottom of the groove in Turn 3 has changed.”
“Each time around it seems like there’s one that jumps out that’s different than the rest, but favorite corner is Turn 1.”
Matthew OHarenMatthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
The overtime finish in last Sunday’s race at Dover was one that stirred up a great deal of controversy. It raised the question of whether NASCAR should adjust the overtime rules.
There was also controversy surrounding the four-race suspension of Kyle Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens and whether the penalty was too harsh.
But Newman thinks all that noise is nonsense.
“I’d rather just talk about what Jimmie did or the crash on the last lap or the oil dry on the race track other than a rule change in the middle of the season,” he said. “It’s just silliness.”
The rookie driver had a great run last Sunday at Dover where he led 27 laps. But crash following the overtime restart resulted in a 14th-place finish.
Coming off a solid run, Dillon put a grade on his first Monster Energy Series season so far.
"I would give it a ‘B’ right now for our team," Dillon said. "I told everybody at the beginning of the year that we were going to compete for this Rookie of the Year and we are going to give them all we’ve got. I think some people thought I was crazy, but we are still right in it."
Buescher spent Friday morning reflecting on his rain-shortened Pennsylvania 400 victory at Pocono last July to make the playoffs.
“It was a pretty awesome deal getting that win and having everything play out the way it did. It was a big moment for us,” he added. “It got us heading toward the Chase for last season and got us into the All-Star race this year to be able to participate there. So, a lot of great things came from it. Everybody keeps asking me how excited I am to get back to Pocono and the probably is it’s not one of the places where we’re as fast as some others, but it is a unique race track. I do love coming here.”