Notes And Quotes From Wednesday At The 2018 NASCAR Media Tour In Charlotte

The third and final day of the 2018 NASCAR Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway took place on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Downtown Charlotte, with media availabilities and individual break-out sessions with several of NASCAR’s top drivers across all three national touring series.

Notable drivers featured Wednesday included Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, Johnny Sauter, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr. and Joey Logano among others.

David Ragan, driver of the No. 38 Ford Fusion for Front Row Motorsports:

  • Georgia native David Ragan will make his 400th career NASCAR Cup Series start at his home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway, at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday, Feb. 25. He is a two-time winner at NASCAR’s top level and enters his 12th fulltime season in 2018.

“It is very special that I made it to 400 consecutive starts. I think that is a huge accomplishment. As a young kid, I dreamed of being able to race at some of these large tracks to get my NASCAR license. I remember being so happy to get my first NASCAR license when I was an 18-year-old going to race a late-model stock car. To be able to have raced all these different race tracks and to have met all of these great people and to have won a few races and to do all that consecutive to have been fortunate to not be injured and be able to continue racing and have team owners that would let me drive their race cars, that’s really special.

“For it to happen at Atlanta Motor Speedway is pretty neat too. I couldn’t have scripted it any better. Atlanta Motor Speedway is where I got my start racing – my Bandolero car and my Legends car back in the late ‘90s. I’m from Georgia. My dad still has an office at AMS. 

“I can remember watching the track in 1996 go through its reconfiguration and taking my dad’s El Camino, taking laps around the new track surface when they were working it. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a special place to me and my family, and it’s pretty cool that I’m going to run my 400th race there.”

Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

  • Suarez is the 2016 XFINITY Series champion. He enters his second fulltime season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018 after taking over the No. 19 for retired Carl Edwards.

“I think Daytona is important; it’s the biggest race of the year. There is a lot on the line. Right now, I’m just preparing for Daytona – watching film and trying to do my homework for superspeedways. And after that we’ll move to Atlanta. But we know that we have a lot more mile-and-a-half races in the year than superspeedways. 

“For teams and crew chiefs and engineers, Atlanta is a very important race, because it’s the first mile-and-a-half race after Homestead. So for them, it’s going to be one of those races where we are going to see exactly where we’re at and where we’re going to start the season with the mile-and-a-half package.”

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 95 Chevrolet Camaro for Leavine Family Racing:

  • Kahne transitions from Hendrick Motorsports to Leavine Family Racing in 2018. Prior to his victory at Indianapolis in 2017, his last race win came at Atlanta in 2014. Kahne enters his 15th fulltime season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.

“I always like Atlanta. I feel like I’ve won maybe three times there. The tires wear out and the speeds change a lot throughout a race run. So, being able to have a car that’s capable throughout the whole run is tough to do there. It’s such a cool track, because you can look around, move from all over the race track and find little spots of grip throughout a race run. It’s a place that I always look forward to going.

“This will probably be the last one (race) before they repave. If I remember right from last year, they were talking about that. Then it will be a completely different track. Who knows how it will be after that? But right now, it’s definitely old and wearing, and it’s a tough race. Five-hundred miles early in the year at a track like that is pretty tough.”

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Ford Fusion for Team Penske:

  • Blaney becomes the third fulltime Team Penske driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, joining Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. He scored his first Cup Series victory at Pocono last season, driving the iconic No. 21 car for Wood Brothers Racing.

On transitioning to the Atlanta race after spending so much time at the beginning of the year in a restrictor-plate car at Daytona:

“Everyone always focuses on the (Daytona) 500, but the next week, we’re at Atlanta, and then you have your West Coast Swing. It’s definitely a big change in mindset. We spend 10 days down at Daytona trying to prepare for the 500, and it definitely puts a lot on your brain and mind of just that race, but then you have to change gears and start focusing on the rest of the season.

“Even though it’s really hard to look past the 500, you’re always trying to prepare for that. On the team side as well – they’re getting cars ready for Atlanta and the West Coast stuff while we’re down in Daytona. 

“But we can usually move on to races pretty quickly. When I’m down in Daytona, I really won’t be thinking about Atlanta, just because I’m focused on the 500 and what we can do to try to win that race. And then you’ll think about Atlanta Sunday night after the 500. You change gears that quick.

“It is a really fast turnaround, not only for drivers but for teams as well.”

Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford Fusion for Team Penske:

  • Keselowski enters his ninth fulltime season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. He is the 2012 Cup Series champion and won at Atlanta in 2017.

“Getting ready for Atlanta after Daytona is such a big shock for our race teams. You spent two or three weeks in Daytona, putting everything you can into that race. And then that race is over, for good or bad, no matter how you finish. It’s ‘Oh, God, we’ve got to get to another race track in three days.’ And my guys deserve all the credit for that. It’s a lot easier for me to make it happen than it is for them. They don’t let me touch the race cars, which is probably a good thing. 

“It seems like every part in the hauler gets changed over, because Daytona is that big superspeedway with restrictor plates, and Atlanta is a mile-and-a-half, and you’re looking for completely different things in your car and out of your team. It’s a mad thrash, for sure, but our guys do a great job with it.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing:

  • Newman enters his 17th fulltime season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. He has seven career poles at Atlanta Motor Speedway but no wins.

On how the new Camaro body being used for Chevrolet drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will affect their performance on the track:

“Don’t know yet, but I do know the signs point to, for all the right reasons, better. I think that is a reflection of what Chevrolet has done with its intentions. The SS was built for 2013 with an entirely different aero-package. Prior to the “no-height” rule, underbody downforce has made big changes in the past four or five years. I think that as we had changed and adapted and learned a lot of things with the SS, we took those things and applied it and tried to make the Camaro ZL1 better, and I think they have.”

Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Team Penske:

  • Logano enters his 10th season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series in 2018. He won the pole at Atlanta in 2015.

On his earlier struggles at Atlanta Motor Speedway and his recent newfound success there:

“Why would I tell you? (laughter) It took me a long time to figure it out; I’m just going to spill the beans right here, huh? It was about two or three things – really, in all honesty, following Kevin Harvick. He’s really good there (Atlanta Motor Speedway). Just kind of seeing what he does and watching that and then kind of evolving from there.

“Once you kind of get the gist of what it takes to go around Atlanta, you can start to fine-tune it and adjust your car to it and try to catch up. And now, I look at Atlanta as one of our best race tracks, where it was probably my worst race track. Kind of cool to be able to see that evolve.

“What a fun race track, anyways. It’s bumpy; it’s rough.You’re all over the place out there. It’s a fun race track for us to go around. That surface is a lot of fun. I know they’re getting to the point where they’re going to have to repave it at some point, but the longer they can keep it this way, the better for everyone, I think.”

NASCAR racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway Feb. 23-25, 2018, featuring the Rinnai 250 XFINITY Series and Active Pest Control 200 Benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Camping World Truck Series doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 24 and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 25.

For more information or purchase tickets today, call the AMS ticket office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit


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