What are you looking for in 2019?
We all look for a championship. That’s what we’re focused on. Last year we learned a lot of stuff. It was a good thing that we were competitive all year and we raced at a high level. This year, we’re looking to improve upon that and go back to the way that we used to be. We are looking to give Torrence Racing a run for the championship. We want to be able to go out and compete for our fourth title. Our main focus is to be in a good position heading into the Countdown to give us a chance to bring it home.
Your team made a number of changes last year, how is the team set for this year?
Good. Everybody is in the same place this year. We’re going to pick up where we left off at the end of the year when our Matco Tools Toyota dragster was making good passes and going A to B in every run. Now we’re just picking at it to make it better. Our main focus now is to get back into the swing so when we get to Pomona we can start things off right.
How has the Spring Training testing gone?
Testing has gone all right. We came in looking to be aggressive and push it. We made a shutoff run on Thursday where we ran a 3.76, which would likely have been a 3.73 if we ran it all the way down. With that said, we’re right in the ballpark with that. We have a new chassis that we’re breaking in right. You’re always trying to be better and we made the right changes for it to be better, but you don’t know until you get out and run it and see how the combination works. Time will tell.
What have you and the team done to return to championship form in 2019?
We’re always working at getting better at Don Schumacher Racing. These Matco Toyota boys have put the work in during the off-season, getting the car right. I’ve been working out hard and gotten myself physically right. I’m coming in with no aches or pains and in some of the best shape I’ve ever come into a season in. We’re poised and eager to go out there and compete.
After winning three championships in five years, do all the off-track demands become a distraction?
That comes along with the job. That’s why you train like you do and work like you do. You need to separate all that stuff. There comes a time when being a true professional you have to manage that lifestyle. It’s all about balancing it. When I come out here and put that helmet on, I have to be able to hit that switch and turn all that stuff off and go into the zone where you need to be at to perform at a high level and do your job. I don’t like to lose. To be truthful, when we come in here, we’re here to bring the pain to other teams.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming Winternationals?
We really want a win. We’ve been the runner-up and we’ve lost in the semis, but we’ve never won the Winternationals. It’s one of the most prestigious races we run and it would be huge to win here. It’s the way we want to start off and let everyone know we’re there.
Toyota Racing PR