Toyota Racing – NCS Sonoma Post-Practice Quotes 

NKP #20: Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing, Rheem Toyota Camry

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Christopher Bell, Ty Gibbs and Denny Hamlin, along with 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick were made available to the media after practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway on Friday.

CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

Do you have to drive turn 11 differently?

“No, I didn’t really notice much difference. I guess it is probably going to make it a little more congested if there is a crash and you aren’t going to have anywhere to go, but other than that, normal racing conditions. I didn’t notice a difference.”

Did you notice any changes with the sight lines?

“It definitely makes it harder to see but running your normal line – you are just trying to keep it tight there. It was a little bit harder to see, but other than that it wasn’t really any change.”

Does it still feel like Sonoma?

“No. It does not. The grip level is just really different than what we’ve had in the past, and the name of the game here was managing your tires and knowing how to create grip when the tires started falling off. There is not any of that now.”

Does the change to the track, change where you are at this weekend?

“No, it doesn’t. Really practice went – at least my team – went exactly how we expected it too. It was a struggle for our team, but the grip level stayed consistent throughout the entire run. We never saw any tire wear or tires losing grip, and I didn’t run very long, because I was struggling out there. Maybe that is why I didn’t see what other guys saw.”

Is the speed what you thought it was going to be?

“Honestly, it is a little faster than we thought it would be. We expected to run in the .74’s, and I think guys were in the low .73’s.”

TY GIBBS, No. 54 He Gets Us Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What do you think of the repave?

“I feel like it is not as different that I thought it would be. It’s okay. It’s pretty smooth so far, so they did a good job. It is definitely a lot faster, but it doesn’t feel like it changed a lot, so that is good.”

What is the mindset for a track like this?

“The mindset is about the same for me every weekend. Just going and working as hard as I can, preparing as hard as I can to be the best I can, so I can come out here and go race for a win every week. I feel like that is the fun part of my racing career. It’s fun to get better and it’s fun to be in racing.”

Can you talk about some of the differences in the turns out there?

“I haven’t had too much of an issue. It is definitely easy to over drive the corner with the way the repave is. I only ran twice here last year – in my whole career – I didn’t get used to it as much. This track is relatively new to me, and we go at it with a bang.”

Do you like coming here?

“I enjoy coming here. I just like the environment. I really like the road course too – it is a fun place to come. Hopefully I can get my first win here, too.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your impressions of the race track?

“It feels like Sonoma. Not much difference. Just you’re hitting the gas a little bit sooner, a little bit harder. It definitely feels just like the old track, just you’ve got a lot more speed.”

Does it feel like you’re four seconds faster out there?

“Yeah, it’s just, on a track this big you can make up four seconds like – you can lose half a second in one corner and you don’t even realize it’s that much time. We have that much more grip, global grip in the track. It’s not one section that you notice you’re way faster. It’ just generally the whole track.”

Does turn 11 feel different with the big wall there?

“Yeah, a little bit. It’s a little bit blind but you’re kind of getting used to it and understanding the radius of how far I’ve got to turn the wheel to make the corner without hitting it. I think there will definitely be a few that cut it too tight and risk knocking a toe link out but hopefully it’s not us.”

Is there any tire wear at all?

“Not that we’ve seen. It’s typical kind of heat in the tires that’s kind of making it drop off a little bit in time but once it cools off it will go right back where it was.”

TYLER REDDICK, No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry XSE, 23XI Racing

Were there any issues during practice today?

“No issues.”

Will the patches on the track hold all weekend?

“You never know, but we’re good.”

Is turn 11 different with the wall there?

“Yeah, it was kind of hard to see the tire packs before the wall. It’s kind of hard to see too, but it’s kind of in the blind spot you have on the right side of the windshield. I know what they had in mind by doing it. Just to keep cars from crashing across turn 11. Guys like me with a flat come across it and back to pit road.”

Does the track feel faster than in the past?

“Yeah, it really does. It’s pretty wild. The feel out there. You feel like you’re doing something – it feels like you’re doing something wrong, it feels like you’re going to crash going into turn 1 because you’re going in there way faster than you should but it’s workable.”

Is it more fun out there?

“It feels sketchy at times, but when it sticks it’s fun, yeah. When you lose grip it’s not good. We have a little bit of room in turn 1 and a couple corners – turn 3. But when you get stepped out of shape through the esses coming back down in turn 10 – turn 10 is going to be a place I feel like gets a few people over the course of the weekend.”

Do you think this will fit your style of racing?

“To a degree, yeah. We still gotta work on our car and try to find some things. I definitely think it helps. In the past year, it’s just added another element that some of the vets were a little better at than I was at road courses. Now, for the most part I think that’s going to be gone to some degree. I still feel like if you get out of shape, slide a tire, it gets hot, it’s going to have to cool back off, so you still have to keep it straight in some manner. Tires don’t wear away as fast – it’s going to be more about fuel strategy.”

Is the simulator still as beneficial with a newly paved track?

“Yeah, it can be. Always think making use of our TRD simulator is always a big help on these weekends. Sim time always helps.”

Golin for Toyota Racing PR

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