It’s almost time to run the Great American Race. And drivers have already got a feel for the track and shown their speed through practice, qualifying and pre-races.
But Wednesday was Media Day, about the only time during Speed Week you can get NASCAR drivers to slow down. There’s plenty of sitting around for interviews, posing for photos, and some goofing off. But despite the event’s slow speeds, Sunday’s race was still front and center for all of them.
“This is the pinnacle,” said 2016 Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin. “I wrote about it when I was 7-years-old. About winning this race and how big it would be.“
“It’s everybody around you,” said driver Clint Bowyer. “Everybody that shaped and molded you as a racer from local guys back home that I learned from. This is the one you worked your whole life for.”
But while the race has history and tradition, it also has change. Rules change. Cars change. And this year’s changes led to some tricky handling issues for some teams during Saturday’s Clash races. And that lends an element of mystery for the rest of the week.
“I thought our car was pretty good,” said Martin Truex, Jr., the 2017 NASCAR points champion. “I was pretty happy. That said, we were really slow by ourselves. I think there’s going be some give and take there. Do you want to have raw speed or do you want to handle well. Try to balance that out and have the best of both worlds.“