Heard and overheard on Wednesday at Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway:

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson after talking with Paul Menard about their backstretch accident in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash: “I could have given him a few more inches. That way, when he came down there was a bit more margin for error. So, there’s always lessons to learn, going back and looking at the tape, talking to someone about those things. I think where he and I stand -- sure, he wasn't happy, but he knew it wasn't intentional. Maybe a couple more inches would have been good to leave between our two cars. But you’re racing.”.

Former driver Jeff Burton as Harrison Burton, his 18-year-old son, approaches his first full-time Gander Outdoors Truck Series ride: “I absolutely love most things about racing. For good or worse, racing has made me who I am. But I just didn’t want either of my children (Harrison or Paige) to do something because their parents did it. I didn’t want them to have the pressure of, ‘oh, my dad did this’ or ‘my mom did that so this is what I have to do.’ I wanted them to have their own thing. Anything worth doing is hard, and (NASCAR racing) is really hard.”

Former Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray when asked how he’ll rate his seven-victory career after Sunday’s 500, presumably his final start: “I don’t know. I’ll let you do that.”

Chase Elliott addressed the issue of whether people expected too much of him before he won three times last year: “Not really. Regardless of my age at that point, I’d done a lot of racing to get there. It was certainly a time where I needed to figure it out. If you get to this point, you either know what you're doing or you don’t. I want to earn my spot here. I don’t want to be given an opportunity, regardless of what my name is. I want to feel like I belong. That’s as important to me as anything.”

Former (2017) Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. on the current relationship between drivers and corporate NASCAR: “It’s easy to just vent your frustrations. I don’t know that it’s the right way to go, but it seems to be the way of the world around here most of the time. The channels are there. They’re always willing to talk. They’re always open. Steve O’Donnell and that group have been great to work with. There’s no question about it. Are they going to do everything you ask them to? No, because they have everyone asking them something different.”

From reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano on second chances: “I tell everyone every day that I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I started too young. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t succeed. I lost my job and God willing gave me an amazing shot to race for Roger Penske. How does that happen? I remind myself every day that I’ve been put in an amazing spot and I’d better take advantage of it.”

From Aric Almirola, who was leading into the last turn on the last lap last year before being wrecked by winner Austin Dillon. “For me, last year, being a mile away from winning the Daytona 500 stands out. Being that close. I can literally feel it and see it and smell it and taste it. Everything you can imagine, like, it was there. It was right at my fingertips.”

From Bubba Wallace, the tour’s only African-American driver and one of its most consistently upbeat characters. “It’s my personality. A lot of people will portray it as me being cocky and arrogant (but) I’m just living life. I’m having fun. At the end of the day I get paid to drive race cars. At the end of the day I just get to drive, nothing else. Everything else comes with it.”

From Daniel Suarez, the 2015 Xfinity Rookie of the Year and 2016 Xfinity champion on being unceremoniously dumped by Joe Gibbs Racing last winter and being picked up by Stewart-Haas Racing: “If you were asking me that question (about expecting to be with JGR for many hear) my first year in Cup, I would have said yes. The second year was extremely unstable. I was expecting things that I never got. Many, many different things were planning and never done. A lot of changes and a lot of parts and pieces were moved around. I felt something was missing and I didn’t know what it was. Six months ago, I was pretty disappointed and down on things, but today I can tell you maybe it was the best thing that could happen to me.”

Source: Autoweek

February 14, 2019