An Interview With:
ROSS CHASTAIN: Yeah, we wrote a new story. It hasn’t been done. Proud of the effort all year. We started out with a handful of races actually a year ago, calendar year ago, I was going to run five races in Al’s truck.
When everything went down over the off‑season, it was as many races as possible, but it was still going to be in the teens total number total of races. And when stuff went down on the Xfinity side and it just became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to be competitive and push forward, or maybe not even run all the races, it was a no‑brainer, and I was 100 percent on board.
That was about four nights of the scariest time of my life of thinking of switching points, because it had not been done before, never on purpose and never with this mentality that you’re going to go win a championship. It’s pretty crazy that we did that and that we made it to Homestead.
We finished the best out of the Chevys. We did everything we could. That says a lot. Tonight we fired off well, had a lot of speed. Too loose all night, and just stayed too loose as the track ‑‑ we tightened our truck up, but we built free with the track all night. Never made a big enough dent in it and just too far back when it mattered.
You did have a good season. I know it’s not the way you wanted. Have you already started putting the plans in place for next year? Do you know what you’re going to declare next year? Do you know what you’re going to do? Do you have a plan or is it still up in the air?
ROSS CHASTAIN: We do. We’ve planted our seed at Kaulig Racing and Nutrien Ag Solutions. So we’ll be there full time. Yep, 23 races with Nutrien Ag Solutions and filling in the rest. But Matt Kaulig has made the commitment that we’ll race all year in the 10 car alongside Justin Haley. Looking forward to that.
Made a big step at Texas a couple weeks ago, ran second. It’s our best finish together on a mile‑and‑a‑half, and it was a really big step for us and a really big shot in the arm after the hauler crashed and we lost two cars, lost everything in the hauler. It was complete devastation. Yep, we’ll be up there, and I’ll still run a bunch of truck races and anything else anybody will let me drive.
Does that help take the sting out of this championship?
ROSS CHASTAIN: No, I’m a racer. I want to win, especially as good as we were at the start there with clean air. Just trying to manage those guys, I felt like we did a good job those first two stages. 16 was by far the best truck, 88 came on strong there in that final run. Once he got clean air on the other three of us, it was game over. We were all fighting for second at that point.
You actually kind of touched on where I wanted to start. You mentioned obviously 2020, and we know you’ll be in the Xfinity Series, but are we going to see you back with Al in the trucks if you can make that work?
ROSS CHASTAIN: Absolutely, every race possible. If it takes jets and helicopters and whatever, we’ll have to figure out how to pay for that, but whatever it takes, yeah, I want to race. I want to race everything. Selfishly, I wish there was some way of ‑‑ I know there’s the anti‑Kyle rule where he can’t run, but all the rest of us guys that are truck and Xfinity regulars either do Cup or truck and Xfinity or something like that where you can dual role. There’s programs that would thrive on that, and it would bolster the two series, I think, if they worked together instead of just you have to pick one.
So it would help ‑‑ like John Hunter Nemechek could have raced tonight. I know that would have helped his family‑owned team, if he could have done that. They could have sold sponsorship around it, you can do a lot of things. So it’s a double‑edged sword. I know that I’m being selfish in saying that. But, yes, any chance I get, I will drive for Al.
In regards to your race tonight specifically, could you pinpoint something in your truck that changed, or was it just that that 88 found something that put them a little bit above everybody else?
ROSS CHASTAIN: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ll have to watch it back. I was really loose from the very start of the race, even when we were out front, would fire off incredible. And we saw that all day, and we just built loose after lap 7 or 8.
And then at lap 15 it would get sideways, and on corner exit it would just be spinning the tires. I don’t think anything changed on ours. I don’t know about the 88. He was fast all night. I could see him right there with us. Clean air is king, so when we had it, we could hold him off; and once he had it, he could drive away. So they had just a little bit better truck.
THE MODERATOR: Ross, congratulations on a great season, and good luck in 2020. Enjoy the off‑season.
ROSS CHASTAIN: I appreciate all you guys. I won’t obviously be in here on Sunday, so thank you, it means a lot.
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An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: We have Brett Moffitt, driver of the No. 24 CMR Construction & Roofing Chevrolet for GMS Racing. Brett, go ahead and tell us how your run went tonight.
BRETT MOFFITT: Not good.
How green was the track, and how did you have to adjust for the conditions with all the rain we had today?
BRETT MOFFITT: It was pretty green, but it was pretty much exactly what we had this morning in practice. You know, we actually fired off, and I think everyone kind of knew what to expect. Probably tightened it up a little bit from the end of practice, and away we went.
But yeah, we didn’t really do too much, just we were fighting loose all day, so we kept tightening the truck up and finally got a decent balance, just missed it on overall speed a little bit.
I can’t help but think back to last year when we watched you win the championship in the 16 truck and yet kind of the same thing happened with GMS a year ago here. What kind of things were you fighting throughout the race? Was it just a lack of what you needed?
BRETT MOFFITT: Yeah, we missed it on overall grip. We had okay long run speed. But we just couldn’t fire off and run pace, and we couldn’t run the bottom. Scott and those guys have a really good setup for here, and it can run the bottom long and fast. It’s proven to be the truck to beat here the last two years, and we just need to go to work. We need to get better here.
You pitted before the leaders there, but was there any chance to really short pit and have anything for them?
BRETT MOFFITT: No, I mean, we had too much ‑‑ we struggled to take off too much, and the gap that the 88 had opened up, you weren’t going to overcome that, and if you did, he was going to drive right back by you because he had to pit so early in the run.
Ultimately, we were good on the long run, so at that point in the run I was starting to actually close that gap back up some. But no, I mean, there’s ‑‑ with the tire falloff here, there’s no way we could have short pitted enough to make it back up. Our only hope after the pit stops were for a caution, and obviously that didn’t come.
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An Interview With:
THE MODERATOR: We’ll continue on with the driver of the No. 52 Halmar International Chevrolet, and that’s Stewart Friesen. Maybe talk about your race. You were right there in the thick of it, especially in the first two stages, and then the final stage obviously didn’t work out for you. Maybe talk about throughout the race the strength of the 52 truck.
STEWART FRIESEN: Oh, we had a little bit of short run speed. I think I just had to push it too hard to keep up with the guys that we were racing, and the bottom would fall out of it there. We could hang for part of a stage, and then it would just back up. Backed up at the end of the first stage, we were able to mount some charges on restarts, but we just didn’t have the long run stability to make a bid to run for the championship.
Obviously congrats to Matt and Junior and the ThorSport guys. They’re a heck of a race team. Congrats to those guys, congrats to Austin for winning the race. And we just look at that scoreboard there, we just didn’t have a chance.
Did you have an issue on pit road and during the final pit stop?
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, I got held up by the 44 there. She was on the bottom, and where it played out, there wasn’t enough room to try to get around her and then get on pit road. So probably lost a couple seconds there. But that wasn’t the total downfall, know what I mean? We just didn’t have the long run speed after that.
Regardless of where you finished, you still feel like this was kind of a breakout season for you, getting the first pavement win, getting the first win and making the Championship 4 is not a complete bust?
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, obviously the wins were nice, and it’s a big thanks to Halmar and Chevrolet and a lot of great race fans for getting us to this level. It’s been a dream to compete at this level. But I’m a firm believer in you’re only as good as your last race, and this being our last race, it doesn’t really sit too well.
Stewart, two questions. First, as Lee said, you look back on this year with some of the highs, but finishing the year like this, is that motivating as far as comeback, and hopefully hit it just as hard as you did in the quest to get that first win?
STEWART FRIESEN: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We need to improve, or we know the areas where we would like to improve as a race team. Chris Larson is a great car owner, and Tripp Bruce is a great crew chief.
We’ve just got to work a little harder to, I don’t know, get some long run speed here at Homestead. Everything comes down to this last race, and we obviously weren’t fast enough to compete. It was a bummer, but yeah, there were some highlights in the season. The win at Eldora obviously, the win at Phoenix last week was a major highlight and a lot of support from GMS Fab shop and Chevrolet, so it’s nice to have those partners.
No major changes, then, for your program for 2020?
STEWART FRIESEN: I have no idea. This game is very sponsorship driven, obviously, so we’ll see what shakes out here in the next couple weeks.
Are you perplexed at all how you got beat by a guy who hadn’t had a top 5 since June?
STEWART FRIESEN: Not really. You know, Matt has had speed. ThorSport obviously did their homework at this place. Grant was really fast in this place last year, so I knew Matt would be tough coming in here. Obviously the HRE guys got the bottom figured out, and the 88 was the next best truck.
So that’s the way this format works. Its winner take all at the last race. Hats off to those guys for doing a good job and executing when it was on the line.
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