How old are you?
Where are you from?
How did you get into racing?
“I got into racing through family. My dad’s side of the family were just always fans of the sport. My stepdad actually grew up racing in the Massachusetts area and moved south to chase his racing dream, but fell short. Him and my mother have been together for as long as I can remember. Between my dad’s side, and my stepdads side, I just kind of got myself integrated into go karts. I started racing go karts at five-years-old at Concord Motorsports Park, in Concord, NC, which is what led to where I’m at today.”
Who was your favorite driver growing up?
“Growing up my favorite driver was Dale Earnhardt. Obviously being from Kannapolis – the same hometown as Dale – it was easy to connect to, and before I knew who to pull for, or even how to pull for somebody in any sport, he was the obvious guy for me. So, I was always a ‘3’ fan, and made sure to follow him all the way through the mid to late nineties. As time went on, Carl Edwards was kind of the guy I latched on to, and I actually started doing the back flip off cars like he did. So, those two guys are who I always looked up to in racing.”
Where and when was your first professional race?
“My first professional race, and when I say ‘professional’ I guess the first race I can remember receiving money for, and enough to pay my bills, I was about 19 years old. I drove a super late model for Carswell Motorsports – Jake and Deanna Carswell – out of Woodstock, Georgia. We went to Gresham Motorsports Park, and after the race, I didn’t know driver’s got checks written to them, and they handed me a check and I thought, ‘man I’ve made it.”
What’s your favorite track and why?
“To me, my favorite race track is a place that most of my family gets to come to, and fans, and it’s a place I raced at as a kid, and that’s Charlotte Motor Speedway. When I go there, I have all that involvement, and all that build-up, since the time I was racing the quarter mile there, when I was eight or nine years old. So, I have a huge following when we go to Charlotte, and it’s obviously home, and there’s nothing better than home.”
What does it mean to drive the No. 8?
“It means a lot of things to drive the No. 8. Obviously, for what that number means to the sport, and for what the Earnhardt’s have done for our sport – even dating back to Ralph Earnhardt, and even all the drivers before him that ran the No. 8. There is a huge line of incredible legacies that have built that number to what it is today. To know that I’m the next one to be able to strap into a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup car with that number on it, is pretty special to me, and I know that it’s extremely special to the hometown of Kannapolis, NC, where I’m from. Just to know that you have the support of all those people. Now it’s up to me, to go out there and do my thing, and try to make it my own.”
How much horsepower does the No. 8 car have?
“The No. 8 car has approximately 750 horsepower – give or take a little bit. Not quite as much as it has been in the past. With the little bit of experience I have in a cup car, from testing last year in Paul Menards car, it’s incredible how fast it gets up to speed with 750 horsepower compared to the XFINITY car with 650.”
How much is a set of tires for the No. 8?
“A set of Goodyear Eagles for our cup series car will be roughly $2,500. $2,500 sounds like a lot of money, but take that and multiply it by 12 or 15 sets, whatever we get at Richmond, and that’s a lot of cash.”
When you’re not driving, what are your hobbies?
“When I’m not driving, I try to get in a couple games of golf. I’m not very good at it, and I feel like the more I play, the worse I am, but that’s something I’ve really attached to over the last couple of years. It keeps me mentally sharp, and helps me keep my head in the game. I feel like it’s a smooth transition back into the race weekends.”
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
“For me it’s more of a routine. I have a certain glove I put on first, a certain shoe I put on first. I just don’t like to get off of my structured race day activities.”
What was your first personal car vs. your every day car now?
“My first car was a 1995 green Honda Civic. My mom got it brand new in 1995, gave it to me when I was 16-years-old, and that was mine up until I purchased a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado. I’m happy to not be in that Honda anymore, it got to where it rode a little rough.”
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
“I grew up short-track racing, and throughout that time, I was also playing sports, and I had two or three pretty serious knee injuries. As that happened, that kind of forced my hand to have surgery and go through the whole process. I realized pretty quick that anything activity-wise, outside of a race car, I wasn’t meant to do. So, that’s what kept me straight inside the race car, and that’s what got me here.”