Are there drivers who swear by staying in shape?
Yeah, Jimmy Johnson, my teammate, runs 13 miles a day. I mean it's ridiculous. He's spending all this money on these special bikes. [He'll say,] "I bought this new bike, it's 2 grams lighter." And he'll get on that bike with a couple of guys and they'll ride 60 miles after practice on Saturday.
The Blackhawks own Chicago right now. Do you see any similarities between hockey and racing, particularly the fights?
It's just human nature, I think. You get angry. Maybe you've had issues with the same guy over and over. That tends to be how most of these sentiments spill over outside the car and get physical and when the drivers are having confrontations is when something is repeatedly happening between you and a guy, and you've kinda gotta put your foot down.
Have you ever been in a fight in your career?
No, I haven't been in a fight since high school. I'm really nonconfrontational when it comes to that, but everybody has their breaking point, I suppose.
How close have you come?
I don't think there's ever been a time when I've been angry with another driver that I didn't THINK about going over there and punching him in the face. [Laughs.] But you just don't do it.
If you were to win the Chase without winning a race, how would you feel?
It'd be nine-tenths; there'd be something missing. The ultimate prize obviously is the championship, so we'd obviously celebrate. Not having won a race … that would be in every article. Anytime you mention it, that would be the asterisk. It wouldn't be too bad, I guess, to be the champion. I'd rather go through that than come as close as Carl Edwards did where they basically tied and it came down to wins.
What was it like shooting a video with Jay Z?
I think back on that and still can't believe that happened. It almost happened so fast that we didn't really get to enjoy it. His people called our people and said "do you want to be in the video?" Of course we said yes. We were racing in New Hampshire, I got on a plane when the race was over and flew straight to Monaco. I got off the plane at 8 o'clock in the morning. I couldn't sleep because I was so excited. We shot the video all day long, deep into the night. We had dinner, stayed up till 3 in the morning, got on the plane and came home. So I was in Monaco for 18 hours or whatever.
What were your impressions of him?
He's a total, professional, straight-up businessman all the time. But when we were cutting up and shooting the video, he was really candid, very easy to chat with and approachable. I walked away happy to have met him and found out what kind of person he was. He's definitely a positive role model, not only for guys who love his music but for businesspeople. He's killin' it.
Did you meet Beyonce?
She did walk up in the middle of her shopping trip, and it was really nice. She joined us at dinner and she was really, really pleasant.
Do people see you at red lights and want to race you?
Nobody looks beside them at red lights anymore. I do, but I'm looking at them and they're never looking at me. We were driving down the road the other day and I drove past this guy that had a Dale Jr. hat on. I was trying to get his attention just to say hey 'cause I thought it'd trip him out, but he never looked. [Laughs.]
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor.
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