A week later you’ll compete in the 52-lap Xfinity race on the Daytona Road Course. Thoughts?
It’s cool. I wish we were going out to Fontana, California for the second race like we were scheduled to, but it changed now because of the COVID deal. I like the Daytona Road Course. We had some success there last year and we were pretty fast. Hopefully, we can go down there and kind of pull off a two-for-two in Daytona.
Do you like the shifting of gears and all the braking and the turning left and right that the Road Course will bring?
I think so. It’s definitely a different aspect of racing. I feel like it’s a lot of fun. I didn’t really think I was going to like it, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. It’s way different.
The comes Homestead-Miami for you guys.
Homestead is fun. You’re running right against the wall. It’s kind of crazy how the first three races for us are all in the state of Florida. Yeah, Homestead is a cool mile and a half that’s kind of worn out and you just have to be up on the fence. It’s a lot of fun to drive.
Round four will take you back home to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Oh yeah, I’m really looking forward to that race. I think we’ll be really, really fast and have some good success. At least that’s what we are planning for! The No. 98 won that race last year, so I’m looking forward to going back home to race that one. I just think we kind of need to work through the first four or five races and see where we are because it’s a new team and everything like that. For the first five races, we’ll just kind of judge everything, and hopefully, after that and after the first quarter of the season we can hopefully be in contention for wins and be racing upfront.
How cool is it that you guys will race at the Circuit of the Americas this season? Watching Formula 1 car and MotoGP bikes go around that place in just beyond cool. And to see the big and lumbering stock cars you guys race go around that place is going to beyond cool. What do you think?
Exactly. We get to go to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas which is pretty cool. I’ve never been to a Formula 1 track in my life before. I think it’s cool that we’ll be racing on the same track as Formula 1. That kind of puts me in awe because those guys are at the top of the motorsports echelon worldwide and to get to share the track that they race on is pretty cool. For the fans, it is going to be way different than watching a Formula 1 car or a MotoGP bike. Hopefully, it will be really cool for the fans and hopefully, we’ll put on a good show.
In looking at the racers and race teams of the Xfinity Series there were a lot of comings and goings during the off-season. When you look at the competition roster leading into 2021, what do you think?
The champion is coming back and that’s Austin Cindric. He’ll be my Ford teammate. There will be some new faces in the series out there as well which is going to be good for the series – it’s going to make it a deeper series. It’s going to be difficult to win races this year, but it’s going to make it all that much better.
2020 marked your first year in the Xfinity ranks. How was it doing 33 races in one season? Some younger racers have told me that can take some getting used to…
It definitely is kind of crazy your first year doing it, but I loved it. I live for it. It’s so much fun to go to a new track each weekend and try to perform at your very best. 33 races out of 52 weeks in a year are quite a lot. Your off-season is small, but we enjoy all of this. it’s kind of surreal to think it, but we are just one level beneath the Cup Series, which is pretty surreal to think about. Yes, the competition is really stiff, but I guess that’s how it should be when you’re racing one level below the Cup Series.
Right on, Riley. Thanks for doing this and just when will pack everything up and head on down to Daytona?
We’re heading out on Friday morning and we practice on Friday afternoon and we race Saturday night underneath the lights. I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this moment now for the last couple of months and I’m ready to get down there to go see what we’ve got. We’re definitely ready for it.