Ep. 112 | Ryan Preece
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John Hunter Nemechek and Todd. Gillan even better one. Lucky winner will be chosen. Receive race tickets to join front row at the championship race in Phoenix later this year. Hey everyone welcome to the racing writers podcasts under host Kelly crandall today we're sitting down with Ryen priests of JT Doria racing to cover a bunch of topics. Ryan was nice enough chat after the Phoenix race which unfortunately has been the last Nascar Cup series race that has been run this season due to the ongoing corona virus outbreak but given It means this interview is still timely. When it comes to Ryan talking about his season and what happened in its most recent race which was pretty important for that thirty seventeen. Some of what you'll hear in this conversation is around the realities of being a cup series driver working with new teammate. Ricky stenhouse junior who joined the organization this season and wearing the pecking order. Ryan sees the two car team of J. T. H. E. It's a great conversation. So let's get to it. Here's Ryan Preece on the racing writers. Podcast we'll get this role in Ryan it's funny because when I was GONNA come over this morning I was like. I'm so glad that Phoenix went with good when well. Yeah I mean 'cause 'cause I was GonNa Start by saying you've had some really good looking race cars results but Phoenix as you tweeted. Finally some points on the board so it has to feel good yet does it was a long day. But you know there was no quit for sure with Trenton. Everybody over there. There was a lot of adjustments that were made throughout the race. And you know like you said. At the end of the day we ended up with a top twenty which is kind of where we kinda wanted to start the season. But you know looking back on it. The results don't show it but Daytona we were going to end up. Probably right in the top five top ten which would have been a great day and then. Vegas. We're going to have another great day to and just a motor. You know just something out of our control so Forays into the season. It looks like a big hole to dig out of but I feel like we're going to head in the right direction and that's something that we look to do is to keep moving forward time. GotTa start somewhere trump for clarity. Say for those who are going to listen. We're talking after Phoenix. So this'll probably I think air after let's see we got an Atlanta and then homestead so it'll be relatively soon for clarity. Say we're talking after. Phoenix got some points on the board. Hopefully you will start heading in that right direction. How hard is it not just from a competition standpoint but you now being a sophomore here in the Cup series? How hard is it just to be a cup series driver? It's not easy. It's definitely not what you think you know from the outside looking in a lot of one of those people for five years ago that or even you know three years ago that when you're outside looking in man you guys get to travel a time. I watch the cars that stuff. You guys are cranking. It left the whole time. And it's just like nope that's not the case. It's not as easy as it looks. You know at this level. I was talking to a buddy of mine. These cars are so well. Setup even cars that are running thirtieth or twenty fifth or whatever it is there a couple adjustments away from being that much better and I help at a local level. These cars would probably win races. You know what I mean so to win a race at the Cup Level. Your car pretty damn near perfect like we're fighting for little things that we make sound a lot bigger because it means that much more so it's not easy when you used to be one of those people from the outside looking in. What was the first biggest misconception? That was shattered for you when you finally got to do this. Very easy to drive. You know what I mean like. It's just a whole different level of commitment when it comes to going into a corner at one hundred and eighty plus miles per hour selling it off in your trailing behind somebody and hoping it's going to stick or you know how much dirty air affects your car. Not only in the front but side force. There's just a lot of things even on restarts you're going to be wide open no matter what because if you lifts there's a whole saying like you lift you lose that's one hundred percent the way it is so Certainly I think what this package. Oh it's even more so I mean the amount of technology that has been brought into Nascar. That's open my eyes with Australia's get is called. Sm T being able to look back at individual drivers points during the race or practice. Just seeing those things it's like man. I lifted to fifty percent for less than a half a second and I lost to Carling's it's like you got almost tell yourself sometimes I can't lift even if it does something I cannot lift and it puts you in a tough spot. Sometimes because you can risk wrecking that racecar. But that's why for five hundred miles. We are on the edge typically. I don't care what package you're in. I mean sometimes you know whether it's the old package which I got to run this weekend or the new package. They both have their challenges. Sm Date. I wanted to ask about that because that's a relatively new thing over the last couple years. We're mass car has opened it up to where you can see now. What everybody's doing and just compare yourself to your teammates? How valuable is that to where instead of walking down and trying to ask a kyle. Busch what he's doing. Now you can actually see what a Kyle Busch or Jimmy Johnson or Kevin. Harvick is doing well. The day is a games are kind of over like I. I was joking with With another driver not too long ago about mad house a car and I already knew you know what I mean like I see it and they kinda like they played the game a little bit with me and I'm like okay. Well I can go back on this laptop and kind of see what you're really doing here. South. It's just the days where you could look at a guy like well. You know I I was lifting here and yeah you do a little bit of this kind of gone. You know in a sense. It's always nice to talk other drivers to kind of understand the feel that they're looking for because that's extremely important but you know where he's lifting where he's breaking. It's not necessarily a well if I lift here and I use this much brake pressure here. It's not going to do the same thing. There's other factors that go into that with the way their car setup. I your car set up how the car is going to react to that. So there's a lot of things that matter in that sense but it's always nice to be able to go back and look okay. He's wide open. We need to help this or I'm wide open here and they're lifting and they're going fast or whatever you know what I mean. It's nice to be able to have actual facts and not go off of what somebody's telling you and have it to trust whether author telling you the truth for sure. Yeah I know you've been asked about of course ricky coming into the season but now that we've had a couple of weeks to get under your belt a couple of races under your belt. Where are the areas in which he's going to help you and vice versa? Are there things that you can maybe give back to him? I think the The combination of him. Brian Pattie has obviously they got a pole at Daytona. And they've run like well for sure you know. They're up there in points. Ricky and I have similar feels when we talk post practice just kind of what our cars are doing so we tend to look or try to find similar things in our race cars. That's good ricky's also you know. He's a veteran howls. He's thirty two. He's only two years older than me but he's got seven plus years more experience than May so it's nice to lean on him. You know for sure and then it's still early. There's still a lot questions that I want to ask that. You know I am sitting in a room right now they just popped up into my head but then as we get going you know you tend to fall into the moment and forget so you know we have a full year ahead so there's still a lot of things. I want to kind of ask when those things arise but You know it's been great so far working with him and he's definitely helped bring a lot of attention to J. T. G. And and you know we talked a lot about in practice which is gray and obviously that also going to some super speedways. I'm excited when we go to him. Keep a notebook right keeping. Look all those real thick notebook. I feel like in a way Ryan you when you came into the series. You're timing was almost bad in a sense because the cars keep changing the packages. Now are changing. We keep your crew. Chief is even changed. Has it been hard though in all seriousness? Almost find a rhythm when stuff keeps changing to adapt. That's what we have to do is drivers. It's what we all have to do in this. Sport is just adapt. I do wish we would stop messing with things. It's just like you know it's when your mom tells you when you're grown up like hey quit messing with that. It's just leave it alone. GimMe a couple years with something you know what I mean but Do you feel like you're good at adapting felt like I ben good I mean for sure I did. Enjoy the low downforce package this weekend. I felt like good. You're did bring a good tire that had fall off so you did see some comers and goers so yeah. I don't know what people want because you go on twitter and this is why tend to stay off some of these things and if I want read you want blue if I want green you want. Yeah it's tough so at the end of the day were all dealing with the same things. So we're we're GONNA race no matter what but what I thought was cool about the low downforce deal with the tire combination. Because that's extremely important Was that there. Were people losing control their race car and wrecking or stepping over that line. Where in the other package restarts are amazing? I mean I sat and watched the All star two years ago at a restaurant. Connecticut and I was like man. This is great racing to watch. But it's it's difficult from a racer standpoint because the edge is really far you know what I mean on a short track. It's really tough to overstep that boundary. So it made for cautions this weekend made for opportunities on restarts and restarts exciting so that that was cool. That was fun. Let me put it in your hand. What do you want? You say? You don't know what everybody else wants in a perfect world. What would your feedback? B Twelve hundred horsepower? Exactly what we had entire fall off. You know I feel like these teams Have done such a great job in development with how to get cars to drive really well to the point where seven hundred fifty horsepower. You know eight hundred horsepower to me. Feels like it's four hundred because we got these cars driving pretty well now. We could dial them out and make them Dr not well. But that's not the point so if you give us more horsepower than we know what to do with that will make us. Drivers have to think okay. Well I'm not going to rush into the throttle here because it's GonNa jump sideways. No matter how much forward drive this team gives me. There's things I can do as a driver to help so that really. I joke with a lot of people. Like hey give us. Horsepower is possible. Why Not Make It happen? What are the things you think you're good at? You've got your rookie season under your belt. I believe he made a few starts in eighteen right. Just a just a handful of starts to do in cup. I made a handful of starts in two thousand fifteen fifteen the whole approval process. I'm told not yeah. I knew you had some stars. I wasn't looking at the year so you have all right. So what we can throw that out because I was so long ago. So just going by rookie season and then four weeks in two or four or five weeks now into your second season. What are the some of the things you feel like you do well behind the wheel? Typically restarts is something that I tend to try to be aggressive I feel like I'm an aggressor when it comes to things like data passing also been something that you know. We have. What I'm looking for is something that I'm usually pretty well at I think there's plenty learn. Ken Bouchard is somebody who who I worked with a long time ago. He's from my from my way and something that he always taught me is the day. You think that you're done. Learning is the day you should quit. Because you're you know there's always going to be something more and and I would say the air stuff is definitely something. I continue to work on. But you know it's like you were just saying this is my second year in Cup. This is my third full season at the NASCAR. No Big Three level national level so Definitely have a lot less experience than some of these guys who have been doing it for who knows how long but You know I just tried to continue to maximize everything. I learned every single weekend and work on communication between you know which between me and Trent to help you know aid that process of constantly unloading where we WANNA be and make those practices really beneficial. So that's it's it's been a lot of fun. I I really like working with Trenton and him and I with communication wise are definitely on the same wavelength. Yeah I was going to follow up on that and say it's been a couple of weeks. So what kind of idea do you have of what he brings to the table in terms of how? He's going to be able to help you. Because he's got some races under his belt as crew chief. Oh He's built this. No He's not and he's He's somebody I definitely respect a lot. I stayed out last week at Phoenix. You don't really have to because these guys all get their jobs done. Do It really well. But it was something I wanted to do just to be on this thirty seven side and kind of spend time with them but So I did my interior out there and when I was done I was kind of like. We're they were setting the car up and I was sitting there with Trent and we were explaining some of the things we can go through with him and it was just the way you know when we were talking there was a lot of when he said something. I okay yeah. Lightbulb went off. It's like okay. Yeah that makes total sense. We break down the corner and go through at the same and I felt like get positive results from that so I enjoy working with him. You know not only I enjoy talking with him. It sounds like you guys under can understand what each other saying and going back and refreshing. My memory pulled up Daytona five hundred Media Day your appearance there and one of the things you've said was I liked your philosophy which aim high you'll -CCOMPLISH high if you're gonNA finish low so to speak so at the time you were saying. Hey I think we are a team that can contend for the playoffs Try and win some races go. Is that still? I think we need a lot of luck. I think we just need to dig out of this whole I mean it was a heck of a whole thing passed that yeah like we are in the ground. You know what I mean and we just gotTA climb out. And that's this past weekend at Phoenix was a step in step in that direction. I there was I mean between Daytona Vegas and then after the fact of California. I didn't feel like I could do anything right like nothing. It's just one of those things where no matter what you do. It's like anything in life and you just feel like you're down in the thompsons like man. What do I need to do? It's a frustrating feeling but at at the end of the day you just gotTa go do your job to the best of what you can do and maximize those weekends. And and that's what we did at Phoenix Eighteenth after. That was really honestly like a win because we did struggle. Sam and I feel like that was a step in the right direction but as far as jt G. as a whole and the speed once again in rhythm. I feel like we can run top fifteen and then sneak those top tens and Those are the days were consistency will pay off. You guys saw it with Ryan Newman. Last year he made the playoffs based on consistency. Now we had our three mogens or two mulligans but we need to just keep moving forward and and be consistent where would you put? Jt G in the pecking order so to speak. If you have your Hendricks and your gibbs in your penske's who people would always put at the top when we start filling out that list is at the top fifteen. Where do you guys fall in? The pecking order. So it really. I mean if you guys noticed because I follow this stuff a lot I pay attention a lot. Those pecking order chain weekend. Week out look at. Jj are what they were at Vegas or California. I mean you always have your cowboys. Or whatever. Like one or two squeak in there but then we outran a few of them at Vegas. It's so early in the season changes. Not a good weekend for them. No it wasn't. There's been weekends in the past to where? Hendrick and ASI row sh- Stewart Haas. Everybody's had those weekends where we put our names up there to where we can be one of those top teams. I think it's just really coming down to finding that niche finding that consistency and then showing up week in and week out with that same sort of. I don't even know the word I'm looking for. This happens to me lot people so you gotta bear with me but like I feel like we can compete with those guys. It's not easy for sure but I feel like we can be in that upper echelon of the top three certain places and then there's other places that you know we tend to struggle but as long as we can take those things that we worked on that we can you know whether it was better better good and then go to the next time and make it that much better. That's how you get to that place. Do you have a so? A lot of your background is often talked about because of how you got here where you came from. And you're doing it for the short-trackers right which I think is awesome. I love that people won't short-track. Yeah no I'm not you know I'm not GonNa sit here and I'm Gonna I'm not GonNa talk about it or you know. Praise this praise that you are the guy so where I was going with that is. Do you often have conversations now? Being in this position where you you're in the at the top level do you have conversations with guys who are still running short tracks and just tell them about. The journey is anything you can tell them about. Sorry I keep cutting you off. I get excited about stuff like this. So Doug Coby Justin Bonsignore two guys that. I've raced hard with I've wrecked with I've won against and I've lost against. We have great group chat messages. Kinda like when you guys see Nazem go on there on twitter and just start posting like a driver whatever from cop we have those conversations so I I just got a text from them last night and they were talking about some good stuff just kind of how the NASCAR root system or racing root system in general has kinda been so. It's it's an interesting deal but you know at the end of the day. They're happy for me and they they always you know they always send me some good words of encouragement sometimes. But you know it's something that I enjoy racing against them and it's a lot of fun but like you said short-track racing. It's something that you know. Kyle Larson did you know on the dirt side crispell. Did I did a lot of some of these other guys have done. You know that that true grassroots system where you bring a fan base with you. That's something that I see. I have a big northeast following along with the East Coast for sure and I think that's what helps the sport is when you you have that fan base coming into the sport that brings people to the TV. You know instead of just turning on and you know yeah I kind of like this guy. It's like okay. I went to that racetrack for years and I followed him whether I hated him. Whether those people hated me or love me they still supported me and it was. It was funny when I even people that I have had like that. When you walk by in the pit area and you just did not WanNa look at them. They texted me. Or you know I. It was just one of those things where they had a lot of respect for you and now the I think that was cool. I have a few more racing questions but I'll end with those. I want to jump topics. Real quick because I know last year. Nbc Did a short little thing talking about you and your wife because she has a racing background. And I wanted to dig a little bit more into that. Because I believe it said on their youtube started dating when you were both running modified we did. Yeah Yeah how intense was that relationship when you're both competitors but then somehow you strike up a relationship so this is back when go pros were like becoming a big thing all right so I loved it. I loved that I can put a camera in my car and I'd go back and watch it and I remember the first thing he said to me as a monkey could drive that car she she gave me so much crap. Like I'm like okay. Well you do it you know but we Yeah so the year we started dating. She moved up the S. K. MODIFIES. Which is not a full blown tore modified. It's it's basically what pro model is which for people that aren't listening. It's about two hundred horsepower. Or one hundred fifty horsepower less than what a full tour modified is and that year. I ended up winning the championship. She won the rookie of the year. Which was great and yeah. She always gave me good words of encouragement. She wasn't like the person in the grandstands. Seeing things from that point of view she could see it when I laid on earth far on so many she was like well. I was a little aggressive. Or you know she. She gave her opinion but That's what I love about her. She wasn't afraid to tell me when I was right. And she certainly wasn't afraid to tell me when I was wrong. So you know it gave us a lot of common interests and and obviously we're married now and she travels with me a lot. She loves it. We were sitting in the off season for two months and she. She said to me after we got today to them she was like I was getting stir crazy. She loves the travel. So it's It's definitely awesome to go through this life with somebody like her does she. Still Critique your races now it depends what does she do now. So now she she. We got horses so she takes care of them some up in Winston Salem. She'll drive up there. She was a fulltime teacher and So she did that for I think. Six or seven years but You know we moved down here. It's I'd rather have her with me on the weekends so she takes care of my Ryan Preece merchandise store which is It's it's been awesome. So she's kept busy with that. She gets it she gets gets this life and not only on the side but keep in my life scheduled together and emotions at the end of the day. Oh Yeah yes. She gets it for sure all right circling back to. It's a cup stuff. I got a few more questions here. So of course a lot was made this year of Camaro having the new. The new Camaro bodies zero one one Ali. It's only a couple of weeks of course again. I know I have had a lot of practice in the off season. I wrote about it quite a bit. I could get familiar with it again. It's only been a couple of weeks as I keep saying. But have you got an idea of of this car being better? Is it better than what you guys had? Oh absolutely I think You Know Vegas showed that for sure. I think you saw that out. Of even even Alex Bowman California was dominant right. That was awesome Vegas Chase Elliott was extremely fast. Our cars were fast. Basically every Chevy. I'm not somebody who's WHO's been in this a long time but I can tell you. It helped kind of closed that bear that gap that we had some of the other manufacturers. And it's from what I feel. Put us on a level playing field and now we can. We can worry about some of the other things that we're trying to maximize for some things that I felt like. Maybe we were lacking now. We're we're on that even playing field and we can focus on some of the areas where those other teams are worrying about. So it's it's always really good and I feel like this isn't going to be a year where Chevy's zero one one L. E. is is going to have a good year so that's all from like a technical standpoint from you. The driver behind the wheel. Can you feel it? Can you feel a difference? Is there a different fuel to tires? Grabbing the asphalt so that that was Corlett joy I remember when he said that not changing subjects. But the whole Darlington story with the Gano. It's great but Yeah no it's just air is free Kevin Harvick said that to me air is free and actually bubba Pollard. Said that too at new Smyrna because we were talking about open-wheel stop and and he was like May WanNa you do this and I'm like I don't know 'cause I don't worry about stuff on that side and he's like air's free but it definitely You know whether there was some things that we change from last year on set up side but it definitely drove really well. I felt really good about our long run speed which was great so I would say yes. It's helped I mean but I don't I don't see the technical stuff that other people see right and that's why I asked you know from driver standpoint. What do you feel? What can you see sitting in that seat? I made a dif- it helped for sure. I definitely didn't hurt all right. Two more things for you The next couple of weeks again with this will air after homestead so we have Atlanta coming up which you had a good run going last year. Homestead Bristol Texas is coming just preview. The next couple races the tracks that were going to kind of where you guys thank you can get back on this path and what. You're looking forward to goal number one. Don't recommend pit road at Atlanta. That's GonNa Beagle number one now. It's cool with that that was a real But you were running well when it happened we were. We were taught which was fantast tenth or eleventh or ninth or whatever it was it was great so I know there's going to be some things different this year. So I'm looking forward to go into Atlanta. Which is is something that's really good and then we go to homestead which is kind of like a wild card. I've I don't I don't know what to expect. It's kind of like California to me. It's just been one of those places where I've had some decent runs and then I've had some really struggled terrible runs. So do you think it'll be different being there in March compared to November? Or you think it's going to be all the same I think temperature-wise about the same. So really shouldn't be any big curve balls that perspective. It's just no yeah I just. I don't really know what to expect. You know you never know where where you're going to need to run that day whether you can make the bottom work and makes me doing that or you can make the top work. It makes me doing that. There's never really a right or wrong answer. It's it's it's a total unknown. I look forward to Texas because we were having a really good run at Texas last year in the fall race. Which was we actually even got stage points. I think that race which was great so Homesteads really the only unknown for me. Definitely April is a month that I look forward to. I know where we didn't. Have you know the best Iran? We ended up eighteenth at Phoenix which was great but somewhere that I look forward to as a racecar driver is going to places like Bristol. Where I've won going places like Richmond going to a place like Martinsville where I've won places where I feel like I can. That's where I feel like I am going to be right there. You know what I mean like so and with this now new. What is old is new again packets. It's still you know it's all relative like it helps drivers. Actually it's for people that have for people that have watched as a thunder. I think at the beginning. I'm GONNA ALWAYS GONNA use days of thunder quotes but I live across the street from the barn by the way. That's a great that's It's actually sad though when you go back and watch that movie and see you know how it used to be versus how it is But it's tough sometimes even even short-track level these these these teams have done such a great job with finding that balance that they need and and we're still just trying to find it you know and this is this is my fifth race working with Trenton. But what I like about what I'm seeing. We are definitely heading in the right direction. The like I talked about the wavelength of what we talk about. You know in the things we change like we keep crossing those things out that that haven't hit it eventually. You'RE GONNA run out of things to cross out and you're going to hit it. It's just hopefully. We're going to hit that sooner when we come to this short-track be is that somewhere where. I feel like we can have those great days. What was the comparison there? You're going forward. It's under before I interrupted you. I don't know I forgot about it. Remember what I said earlier in the show just kind lost. That comes and goes yeah. I'm the same way for my brain's moving a million miles an hour all the time. I'm the person that can walk from one room to another to go get something. Forget what I was going to get. Okay computer so. I don't even have to walk anywhere. I opened up a window to go. I'm like wait a minute ago. Yeah exactly all right. Let me get you out of here on this question Ryan so against sophomore season. What has to happen this year at the end of the year. What by when we complete this season what has happened happened this year for you. It's a very broad question. But so nobody's going to be harder on me than myself. That's something that you know. Even even finishing eighteenth after the day we had. I sit there myself and I'm like man I i WanNa you know. I'm competitive. I'm no different than Kevin Harvick Akabusi after a race when they finish wherever they do they WANNA win. That's what makes us competitors. That's what makes us racers so I just strive for improvement but at the same time I'd be lying if I sat here and told you I you know I'd be happy with just finishing fifth or whatever it may be so me as a racer I want to win. And that's it's tough but You know if we could dig ourselves out of this hole and continually make car better to where we are consistent consistently running where I feel like. We can run. That would be good. I'd I'd be able to sleep a lot better at night for myself as a driver but I just WANNA fight. I want to you know. Get CATCH ELBOWS UP. I want to pass guys. I WanNa be on the offense. So that's something that that we're working towards and no. I'm extremely proud of everybody with J G Doherty racing and Kroger and all of our sponsors Cotton Hill and and Velveeta and you know all those cool schemes that I get to do because our owners my owner tad and Jodi and everybody in the marketing side with Bam marketing is working really hard to sell those sponsors so we can do things that we love so going back to what you were saying. I I don't know how to answer that question because I feel like those. Those things can kind of change you know as a season goes right now consistent sleek consistently running top twenty two. Where where you know. Top twenty top fifteen would would be really good. My hopes is that throughout the season as we get more. Hold of this Chevy. This news the O-on One L. E. Body that we continue to make gains. And and you just got to constantly change your expectations throughout the year from week. You know from how you start that weekend how you start that race and how you end that race. That's that's Kinda changing thing but me as a has a racer short-tracker as a competitor. I want to win. That's that's what I want to do. I don't just say I want I mean it. You know so. That's that's the goal like I said at the top of the show. You've had some great looking car so just keep digging out of that hole starting getting those results and I'll Hopefully I can keep making some Velveeta cheesy posts and you know we can just. We can keep digging. Yeah I think that's the perfect way to end it. Thank you thank you. My thanks to Kelly Boyd. Jt Doria racing for having me at the shop a couple of weeks ago and coordinating that interview and thank you to Ryan for a great conversation. Could you tell me enjoying himself? I remember as we were recording. How Fun and easy the interviewers and I felt pretty confident that it was gonna make for a good episode and I appreciate the feedback from last week's episode with Chocolate Myers or we talked about his role with Sirius. Xm NASCAR radio and then walked through. The Art. Museum is really enjoyed. That those of you who are CR fans are Dale earnhardt fans before that we learned about being a pit crew member with Justin fiedler. And then my aunt Snyder and crew chief Andy Street or also two of our recent guests so remember. If you like what you're hearing you can leave a rating and review or reach out to me on twitter. You can find me at Kelly crandall or even find me on facebook. And if you're going on facebook just remember to look for my public page while you're on the line this week. I want to remind you to visit the line. Racing website where recent die-cast listings include the author sport racing twenty-fifth anniversary paint schemes that they ran in Daytona and even kyle bushes number eighteen Toyota featuring an APP state paint scheme check those out at Lionel racing dot com. And then when you're done head over and take the pledge to be a safe driver not only because you wanNA leave speeding to the professionals but by signing the pledge. You could win signed memorabilia. From Front. Row motorsports drivers Michael McDowell. John Hunter Nemechek and Todd Gillan as always I appreciate you tuning in and hope you will join me next week right here again on. The racing writers podcast.