DEARBORN -- Kevin Conway, driver of the No. 37 ExtenZe Ford Fusion, will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Conway, who is competing for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, spoke Tuesday morning about realizing his dream of competing in NASCAR’s top series.
Q. KEVIN CONWAY – No. 37 ExtenZe Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AS YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR CUP DEBUT THIS WEEKEND?
A. “I’m very, very excited to start the 2010 season officially for me at Auto Club Speedway. It’s a track that I am familiar with and I’ve had some success there in the past in the Grand National West Series as well as the NASCAR Nationwide Series, so I’m really looking forward to kicking off my season there in the ExtenZe Ford Fusion and beginning my quest for the 2010 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title as well.”
Q. IS THIS JUST ANOTHER RACE FOR YOU?
A. “This weekend is far from just another race. This is the pinnacle of my career. I’ve been working for the past 24 years to be in a position to have this opportunity and it’s something that’s beyond a dream come true. It’s almost surreal. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’ It’s very, very exciting and just the opportunity to drive for ExtenZe and Ford Racing is something I’m looking forward to because along the way you have so many ups and downs that you ask yourself, ‘Is this ever gonna happen?’ You have successes along the way and failures along the way and I’m 30 years old. You start to wonder if it’s ever gonna happen because you see so many guys who are 18 and 19 coming along, but I’m just very excited to finally have this opportunity. You see drivers like Greg Biffle and others come in a little bit later than some of the new guys that come into different series, but I’m very honored to have this privilege.”
Q. WHAT WAS IT LIKE ON SUNDAY TO WATCH YOUR TEAMMATE, TRAVIS KVAPIL, DRIVE YOUR CAR IN THE DAYTONA 500?
A. “It was grueling. I think with every lap that Travis made it was like having a knife just twist in your stomach. It was very tough, but it is what it is. It’s not anything I necessarily ever want to have to go through again, but now it gives us the opportunity to get Daytona behind us and really focus on the task at hand this weekend.”
Q. YOU’RE STARTING DOWN A BIT IN POINTS, SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH MAKING YOUR DEBUT KNOWING YOU NEED TO RUN WELL RIGHT OFF THE BAT?
A. “It wasn’t the finish that we expected to have, but Travis did a great job all throughout Speedweeks taking care of the car and putting ourselves in the best position we could possibly be in, but, at the end of the day, at tracks like Daytona and Talladega, it’s such a gamble anyway that you never know what you’re gonna come out with. We’re coming out 29th or so in points, so it’s not exactly where we wanted to be, but it still gives us a solid foundation to build on and a position where we’ve got to come out of California with a good, solid finish and maintain our quest to stay in the top 35.”
Q. IS CALIFORNIA A GOOD TRACK TO MAKE A DEBUT BECAUSE IT’S SO BIG AND WIDE AS OPPOSED TO DARLINGTON OR BRISTOL?
A. “Absolutely. California is definitely more forgiving than a lot of the other places that we could be making our debut at, so it’s a great race track. I really love it because there are so many places to race. You can go to the top, you can go to the middle and you can race on the bottom. It seems like for me in the past we’ve always made the top work really well for us and it’s a real racy race track. Sometimes the racing does get a little spread out and single-file, but there’s a lot of room to race and if your car is not handling particularly well at one area of the race track, you’ve got just a ton of room to move around to find a better spot to make sure your car is still turning well throughout the whole day. Often times, California has come down to fuel mileage, so there are a lot of opportunities there. For us to be making our debut in the ExtenZe Ford Fusion at Auto Club Speedway is really exciting because anything can happen. It can come down to fuel mileage, you can put yourself in position to have a really great day, and if your car isn’t handling exactly the way you’d like it to, you have a lot of options to move around on the race track.”
Q. DO YOU HAVE ONE PARTICULAR STORY THAT YOU’LL REFLECT BACK ON WHEN YOU GET BEHIND THE WHEEL ON SUNDAY AS A TESTAMENT TO THE UPS AND DOWNS YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT EARLIER?
A. “Unfortunately, I have many of those stories. Just coming up through the different series over the years without any family backing or any major financial backer throughout my career, it’s been either feast or famine. Just a year and a half ago I was doing all I could do to just keep the power on in the house, literally. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do. I didn’t have a ride and didn’t really have a whole lot going on, and then last year I got the opportunity to drive for Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series, and then things progressed from there to where, ‘Here we are,’ a little over a year later and we’re ready to make our Cup Series debut and compete for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. Again, it’s a little bit surreal. It’s kind of like, ‘Wow, is this really happening?’ This is just beyond my wildest dreams that I would be in the position I’m in here less than a year ago from when I was just trying to figure out how to make ends meet.”