Sunday, June 12, 2022

INTERVIEW: Joey Hand earns 20th-place Sonoma finish for Rick Ware Racing

PHOTO: Brock Beard

by Brock Beard Editor-In-Chief

In just his third career Cup start, Joey Hand finished 20th in Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350. Born in nearby Sacramento, Hand is a multiple-time winner of both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona, having competed on road courses across the country and around the world. Hand’s finish on Sunday was the second-best Cup road course finish, trailing only the 18th-place performance earned by Josh Bilicki last summer on the Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit. I caught up with Hand shortly after the finish of Sunday’s race.

Tell me about your race.

It was a tough day. When you jump in these cars with all these good drivers, it’s tough to get up to speed really quick. I only do six races a year - I didn't run for two and a half months - it's tough. But the car was pretty decent. We had had a good run. Thankful for the Ford Mustang. Was pretty cool having the old Ford logo on there and Rick Ware for getting me in the car and all the help from the crew guys. It was a decent car. We stayed exposed too long on that last stop, and it went yellow on us and we got caught out at the back. And then I got bounced around by a bunch of people and ended up 20th. But I think we had a Top 15, Top 10 even running throughout the day. I was just hanging out trying to keep the car clean. I did for the most part until the 47 (Stenhouse) was trying to wreck me the whole time. We’re happy to be here. Cool to do my home race in a in a Cup car. I've been a kid here watching races when I was 10, 11 years old and 30 years later being in a Cup car’s pretty cool. So just super thankful for it and Rick Ware and all the guys.

Looks like you and A.J. had a bit of a battle.

We were around each other the whole time, man, we go way back -we raced go karts when we were 10, 11 years old around here. So it's like we can't shake each other for 32 years now. But we had a good time. We ran side-by-side. I trust A.J. I'm pretty sure he trusts me and early in the race went side-by-side for a long time through The Esses - you don't do that with anybody. So yeah, he's got a lot of time in these cars. He wheels it hard. I could have made a jab at him there at the end in the last corner but it wasn't worth damaging both our cars for 19th and 20th. But (it was) fun racing these guys. A couple guys roughed me up. They like to rough me up. But mostly guys pretty respectful. So, looking forward to Road America, it’s my favorite track. It's a great racetrack, best racetrack in the world as far as I'm concerned. So I’ll be up on the wheel there.

This was also a good run for Rick Ware, who shares your history on the road courses.

Yeah, Rick's a cool guy. I didn't meet him until just last year really when I did the Charlotte race and I didn't even know him. And he's been super cool. He's been like family, him and Robbie Benton who runs the team, all the guys at Rick Ware Racing. I just walk in here and I'm just this new guy, and they treat me like I've been here for years. I don’t know how Rick does it - he runs so many programs, the guy just runs wide open. Very impressive. Proud to have a good run for him. (Finishing) 20th is not what I came here to do. We were looking for a Top 10 - I think we could have done it. But there's a lot of help - Rick Ware, all the engine guys, and the guys that build the cars. I just need to go out and wheel it.

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