As the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity season winds down, Bayley Currey and the No. 4 JD Motorsports team continue to fire on all cylinders, making a name for themselves amongst the ‘underdogs’ of the series.
Recently, Currey has been working overtime, running not only in the NXS but the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well with Niece Motorsports.
In this next-to-last installment of Terra Talks with Bayley Currey, we talk about one-day shows, the 2023 NXS schedule, the advice he would give to his younger self, and even what he’d make as NASCAR Team Chef.
Terra Jones: I saw that you will be returning the No. 4 at JD Motorsports next season. Congratulations on that news! I’m sure it’s a relief to have those plans in place and know that you and the team can continue building on the hard work and success of this season.
Bayley Currey: Thank you! Yes, really excited!
Jones: So, knowing where you are now and what’s coming up next year, what would 2022 Bayley tell just-starting-out Bayley? What advice would you go back and give your younger self?
Currey: I would just say just stay with it. I feel like we kind of started out in a little bit of a rough patch, but we’ve really been able to turn it around and we’ve had some really good runs here lately. We’re only building to get better. So yeh, just keep your head in it and the results will come.
Jones: Definitely good advice. Now, the last time we spoke, you mentioned that you were trying to better your road course racing. NASCAR released the 2023 schedule just a few weeks ago. There are eight road courses for Xfinity next year. What were your thoughts when you saw the schedule, specifically when it comes to the number of road courses?
Currey: I thought it was neat! I think we get to go to some cool places. Sonoma…getting to run the Chicago Street Course will be really neat. I enjoy road course racing. It’s what I started out doing when I was a kid and I feel like I’ve definitely gotten better at my craft on a road course. I’m just trying to learn how to race these stock cars with other people on a road course.
Do I wish that maybe we had seven road courses and one dirt race? A little bit. Okay. A lot bit! (laughs)
Jones: (laughs) Yes! Thank you!
Currey: Yeah! But, I don’t get to make those decisions, so we’ll roll with it and continue to try to build our road course program. I think you’ll see a lot of teams building on their road course stuff. It’s a quarter of the season next year…there’s a lot of it! But we’ll keep working at it and getting our stuff better and I’ll try to continue to make myself better moving forward going into those races next year.
Jones: And just for fans to get some insight, do the drivers get a heads up into what might be happening schedule-wise? I mean, we knew about the Chicago Street race. We know the season starts at Daytona. But, is it news for you when it’s released?
Currey: I had no idea what we were doing.
Jones: Oh wow!
Currey: Obviously, some things you know. The Chicago Street Course was there, but honestly, I didn’t think there was any chance we went. I thought that was a Cup race only. So, I’m definitely excited about that. Even if we only do it for one year, I’ll know that I was there for that one.
Jones: Exactly. And then maybe the next year they’ll send y’all to dirt somewhere.
Currey: Hopefully! Man, I went and talked to Wayne (Carroll, crew chief) as soon as the schedule came out. I’m like, ‘Man, what the heck? We put on the best race every week. I don’t see why we’re not getting a dirt race!’ I know I was really hoping for it.
Jones: Hopefully soon! Okay, the quarterly question for this time and then we’ll hit the track. If you were the team chef for JD Motorsports, what is something you are making for the team?
Currey: Oh, I don’t know. You think you wanna make something really nice, but you’re busy all the time at the track, so sitting down and eating steak might not be the easiest thing to do. Man, I don’t know. Maybe throw some steak on every once in a while if we got a slow day, but probably just some good burgers. You gotta think of track food.
Jones: So, something quick.
Currey: Yeah, exactly. So yeah, probably burgers.
Jones: Good deal. Can’t go wrong there! Rain has been the name of the game here lately, delaying the start of races and interrupting them. Daytona was one where the race was delayed for hours and instead of normal pre-race setup and ceremony, NASCAR had teams drive their cars from the garage to pit road for the start of the race. It looked and sounded so cool!
Currey: Yeah! I liked it!
Jones: So, first off, do you have a specific pre-race routine? And did that entrance mess with the routine?
Currey: I wouldn’t really say I have a routine. Honestly, it kind of felt like I was back short-track racing again, driving from the back of the trailer over to the grid. But no. Once it started raining, you’re sitting there for a few hours and you’re kind of thrown off anyway. So I was just hanging out, taking a couple of naps in the hauler. Really, just waiting it out.
I really don’t have a routine. I do the same things getting in the car in the garage as I would have on pit road.
Jones: Moving to the track, I want to look at the stretch of races from Pocono to Kansas. It was kind of a different story in terms of finishes when you compare it to races earlier in the season. What do you feel you and the No. 4 team were missing? And on the flip side, in the three races since Kansas, you’ve walked away with two top 15s. Do you feel like the ship is starting to right itself?
Currey: I would definitely say that. I mean, it’s just been small things that just didn’t work out.
Pocono, we tried this deal on the right rear and it just didn’t really work for us. It felt like we had decent speed. It just wouldn’t really last. Kansas, we had a great car but had some kind of fueling issue. That kind of took us out of the race for that.
There’s a few races that we’ve had just weird stuff, you know? And weird things happen sometimes. I mean, Daytona, in August, I felt like we had a good car. Just wrong place, wrong time. We were racing with Jeremy (Clements), and he eventually won the race! So just wrong place, wrong time. I thought I was through the wreck and then I get to the other side, there’s a car sliding up the racetrack, and bam! We’re in it.
So, a lot of it’s just been bad luck. But, maybe we’re getting to the flip side of that. Now we’re getting some good luck. I mean, I made a mistake at Talladega last week and sped on pit road when we had a really good race car, but, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Jones: I was listening in on the scanner and they said you were speeding and I was gutted for you and the team. You were having such a strong run! Now, you’ve been running double-duty lately. You’ve been in the JDM No. 4, but you’ve also been running in Trucks with Niece Motorsports. Share a bit about what led to that opportunity.
Currey: I’ve always been real tight with the Niece guys. I worked in the shop as a mechanic over there for a little bit and drove a handful of races back in 2020. I’ve kind of just been on and off over there. If they need someone to come drive a truck, I’ll come do it. I love working with those guys. I’m real tight with a bunch of those guys that work in the shop. And with Al Niece as well. He’s a fellow Texan. Their business, Niece Equipment, is about 15 minutes from my house where I grew up.
I’ve known Al for a while now and he’s been really good to me. Whenever they need someone, they call me up and they give me a good piece. I just go out there and try to do the best I can with it. I haven’t really had the best results this season. We had a good chance at Kansas but didn’t quite get enough fuel on our last stop to make our strategy work. I think we were running fifth with like four to go, then we ran outta gas.
At Bristol, we had a great truck, but track position was just so big there. Someone spun ahead of us and I got damage, got a tire rub, and it just kind of just mired us back in the back.
Then Talladega, I felt we had a really good truck. I might have made the wrong move there on that green-white-checkered and it kind of just pushed us back. And then that big wreck happened at the end and we got into that. But I’ve been very thankful for the trucks they’ve been giving me. It’s been a lot of fun to go over there and work with those guys again!
Jones: That’s really neat to hear the connection. I think every broadcast before the Truck race, one of the commentators mentioned that you were the one to watch that day. I thought that was really cool and spoke very highly of you. Now, I have to do my due diligence and ask: Any more Truck opportunities as we wrap up the season?
Currey: Honestly, I’m not really sure. That kind of just goes week to week. Hopefully though! I’d love to. I think running double duty helps me out in the Xfinity car. At Bristol and at Kansas, I mean, even at Talladega a little bit. Just knowing how the track raced and like at Kansas, getting comfortable running that high line. I was able to go up there pretty early in practice and kind of know what I needed to feel in the Xfinity car.
The same goes for Bristol and how the PJ1 felt. And, knowing how that felt and knowing how hard I could hammer it in, learning all that, it helps out a lot, even though they drive much differently. Just having the laps on the racetrack, I feel like helps a lot when there’s only 20 minutes of practice.
Jones: You set me up perfectly for the next question! I wanted to talk about the one-day shows. We’ve heard NASCAR’s reasons for showing up, practice, qualify, and race. But as a driver, give the pros and cons. What are your thoughts on that?
Currey: To be honest with you, I like the longer practices more. The tech process, I feel like, is the major hold-up and why we don’t do that. Instead of going through tech twice, you go through tech once, and that makes it a lot easier on the officials.
So, the same amount of hotel. I mean, we’d only run one set of tires in practice anyway, so same deal there too. We run one set of tires for practice and then they’re junk after that.
But, I’d like to see it go back to at least a 50-minute practice. Just one 50-minute practice. I enjoyed that. I liked being able to get out of the car, talk to my crew chief, have a little bit of time before qualifying. We could make a lot of bigger changes then too. Now, it’s really just race adjustments. We can’t really do much. Like you said, there’s pros and cons to it on their side, and there’s pros and cons to it on our side.
But, Phoenix, we will have a normal deal. We get a one-hour practice there. Hopefully, we can get all we can out of the car, and maybe we can see it come back a little more often. I’m not sure.
Like I said, I don’t make those decisions! I don’t get to make the schedule. I don’t get to make any of that stuff. If it were me, I wish we could have a little bit more practice time, but I understand why we can’t.
Jones: And finally, as someone who’s been around the sport for a little while, the Choose Role is a new addition in recent years to the top three touring series. How do you feel it’s changed things for the sport and then specifically for you as a driver and the way you approach races?
Currey: I’ve used the Choose Rule since I was a little kid. I remember racing a fifth mile out behind Texas Motor Speedway, and they’d put a little cone out there with one to go, and you pick your lane. Even the same thing in the Summer Shootout back in the day at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a quarter mile.
So it’s pretty familiar to me, and honestly, I’ve enjoyed it. I like the options you have. It’s just something else you gotta think about. The spotter’s gotta count. You gotta make that game-time decision. Like, do you want to go high? Do you wanna lose a spot to be in the preferred lane, or do you want to take the shorter line and hope that maybe the top lane or the bottom lane stacks? Maybe you can find a hole in that preferred line and you can get up there and snag a couple.
Restarts have always been big and it’s just another factor in what you can do and how you can maybe pick up spots. Or sometimes, you lose ’em. Sometimes, you make the wrong decision and you go backward.
I’ve been fortunate enough, me and my spotters, Brandon Lines on the Xfinity side and Tab Boyd on the Truck side, we’ve been able to pick the right line a lot of the time. We’ll decide, ahead of time, like at Bristol, we’ll choose to lose a row to go to the bottom because the PJ1 was so big.
But, if you could pick up two rows on the top, you gotta take it. So, yeah, it’s just something else.
Jones: That’s neat to hear from a driver’s perspective. I love how it’s added another element to the strategy. Well, that is all I have for you this time. We will talk again after Phoenix to wrap up the season. But we wish you the best of luck in the coming weeks!
Currey: Thank you! I appreciate it.
As always, a huge thank you to Bayley Currey (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for taking the time to talk. And to his Public Relations Representative, Cindi Rivera, for her assistance in scheduling. Be sure to give Bayley and JD Motorsports (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) a follow across their socials.