12 Out Of 12: An Interview With Ricky Carmichael

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 16: Ricky Carmichael, driver of the #4 Monster Energy Chevrolet, looks on from the grid prior to the start of the ARCA Racing Series Rattlesnake 150 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 16, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Typically, you'll find interviews here with Sprint Cup Series drivers who are outside the top 12 in points. But with motocross legend Ricky Carmichael competing in his second season in NASCAR's Truck Series, we figured it would be a good chance to let stock-car fans get to know the best-ever two-wheel rider a little better. So here's a special edition of our 12 questions, tweaked for the G.O.A.T. (who says below that he's not especially fond of that nickname).

What's the best race you've ever driven – or ridden?

RC: Best race? Been in so many, like a lot of us. I would say Atlanta Truck race for us, this year (finished sixth). Texas (two weeks ago) was probably the best until it ended, unfortunately, in not the fashion we wanted it to. But Atlanta was the best on four wheels. Motocross, there's too many good ones (chuckles).

Who do you think is the most talented driver in NASCAR?

RC: They've all got so much talent. I respect so many of them, and they're all good in their own way. Each one of them have really good qualities. SBN: What makes a talented driver in your mind? Well, you look at a guy like Tony Stewart or Kyle Busch, who basically can jump in anything and can win, and as well for Jimmie Johnson – that guy is unbelievable. For the Cup stuff, he's just so programmed and that's what he really executes on. I think if he really set his mind to any other thing, he could dominate that too. He's really, really smart. I love watching him race. I learn a lot watching him.

What would you consider your big break in motorsports?

RC: I got the opportunity to do (stock cars) through Kasey Kahne and his manager – they set up a test for me. One thing led to another. But I got a couple breaks; meeting Ken Schrader and being able to drive in the East Series, and I did well at Loudon that year. A couple weeks later, Kevin Harvick called me and gave me the opportunity to drive trucks. And then it was just kind of a snowball effect after that. But for sure, it helps to have (sponsor) Monster on board – otherwise, none of this would be happening.

What year will you get your first Cup win?

RC (laughs): I'm just trying to get to that level. Then I'll worry about the win after that.

What was the biggest eye-opener about NASCAR for you?

RC: Just how many guys are good, and how many have a chance to win. There's just so much parity.

What's something you want people to know about you?

RC: Well, I think I just want them to know how fun I am away from the track. A lot of people might think I'm too focused or whatever, but this is a place for work. I'm full of life at home.

Will you ever get to race the NFL's Chad Ochocinco and make good on the Twitter bet you have with him? (An 85-lap race in a truck)

RC: I'd like to! He's always talking like he wants to. I'm ready. There's a lot of talk, I'm ready to see some action! I've never met him, we've just (interacted) through Twitter.

Do you have any routines or superstitions about racing?

RC: Man, you know, I used to have a lot of superstitions in motorcycles – like the color of gear that I wore. But after I busted my butt a few times and it let me down, then I was over it (laughs).

So about the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) nickname: Do you like it or not?

RC: Nah, I'm not a big fan of it. It's too out there for me. I'm a pretty quiet guy. The 'winningest of all' rider, I like that. But there's so many great racers that it's hard to say who's the greatest. SBN: How about when someone says, ‘Hey, G.O.A.T.!' Does that make you mad? No, no, no. Pretty much, that's what everybody calls me now. So I accept it.

What do you do when you get home from a long few days at the track?

RC: Sit on the couch. And my wife hates it! If my kids are home, you know, I'll mess with them a little bit and play with them. Seeing them is really the first thing – then sit on the couch. That really recharges my brain.

What was your backup plan if motorsports didn't work out when you were growing up?

RC: I wanted to either be a lawyer or a baseball player. Baseball was my thing. SBN: What position did you play? I was a second baseman.

Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?

RC: Can we do both? Mainly a great person. Because at the end of the day, I can be a great racer, but I'd rather be a great person. Both would be perfect. 

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