Overall, I thought our Coca-Cola 600 was disappointing in the NAPA car. We struggled with our car in the All-Star weekend. We struggled with it again on Sunday. We just can’t seem to figure out what it takes to be competitive on banked, 1.5-mile tracks. Unfortunately, it’s the meat of our schedule so that’s disappointing. What was encouraging was the fact that all three of our cars started out with basically the same setup. David was able to take his car and make it competitive. It was really, really good. We will look at the differences in the setups and see how they differ when we unload them at the shop. The questions that we will be asking are: Why was David’s car so much better? What did they end up with in setup and why was my NAPA car bad? We really haven’t had a car that’s been good enough to win the race on this type of track. This time we had a contender. It certainly was a top-five car. If we would have had a little better gas mileage, we may have been looking at a win for Reutimann. That’s fun. While it was discouraging a bit for the NAPA team, I think MWR as a whole had a good weekend because we had a car that was competitive. We’ll take it back and strip the car down to see exactly what it had and what was different about it so we can apply it to all three cars.
For a rookie, Michael McDowell continues to impress me. I think his night was up and down, but he was able to compete. He made a mistake and the car got away from him, but he was able to keep it off the wall and continue on. The process continues for him to learn what it takes to win one of these races or at least contend for a top-10. I was proud of his effort. I was also real proud of my team’s effort as well as my effort to be honest. We really worked our butts off. We were able to salvage a finish that could have been a lot worse. All and all, it was a little disappointing in some areas, but very encouraging in others.
Now I look forward to getting up to Pocono for testing. Usually Monday is how I wrap up my week. I do my T.V. show and then it is on the new week. This week however, there seems to be no end to my week. After I finish my T.V. show, I head to Pocono for a two-day test starting on Tuesday. I am also going to try and work in my XM Satellite Radio show when I am up there. The show airs on Thursday night.
Dover is up next for us. We will be back at it on Friday morning to try and see how we will stack up there. Dover is a track that I am optimistic about how our NAPA car is going to run. Last fall, I finished 15th and was really competitive. I was very pleased with the way we performed. We had a power-steering issue that took out the power steering for roughly half the race. Yet, we were able to push through it and come up with a good finish.
We need a good solid finish at Dover. I haven’t gotten a finish yet that the NAPA team is proud of. Talladega is still fresh in my mind. We could have won that race. Richmond, we had a shot at a good top-10 finish and got caught up in a wreck. We’ve had times of showing that we are gaining on it. We are coming around. I think what David accomplished at Charlotte is indicative of the finishes that are coming our way.