Both Martin and I started this month at Michael Waltrip Racing so we are working together as much as we can to prepare for this season. The first chance we got to test was at the Goodyear tire test at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It went well. Today we are at New Smyrna Speedway with all three of our drivers and Max Papis. The track is not too far from Daytona International Speedway. We struggled a little bit this morning, but the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota is now good and with a few small tweaks, it will be very good.
We chose to test at New Smyrna because it resembles a track like Richmond International Raceway. The information we gather can also work for New Hampshire and Phoenix. It’s a good place to look for some things that can benefit our short-track program. We are trying some different geometries to see which one Martin likes. We’ve been playing around with some other things to find a feel for what he likes and doesn’t like for a short track. It is also giving me a better idea of what to fix and what makes him tick.
In working with a new driver, it’s all about communication. That’s why we have been testing the last several weeks. At New Smyrna, the goal is to make changes for the sake of making changes because it gives me a chance to hear what he says about them. I’ll put it all in my memory bank for when I am at another track. If he complains about something, I’ll have a reference and an idea of what to fix and how to do it.
I think when it comes to personalities; Martin and I are pretty similar. He’s just younger than I am. We both grew up north. He’s relaxed and maybe a little calmer than I am. He’s a lot of fun. We joke around with each other, but he also knows when it is time to get down to business and get serious. Our experience so far has been really good.
It is really important for this NAPA AUTO PARTS team to get off to a good start especially the first five races of the season. It is great to get off to a good start because it puts us in a good position and get everyone’s confidence up. It can snowball from there. It is important to me to get some top-10s right out of the box and maybe even a win.
It was announced last week that we are moving to a rear spoiler and I think it will look better. I think all spoilers look better than what the wing does on our car. From what I heard from the guys who tested with them at Texas, it is just a small change. It’s not really a big deal. As for how they should effect the car, the spoiler should make more downforce and drag. It will probably handle a little better, but go a little slower down the straightaway. It will be a little shift in balance and help the car turn better. I hope it makes for better side-by-side racing. That’s the biggest thing I’m looking for.
Daytona is just around the corner and I am looking forward to going with Martin to Daytona. We are not going to put any added pressure on ourselves. We are just going to do everything we can to get the best finish we can and that’s a win.
Until Next Time,