It was a real unfortunate day for us at the California Auto Club 500 presented by NAPA this past weekend. We had a tough time on Friday. We qualified 34th and it looked like we were trying to set the car up for another track. I joked with Pat by saying one of Michael’s famous NAPA commercial lines, ‘I’m at the wrong track.’ The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota just didn’t handle well. The guys got together on Saturday and did a really good job with the car. I felt really good about our chances after our two practices. I was really looking forward to the race and less than 70 laps into the event, we blew a motor. Losing the motor was a real shame for all my guys. They worked so hard to turn the car around. We got some real speed out of it. It was looking like we were going to have a good day, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s always disappointing when you don’t finish.
To get into The Chase, you have to be consistent every week. This is going to set us back a little bit, but I have no doubts that we will come back this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and have another great outing. I told Krista Voda during my FOX television interview that the year I made the Chase, the same thing happened. We blew a motor at the Auto Club Speedway. We have to look at the silver lining in all of this. We have a lot to build on as far as our race cars. I had fun while it lasted. We were driving to the front. I really thought we were going to have a good day and even my crew chief Pat Tryson thought we were going to have a shot to win it.
This past weekend also marked Michael’s first weekend at the track as a car owner and not a driver. He is a great car owner. What I like about him is he is extremely passionate about his company and racing in general. Just to see him in the garage this past weekend and getting a feel for what is going on and taking it all in is awesome. I know he’ll go back to the shop and make those owner decisions that will ultimately make us an even better race team. He’s been awesome on the road. I am really impressed with how he does it all. Besides that, he’s also a lot of fun to have around.
I got a lot of questions this week about my old team winning the Daytona 500 and Danica racing in California. First, I am very happy for my old team. I have a lot of friends on that team still and I am excited and happy for them. My NAPA team had a shot to win and we were up front racing with them. It was cool to see that. Obviously I would have liked it better if I was in victory lane, but I am happy for those guys. Most people know there’s no jealousy with me. I don’t sit there and say, ‘Why wasn’t I in that car?’ That would just be silly. I am happy for those guys and it means a lot to them. It was good to see it.
Second, I knew it was going to be 10 times more difficult for Danica to do well in California than at Daytona. The Auto Club Speedway is about as tough as it gets. It’s as fast as we go anywhere. There’s not a lot of banking and it’s really slick. It’s probably one of the hardest tracks to get your car working well in comparison to all the tracks we race all year long. It turned out to be a challenge for her as it is with most of us. Am I tired of hearing about her? Nah, not really. It is what it is. The pressure is on her, not on me. It doesn’t bother me to hear about it and the exposure she is giving to our sport is great. It’s a win-win for everyone in NASCAR.
Before I go, if you are going to be out in Las Vegas on Thursday, I’d like to invite you to my No Limit Texas Hold ‘em Charity Poker tournament. We’re having it at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. Michael, Pat Tryson, Marcos Ambrose, Frank Kerr and Kurt Busch are planning to play. It starts at 12:30 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation and our ongoing mission to help children in need. I expect it to be a lot of fun and as many of you know, I have held charity poker tournaments in the past. If you can’t come to Vegas, we’re planning to do another one in September in Dover, Delaware. If you would like more information, please visit my site: www.martintruexjrfoundation.org.