Archive for June, 2010

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

It was a big weekend for my family in New Hampshire. On Friday my brother Ryan won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was a pretty big deal since my dad and me have won races in that series at New Hampshire. Now, a third Truex has been added to the winners list. It’s pretty special. I think it was really special for my dad. He was pretty excited. Ryan’s had a couple of races at Loudon where he had gotten close to winning. To finally get it was cool. Same thing with this whole season for him – they’ve been really close to winning about every race they’ve been in, but have come up short so it was cool to see him knock down that wall and get the win. He is a really good driver. He’s done a great job and has a very good team. He is now leading the points championship again. He had a strong car and it took him about 60 laps to get up front. Once he did, he pretty much checked out. I chose to watch the race from on top of his hauler. It was about a 10X10 area so I couldn’t pace too bad. It’s really hard for me to watch him race. I guess it’s a big brother instinct. Racing doesn’t make me nervous. I just want him to be happy and enjoy what he is doing. I really can’t explain why I get so worked up about it, but I do. I am so proud of him and it was so much fun to go back to victory lane with him. My dad and I were there with him. It was definitely a special moment for all of us.

As for my race weekend — the race didn’t go as planned but you will have days like that. When we unloaded the NAPA Toyota, we were way off. We made a lot of changes to the car and got it a lot better. I felt pretty good about it going into qualifying since we ended up 10th in practice. We made some air pressure adjustments to improve the car, but it actually hurt us. Also, the early draw really hurt us. We just got really loose. Qualifying is kind of what hurt us all weekend. For as long as I can remember, going out early at that track is tough. It was just slick and hard to get a hold of. If we could have just picked up two-tenths or so, we would have been in good shape.

We had a good car on Saturday and felt really good about our chances for Sunday. In the race, it turned out to be really hard to pass. We worked all day and got up to 16th. The NAPA Toyota had good speed. When we would get in clean air, we were as fast as the leaders. It was just a really hard run in traffic. What was really strange about the race was how long it went green. I can’t remember that race having long, green-flag runs like that. That made it really hard to make up positions. At one point in the race, the leader at the time, Jeff Burton, got hung up in traffic. I ran him down. Looking back, if we had known that the race would have gone green like that, we would have looked at taking two tires during our first stop. A lot of guys did do that and it helped them run well. We felt like we would have another opportunity to take that chance. We never really got it.

Our chance for a decent run came to an end when we pitted on lap 236. That’s when the caution came out. It cost us a lap-and-a-half. We worked hard and got 22nd out of it. It was obviously a finish that we really didn’t want or expect especially knowing how good we were. But the way I look at it, it was a lot better than the week before.

Today is a big day for me … well, not really. I turn 30. I just got a card from my staff at MTJ that says, “In Sympathy on the Loss of Your 20s.” That’s funny! I don’t feel 30 so I’m good with that. I am going to go out tonight for dinner and enjoy myself. Also, NAPA sent me a really nice framed picture from our announcement. The plaque said, “Welcome to the NAPA Family.” That was really nice and I appreciate it. So, thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful organization.

Post Michigan

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I’m doing well after my Flyers lost the Stanley Cup. I have my thoughts as to why they came up short, but it doesn’t really matter. They made an amazing comeback when so many people wrote them off during the season. I also caught a bunch of bass last week while on vacation so it was a great trip!

Last week at Michigan, we had to grind it for a 17th-place finish. It was a tough day. We were able to salvage something as it was pretty rough there for awhile. When I got out of the car after the race, I told Pat Tryson that I probably almost spun out 35 times. Spinning out doesn’t sound bad until you add the 200 miles an hour part. It was a strange day because we fought one thing in traffic and then fought a completely different condition when we got a clean racetrack. We would run for awhile and adjust on the car to do one thing and then we would find ourselves in a different situation so the previous adjustments would not work. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right.

I think if we expect to get better, we need to continue to try new things. There are some things that look great on the simulator and sometimes some things will feel great in practice. But when you get into race conditions, and around other cars, they don’t work in the way you had planned. I think that’s what happened to us on Sunday. Our NAPA Toyota was really running well throughout the weekend. I felt really good about our car after practice on Saturday. But again, we weren’t in that 20 or 30 car pack. It completely changed our car. It really caught me off guard. We just missed it. Today we had our competition meeting and we went through it all. I think we know what we did wrong. We’ll just go back there next time and prove ourselves right.

The last three weeks have been disappointing. We found ourselves in the top 12 in points and were on a little bit of a roll. Then we hit a few tough weeks. We missed it at Charlotte and Michigan and got wrecked on the last lap at Pocono while running in the top 10. That’s just how it goes sometimes. It’s up and down. NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is hard. The good thing is our new team is learning a lot of things – even if it’s what not to do. Hopefully when the time comes when we start going back to these tracks for a second time, we can focus on solidifying our Chase spot.

Coming up this weekend we have the Infineon Raceway. It’s a tough track for me, but fortunately I have a really good teammate to lean on. Marcos Ambrose has always been one of the cars to beat on road courses over the last few years. I am really going to feed off of him and try to learn as much as I can. He’s got a really good approach to road racing. It’s a different perspective than mine so I am looking forward to tackling Infineon in the “Marcos Ambrose” way. I think if I can follow his lead and all the small things fall into place, the NAPA team will come out of there with a great day.

Headed to Vacation!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Hi Everyone,

I am heading on vacation this week and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Pocono  — what a disappointment to leave there with a 25th-place finish. The NAPA AUTO PARTS team did a great job for me all weekend. We had a decent practice on Friday and had a mechanical problem during qualifying. It was strange. Coming down the long straightaway it was skipping really badly. It wouldn’t turn any RPM. It mysteriously went away off of Turn 1 and into the backstretch. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was driving really well and I thought we were going to have a good lap if it wasn’t for the problem. We ended up qualifying 27th and according to my crew chief Pat Tryson; he was expecting the problem to have cost us more so we were lucky. We did find out what the problem was and got it changed out so we were good to go for the rest of the weekend.

The highlight of Pocono was going to the Flyers game on Friday night. Everyone at Pocono knew who I was pulling for as I wore my Flyers cap the entire weekend. I got the opportunity to attend Game 4 thanks to Toyota. Sherry and I flew down to watch the game in their suite. Ken Lee was a great host and I enjoyed meeting everyone. I remember going to the old Flyer’s arena – The Spectrum. I went there when I was four or five. This year, Sherry and I have gotten to attend several games with the Harvicks. We’ve had a lot of fun with it. The Flyers have won every game we attended and Friday night was no exception. It was a great game and we were pretty excited to see them tie the series back up to 2-2. Besides watching the game, I got to talk NASCAR and hockey with A.J. Perez of AOL’s I also had some fun with Jennapher Frederick of FOX 29 in Philadelphia. We taped a segment. She’s a big fan now of the NAPA race team so we’re hoping to have her join the NAPA team at the Dover race in September.

On Saturday, practice went well. We were 15th in the first practicd and ninth on the board in the second. Our NAPA Toyota was very competitive on the long runs. Then on Sunday, we got out on the track but weren’t able to take the green right away because a huge storm blew through. The rain delay was boring. I’d rather wake up and see it raining than stand around trying to figure out what’s going to happen because once you get in the car; you really don’t want to get out. The Flyers weren’t playing until the evening so there wasn’t much to do. Jim Noble of TNT’s Race Buddy online coverage stopped by to talk and then Phil Parsons was on his way to my coach to do a live TNT interview when NASCAR called us to our cars. We all were surprised when the call came because it didn’t take long to dry the track. It normally takes over two hours.

Once the race got going, we were doing pretty well. We were a little loose and wedge adjustments really helped my car. Pat made good calls and by halfway, we were up there around the top 10. The NAPA Know How Pit Crew did a great job as always. They helped me gain two to three positions most of the time. Then fuel mileage came into play. We did the best we could as about 13 slower cars ended up in front of us because they pitted out of sequence. It worked to their favor because we had to drive up from 22nd instead of eighth where we were originally. That’s what happens sometimes. We made it up to 12th when the final caution came out to set up a green-white-checkered finish. For us the last lap was ugly and it cost us. We had nowhere to go when Kasey Kahne crashed and we got collected. Our NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was pretty much destroyed, but at least I could drive it across the line. I wasn’t happy when I climbed out of the car. We had a good car and of no fault of our own, a good points day was wiped out on the last lap. We did everything right on Sunday and that’s all we can do.

Now I’m going to rest up, enjoy some fishing and hopefully see my Flyers tie the Series back up. They had a bad Sunday too. Then it’s back to work on Friday in Michigan.

Go Flyers!


Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

For a second there I was thinking Charlotte might become one of my favorite tracks. After Sunday, my feelings haven’t really changed much …

Thursday we unloaded the NAPA Batteries Toyota and I must say, I loved the paint scheme. It pretty much reflected all the positive energy that’s been happening with the NAPA race team.  A lot of people asked if we took the same car we ran last weekend. We actually brought a new car for two reasons. One, NASCAR had our All-Star car until Tuesday night because we won the Showdown, so they wanted to take it, just like they do with the winner.  So it would’ve been hard to wrap it with the NAPA Batteries scheme let alone get it race ready. The guys at MWR build all the cars the same so it wasn’t a big deal. It pretty much felt the same. We started with the same setup basically that we ended the All-Star Race with.  We had a few things we wanted to try and pretty much ended right back where we were.  It was really hard to judge today because the track was so hot.  It was a half-second slower right off the truck than it was last week and that was the same for everybody. Going through the motions, trying things, just trying to get a little bit different feel of what we’re looking for, but it was really hard when it was that slick out there. Everything went well for us in practice.  Obviously, conditions were a whole lot different than what we faced last weekend and definitely different from what we’d face on Sunday night.  Track temps were up in the 130s (degrees), so it was real slick out there making it hard to really judge what we’d be up against Sunday night. We were at a disadvantage when it came to qualifying. We had an early draw which meant a lot of good cars behind us would take to the track under cooler temperatures. Regardless, we were able to go out there and lay down a good lap. I didn’t think it would hold up for the pole, but I thought it had a shot at a top-10 starting spot. It was great to only have two cars beat us. To start third — I was proud of the NAPA team and all their work. 

Saturday was more of the same. The NAPA Batteries Toyota was on top of the board at the end of final practice. I felt pretty good about our chances for the Coca-Cola 600. I felt we needed to get a little bit better because it was tight in the center and free off the corners. Our focus was to get the center fixed because the NAPA Batteries Toyota had really good speed in it. Surprisingly, our car drove tight regardless of the temperatures over the last two weeks so I thought it would make it easy for us to work on it during the actual race.

At the start of the Coca-Cola 600, the tight condition remained and after 600 miles it still was tight. Our setup was very similar to David’s so it was tough to understand why we weren’t up there running for a top-five finish. We would have flashes of brilliance and then after an adjustment, the handling would go drastically away and it would be terrible. Pat and I are hoping after tearing down the car, the NAPA guys will find something that makes sense. We’re just baffled as to what happened out there Sunday night because we should have been up there running with our teammate.

Our 23rd-place finish dropped us to 14th in points from 12th. There are only 14 points separating us from being a Chase team. The NAPA guys and NAPA Know How Pit Crew continue to do a great job for me so we’ll keep plugging away. We’ve had good race cars and it’s great to see David back up there and running well. I know that if we do all the little things right and throughout the weekend, we’ll get back up there and have a chance to win races. It’s all just a matter of putting all the pieces together because it all adds up to a victory.

This weekend is Pocono. I’ll be nice and relaxed after going to two Philadelphia Flyers games. I’m pretty stoked. I like Pocono and have run well there. And Pat’s been to victory lane there so between the two of us and the NAPA Know How guys – we hope to be there with the trophy at the end of the race.