Hello Everyone –
Going into the Brickyard 400, I felt really good about our NAPA Toyota. We were fast all weekend long. Starting 12th was a decent starting spot for us. We had an early draw of fifth which is a good deal at Indy. Going out early at 10 a.m. is an advantage because the temperatures are cooler and the longer the session goes, the hotter it gets. I’m not sure if there was much of a temperature change this time. It started out hot and it stayed that way. But our time held up pretty well, so I was pleased with our starting spot. We had two practice sessions after qualifying on Saturday and we remained fast. In Happy Hour, we had the fastest car and I told some people that my NAPA Toyota was one of the best cars I have ever had for the Brickyard 400. I was really pleased with how Friday and Saturday went.
The Brickyard 400 is a long race. It is such a different kind of racetrack. Most places we go, the tracks are fast and have a lot of banking. Indy has long, long straight-aways and flat, tight corners. It’s an extremely challenging place to drive especially when considering all four corners are completely different. It’s a difficult place to race in traffic and it’s all about getting good track position. The first half of the race we got the job done. We had a top-10 car, but then our race took a bad turn with about 60 laps to go. To start off, we had a little bit of trouble on a pit stop. Our jackman, Brian “Hootie” Chase, got hit. I want to send out best wishes to him and I am glad he is OK. He’s got a strained hamstring and hopes to be back with us in a couple of weeks. Then the following stop, our backup jackman had a problem with the jack. He had a tough time getting it under the car so it caused us to slow down. It cost us six spots on pit road. We were put back a few more rows than we should have been. Then on the restart, somehow, they got jammed up in front of us. Indy is almost a one-groove track. The restarts there have a tendency to get a little wild. A few guys in front of me started checking up. I was the last guy in line. I was right on the No. 2 car’s bumper. I just got back into the throttle wide open and they started to jam up. I got into the No. 2 car and got the splitter way up in the air. After that, we lost all of our aerodynamics. It was such a frustrating day for us. Our NAPA Toyota was a really strong car. We never were outside the top 10 until the problem on pit road. I felt like if we could get a little bit better track position towards the end, we would have a shot at it. It wasn’t meant to be.
Our bad luck has been pretty much the story of our team over the last two months. Overall, we’ve been doing great. The NAPA Toyota has been running really well. We’ve been having a lot of fun, but we just haven’t been able to close the deal due to many circumstances out of our control. It’s just part of the deal and we’re working through it. We are close to breaking through and getting that first win for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team. I’m hoping Pocono can be it for us. We’ll just have to do the best we can and hope everything falls into place. Stay tuned!