Texas was all about the rain and therefore, I was bored sitting on my couch in the motor home all weekend.
We were able to practice and qualify on Friday. Friday went OK. I had a really good qualifying lap going and then I hit the bumps in Turns 3 and 4. It cost us a bunch of time. Despite the bumps, it was a good pick up from practice.
The rainout on Saturday really hurt my NAPA AUTO PARTS team. We actually worked on race trim quite a bit during our only practice. Then we went into qualifying trim and found some things that we thought made the car better. We kind of went with that setup for the race and hoped we got it right.
In the race, we ended up struggling. Once again the bumps in Turns 3 and 4 hurt us and we couldn’t correct it. It was pretty frustrating to me. We walked away with a ninth-place finish and when I climbed out of the car, I told my guys Merry Christmas. We were lucky. I guess it made up for getting wrecked at the end of the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway when we were running third.
Regardless, our cars are very capable of running fast. I don’t think Pat and I quite understand them yet so losing the practice sessions on Saturday hurt my new team. I really believe we could have fixed our problems if we had that track time on Saturday. Our NAPA Toyota was decent. We just had a few trouble spots that with time, we could have gotten the balance we needed to be really competitive.
I think looking at the big picture with this new team, Michael Waltrip Racing does things differently than what Pat and I are used to. We’re still kind of searching and throwing things at it to try and find things that I like and the NAPA Toyota responds to. We haven’t really hit on it at a few tracks we’ve been to so far this season, but that’s what happens when building a new race team. The good news is we’ve had some good races as well. We’ve run smart. The championship points situation has us doing well. We just need to keep inching our way up through the points. I believe when it comes time, we’ll be able to fight our way into the Chase. Once we get there, we’ll be strong enough to be able to do something and that’s the important thing.
I am looking forward to this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. We had a test there with the spoiler on March 16 and it was a lot of fun. I think the racing is going to be really good especially with the addition of the rear spoiler. I really like going to Talladega. I’ve won races there in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Talladega hasn’t been that good to me in the Sprint Cup Series. I’ve run up front most of the time but ended up getting in the ‘big one’. It’s all about making it to the end and getting to the checkered flag for me. I am hoping I can repeat what we did at the first restrictor-plate race we had this year – the Daytona 500. We had a shot at the win.
Have a good weekend and enjoy watching the race on Sunday. Don’t forget – vote for me in the Sprint All-Star Fan Vote!