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 FanHouse.com. 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.