Last Friday night I was thinking there for awhile that this week’s blog might be about a NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. I tried really hard to get us the win. We came close. I had a lot of fun. Mike Greci and the entire team brought a really good car. It’s been since Talladega of 2006 that I went to victory lane in that series. I only raced six times in 2006 and the win came on the very first race of my schedule.
Friday night, it was my third race for Diamond-Waltrip Racing, but the first event driving the new Nationwide Series car. I like the new car. It drove really well and it seemed to drive better in dirty air than the Cup cars do so I think there are some things that NASCAR can look at. It’s the new generation of race car and it’s evident that it’s an improvement from the COT car that debuted for us three years ago. I hope some of the things on the Nationwide car can be applied to our Sprint Cup car down the road. I think it could make the racing even better than it already is in the Cup Series.
We started the race in fifth, but in the early stages, we had some problems with the front end of our car. We think something might have bent so it lost some height and started to hit the ground. We had to pit a few times under a caution to add rounds to the springs. We went back out and were the final car on the lead lap. The adjustments helped because I drove up to the front in just a few laps. That’s how good the car was. It was pretty cool.
I have to be honest. I have never been that disappointed to run second because our car was that good. The last set of tires got us a little bit too tight and I think that was the difference. I ran inside of Brad Keselowski for quite awhile and I just couldn’t clear him. I felt like if I could have gotten clear and gotten in the clean air, I would have been in really good shape. I just couldn’t quite get there. At one point, I had Brad off of Turn 4. He got on my bumper and pushed me a little bit. I thought I had it made there, but when he turned down on the inside of me, he somehow got a run. If I could have gotten to Turn 1 ahead of him, I think we would be talking about an entirely different ending to the race.
As for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the NAPA Know How crew gave me a really good car. We had a decent night and ran in the top 10 for about 95 percent of the race. It was nice to run from fifth to ninth place pretty much all night. The last caution of the race, we took two tires and the car just got way too tight. We ended up finishing 15th. It was disappointing, but our car had good speed all weekend long and we were close.
Our biggest challenge all weekend long was we were tight in the center of the corner. We never could get that worked out of our NAPA Toyota. I felt like if we could get it turning a little bit better, we would have really been in good shape. As it was, we were only a tenth or two off the leader and it seemed like whoever got out there in the lead, they were two tenths better than the rest of the frontrunners. We were right there. We just needed to close the gap. As I have said many times, we are making strides and are constantly working and learning. One of these days we are going to put it all together and get NAPA that much-deserved win.