Pocono was not a great weekend for us. We had a lot of high hopes because we had such a good test. When practice started on Friday, the car didn’t feel like it did during testing. It was great work by Bobby Kennedy and all the guys. They made really good adjustments. When qualifying came around, we got a top-20 qualifying spot. I was very happy with the NAPA Toyota.
In race trim on Saturday, we just could not get the NAPA Toyota to feel right. We worked really hard and shared notes with our teammates. We did all we could but could never get a great feel for the car.
When the race started on Sunday, it was really loose. We were able to run pretty competitively. We settled in to about 23rd or 24th place. We waited for the first pit stop and made some adjustments. At the halfway mark, I was so loose that I spun out. The spin really did not end our day. Thanks to the safer barriers, I had very little damage. I had a scratch on the side and some loose sheet metal in the back. My suspension was fine. Late in the going when we played out our strategy to maximize the best finish we could get, we got bit. We did not have our best pit stop of the day on the last stop. We lost a couple of seconds and that’s about half the big, long, front straightaway. Plus, we missed out in getting the “lucky dog” by one car that I was right behind. As it ended up, instead of having a top-25 finish, we ended up 37th. It was a long day.
When the race was over, I was pretty down on myself. I got home from Pocono on Sunday night. I just didn’t feel good about things in general and so I turned on the television and saw an old interview I did being replayed. It was on some sports show and I was talking about the honor of winning two Daytona 500s. I talked about the perseverance, dedication and the tough times I went through to make it to victory lane in Daytona. So I thought to myself that I have been down before and was able to bounce back. I certainly have the ability to persevere as I have done throughout my career. I really believe things happen for a reason so as soon as that show went off, I was thinking about Michigan already. I am focused on what we need to do to go up there. I am not only thinking about qualifying and racing well, but I am also focused on what we need to do to get a good finish. We can turn this season around. My teammate David Reutimann can consistently run in the top-20 so we can do the same. We’ll lean heavily on our teammate if we need some assistance with our setup. We’ll do what we need to do to get our cars running better. I am certainly sad about the weekend, but I am very focused, energetic and optimistic about going forward.
As for this week, I am travelling a bunch. Macy and I are having Father’s Day today. But before that, I am heading to Atlanta to meet some folks from Aaron’s to resign that deal and move forward for a few more years. When I get back, Macy and I are heading to uptown Charlotte. We are staying the night at a nice hotel and going to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for dinner. We are also planning a carriage ride through the city.
On Thursday on the way to Michigan, I am making a stop in Macon, Illinois to run a dirt race at Kenny Wallace’s dirt track. I am looking forward to that. Then on Friday night after qualifying, I will be going to I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan. NAPA does some neat things at that track so I am going to go there and sign autographs. The promoter has a two-seater late modified that I can drive. I hope fans in those areas will come and say hello.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday continues to be all about the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. I am very optimistic about our weekend so I hope everyone watches us. More importantly, I would like to say HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all the dads out there!