Hi Everyone —
I’d like to start out by getting something straight. The rain had absolutely nothing to do with getting the NAPA team a second-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was a track-position strategy that played out in our favor in the end. When you come to a place like Loudon, you know strategy is going to be huge because of track position. I believed in those closing laps that a good finish and even the win were possible for us. You look at the way racing goes these days, it’s just different than it used to be. You get track position and you can look like a hero. Getting track position is very difficult so I felt confident when three or four of the teams stayed out behind me under the caution that I would have had a chance to win the race. I looked up and said, ‘I could win this thing.’ That was a great feeling.
Looking back, I really wished there were a few more laps. I wished we could have gone back to green. The rain in the end hurt us. As bad as I needed those 170 points for finishing second, I was very cognizant of the difference between first and second. It’s huge. To get a win for our team would have been very, very rewarding. I heard a gentleman walk in the media center for our post-race press conference and say to J.J., ‘Zero to hero.’ I like to look at things as if they’re not ever as bad as they seem or as good as they seem. While I don’t think J.J. was ever a zero, did Sunday make him a hero? It feels good that we can change our fortune a little bit on a Sunday afternoon like we did at New Hampshire. So in a way, I am not totally disappointed that we did not get one more shot at Kurt. If you want to know real disappointment, it was when I was coming to the white at Talladega with Jimmie Johnson glued to me running 20 miles an hour faster than the field. The NAPA team was going to win that race and then my engine blew up coming to get the white. That was a game changer for our team. Hopefully, New Hampshire can be a game changer too.
The story I told about Talladega is all the inspiration I need to go to Daytona and know we can win. The NAPA team always figures out how to run up front down there. We’re very confident. I wanted to have a solid run at New Hampshire. I wanted to have a top-20 run, but I encouraged my guys and told them we’d get a top-10. From there, we’d go down to Daytona and show them something so that’s exactly what we are going to do — win.
I’m real proud of my team. I’m not emotional about this, other than the fact to say it’s amazing that NAPA AUTO PARTS is still on my car after what we went through the last couple years. Just to do anything good for them like winning the outside front row at Daytona and to have a finish like we did on Sunday, I just want to say thank you to them by doing well. That’s my goal. I want to do well for NAPA.