Hi Everyone —
We started off on Friday at Michigan International Speedway and I knew that my car was pretty good. I would go out one time in practice and my car would be loose. The next run it would push. It was back and forth. Regardless, I thought I had a pretty good car. When I went to qualify, the NAPA Toyota did it again. I went down into Turn 3 and got really sideways. I thought to myself, “What do I do now?” I went into Turn 1 and got sideways again. The one thing I knew was I could not risk wrecking my car. I needed to race it. It’s new. It’s a car that I am really proud of. I wanted to see what it was like because the last Gen-3 car I had; it was wrecked on the third lap at Indy. I got back into Turn 3 and I wasn’t very good. I felt like I did not run hard enough. I might have been a little amped up when I went to qualify. I may have driven in too hard a couple of times. I was a little frustrated with myself because I have been doing this a long time. You would think that I would have it figured out by now as to where I needed to let off. Looking back, we just did not have a good combination for qualifying.
On Saturday when practice was over, I knew we were going to be good in the race. We really were competitive with our times. I felt really good about our car. Truly, we were good when it came to race time. We just had one segment where our car got a little bit off and Kyle Busch was really good. He was six seconds ahead of the field. He slipped up there and got me lapped. That was unfortunate because I think we could have ended up with a top-10 finish. Regardless, I was certainly proud of our team’s effort. They made great adjustments all day. When we started, I was so loose the first 30 to 40 laps. I felt like it was as loose as I have ever been in my whole career. The team got that adjusted and it really made my day better. Then we got it on the other side. It got too tight so it just showed us how sensitive these new cars continue to be. We lived it a little bit on Sunday, but we made a good solid showing. We may not have gotten the result we wanted, but it was a respectable result and we needed it after three tough weeks that included two wrecks and a blown motor.
Before I go, I would like to give a shout out to a very nice lady in the NAPA suite. On Saturday, she was tending to our NAPA guests. She gave me a little stuffed monkey. She said the last couple of weeks I had a monkey on my back and if I took the monkey and put it in my NAPA Toyota, it would get off my back. I did. I made it all the way to the end and got a much needed top-20 finish. I appreciate her kind gesture and I appreciate the fans that read this blog. Thanks so much and I’ll catch up with you later.