California 2

I really appreciate going out west. It’s great to see all the fans and I enjoy experiencing a totally different scene. Tinsel town is right down the road. All the stars show up. It’s just an electric atmosphere. I enjoy visiting all the NAPA folks out there. They don’t get to see us a whole lot. They are always enthusiastic about the opportunity to say hello. We certainly got to visit a bunch of folks in the NAPA suite and NAPA hospitality tent on Saturday and Sunday. I really enjoyed myself.

I also had a lot of fun leading up to the race. On Wednesday, I got to walk the red carpet for the big Pepsi 500 party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. I drink Coke and I am a Coca-Cola driver, but also know the importance of helping promote the race for the track so I appreciate everyone working together. Then on Saturday, I went out to the Fan Zone to kick off the DVD launch of the Warner Brothers movie, Speed Racer. I signed autographs. I helped give away a Plasma flat-screen television for Panasonic. That was a lot of fun.

When it actually came to the race, we took basically a copy of the car we had a Michigan that ran so well. I was really optimistic about how it would run. The race ended up being a real struggle. We ended up finishing 33rd after starting 30th. That’s terrible. In the late running, we had to pass Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, who was on the lead lap, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch and a couple of DEI cars. That’s just tough. When you are a little bit off, and you are talking about the best drivers and the best teams in the whole world, we were only one lap off the pace. We did all that passing for just 33rd place. It certainly was a disappointing result, but the effort was there as a team. My team really made the car better all night long. At the end, it was the best it had been. We just ran out of time. Regardless, I am real proud of the effort. I am real proud of the team.

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day. Mine was pretty quiet in North Carolina. I got home at 7:30 a.m. in the morning from Fontana. I slept until I had to go to Charlotte to tape my “This Week in NASCAR” show on SPEED. I went back home and slept some more. I goofed off a little bit on Tuesday morning by playing golf. I did my XM Satellite Radio show. I had a famous guest on my show — Olympic icon, Dara Torres. I think she was one of the feel-good stories of the Beijing Olympics. She was kind enough to call in on her way to the “Oprah” show. You can hear it tonight (Thursday) on XM channel 144.  Rick Allen of SPEED also was a guest co-host. It was a real entertaining show so I hope you get to listen to it. It’s on every Thursday night. When that was all over, we came out to the house – Traci, Jennifer and Cindy – the girls from MWR was there to help me as I signed 2,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS die cast cars for Motorsports Authentics. The cars will go to the distributors to pass along to the fans. After I was done with that, I did a live shot with the folks at “NASCAR Now” on ESPN 2. Basically, we didn’t have much of a story to tell. We were just sort of catching up on the progress we are making at Michael Waltrip Racing. It was nice to explain that to everyone. I ended up turning a somewhat day off into a good day for MWR, NAPA and all my supporters. Yesterday, I went to Nashville, Tenn., to record some stuff at CMT for Best Western. They are doing a promotion. I guess you could say I was busy which is a very good thing. I hope to continue to get more and more face time so I’m happy about that. Today is back to the track. We go to Richmond this evening. I hope the hurricane will be kind to everyone. I am also looking forward to getting that NAPA Toyota back up front. I always run good at Richmond so I am looking forward to a good race.

Stay tuned and I’ll talk to you next week!

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