Hi from Richmond!

I hope everyone faired well from Tropical Storm Hanna. We made out fine. The NAPA team was expecting to have a day off on Sunday, but due to the postponement of the race, we weren’t able to have that day off. Instead, we fired up all our planes and went home to North Carolina on Friday night. The guys got to spend Saturday with their families and some even spent the day on Lake Norman because the weather was nice at home. We got up early on Sunday and returned to Richmond.

When I left Richmond on Friday night, I knew I had a car that I could be competitive with. I felt really good about Reutimann and McDowell, too. Everything translated well because Friday was a great forecast as to what to expect from the MWR teams on Sunday. All three cars ran good, and at one time, all of them were running in the top five with David as the leader. It was David’s second top-10 in a row. He also led the most laps of the event…a first for MWR. Our crew chiefs also made great calls during the race. Nowadays, it seems like you have to mix things up. Sometimes you have to take two tires or just stay out. Every now and then, calls like that can bite you in the butt. It about bit Reutimann. He almost went a lap down or maybe he did get a lap down, but got the Lucky Dog pass. He went on to lead all those laps. Track position is so important. These cars are so competitive and everyone runs the same speeds. But as a driver, you have to trust your crew chief when he makes those calls. You need guys like Bobby Kennedy, Ryan Pemberton and Peter Sospenzo on the box making calls that can gain you the track position. You have to go with their decisions and know that sometimes it doesn’t work out. Good or bad, it’s just part of it. Fortunately in our case, everything went right. I was very happy with the jobs all three teams did. It gave us a chance to be up there and be a part of the story. I am so happy and proud of the job they did.

What I love about the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule is that we left Richmond and are now getting ready to go to Loudon. Everything that the teams learned this past weekend at Richmond is relevant. The tracks are similar so I expect to see teams be more prepared for the race this weekend, and with the Chase starting, it should be very interesting. Speaking of the Chase, I plan on racing those contenders the same way I always race them. I think the contenders appreciate that and expect it. I have only one thing on my mind and that is to win the race. I hope my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota will perform at the level we did back in June. I want my team to be a part of the story again. I know David Reutimann and Michael McDowell like their chances this weekend as well. MWR is very optimistic about where we are heading, our direction, our cars, our team, and what we are doing. It is a great feeling going up to Loudon and we look forward to the final 10 races of the season.

As I am putting this blog together on Tuesday (Sept. 9), I just got done playing in Dale Jarrett’s Shootout at Rock Barn Golf Club in Hickory, N.C. I just love the entire competition and comradery that took place. Drivers Elliott Sadler, Kyle Petty and Reed Sorenson were there along with pro golfers Jay Haas, Jeff Sluman and Jay Bilas. Everyone was just hanging out knowing that on Sunday afternoon whether you are golfing or racing, it’s a battle amongst great talent. It was so much fun!

I’m heading out now to race my NAPA buddy Ron Capps at the new ZMax Dragway in Charlotte. I am going to kick his butt in my NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry! He’s in NASCAR country now so check out what happens as “NASCAR Now” covers our day at the new dragway. Our feature will air Thursday evening at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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

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