Charlotte 2

Hi Everyone —

Charlotte was a crazy race. My NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry was fast and I loved it. As the race went along, something changed. The car started handling funny. We got a little bit off in the middle of the race. We got in a crash because there was some oil on the track, and then Bobby Kennedy and the boys made a couple of great adjustments to get the NAPA Camry tuned up for the finish. We ran strong at the end to finish in 24th place.

I’ve said this before, but these cars are really temperamental. Looking at the springs, we are looking at tolerances of an eighth-of-an inch. If the metal in your springs give up a little bit, or your bump stops wear some, it changes the whole dynamic of your race car. The splitter is another issue. If it hits the track, your car does not act right. The challenges we face are so interesting. We are trying to keep the splitter right on the road without hitting the road. There are bumps in the road so that dictates exactly what your car is doing when it goes over the bumps. Shocks, springs, the splitter and a balance of other parts and pieces are so crucial with this new car. Please understand, I am not complaining about the new car. I am just stating the facts that you can get your car set up properly, it’s just very difficult. That’s why some teams are winning and others are still figuring it out.

What I thought was interesting was what happened if you got out front.  Vickers got the lead and he drove off. Jeff Gordon got the lead and he drove off. Tony Stewart got the lead and he drove off. Jeff Burton got the lead and he drove off and won the race. We saw a lot of guys get to the front and be dominant during different stages of the race.

It was also great to see David Reutimann continue his run up front. That team felt like when the race was over, they could have won it. That’s a great feeling for our young organization to have. The NAPA team had a steady, strong car for most of the night. It’s unfortunate that we got in some trouble because we would have been right up there with Reutimann. Then David had brake problems. Who would have ever thought of that? Either one of us could have won that race if circumstances would have been different. David’s car was definitely fast enough to do it. Mine was too at the beginning and very end. AJ Allmendinger drove the No. 00 car and got into a crash early. We never really will know how well he could have done.  However, if you rewind back to May at Charlotte, David ran top 10. The No. 00 team and the NAPA team were terrible. All three of our cars this time were competitive. David was extra competitive. That means progress and that’s what we are all about. I really believe and see where we are gaining on it. We’ll be a part of the story every week – sooner rather than later.

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

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