The Auto Club 500 Post

Hi Everyone –

I have to tell you that this past race weekend was bigger than Daytona. I expect to win at Daytona and I expect to be up front. And when it comes to the Auto Club Speedway, I have had top-10 finishes and I have run well there, but with these new cars, our team up until this point, really hasn’t been able to hit on it at a place like California. To start last and finish 15th is an accomplishment. I am really proud of my NAPA team.

After practice on Saturday, I was fairly confident that we would be competitive. On about lap five or six of the race, we had passed more cars than we did in all together in 2007 and 2008. I was really optimistic from the start because I liked the way the tires felt under me. I knew how to press it and when to press it. To start last, and make our way up to 15th makes me proud. I am real proud of Bootie. He is just on his game. He thinks about everything. He is always preparing and getting himself in a position to know what he has to do next. If the caution flag falls or not, I can just hear it in his voice that he is getting ready for what might be two or three steps down the line. It was real fun for me to listen to him call the race on Sunday. It gives me a lot of confidence as we race forward. I believe we can have continued success. Don’t get me wrong, 15th is a long way from where we expect to be, but there were times on Sunday where we had a car that was top-five material. We just didn’t hit it right with adjustments. We’ll just keep working because this was a huge test. If we would have left with a 27th or 28th-place finish, and that’s very easy to do because there were some good cars that left California in that very same situation, I believe we needed to be better than that. We needed to step up and be better than we have been in the past. David’s team over the course of last season was able to step up and run in the top 10 and top 15. In my opinion, they have passed a test or two. My team hadn’t. With Bootie’s direction, leadership, and preparation, I feel good about what’s happening. I am really proud of Bootie.

I think California is a good gauge as to how we should run at Las Vegas. These 1.5-mile tracks are pretty much the same. It’s a track that has been a struggle for us with this new car and California is certainly a track where we have struggled in the past. To be able to put a solid run in the books is good so we can now look forward to going to Las Vegas and doing it again.

Before I go, I just want to talk about my buddy Ron Capps and his two-race winning streak he has going. He’s a really fast learner. I have taught him a lot about parts. He didn’t really get it at first. I mean, the first race I ran for NAPA, I won. It took him a year to win. That’s pretty good to be honest with you. I think I’m just an over achiever by nature. For him to be able to spend a little bit of time under my wing and understand how the parts work and what the parts do and then spend the winter thinking about all that I taught him – it’s just rewarding for me to watch him apply it now. It just says wonders about how he pays attention.

He’s also a great partner to play games with …

I’m getting ready to head to Vegas now so have a great week and enjoy the race on Sunday!

Talk to you soon!

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