Hi Everyone –
Last week was busy and it started early for me. I woke up in Los Angeles on Monday as I was doing an event at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. I went there to visit the track’s season-ticket holders. I also did some media which gave NAPA some nice media coverage. It was 115 degrees out and they had over 400 people show up to just visit with me. I really enjoyed the trip out west for a couple of days during our so called off week.
I got home on Tuesday in time to attend a NAPA sales event at the shop. We had all of the NAPA drivers there – Ron Capps and our new guy – Martin Truex Jr. Then on Wednesday morning it was off to Minnesota to take part in a NAPA appearance at the Delta/Northwest Airlines hanger at the St. Paul/Minneapolis airport. NAPA has a store at the airport and all the maintenance workers were invited to bring their equipment to the hanger for inspection. If something needed repaired, NAPA had the parts ready to go for them. While they waited, I signed autographs. From there, I left for Warsaw, Indiana to sign more autographs in the afternoon for Dave Illingworth who opened a Toyota dealership. Dave is a former boss out of Toyota Motor Sales in California. He’s turned a page in his life and has gone on to owning a dealership. Needless to say, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were busy days where I had the chance to meet a lot of really nice people.
On Thursday, I got to golf at the Brickyard and then it was off to another appearance for Coca-Cola in the evening. It was at the new Indiana Live Casino which is a really nice place. If you are in the Indianapolis-Shelbyville area, you should stop.
Friday it was all about being on track. The NAPA team had two really good practice sessions. We were really pleased. Our NAPA Toyota was competitive. We followed it up on Saturday with qualifying. It was delayed for a few hours due to rain, but once it cleared out, we got to qualify. We posted the 23rd-fastest lap.
I felt really good about my car when the race started on Sunday. We were able to be really competitive. We ran 23rd at the start of the race. I was really looking forward to adjusting on the car because it was a little bit loose at first. I knew we could work on it and get it even better so that we could make our way up through the field and contend for a really good finish. We had a car that could mix it up with the best of them in my opinion.
Unfortunately on a restart, a lot of grass stopped up the radiator. A couple of cars in front of me got together and one ran off the road. When it happened, they must have thrown the grass up on the radiator. My crew chief Bootie Barker came over the radio to say that it looked like a whole bale of grass was on our grill when I got to our pit. It really messed us up as it overheated our motor. Then after we got things cooled down and back on the track, the motor started to miss here and there. It finally blew up with less than 20 laps to go.
For a driver, it wasn’t a good day at the track for us. The week on the other hand for our sponsors and fans, it was a good one.
Now I am gearing up for Friday. I am heading out that morning to Pocono to do it all over again.
Bye for Now,