Hi Everyone —
Atlanta was a fun trip. I went down on Wednesday to say hello to everyone at NAPA’s annual Manager’s Meeting. It was held at the Georgia World Congress Center. I had the opportunity to speak to the attendees and then sign autographs with Ron Capps, driver of the NAPA NHRA Funny Car. I have to say, Capps had the coolest looking hats to hand out, so I took one. I had him sign it, and I wore it most of the weekend.
This trip was special since my girls came down on Thursday night to spend the weekend with me. Both Caitlin and Macy had school projects to work on. Caitlin shadowed Jennifer Chapple, one of my public relations representatives since she was working on a paper. Macy’s project was on the state of Georgia. What better way to learn about Georgia than to bring her to Atlanta? Did you know Vidalia onions are only grown in Georgia? Thanks to Macy, I now know that.
Friday remained anything but stress free. Rain greeted us in the morning, and I was hoping it would rain us out. It wasn’t meant to be. Practice started off a little rough. My car was extremely loose, but Paul Andrews and the crew made some great calls to get my car drivable. I am so proud of my team, and how they were able to turn around our day. It was really impressive. I ended up 16th. We ranked second out of the go-or-go-home teams. I felt good about what we had learned, and thought we had a good shot at making it into the show. As always, the longer the day went, the more nervous I got.
The rain pretty much stayed away and qualifying worked out well for us. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry qualified 27th. David Reutimann posted the 30th-fastest lap, and Dale Jarrett earned 43rd. For the fourth week in a row, all three of us were in the show. What a relief! In all, 10 Toyotas made the Kobalt Tools 500.
The kids and I woke up Saturday to snow! Macy and I watched the movie Harry and the Hendersons before final practice. I was pretty happy with how my car drove once practice got underway. The NAPA Camry was still a little tight on exit, but I believed I had a car that would be competitive. Unfortunately during the race, my car was back to a loose condition. My car felt no different than it did at Fontana and Las Vegas. It was so tough to drive. We managed a 30th-place finish, and remained 33rd in owner points. I told Paul after the race that our new cars drive way too loose for my liking. We’ll get it worked out, but it still is frustrating.
I really wanted to have a good showing in front of all my friends from NAPA. I want to thank everyone who showed me a nice time when I watched the Nationwide race up in the NAPA suite. Then on Sunday, everyone up in the suite was so kind to wish me good luck. I appreciate all of your continued support and well wishes. THANK YOU!!
I also want to congratulate Toyota for getting its first win in the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to be that driver who got Toyota its first win. I guess I’ll just have to be the second!
Talk to you next week after Bristol!