Hi Everyone –
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is one of my favorite tracks so I really enjoy racing there. It has always been a place where I have performed well. I almost won that race a couple of times. I really look forward to going up there especially during this time of year – September. The weather is perfect. The fans are so enthusiastic and so into what is going on. They had over 100,000 people there. It was sold out. It was a great feeling and a great time in our sport to be able to celebrate such an event especially when people have to pick and choose what events to go to because of the economy. To be involved in the sport as a driver, a sponsor or a crew member and look up in the stands at New Hampshire and see all the people that want to be there and want to watch what we do is very humbling.
What a race it was. There was a bunch of side-by-side racing all day long. It was a good race for the fans. The finish was exciting with the double-file restarts. The racing all day long was intense. Our NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota was off. It was totally off when we started the race. When we practiced on Saturday morning, our car was a top-20 car. On the long runs, it was actually better than most. I was very happy. Then during the second practice, we made some changes and it hurt the car. I went from 19th fastest to 38th fastest. I just didn’t have the car under me in the second practice. Unfortunately, when the race started, our attempt to put the car back to where it was on Saturday morning, didn’t work. We didn’t quite get there. We spent all day chasing it. Looking back, it was disappointing to know that I was capable of running right up front but wasn’t able to do it with the set up we went with. We struggled early, but were able to improve all day long. We got better and better and were competitive in the end. We ended up finishing 27th. It is certainly not something to brag about, but at least we got it better. We were able to survive a big crash that happened in front of us and make it to the checkered flag.
We have a goal—a modest goal. It is important to us. We want to finish in the top 30 in the owner points. We are only 60 points out. If we can perform in the next nine races like I know we are capable of doing, I believe we can accomplish that. That is what the NAPA team is focused on. It means we have to get every position we can. We are just not riding the year out here. It has been a little tough, but we are head down, and focused on the rest of the season. We are going to try and get all we can out of it.
The addition of Gene Nead has been really positive. Gene works really well with the guys. I think we will continue to get better and better. The problems we had on Sunday when the race started were just adjustments that didn’t work out properly. That’s part of it. We’ll regroup and we’ll go to Dover. Dover is a place where I won my first Cup pole. I won the Nationwide race there a couple of times. I run well there and I look forward to going because of the history I have had. It’s a fun track. It will be another big event. There will be a ton of people watching the NAPA Toyota. We hope to be a part of the story on Sunday.
Bye for Now,