Hi Everyone –
We went pink on Saturday and I want to thank everyone who supported NAPA’s “All Out for the Cure” campaign to benefit the Susan G. Foundation. I attended the Komen for the Cure press conference with Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler. Bobby said he hopes to see 43 pink cars compete at Charlotte someday and that would be great to bring awareness to the cause, but from a competition standpoint, I don’t think I’d want to be a spotter for that one! It was really neat to see everyone come out and show their support for finding a cure for breast cancer.
Saturday night I had a fast car. The NAPA team gave me something I could work with and I passed a lot of cars. I had a lot of fun and I like to go fast. I went faster than a lot of cars out there, but we had a problem on pit road. We had a plan to come in on a particular lap, but did not anticipate Brian Vickers having a long pit stop. What happened was when I was pitting he was leaving his stall behind us. It caused him and me to have a minor scrape. It then triggered a very chaotic moment. The crew guys didn’t know what was going to happen and in reaction, my jack man went down. Tony Cardamone is OK, but he is out for the season with a hair-line fracture to his ankle and some torn ligaments. The whole ordeal cost us a crew member and three laps. It was a bad situation that we could not afford. We had to live with our circumstances and make the best of it. We took chances with the wave around when those opportunities occurred. We did everything we could, but it never got us back on the lead lap. It’s a shame because we had a fast car.
The race weekend was pretty amazing. We saw something that I don’t believe I have ever witnessed during my NASCAR career. Jimmy Johnson won the first, second and third practices. He won qualifying and then the race. He currently has the biggest lead that anyone has ever had at this point in the Chase which is 90 points. I Twittered during the drivers meeting and took a picture of Jimmie. He was so intense. No one really pays a ton of attention in the meeting. But, he does. He was on it. I Twittered, “Fourth championship coming up!” With that said, I do not think he is guaranteed the championship – at least not yet. Martinsville and Talladega have the potential to throw a wrench into things if something bad happens to him and his team. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
I really enjoyed watching Jimmie and his teammate Jeff Gordon go door-to-door on those final restarts. I don’t think anyone realizes how difficult restarts are. After our pit stop problem, I spent most of the night lining up 32nd. I watched 30 guys try and work their way down the front straightaway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. First of all, it is flat so getting 850 horsepower hooked up in 35 degree weather was a little difficult. Secondly, drivers have to make two turns and everyone has to do it together. To me, it is surprising that wrecks don’t occur more often. I think sometimes the folks watching at home take what we do for granted. That’s how good the drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are. It’s a difficult job to just get a restart going on, but we all manage and it’s impressive.
This weekend, we are off to Martinsville. It’s a track that’s tough on brakes which is why I am proud to be back in the NAPA Adaptive One Brake Pads Toyota. We’ll need them for sure this weekend!
Bye for Now,