Talladega 2

Hi Everyone –

We really had a good car this weekend. I want to thank all my NAPA guys for putting together such a solid car on Friday. We were probably as fast as I have ever remembered being as of late. The NAPA Toyota drafted well and we made changes that were positive. That’s really difficult to do these days with these cars because they are really technical. It is really hard to find anything additional that we can make improvements with once we get a superspeedway car to the track, but my crew chief Gene Nead and the NAPA team did a really good job of working some changes that made me a lot faster.

On Sunday, I felt really confident when the race started. We had some issues on pit road. I had a vibration one time and it shook so bad that I couldn’t see. When we finally got the vibration issue squared away, I was all set to go to the finish on gas. I knew that it was going to be really close so we had to save. I lost the draft, but I really wasn’t too concerned because I couldn’t imagine the race going all the way to the checkered flag without a lot of people running out of gas and mainly, people wrecking. Both of those things happened. I ended up pitting during the final caution. We got gas and made some small adjustments that would make the car run fast for a green-white-checkered-flag finish. When the race went green for the final time, I restarted in 17th and made it all the way to seventh. That was a really good run for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team and a solid finish for the NAPA Toyota.

Personally, I knew I was due to finish one of these restrictor-plate races because lately at Talladega, I have been running up front, but have had problems. Last year in the spring race, I was leading and blew up. Unfortunate things like that happen so I’m just glad everything worked out on Sunday. It was a great effort by the NAPA team and we’ll be working hard to improve our performance on pit road. My spotter Ty Norris did a great job for me. The car was set up right so we were able to make a final push at the end. I appreciate everyone’s hard work.

All and all, the racing in general at Talladega was typical. I don’t think Mr. Helton’s comments prior to the race hurt a thing. I believe it might have made us a little bit saner for 300 to 400 miles. At the end of the event, it was the same old Talladega. Drivers pushed the envelope as far as they could. I was asked last night on my TV show if there is a way to avoid the wrecks and in my opinion, there are two things. You can live with it and race or we don’t race at Talladega.

I’ll Talk to You Next Week!

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