Hi Everyone –
Phoenix was a good weekend for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team and how our Toyota performed. During practice on Friday, I felt really good about my car. We have been doing a lot of work with our setups and trying to develop them. We have been working on getting the front end to stick. It has been something we have been struggling with because the front end doesn’t seem to feel right. But, as soon as I went on the track at Phoenix, I felt like we got that accomplished. I qualified 11th and ran in the top 20. The only real problem I had was I lost my power steering after our first pit stop. On a flat track with the front end setting like we need to get front grip, it is nearly impossible to run without power steering. It was a handful and we really didn’t lose very many spots. We stabilized in the teens and I was proud of that. When the first caution came out, we pitted twice to work on the power steering. It put me back in the pack and on the restart; they crashed in front of me. I thought I was last, but two people passed me to end up in the crash which was kind of strange and it hurt my situation. My car wouldn’t turn because I still didn’t have power steering. We think the pump went out on it. Regardless, I don’t think I could have missed it. The 96 car backed up the track and in front of me. I had nowhere to go. It was unfortunate for us. I was really proud of how my car performed. Hopefully, we can learn something out of all this and be good at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Michael Waltrip Racing had a lot of good news to announce at Phoenix. NAPA was certainly instrumental in what happened since they are the cornerstone sponsor of my organization. Best Western announced its extension with us through 2010. Toyota also signed an extension with MWR to continue the support of our cars for multiple years. I want to thank NAPA for signing the extension earlier this season and getting Martin Truex Jr. It was really big for our young company. It helped us grow with the addition of TUMS and extend our partnerships. I am really thankful to NAPA and I look forward to more great things to come.
Looking back at Phoenix, all of our guys looked really impressive. Martin had a great run and earned a top-five finish. Pat Tryson’s car that Kurt Busch drove ran up front and fought for a chance to win the race. David Reutimann got 10th and Marcos Ambrose finished 11th. That’s a lot of positive momentum moving forward with just one more race to go.
Also, congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and that entire 48 team. They bounced back from adversity at Texas to win the race. What they were able to do was amazing and a sign of true champions.