Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday November 8, 2012
I can’t believe it’s time for our last diary already. After this one, we’re done until Daytona.
Looking back at Texas, it was a bit of a frustrating race. I don’t want to be crying all the time about our performance, but every race is almost like a movie. We ran well at Texas in practice — ninth in the first one and second in the last one — and we qualified fourth. The Diabetes paint scheme we ran means a lot to me. It means a lot to me to run well and to represent something that’s so important. But as soon as the race started, we were tight. You can ask anybody — if you have a snug truck in qualifying, as soon as the night falls, you’re going to have to free it up. We were super tight all race long. It didn’t matter what we did and we still kept going backwards.
Add in the long green-flag runs and only two cautions and we couldn’t make a lot of adjustments and finished 14th.
I told the guys on the radio that it’s so hard for us to make the move into the top 10 this year. We’ve been running solid, finishing races and we’re still in the top 10 in points. But we want to do better than that and we are capable of running better than that. I talked a lot with my crew chief and my guys and we’re going to start doing detailed notes after every practice, every qualifying effort and every race about what I feel, what I like and what parts of the race where the truck was better. We’ll try to use those notes for my crew chief to understand more of what I like in my truck so we can move forward rather than backward.
We have speed; it’s not like I’m qualifying 25th. We’ve run good lap times; it’s just not happening. It’s frustrating, but we’re going to do something different as a team and I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to find out what’s going on.
Looking ahead to Phoenix this weekend, I’ve raced at Phoenix once in the second race of 2011. We never really found a great adjustment at the track. It was so flat and I’m not sure what we did wrong. My truck was loose and I qualified horrible. I was running around the top 20 and moving forward when I spun out trying to drive inside another driver. It damaged the front suspension and we just had to ride out the race to finish 25th. My first experience there wasn’t good, but now it’s a new racetrack with new pavement, new banking and a new configuration. I watched the Nationwide race earlier this year so I could learn what I could about what lines will work best. We’re going to use all of the practice we’ve got. We’ll have a little more practice because we’ve never been on the new pavement there.
It’ll be time for us to get more in-depth notes to help out.
I’ll be making my 50th career start this weekend at Phoenix, too, and let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot in my first 49 races. I’ve learned to be patient. I’ve learned to attack at the right time. I’ve learned that restarts are crucial. If you gained three spots and lost two, it’s still really positive because it’s so tough to pass that you need to be aggressive on restarts. That’s one thing we’ve improved upon this year. I’ve also learned how important it is to keep making the right adjustments and to be proactive rather than reactive when making those adjustments throughout the race. Back when I first made my debut, I was just looking to finish the race, stay out of trouble and stay out of everyone’s way. Now, that’s something in my mind because I know where I need to be on the race track. I have a lot more experience. I feel like I’ve matured in my thinking as a driver — knowing the race tracks, knowing how the race goes. Before, each race was big gains, but now I’m working on putting the small pieces together that can become big if you get it right. I think I’m a lot calmer now than I used to be.
Off the track, life has changed a lot since I made my first start in the Truck Series. Family, Oliver, diabetes for him, and what a tough year knowing everything that we’ve been through with him. I’m just happy to have a family who loves me and supports me fully.
It’s been around six months since Oliver’s diabetes diagnosis and he’s doing great! His sugar levels have been awesome. We have an appointment in two weeks, and we’re excited to go and see how his average levels are. They typically take his levels from the past three months and look at the averages. This time, his levels have been a lot lower, so I’m really excited to see how his average is now. He’s been eating everything — we had cake last weekend. He’s having a normal life.
World Diabetes Day is next Wednesday, November 14th and it’s such an important cause for me. Having diabetes myself, it’s really important, but it’s so much more important since Oliver was diagnosed. I’m so proud to be able to run the special paint scheme and represent everyone who has the disease around the world. 366 million people live with diabetes all around the world. World Diabetes Day is worldwide — I have the blue circle in the truck and I’m a Blue Circle Champion as well and we ran that paint scheme at Texas back in June. If everyone would just go and please learn a little bit about diabetes, I’ve reached my goal. I want everyone to know what it is — not just the name — at least know what the disease is and what people who live with it go through. Next year, I’ll work on even more awareness and I’ll do the best I can.
Patricia and I are thinking about heading to Miami a little early and spending a few days relaxing. We want to do a walk or something to celebrate the day next week. It’s easy to look at Oliver today and see where he is now, but we went through so many things to get him to where he is today. A few months ago, it wasn’t quite as easy, but now we’re calm about how he’s doing.
I’ve been paying attention to the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and I’m positive Jimmie Johnson is going to come out on top. I’m a Jimmie Johnson fan and two weeks ago at Martinsville, I finally got to meet him. Several weeks ago, we went to his exhibit about his book “On the Road” and I tweeted to him about it. When we were in Martinsville, he was walking by and stopped to say thanks for coming by and I got to talk to him for the first time. I was a Jimmie Johnson fan since I started racing in NASCAR, so it was cool to meet him. He’s such a normal guy. I was a fan before and now I’m even more of a fan. Even Patricia told me after that that she wasn’t planning to watch the races on Sunday but now she would to cheer him on. It meant a lot to me to meet him.
We’re still working on next season’s plans, but I don’t quite have anything set up just yet. I’m looking forward to getting to Phoenix this weekend. Thank you everyone for such an incredible season and I look forward to next year.
Update: “Phoenix is one of those places that I didn’t have a very good experience the first time I was there, and sometimes it’s your first visit to a track that sets the tone for how you feel about it. We were really loose in practice and qualifying, and then I wound up getting turned in the race. However, this is almost like a whole new track now that it has been repaved and reconfigured, so we’re really all on an even playing field. Hopefully, I’ll run a lot better and like the track a lot more this time around.”
“It’s hard to believe that we’re almost to the end of my second full-time season in the Truck Series and that I’ll be making my 50th start. So much has changed since my first start: we have a new house, our first child was born last year, and then he was diagnosed with diabetes this year… it’s a lot of life-changing events. I’ve accomplished a lot of goals here in NASCAR: I became the first Brazilian to win a pole the Truck Series, I’ve run some Nationwide races, I’ve gotten into the top 10 in points and I’ve grown a lot as a driver. There’s still so much I want to accomplish. I hope that by this time next year we’re talking about being in contention for the championship. I’m grateful for all the things that I’ve experienced and accomplished so far in my NASCAR career and I’m looking forward to what’s to come in the next 50 starts.” Miguel Paludo
Tweet of the Week:
@miguelpaludo: Well, I was kinda nervous watching. Great race and congrats @JimmieJohnson #NASCAR
Photo of the Week:
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