The Frontstretch: David Starr Driver Diary : Sponsor Hunting And Keeping Spirits High After Kansas by David Starr -- Friday May 2, 2008

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The Craftsman Truck Series has had a lot of off time lately, but I’ve been staying busy since our last diary; I don’t ever stop working. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but I’m either back in Charlotte working with my guys at the race shop, on the racing team, or testing somewhere. We’re not testing this week, so I got my company called David Starr Racing — it’s a show car, racing simulator company — so I spend a lot of time working at my shop, working on my simulators, and working on my truck and trailers.

We had a really good truck at Kansas. I had an idea that we couldn’t win the race because [Ron] Hornaday was so good, but we were anywhere from a third to a sixth place truck. Somebody just lost it with 50 laps to go [and collected us]. It was one of those racin’ deals — I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You try and keep those things to a minimum; we’ve been fortunate over the years to have a really consistent record of finishing races, and never really having DNF’s.

But while it was unfortunate that wreck happened to us, we try to take all the positives out of something that’s a negative. Our mile and a half program, we feel like we struggle a little bit; we had [problems] at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the third race of the year and a very similar track. So, a couple of weeks ago we went to Pocono for two days, and really worked on this coil binding setup we do on the trucks. Jamie Jones, my crew chief, and the guys at the shop, they’ve been working hard on our pulldown rig, trying to change things and really understand the coil binding thing — and when we got to Kansas, we were coil binding the right front and it was just night and day difference from the last race we had [on this type of track]. We were competitive, this truck was fast – so even though we didn’t finish the race, we walked out of there with our heads held high, because we feel we’re getting on top of the mile and a half stuff. Going into the next race — which is May 16th at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway — we feel like we’ve got a really good shot of both winning and being competitive. So, we’re excited about that.

David Starr, driver of the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra.

When a crash like Kansas happens and you’re in the garage, it hurts your feelings at the time. You just can’t believe it; but then, you have to remember that you were a rookie one time, too. And stuff happens; sometimes, one of the veterans [will] take somebody out, and it’s just one of them deals. When we’re doing what we’re doing, you’re going to have that type of stuff go on. The crew chief called me on Monday and he apologized; I haven’t heard from [Donny Lia] but if he calls I’ll talk to him and offer some advice, because hey, I’ve done it; we’ve all done it—we’ve all been there and done that. You don’t do those things on purpose. When you’re racing on the edge like we are, it’s just one of them deals that happens. One thing about our business, we learn from our mistakes – you just don’t want to be the victim, but everybody’s a victim every once in awhile in our industry.

It’s not that I’m frustrated – I want to get back out there and race because I got knocked out of the race, yes I do – but as a race car driver, I want to race 36 times a year. [Veterans like] Mike Skinner or Ted Musgrave or Todd Bodine, all friends of mine, they like the 25-race schedule. It gives them a life, and they can do other things besides live, eat, and sleep what we do. But as a racer, I want to race every week. I would like for the CTS to add five more races so we don’t have these really long layoffs of two weeks, to three weeks, to a month off. Yeah, you don’t mind a week off every once in awhile; but as a racer, I like to race.

Red Horse Racing doesn’t have a sponsor, but we need one, and we think we’ve got something that’s sellable. We’re out there trying to sell it. So, I was in meetings yesterday. I had to go to San Antonio, Texas and meet with a company. I think the NASCAR Craftsman Truck is a very sellable series. If you look at our ratings, they are growing. One thing that’s cool about the Truck Series is our races aren’t 500 miles long. They’re 200, 250 miles long. So I think that really makes our truck racing exciting because, man, you’ve got to drive the wheels off the pickup trucks from the time they drop the green to the time they drop the checkered. And if you’re not, you’ll find yourself a lap down and not keeping up. So I think that makes the Truck Series exciting.

I think what we bring to the table as an organization, we have a lot to offer. Tom DeLoach, my owner, you won’t find any better of a person – just a great man, and Jeff Hammond, as well. Tom and Jeff also own a Five Off Five On pit stop school in the Mooresville area, and they do a lot of stuff with big companies, and they teach people how to change tires. So, that’s kind of a neat thing that we have to offer to a sponsor. My uncle owns a driving school here at the Texas Motor Speedway called Team Texas Performance Driving School; we have about 50 NASCAR Nextel Cup race cars, and we think we have a really nice package on top of everything you get, from the sponsorship side of things — we have a lot more to offer than just a regular team. We’re talking to a lot of different people, but the economy’s a little soft, and a lot of these companies are really watching how they spend their money right now.

Heck, as a driver I want to race for 15, 20 more years; but you need to have a partner. When you think of Tony Stewart, you think of Home Depot; when you think of Jimmie Johnson, you think of Lowe’s Home Improvement. That would be the perfect scenario for somebody like Red Horse Racing, to have a partner like that. So that’s what we’re trying to do, and we’re working hard at it.

When we’re off for a month or we’re off for two or three weeks, it gives my guys some time to catch up. We go to the wind tunnel, we spend some more time on the pulldown machine. We’re going to go test. We got a test – were going to go to Darlington next week and test for a day. You just have a little bit more time for preparation, to finish up trucks, and it puts you back and ready for the long stretches that we are going to have. But even if we were ready before, even if all our trucks are just ready to go race, you never stop working to try and improve something. So, I think everybody really utilizes the time off to benefit their team, and make their team stronger — we’re one of the teams that does that.

We feel strongly about that – we dropped from 7th to out of the Top 10 in points. We want to be consistent, finish in the Top 5 week in and week out, and after these seven races coming up we want to make sure we’re in the Top 5 in points. We need to win a race, and we need to make sure we keep ourselves in striking distance of the leader. To be a championship caliber team, you got to be good week in and week out. We’ve had some unfortunate things happen to us, but if we can race like we normally race – if we can finish in the Top 5 consistently week in and week out, I feel that we’re still in the hunt for the championship. We’re strong on the short tracks and the flat tracks, we struggle a little bit on the mile and a halfs, and I feel like after Kansas, we really made a big jump at making our mile and a half program a lot better. I feel like after this seven race period coming up, if we’re in the Top 5 in points, then we’ve got a good shot at the championship. So, that’s our goals.

I am running my buddy’s dirt car Saturday night. I’ve just got to ask my wife; we just got married in January, and ever since we did, we’ve really been busy; we try to balance our time. I live, eat, sleep racing, I have been since I was a little boy – but now, I’ve got my wife. She loves the racing with me, but sometimes you have to share some time when you’ve got time off. Hopefully, she’ll want to go to the dirt track, but I’m sure that’s not her favorite thing in the world! I better ask her. You know, I’m never sitting still. I’m always on the go with our racing school, and David Starr Racing, and our show car business, and our simulator business. I’m always running, doing something busy … so it ain’t like I’m at home with her all the time.

I work out every day, but a lot of times we like to go to the lake and go water skiing and stuff like that. We haven’t had a chance to do that yet; so probably on Sunday, we’ll go on the lake and go have some enjoyable time, go water ski and cruise around the lake and have some fun.

Finally, we’re pretty excited about the new website over at davidstarr.com. I think we got it up about two weeks ago; and we’re going to have a new David Starr Fan Club, so we’re pretty excited about that. We’re building it up, so stop on by and check it out!

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