I was looking forward to getting to Kentucky because some of my best finishes have been there in a bunch of different series between trucks, ARCA and Nationwide. I love Kentucky and was really looking forward to getting there. I kind of underestimated how rough the track was going to be and had the mindset going in that first practice that I was going to get my car to handle through the bumps. After the first run I realized it was going to take a while to work and go through this, so we just kind of just moved up a groove like the whole field did and as soon as we did we picked up a lot of time and were really happy with our lap times. I think we were a top ten car. Then we had some things that we’d been working on that we wanted to try in the afternoon practice and put that on the car and we were even better and handled a lot better through the bumps. We had options, which you always look for in racing. Between ourselves and the No. 6 team, we talked to each other and decided on the fact that we wanted to run.
We qualified ninth which was our best qualifying effort of the year and we stayed in the top ten the whole night and moved forward. We ran around fifth or sixth the majority of the race. We didn’t make any big strategy calls, we didn’t make any big adjustments. It was just a really calm night and that’s one thing we knew if we could start better up front and racing up there, our night would just be lot easier. It’s weird to say when you’re up further in the running order with faster cars it’s easier, but it really is. We got through the evening, put ourselves in position there at the end, and restarted second. We got put three wide on the initial start which cost us a couple of positions but got one of those back and finished fourth. It was a great evening and one I always knew we could have nights like that and hopefully we can continue to do it more and more.
We went road racing two weeks ago. It’s not that I don’t like it. [But] it’s not one of my favorite things to do. It’s definitely a challenge and as a race car driver we enjoy challenges. I know that one of the biggest areas I need to work on is my road racing skills. Each time we go back to them we go back to them I get better and I’m happier with my performance. Road America, which is probably my worst road course, we qualified twelfth, which is the best I’ve ever qualified at a road course. Each time we go back we get better. There’s still a lot of work to be done there, but it’s a challenge and as a race car driver that’s what we look forward to.
I don’t really have one favorite kind of track though. I used to say smooth mile-and-a-halfs but then lately we’ve been really fast on rough tracks like Texas and Iowa and Kentucky. I love short tracks like Bristol and Richmond where we ran really well. I used to run really well at ORP before it got taken off the schedule so there’s an array of different style tracks and it’s really come down to more of just how well your car is handling. With as many years as I have had in the series I don’t struggle with one area except for maybe road courses, but as far as the ovals, I think all the drivers are really close and you really just try to have the best handling car that weekend.
My Fourth of July was a bit unusual I guess. I actually was up at 6 a.m. driving to Charlotte Douglas Airport to fly to Daytona and then we drove to St. Augustine, we did an appearance at a Pilot Flying J and signed some autographs and met some people and then came back to the track, changed, and went and celebrated last night with the King at his 75th birthday party. We raised some money for charity and capped off the night with some pretty cool fireworks right in Daytona Beach.
I donated to the King’s foundation in his name for his birthday gift. I think he can go out and get anything he wants so I think he appreciates people donating more than anything.
The Olympics are coming up soon and I really am a fan. I don’t schedule or plan to watch any certain events, but it’s one of those things where you pretty much just put it on NBC and you always have it on in the background and when you’re walking through the room you stop and watch if there is something you want to see. Honestly my favorite thing to watch is the women’s all-around gymnastics, when every person on the team’s score counts to winning rather than just one person winning in a single event. I don’t know why I enjoy watching the girls more than the guys but to me it seems like through all the Olympic events, the women’s gymnastics is usually the most exciting.
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