After struggling through growing pains for the first several races so far this season, I finally feel like we are making huge gains. You want to be competitive right off the bat, but the Craftsman Truck Series is so tough that it makes it hard for a new team like the International MaxxForce Diesel team. So while the season hasn’t been going the way we had hoped, I feel like we really started turning it around back in Mansfield. We have been a lot more competitive and our Ford F-150s drive so much better. It’s really cool to see how much improvement we have made over the last a couple of months. We are getting better and I’m excited about the improvements we’ve made and the ones to come.
It’s a tough series and you’ve got to be on top of your game. Some of these teams have been together for three or four years and they are tough to beat, but I’ve got a great crew in Dennis Connor and the guys. Everyone on my team is working hard and my over the wall crew is doing a heck of a job. Rick Crawford and his Power Stroke Diesel team have really been helping us and I feel like our racing team as a whole is making big strides. We are not where we need to be, but we are definitely gaining on them.
One of the highlights has been our fifth place finish at my home track – Texas Motor Speedway. It just shows that our MaxxForce Diesel team has turned a corner and our F-150s are getting so much better. The name of the game is winning races – we are in a performance driven business – but to get through these growing pains and to finish with a top five at Texas was a huge accomplishment for our team. We have been a contender ever since the Charlotte race, and that makes me excited. My teammate Crawford is fifth in points and he’s a contender every week, and now we are starting to be a contender with him. Every week I’m looking forward to going to the racetrack because you never know – our International MaxxForce Diesel might sneak out a win soon. We’re doing nothing different then we have been, because the team has been working hard since the start of the year. We’re just kind of figuring each other out and coming together as a team. It’s pretty cool.
This weekend we are racing at Memphis Motorsports Park before getting a weekend off. It’s been a hectic week, but it’s all been exciting. Before heading to Milwaukee last week, I went up north a couple of days early and went over to the Power Stroke Diesel by International’s corporate office in Chicago. It was cool to spend a couple of days with my sponsor and to meet with all of the employees. After that, I drove from Chicago to the racetrack in Milwaukee.
After a 10th-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile on Friday, I packed up and drove back to Chicago late that night, got there about 2:30 a.m., got a hotel room and a couple hours of sleep, and was up around 6:00 a.m. From there I went to the airport and flew back to Dallas where my fiancee, Kim, picked me up. We got home and I spent the day mowing the lawn and working on the yard, then around 8:30 p.m. Saturday evening I took Kim out to the Fort Worth Stockyards where I had a good steak. Sunday was a time to catch up on things – doing odds and ends around the house.
Monday came along and I went to the race shop where I run my businesses, David Starr Racing and the Team Texas Driving School race shop. After a few hours of work, it was back home to pack my bags and head off to Cincinnati. On Tuesday, I participated in media day at the Kentucky Speedway, where Ford made a big announcement that they are extending their sponsorship of the Built Ford Tough 225, and after the announcement we gave pace car rides to the media in a Ford Mustang.
Wednesday morning, instead of flying back to Texas for one day, I decided to fly to Memphis for some sight seeing. I went over to the Martin Luther King Jr. museum and saw where he was shot, then I went over to Sun Studios where Elvis was discovered and did the tour there. After all of that, I went to Beale Street in Memphis and had a lot of fun just hanging around.
On Thursday, my teammate Crawford and I went to Graceland for a private tour. It was awesome, we drove in the front gates of Graceland and parked at the front door. We were the last tour of the day and had the house basically to ourselves. Then it was out to eat in the evening before heading back to the hotel and relaxing before Friday’s activities.
That’s the great thing about our sport. With the obligations you have to your sponsor, to NASCAR, and to your manufacturer, you are always on the road. Some people say its a grueling schedule, but man, whatever I have to do to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, I’ll do it. You are lucky that they even want you to be involved in something like a media day somewhere, so whatever they throw at me, I enjoy doing it because I love to race.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season – both on and off the track. Our MaxxForce Diesel team is on the verge of doing something big, and I can’t wait!