We are more than half way through the 2007 season, and in a little over two weeks we go to Bristol Motor Speedway! Recently we took our International MaxxForce Diesel Ford F-150 to test the “new” Bristol track. It’s always cool to go to there because it’s just an awesome facility and there is so much excitement and history at the track. Going there last week and testing was exciting because of the new surface. It was a great test, but the track was very “green,” meaning there was no rubber on it. All in all, it was good for my team to be able to really work together and try new stuff. We learned a lot and I’m looking forward to going back there for the race.
It was obvious that the track has changed and there are some transitions into the corner and off the corner that are different. It still has a lot of banking to it, but it looks to me like you’ll be able to run side-by-side in the future, because the racetrack is so smooth. I think the real racing is going to be on the bottom like it always has been, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you see people running the middle of the track or up high and remain competitive. I think they have changed it for the better and I think its pretty awesome. It will take some races to really move the groove up, but over time, as it ages and gets more rubber on it, I believe the racetrack will get better and better.
We’ve made some big improvements with the International MaxxForce Diesel team. We’re definitely frustrated that we have kind of stalled a bit, but Dennis Connor, my crew chief, is making some changes within the team and we are doing some different things to try to make ourselves stronger. When you have a teammate like Rick Crawford, with as well as his No. 14 Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International team is performing, we should be able to benefit from that. We haven’t really taken advantage of that opportunity, but from this point forward we are determined to turn that around. I’m excited about the future and I don’t like to think about the past. I’m the kind of guy that wants to know how we can make it better and how we can fix it for the future, not dwell on our past failures. It hasn’t been what I expected it to be, but Dennis Conner and everybody at Circle Bar Racing are working hard to get the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel Ford competitive like the No. 14 team. It’s been a tough year, but it is going to get better.
It seems like you always see the same people running up front a lot this year. Guys like Crawford, Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner and Ron Hornaday are very experienced and very capable of winning week in and week out. One of the reasons these guys are so successful is that they have great teams and have all been together for a while. With the talent, experience and knowledge that they have on their teams, it doesn’t surprise me at all that they are there every week, winning poles, winning races and running up front. That being said, the Craftsman Truck Series is very competitive, and while we are a new team, we have all the resources at Circle Bar Racing that we need. Being a factory-backed Ford team and having great sponsors like International MaxxForce Diesel is what it takes to be successful in this series. Perhaps that’s why I’m so disappointed. I believe we should have been a lot more competitive up to this point, but as I said, it’s a tough series. If you are off just a little bit it shows up a lot more these days than it would have two or three years ago. The teams are better, the drivers are awesome, and you always have to be on top of your game. The guys up front work hard and deserve to be there. With everything that we have at Circle Bar Racing, I know we’ll be up there racing with them soon.
In one week we’ll be racing at Nashville, but this weekend is an off-weekend for the Craftsman Truck Series. You might think that I’d be off vacationing somewhere or laying around enjoying the time off. You would be wrong. My main priority is racing. Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Circle Bar Racing, driving my International MaxxForce Diesel Ford F-150 – I eat, sleep and breathe that stuff. That’s my life. I also have my promotional business back in Texas, David Starr Racing. When I’m away from home, Lisa Stanley and Jack Lassiter pretty much run my business and take care of things. However, when I’m back home in Texas I’m very hands-on. I clean my own racecars, trucks and trailers, and I’m kind of a perfectionist. I like to make sure that if anything needs to be done to my equipment, I’m going to be the one to fix them or make something better. I spend a lot of time working on my company when I’m not on the road racing, or when I’m not in Charlotte helping out at the Circle Bar Racing shop.
I also just got a new house about a year ago and I don’t like anyone else mowing my yard or messing with my landscaping. So when I do have a little time off, I’ll also spend a lot of it working hard on stuff at my house.
It’s not all work, though. A couple of weeks ago, during a weekend off, I drove a modified car to a ninth-place finish at the local dirt track. It was pretty cool because I had never driven a modified dirt car. I was really rusty because it has actually been about 15 years since I’ve really driven on dirt. About five years ago, I did a promotional deal in Louisiana at a dirt track racing with Ken Schrader, but that was in a late model car. I’ve been invited to go dirt racing with some of the stars of our sport, but I’ve always respectfully declined in the past because I want to be at the top of my game. Right now, I’m taking advantage of a lot of friends who live in Texas and have asked me to drive their cars. Who knows. Saturday night I might jump into another dirt car and run another dirt race. I just love to race. If I could do it everyday, I would – whether it was Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series or any NASCAR series. Whether I’m racing a jalopy bomber car or a dirt car somewhere, it makes my blood pump. I just love it!
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