Well, it was another very competitive, down-to-the-wire season in the Craftsman Truck Series. For the fans and for us competitors, it was exciting because you didn’t know who the champion was going to be until the final lap at Homestead. That’s the way it should be, and the way it has been in the Craftsman Truck Series. The series continues to grow in popularity year after year, because people are seeing more and more how fierce the competition is.
The 2007 season was just an OK season for our Circle Bar Racing MaxxForce Diesel team. In our defense, most of my team was put together very late in the offseason, so we kind of had our backs up against the wall the whole time. With that said, being able to get into the top 10 in the final race of the season was a neat thing. Obviously, our expectations were much higher than that, but I feel we did everything we could to be successful. I just can’t thank my MaxxForce team enough for all the effort they put into our trucks and pit stops all season. They were amazing considering everything they were up against.
As most of you know, I will not be returning to Circle Bar Racing in 2008. First, I want to say that I appreciate everything that Circle Bar Racing did for me. Team owner Tom Mitchell is a great man, and they just don’t make people any better than him. If it weren’t for him, I may not have been racing in 2007, so thank you to everyone at Circle Bar Racing.
I will be returning to Red Horse Racing for the 2008 season, and I can’t tell you how excited I am. We had a great year in 2006 and were very competitive all year long, so going back to them was a no brainer. We were in the top 10 most of the season and won a race at Martinsville. Initially, I had a three-year contract with Red Horse Racing, but after our first season, we were put in a difficult situation at the end of 2006. Without a sponsor, Tom DeLoach called me and said that we will race in 2007, but we may not race the entire season. He knew I was a racer and wanted to race the full season, so we decided I should put my name out there to see if I could get a better deal. He was more than a boss; he was more like family, looking out for my best interest. So although we were under contract, we put my name out there and let people know I was available.
I was fortunate that Rick Crawford, Circle Bar Racing and MaxxForce chose me to drive the No. 10 MaxxForce Ford F-150 truck so close to the beginning of the 2007 season. I had a full-time ride with a great team, a great sponsor, a champion crew chief and all the puzzle pieces were in place. Taking the ride was an easy decision to make. Although they didn’t want me to leave, I talked to Tom and Jeff Hammond and they let me out of my contract. They knew I was the person they wanted, but I just couldn’t race part-time. Even up until the last minute, they tried to get a sponsor for our No. 11 Toyota Tundra. I didn’t want to leave after 2006, but that’s one of the ugly parts of this business. Running without a sponsor is just almost impossible these days.
Going into the 2008 season, I feel like I’ve come back home. To be back again with Tom, Jeff, my crew chief Jamie Jones and Toyota is very exciting. In 2006, I felt like we had a really great race team, and it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to continue in 2007. I felt like their program was getting stronger and the trucks were getting better. Their commitment to winning races and Toyota’s commitment to RHR is even stronger than it was before. They have purchased some new technical equipment to put in the shop to make the trucks better, and they are really a first class organization – one capable of winning championships.
So far this “offseason” we have been doing some testing at Rockingham and we will be out at Daytona testing soon. But right now, it’s Christmas time and I’m definitely looking forward to going back home and spending time with my family. The most exciting event that will happen during this offseason is definitely my upcoming wedding to my beautiful fiancee, Kim, which is coming up very soon. We are also looking forward to a nice, relaxing honeymoon.
While I will definitely be enjoying the time off, I’m also looking forward to getting back wide open again. I’m a racer, that’s what I do, and coming off the year I had this year, it’s made me even more eager. I’m hungry for a win, and can’t wait for Daytona in February.
Before I end this, I just want to let my fans know how thankful I am for their continued support. Even though we didn’t have the type of year we expected to have in 2006, my fans were always there to support us – thank you for that. I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you for always supporting me, and you should all be excited about 2008!!