We ended last time by starting at Daytona. We were ready to go racing. Daytona Speedweeks is always exciting. It’s always great to be at the world center of racing. Leading up to the race, the Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford F-150 was running great with Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International. We got ready to qualify, and qualified a little bit better than we expected because the truck that we took to Daytona is really good in race trim, and we knew how good it was. At the beginning of the race, I sort of got boxed in and there was no where to go. The inside line I was in sort of pushed me toward the back, so we hung around there for a little while. At Daytona, with the intake reducer on it, the racing is really close there for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, so at the beginning of the race we just kind of let the ranks get sorted out. That’s not necessarily my style, but we did. I even watched my teammate Brendan Gaughan go by me in the MaxxForce Diesel by International pickup and I thought “Wow! Look at him go!” He was going to the front and I think he actually got up to about third, fourth or fifth before the big accident happened on the back straightaway.
We were coming off turn 2 and I just saw smoke and everything else, and we were running 185 to 195 mph. The next thing I knew, there were trucks going backward, sideways, off the ground, just piling in to one another. I saw the fastest part of the moving accident was on the right and I saw some trucks go to the left so I eased mine to the left going 185 mph and prayed that I made it through. The next thing I knew, I glanced to the right as far as I could and I saw this big fireball right beside me. What an event it was. All during this my spotter was saying, “I can’t see! I can’t see!” Out in the clear I radioed back to him and said, “I couldn’t either!”
We made it through that one, but the next one got us a little bit. We had some front damage but it wasn’t enough to slow the Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International down. We came back and we ran up front, in fact at one point in time during the race, I was ready to take the lead and Kevin Starland said it was at the wrong time in the race to do that. I wanted to lead the race and had a pretty fast horse. We settled back and settled in and everything worked out the rest of the night. We got a good top-five finish. Coming out of Daytona with a good top-five finish is not necessarily where I wanted to be, I wanted to win at Daytona since I have already tasted victory there in 2003, but a top-five finish is good insurance to start the year off. It’s not a bad place to be.
We went to California next and we just didn’t run the performance that we wanted to run. In Daytona, we were best in class and we had four of the foreign brands in front of us in first through fourth. The same brand was running good in California and our brand was struggling a little bit. After I went to a Kid Rock concert and really had a nice time doing that on our weekend off, we came to Atlanta – another one of my favorite tracks to race on and where I hold a track record. We were second in class and finished 11th and slipped back to sixth in points. The points battle is getting pretty close again. I know it’s early in the season but I’m looking at that because I’m looking for a championship and we just can’t let it slip away from us so early in the season.
I went to the Kid Rock concert as just a regular fan. I had good seats, but I’m just a fan and I don’t think anybody knew who I was. I didn’t dress out of place and I think I played the part pretty well. I enjoyed the music. He put on one heck of a show. He started playing at 8:15 and at 11:30 he quit and it was a rock and roll revival. Let me tell you, he put on a great show and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Adam is getting ready for the start of his season. He’s traveling to a late model event in Mobile, Ala., this weekend with the KSJ 95 event coming up on Saturday night. Adam did something yesterday that was pretty big in his racing career. He actually tested Dad’s truck at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina and did an outstanding job. I’m proud of him and I think the Circle Bar team was proud of him, and Adam handled himself very well – like an experienced veteran. He did things in the right step and listened very well. He did really well. Crew chief Kevin Starland had a nice truck there for him, one of Dad’s trucks, and Adam knew what to do with it and did a good job with it. This week we are testing with the NASCAR test at Martinsville on Wednesday and Thursday so Adam might get a chance to see if he can pass his NASCAR license and maybe run some short-track races later on in the year.