It was a tough day this past week during the Nationwide [Series] testing at Charlotte. We tore up a really good racecar, which is unfortunate. I am OK, but I feel bad for the guys back at the shop. The good thing though is that is really the only negative thing that has happened to us recently, as our season is really shaping up the way we knew it would.
For instance, last weekend at Darlington we got jammed up early on and had to come in for a pit stop. We left pit road in 38th position, but raced our way up to the top 10. For most of the night, I was running anywhere from 10th–12th, and that is a great step for this team. I was up there passing and racing guys who just last year, I could hardly see their bumper covers. If we can stay the course and keep doing the right things, I definitely feel like we can get a top-10 finish before long.
One thing that changed our race a little bit at Darlington was the new pavement, which definitely helped reduce our tire wear. Before, when we came in for a pit stop, the tires would be just about worn out. Now, they last a lot longer. There also used to be some pretty big rough spots on the track, but it’s now all super smooth and has better grip. Despite those changes, though, it’s still the same old Darlington that can chew you up and spit you out. You’re still running the same line; it just feels like you’re going about 100 mph faster even though you’re not. The scrapes are a lot more significant, too.
Speaking of which, it’s not Darlington if you don’t leave with a stripe, and I got one early on. There were a few little scrapes that I got off turn 4, but I told the guys that those don’t count! It doesn’t take a whole lot to get up in the wall there, it’s just part of life at that track.
The new car gave us a lot more durability, which allowed us to get away with a lot more run-ins with the wall than normal. The whole inner cavity is fitted with a foam block so when you go to a place like Darlington, you can bounce off the wall. It doesn’t damage the door as much, which was definitely an unintended additional advantage that nobody expected for a feature which was originally meant to increase safety.
As many of you might have heard, my dad has been busy racing and already has a win at East Bay Raceway Park, which is about an hour from my hometown. It’s always exciting to see him win, but it was extra special for him to win at that facility. I used to race there when I was competing on dirt, and we both had a lot of success there. That track is probably one of my favorite places to race on the planet! It’s surrounded by swampland, which is a perfect setting since nobody lives nearby to complain about the noise. This location was perfect for a racetrack; the only downside is that you need to worry about the mosquitoes.
My dad is still a regular at our races, but unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to watch him in over a year because of our crazy schedule. I know he’s racing though, because I’m the car owner and those tire and gas bills still show up in my mailbox! Even though I don’t get a chance to watch him very much, I’m happy he is doing well, enjoying himself, and most importantly, driving for me! I couldn’t have hired a better guy!
Speaking of family, many of you may be wondering what happened with my cousin Wayne Jr., who we were going to field an ARCA team for earlier in the year. As it turned out, we had a lot of people lined up to support us financially, but when the economy got a little shaky, a lot of them had to draw back a little. I decided to put our plans on hold, because I wasn’t going to enter a car that did not have the right stuff to win races. We have high expectations and both Wayne and I expect to meet them. We will definitely have something going in the future, but unfortunately, things are in a holding pattern for the moment.
Thanks again to everyone for their support! We really appreciate it and I look forward to giving the fans even more to cheer about in the upcoming weeks.