After several months of sporadic racing for the Truck Series, we are finally at the point of the season where we get to race almost every week. I love it! I hate racing one week and then waiting three weeks. Racing every week suits me just fine.
Now, we head to Mansfield — and I am excited. I’m also excited about PIT Corporate Training being back on my No. 11 Toyota Tundra this weekend. We got close to winning at Mansfield a few years ago, so we are going to try to accomplish the win this time. When you have a team like Red Horse Racing behind you, you are excited to race everywhere. Mansfield is a fun track, it’s exciting, action packed — and we love it.
Even though we haven’t been racing every week, our race team has been very busy. We tested Pocono about four weeks ago, then we went to Darlington and tested right before Charlotte. Jamie Jones, my crew chief, and all of the guys on our team have been working hard and have really stepped up. I know the finishing results at the last two tracks we went to [Charlotte and Kansas] don’t show it, but our mile-and-a-half trucks are really awesome and are night and day different from the first 1.5-mile track this year, at Atlanta. It’s really gotten me and my guys fired up. We’ve just had some very unfortunate situations happen to us, but the team is working hard to get back on top of things. We’ve also had a little fall in the points, but it seems like we are just going through some bad luck right now. We are going to work through it and get it turned around.
The race at Charlotte was exciting, but it didn’t turn out as we had hoped. The way the race played out and with some of the unfortunate breaks we got, we fell a lap down and never really could recover. My No. 11 PIT Corporate Training Toyota Tundra was a little loose at the start of the race, and the way they’ve got the spacing plates under the carburetors that restrict the engines, you pretty much have to run wide open the whole race. We weren’t able to do that, and we lost a lot of ground. We also had a pit stop where something went wrong, and it pretty much cost us time and a lap. We thought we’d get our lap back with no problem, but I just couldn’t make a hole and get up on the high side and run. It was just a combination of a little bit of everything.
I also had a very close call with the wall that could have been disastrous. I was moving forward, and there was a truck in front of me running the line that I was running, kind of holding me up. I finally decided I was going to have to go up to the wall, so I got up beside him to pass. Unfortunately, there was oil up there, and we slipped a little and lost spots. That was part of the problem [at Lowe’s]. You would pass five or six people, but then you’d lose eight spots trying not to wreck it. The race just didn’t play out to our favor. We are a strong team, we have great equipment and great people, along with a great manufacturer. We are going to get this thing turned around. Once we got adjusted on our truck at Charlotte it was fast, so that’s promising. We definitely had a top-10 truck, and it’s frustrating when you don’t get the results that you know you should. It was unfortunate, but you’ve got to leave that one behind and focus on the next race, which is Mansfield. There is nothing we can do about the last two – we are just looking forward, and we’ll keep on digging.
Passing seemed to be an issue in our race and the All-Star Race on Saturday night, because it was harder to pass on the bottom. It seemed like the line was working good up high, and when I would run up there I could pass people; but then it would get all jammed up. I would get a run on somebody, and instead of hitting the brakes and being patient, I went and dove down to the bottom. Then, not only would I not end up making the pass, but I’d lose another three or four spots in the process. I fought myself a lot for what happened at Charlotte, because we should have got our lap back and we should have finished in the top 10.
Along with our exciting Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday, many of the Sprint Cup drivers participated in the “All-Star” race. There has been some talk that the Truck Series and Nationwide Series drivers should be involved somehow, and I think it would be awesome. They need to do an All-Star race of some sort for all three NASCAR series. Either make an All-Star race for the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series… or find a way to combine all of us into one. I think all three series definitely deserve it. They should do something, no doubt about it… it is something that NASCAR definitely needs to look at.
There were also some people grumbling about the fact that Kasey Kahne – the fan’s vote in driver – was the one to win the All Star race. First of all, Kahne is a very capable driver and deserved to be in the race. If you watched it, they worked on that car all night and when it came down to it, when it counted, he had the best car. He earned that win, nothing was given to him during the race. Yeah, he was the fan vote, but that is what the rules allowed. They allow for someone to get voted in by the fans, the fans voted for Kahne, and he took advantage of it. The whole Gillett Evernham Racing team did a great job. They won the race, and I have no problem with it because that is what the rules allow. It’s fair, and I’m all for it.
In the end, it’s all about the fans. Without the fans we wouldn’t have our jobs, so whatever the fans want is most important. I think NASCAR does a good job taking care of them.