I was definitely disappointed in our race at Bristol. I expected to run a lot better that what we ran. That particular racecar I no longer have any faith in. That car always pushes. My car owner and I have come to the decision that it will be a show car from now on. We will no longer keep that in our stable of racecars. I don’t think I have ever been lapped at Bristol under competitive conditions before, and it felt horrible.
After Bristol, we went to California where the team was dealt a severe blow. We thought that our crew chief, Kenneth Campbell, was on the mend (from an infection), that he was going to get better. The whole team, we all got out to California, and then around 9:00, I got a phone call from Jay Robinson telling me that Kenneth had passed away. It was devastating to all of us, but especially Jay. Jay and Kenneth got along real well – Kenneth had been with the team for six years. I got the call around 9:00, 9:40 local time, and I went over to the hotel. The team was in shock. Everybody was hanging around the swimming pool.
We had to put our best foot forward, so we went racing. The race didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. I ran out of gas coming out of turn 4. I had to coast all the way around and lost a couple of laps.
After California, the whole team got together and went to Kenneth’s funeral. Having to bury our crew chief – you really have to have thick skin or be tough for something as tragic as that.
Of course, the very next week we had to be in Richmond. Richmond, I believe, was the highlight of our year. My engineer set the car up, and then we ended up getting rained out for qualifying. Thankfully, we were the most competitive we’ve been this year. We finished 18th, on the lead lap. The reason I feel it was a really competitive race was because all the Cup drivers were there. It wasn’t like we were at Nashville and nobody was there, so I was really happy to have outrun some top teams like Elliott Sadler, Jason Leffler, Kelly Bires and Brad Keselowski.
I think the Richmond race really helped raise the morale of the team. I think that it helped raise spirits after Kenneth’s death. I’m happy that we were able to get Chris Rice as our new crew chief. Chris will be starting at Dover. I’m really excited about bringing Chris on. He worked with me at Bill Davis Racing. I think what’s exciting about Chris is he will lift everybody’s spirits. He’s a good guy, gives good team talks and he’s very nice. I think that’s what the team has been looking for is somebody to lift everybody’s spirits up. I would like to add that my car owner, Jay Robinson, did a hell of a job calling the race at Richmond and adjusting the car. It’s been a long journey this last month and a half since Kenneth got sick in Montreal. Now we have to move on and take care of business and get more competitive. I’ve always said that the motto of this team should be ‘Overachieve.’ We have overachieved a lot this year.
We’re coming down toward the end of the year. We want to definitely end on a high note. We just built a new short-track car that I’m really excited about. We’re going to run it at Memphis. I think what I’m really excited about at Jay Robinson Racing is that even though the economy is not good right now and you would think that a team like ours would start being really conservative, we are just getting stronger thanks to U.S. Border Patrol. We’re building new cars and looking to get better.
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