Editor’s Note: This diary is part of a wrap-up series detailing the end of the season for Frontstretch‘s four driver diary participants.
Since the last time I was here, we went to Talladega, Martinsville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas and then ended up at Homestead. During that stretch, we showed some signs of greatness as a team – and then we showed signs of faltering a little bit. Talladega was just a mishap that we didn’t see coming on pit road, and I think it cost us the race there. As we went on through the season, Martinsville had a happy ending with a third-place finish – so that was an upswing. We had an OK race in Atlanta, and another in Phoenix. We also sat on the pole with the fastest truck in Texas in the Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International F-150. That was probably the beam of light throughout the 2008 season that we were looking for. We didn’t get quite the chance to show it throughout the event, but we still came home with a decent finish.
We ended the year in Homestead at Ford Championship Weekend without the finish we were looking for at all. It was just one of those things where the truck was running good through the day and then halfway through the race, we had a mechanical part failure inside the engine. I’m not looking at that as being a determining factor. We’ve used these particular Roush Yates engines for the last three years, and I think that’s only the second issue we’ve had with them. I think that’s a really commending story from a racecar driver and team to an engine builder. We hated that it happened in that particular race, but they’d been great engines up until then.
This probably wasn’t my best season, although it also hasn’t been my worst season. All in all, things could be a lot worse, but they really seem to be OK. We have something to build on for next year. International and the Ford Power Stroke Diesel team will be together in 2009; and even though we might have a new company we’ll be representing through the International brand, that’s OK. If I was to grade this year, it would probably be a C+ or a B rating for us. Number one, we didn’t reach victory lane; but number two, we did have a pole. Number three, we didn’t lead as many laps as I would like to lead, although we didn’t tear up many trucks – and we had a safe year and a top-10 finish in the points. That’s how I would grade the season.
As for 2009, right now I can only speak for the No. 14 truck; as for the No. 10 truck, we’re basically waiting on Brendan and Mr. Gaughan to decide what they want to do. Keeping Brendan Gaughan in the No. 10 truck next year is really up to them, and not necessarily up to us. We’re satisfied with Brendan and the things he brings to the table, and if he wants to stay with us, the door is open for him to come on in. We welcome that, but we’re just not sure yet. The No. 14 truck will carry some International branding on it, and we’ll be good to go with Kevin Starland as the crew chief and another great team – hopefully 2009 will be another great year.
I haven’t gotten my pilot’s license yet, but I’ve got more time now since the season is over. I’m putting in more hours, and I’m probably halfway or a little more than halfway through. I’m still enjoying that. I flew today, and I’ll be flying tomorrow or the next day. I’m over halfway there and really still enjoying it, and I’m glad I decided to do it. I’m having fun.
I think I’m going to attend the Snowball Derby again this year at Five Flags Speedway. That’s the first weekend in December. As for Christmas, I usually spend Christmas in Vegas at the South Point Casino. Usually, Brendan goes to Vail to teach snow skiing and I have to go out and look after his house in Las Vegas, the South Point Casino. So we usually swap jobs because I don’t think I would be a very good ski instructor – in my off-time, usually I’m a swimsuit model! So, I look after the South Point Casino during Christmas; and then, we’ll get ready for the 2009 race season. I think in the middle of December, myself, Brendan, my crew chief Kevin Starland and my son Adam will be at the Tom Mitchell ranch in southwest Texas doing a little deer hunting. I think I’m going to do more observing than hunting because I’m not a big hunter; but who knows, if I see a big trophy out there, I might have to bring it home.
I hope everyone has a nice holiday, and I’ll see you next season!