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.
So, here we are, at the end of another season in the Craftsman Truck Series!
It’s only been two races since my last entry. The race at Phoenix was just OK for us, and we struggled a lot with front grip. Our Zachry Toyota Tundra wasn’t too bad, but right there at the end, Kyle Busch and about four or five other drivers pitted for tires, and then we had a caution that hurt us a little, too. We probably would have finished ninth or 10th, but we lost some spots at the end to the guys with newer tires. At Homestead, we decided to try something new setup wise, and it wasn’t very good. We really struggled. We were moving forward and making some progress, but it wasn’t enough to get us the finish we wanted. When you try new things for a race, you learn a lot of stuff – sometimes good, sometimes bad. But in the end, that’s what will help us next year.
This season has been a bit rocky, and it definitely didn’t live up to our expectations. However, considering everything that the organization went through in 2008, my hat goes off to my team. They definitely have a lot of heart and a real desire to win. We still feel that we are a bit behind, but they work hard and refuse to give up. So, while we definitely aren’t satisfied with this season, we are looking forward to next year.
Towards the end of the season, we were extremely fortunate to have a great sponsor, Zachry Holdings, Inc., come on board. But even without a sponsor, my truck owners, Tom DeLoach and Jeff Hammond, have always given us the tools we need to get the job done. They spare no expense in getting us good equipment and great people who work hard day in and day out, for endless hours. That says a lot about Tom and Jeff. Everyone at Red Horse Racing has a lot of dignity and pride in what they do. We know we have a team capable of winning; we have great owners and a strong, first class organization, so we thought we’d have a sponsor a long time ago. And while we’ve always had a lot of support from our owners, it definitely meant a lot to us to get the support we got from Zachry. We are definitely honored and excited to have them as a part of the team. The pride and commitment that everyone in the Zachry organization has about what they do is the same pride and commitment that we have at Red Horse Racing. I believe it is a perfect fit. There is nothing set right now, but we are hoping that they like what they saw in our team, see the value of the partnership, and that they come back to sponsor us in 2009 and beyond.
I think being involved in NASCAR has been a great experience for them, as well. They have had a recruiting booth at the last six races and signed up people to work at their worksites throughout the country. I’ve gone to several of their job sites around the country to talk to their employees about teamwork and what we do, and that has also been a huge success. So, there is a lot of excitement amongst both companies, and hopefully, they will come on board. We are excited that we had a chance to audition, and hopefully, they will make a decision sometime in December. There are no guarantees, but I don’t think they will find a team, owners, or an organization like this anywhere else!
Although the racing season is over, there is no downtime. My company, David Starr Racing, has been growing, and we are pretty busy right now. We are taking our “simulators” to some Christmas parties, to Texas Motor Speedway, and hotels, etc. We also use the wintertime to rebuild some of our simulators and get our stuff ready to go for January. It’s also a busy time at Red Horse Racing, but it’s going to be a little different than in the past. We usually use some of the offseason for testing, but now that NASCAR has said we cannot test at a track that they race at, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to figure out which tracks we can test at that will be beneficial. But we are up for the challenge. My new crew chief, Rick Gay, and everyone at Red Horse Racing will work hard to make us competitive. You just can’t slow down because if you take some time off and slack off, you will definitely fall behind. We know we didn’t run where we were capable of this season, so we are definitely determined to show everyone what we are made of in 2009.
But the offseason won’t be all work. Thanksgiving is coming up, and we have a lot of plans. For Thanksgiving Day, we will go to my wife’s cousin’s house and have Thanksgiving with her side of the family. After that, we will visit with my side of the family. My grandmother turned 90, so we are having kind of a Thanksgiving/birthday party with everyone getting together. We’re going to a place called Hill Country in Texas, between San Antonio and Austin, where we’ll stay in cabins and have a lot of fun. It’s going to be a great time!
But after the holidays are over, my full concentration will be back on racing. We have a lot of exciting things planned at RHR. Hopefully, Zachry will come on board permanently. Also, there has been a lot of talk about a second team. Nothing is confirmed, but that is definitely something that Tom DeLoach has been working hard at for a long time. There is no second team finalized yet, but I’m excited about the idea because no matter who the driver is, when you have a two truck team in an organization, it always makes both teams stronger. You have more people working together to make both trucks stronger, and it’s usually a win/win situation. Hopefully, everything will come together real soon. And I’ve heard all the same rumors you all hear, but just know that they are just that – rumors, not facts!!
It’s been another exciting year in the Craftsman Truck Series, and it’s fitting that a guy like Johnny Benson would become the series’ champion. He is a champion on and off the track, a tough competitor and great race car driver. Everyone at Bill Davis Racing does a great job, and they definitely deserve the title. But as you all know, it could have gone either way. Once again, it went down to the last race, and this time to the very last turn. Had Ron Hornaday finished one spot ahead of Johnny in the final race at Homestead, instead of one spot behind, it would have gone the opposite way and Hornaday would have been champ. Hornaday is a true champion, and it’s almost a shame that you can’t have two. They put on an exciting fight all year, running up front all the time — it’s just a shame someone has to lose. It definitely was exciting for the fans. This series just continues to grow and excite, and I am proud that Benson is our champion — I know he is going to represent our sport well!
So with that, I just want to thank all of my fans for their continued support throughout the 2008 season. I want to wish you all a Happy Holiday season, and I look forward to seeing you all next year!