The last time I wrote in before the Daytona 500, I mentioned how I believed that I had meet my “wreck quota” after getting swept up in about three different accidents during Speedweeks. Well, so much for that theory. The season opener definitely did not go the way we had hoped, which was frustrating, but you have to stay focused. The good thing is that bad luck will eventually run out and things will start to go our way. I think it’s better to crash when you’re fast than to wreck and still be struggling.
I’m so glad that everyone on Team Red Bull has the ability to overcome adversity because we certainly have faced our share of it to start the season. The very next weekend in Fontana, we experienced engine and brake problems during the race which ended our chances of racing a very good car. We had a top-10 qualifying run and when the car was working, it was fast. I am looking forward to going back there later this year as well as visiting other similar tracks on the circuit. We have already begun to recover from our issues though as the team made significant strides in fixing the brake problems at Vegas.
Speaking of Vegas, we certainly had an interesting weekend in “Sin City.” I was pumped about putting the No. 99 Red Bull Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing on the pole for the Nationwide race. Unfortunately, we didn’t last very long in the race itself. I think Kyle Busch was driving a loose racecar and got down to a part of the track where he hadn’t been all day and there just wasn’t any grip there. I don’t know what was going on during that race with all of the wrecks, but something weird was happening if guys like Busch were spinning out.
On the Sprint Cup side, you can definitely say that we had an up and down weekend. We had engine problems in qualifying which put us in the back of the field to start. However, the crew made a bunch of changes to the car on Saturday, which obviously were good ones. Both Jimmy Elledge and I are making progress on working together and you are starting to see the results on the track. We started out the weekend really bad, but by the end of the day on Sunday, we came home with our best finish of the year.
Vegas was also a unique weekend for me because it was the first time where I split driving between the Cup and Nationwide cars. Some may think that racing on Saturday was what helped me on Sunday, but its actually not so much the case. In fact, the cars are so different that it’s taking me a while to feel comfortable transitioning between the two series. It sure was fun though.
Some of you may have concerns about the engine woes that our entire team has been experiencing so far this year. Rest assured though, that we are not worried. One reason is because it is out of our control! We put it in TRD’s hands and say “give us the best engines you can.” The facilities that they have in California are awesome and the guys out there are working really hard. I have all the faith in the world that we are going to have good engines all year. I’m sure they’ll take care of the problems we’ve been having and we’ll move on. They’ll do our part and we’ll do ours.
It’s going to be really nice to head back to the east coast. I think I have been home for all of about two days through the month of February since I stayed out west between California and Vegas. I really enjoyed it though because a lot of my family still lives out that way and I brought a bunch of them out to the Vegas race. It was great having them there and I’m glad we were able to put on a good show.
The season is pretty much in full swing now and I think you will continue seeing good things from this team. Trust me, Vegas is just the beginning. Thanks again for all of your support!