As you could imagine, everybody at Team Red Bull is really pumped about my teammate Brian Vickers making the Chase. It is definitely a big step for our entire team as we establish ourselves on the circuit. To keep things in perspective though, just like I mentioned after Brian’s Michigan win, while we are all happy, we are still two separate teams, so our guys are impacted a little differently. The No. 83 team is simply more established than the No. 82 is or No. 84 was when AJ [Allmendinger] was driving so we have a ways to go before getting to their level. Our team has changed some people around and has progressed throughout the year, so I am happy with that. In the end though, we still have our own stuff that we are working on regardless of whether the No. 83 is doing well or not.
With that being said, there still are some things we can do to help out Brian and his team during the Chase. For example, at Richmond we spent a lot more time in qualifying trim so they could work on their race setup. But that was about the extent of it. One of the main reasons why we don’t talk directly to each other all that much about setups is because, for the most part, that’s all done electronically. We have computers that are linked up between the teams so when we make a change on the track and I make a comment about it, that all goes into the system and they can read that stuff live. So we are sharing in real time no matter what.
Another reason why I am somewhat out of the loop on the details of the set up is that for the most part, Jimmy [Elledge] is looking at that info. I have my access to this data as well, but he is the one making all of the decisions. I just look over every thing and learn what I can, but it’s not my place to make decisions about the set up. It’s my job to tell him how the car is driving. In my opinion, you get in trouble the more you start learning about it because you naturally want to give your opinion on what you should do. Instead, I try to back away and focus on my job as the driver, which is describing as best you can as to what the car is doing and let them make the decisions. That is difficult at times for me because I’m learning about every one of those aspects. But as soon as I start saying what I think we should do, it starts to get confusing as to who is making those calls.
Every driver wants to make those type of calls once in a while but no matter what level a driver is at, it is still important for them to tell the crew chief what the car is doing and not how to fix it. For example, I can tell you that one of the best out there, Kyle Busch, who is one of my best friends doesn’t tell Steve [Addington] what to do on the car. I think some drivers who make more set up calls are probably working with a weak crew chief. The guy atop the pit box is the one who has the most information and is thinking about that type of stuff so I can’t ever imagine this changing. I have enough to think about as a driver!
Speaking of Kyle, as you all know it was a tough weekend for him with missing the Chase, but I can tell you that he is doing well. I think he’s grown up a lot, to be honest. You have to look at it from the perspective that so many things went wrong this year. He got so unlucky in so many situations throughout the season and that’s why he came up just a few points short. At the end of the day, he did his job right all year long and it just worked out that he didn’t make the Chase. I do think it was a good year for him personally. In fact in some ways, I think it helped him because he had to learn how to handle not winning everything and experiencing some struggles and I personally think he’s a better person for that.
Many of you know that the lovely Amanda and I got married back in July but we had to wait for the next off weekend on the schedule in order to go on our honeymoon. That opportunity came at the end of August when both of us went to St. Lucia. It was great to experience a Caribbean island as neither Amanda nor I have done that. In hindsight, I think maybe we would have spent less time there and taken two mini-vacations instead. I think after three days both of us felt that we saw everything on the resort. Overall though, I think we made a great decision by going and Amanda made great calls on where we stayed, although it was quite an experience just getting there. The ride from the airport to the resort took about an hour and a half. You basically land on one side of the island and have to drive to the exact opposite side. It’s only 27 miles long, but the roads aren’t that good, its like a third-world country, which was interesting to experience.
Be sure to root for Team Red Bull over the next 10 races and while you’re cheering for Brian, don’t forget about us! My guys are working hard and I’m definitely excited to be visiting some of these upcoming tracks for a second time. I fully expect to end the season with a bang!