The race at Texas this past week was definitely a sign of how much better we are getting. It wasn’t a spectacular finish, but we’ll take an 18th any day right now. So much has improved since we missed the show there back in April. A large part of it is due to me getting a better feeling of what the car should be doing so I can help Jimmy (Elledge) adjust it to where it needs to be. Even with all of that improvement, we still almost missed it. I mean, I qualified 31st for crying out loud… but it was much faster in race trim. If you compare it to this race one year ago, which was my second ever Sprint Cup race where I was like five laps down and finished 30-something, it becomes evident how much this team and I have progressed.
Talladega was interesting a few weeks ago, as everyone wanted to play it safe and not cause the Big One for most of the race. In my mind, I didn’t go about the race any differently than I did in April. The first time around, we finished fifth, and this time we were running in seventh coming to the white flag before we got wrecked. I think the only difference between the spring and now is that we’re in the Chase and everybody was trying to respect the situation. Many people are questioning how to make the racing better at that track. I don’t have the experience to know how to improve the situation, at least not yet. I’m very much the newcomer, and it would be silly to give advice to NASCAR about what to do. From my standpoint, it’s actually been one of my better racetracks. For whatever reason, it suits my style of driving, so I really don’t want to change anything!
One reason why I do better at Talladega could be due to my pre-race routines to keep me relaxed. Some weeks, I’m playing Wii, while other times I like playing online poker. I’m always doing something. That’s just how I am; in fact, it pisses off my wife Amanda, because I’m always getting into something new and then I get obsessive about it. She’s a little different than I am; she’s a normal person. For me, I always have something going on in my life that I obsess about, and that is what actually keeps me relaxed during a race. I have to admit, though, that every once in a while I bring her into my crazy world. There is a Wii workout video that we both like to do together.
I have to say that the Wii is a great way to stay in shape because with our schedules, we’re not always as fortunate as we were at Texas last week where we had a great gym to go to. I work out a lot, not so much for driving during the races but for myself. I have to keep my own goals for fitness just to stay motivated. For example, I’m gearing up for a half-marathon at the end of this year and a big cycling race at some point next year. One of my neighbors and I are looking into a decathlon as well. He used to be a Marine, and we’re doing it because we’re both named Scott, so we’ll be Scott 1 and Scott 2. Not only does this all keep me in shape, but it also keeps me out of trouble, which Amanda kind of likes!
My training is only a small piece of what will be happening in the next few months. The Sprint Cup season may be winding down, but my schedule certainly is not. I’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up for the offseason. Amanda and I will be going to Europe with Kyle [Busch] and Sam. While we’re there, we’ll hit up the Red Bull ski race, but I’ll only be a spectator. It’s actually a stop on the world tour; it’s like the Indy 500 of the ski racing. It’s being held in Austria, and it’s one of the most dangerous ski races to win for some of the guys like Bode Miller. Another great part about it is that Red Bull is the sponsor, and they usually have hospitality there since it’s in the country where they are headquartered. I’ve actually gone to it every year since I’ve been a Red Bull athlete, it’s just a really cool event. One of my favorite parts about being involved with Red Bull is meeting all different kinds of people through events like this. I really feel lucky to be a part of this organization. So I’m really excited about that, because it’s nice to see the other parts of the world outside of NASCAR here in America.
I won’t be completely removed from the racing culture, as I’m going to experience some late-model racing that Kyle is really into at the Snowball Derby next month. I’ll be looking to learn more about the racecars from a hands on perspective. I’ve really never worked on that type of thing before, so I’m looking forward to working with Kyle – he makes it entertaining for me. I’ll also be heading to the sand dunes at some point with a sand car, which will be a lot of fun.
Of course, there is always the holidays, and we’ll be spending Christmas with our families, who will be coming out to the East coast. I’ll definitely be hitting the slopes again to do some snowboarding with my brother. So there is a lot going on – no rest for the wicked, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re having the time of our lives!
Thanks for all of your support this year, through the good times and the bad. I really appreciate it, and look forward to the final two weeks of 2009 and especially a new season next year. I’ll leave all of you with one last piece of advice for the year – keep it real and don’t stress too much – that’s my motto!