NASCAR Race Weekend Central

David Starr Driver Diary: Saying Goodbye to 2009 – & Frontstretch

Here we are at the end of another season. All in all, 2009 was an OK season for our No. 24 Zachry Toyota Tundra team. When we started out, our expectations were really high. I had a great owner in Jim Harris, a great crew chief in Jason Miller, an excellent engineer we called Slash, and a great team including Bobby Jones, Curtis Martin and Anthony Alonzo. We really thought we were going to go out there and win. Our HT Motorsports team got to be really consistent and we had fast, good handling trucks with a lot of speed. But even though we’d run well, we just had weird luck. We’d be running near the front, make a pit stop for tires, then another for gas, and next thing we knew we’d be a lap down. We’d spend so much time trying to get back on the lead lap, that by the time the race ended the best we could do was a top 10. It just seemed like we had a run of 4-5 races with really fast trucks, but really bad luck. During the season, we lost our top engineer, and I think that lowered the morale of our team. It definitely hurt our performance some, but I’m very proud about how we rebounded towards the end of the season.

We finished ninth in the final point standings, had 14 top-10 finishes… but we should have had 23 top 10s. We should have won a race or more. We had everything we needed to go out there and compete, but we just didn’t get it done. We didn’t have the best equipment, not the latest and greatest, newest stuff, but we still should have been in the top 10 every week. Racing is all about performance and in my mind, the way I feel about it, you have to win. If you don’t win, you really aren’t successful, so in my mind, the 2009 season was just OK. We were not at all where we thought we’d be at the end of the year, so it’s very disappointing.

As far as my 2010 plans, right now as I’m writing this, I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen. I WILL be racing full-time and my sponsor Zachry will be with me. The rest of it is up in the air right now, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks all will be straightened out and an announcement can be made. There are some things that I am working on, waiting to find out what Jim Harris is going to do next year, and see what direction we are heading. I am very excited that Zachry is going to be staying with me. I can’t say how much I appreciate all of their support the last couple of years. They are such a great company. They are the leader in construction engineering, and are a first-class company. It has been so cool for me to be able to introduce Zachry and their employees to the world of NASCAR and to the Camping World Truck Series. When they bring their employees and customers to the racetrack, I get the chance to show them my world and what I do, and it’s just as big a thrill for me as it is for them.

I know there has been some talk out there that I might run part-time or at least some races in the Nationwide Series. First and foremost, my number one priority is the Camping World Truck Series. I’ve had such a great career in the Truck Series and look forward to a lot more years. I have done some racing in the Nationwide Series over the years, and I’ve had some offers beginning last year, but in my mind a lot of them are so-so offers. I’ve had a lot of offers for start-and-park, but that is not what I’m interested in. I just can’t go into a race knowing I’m going to pull off the track 10-20 laps in. I’ve never done it, so why start now? I’ve talked to a couple of teams about maybe doing a partial schedule in 2010, but right now there haven’t been any serious discussions. As I said, I want to get my Truck Series plans firmed up before I really start thinking about doing anything else. Stay tuned to www.davidstarr.com for any new developments.

One of the things that I think might have tripped me and several of my competitors up this season were the new pit rules. For 2009, NASCAR only allowed us to either pit for tires or for gas during one stop – we couldn’t do both. In NASCAR’s mind, they figured it would save the teams money because they wouldn’t have to bring so many crew members to the track. I definitely tip my hat to NASCAR for looking out for the team owners. With the economic times we live in, everyone in every industry is struggling and doing what they can to cut costs and save money. NASCAR thought the new rules would help us all out, and I understand their thought process, but I must say I am glad that they are changing things back in 2010. We will once again be able to change tires and fill up our tanks in the same stop.

One of the problems with the 2009 rules is that I think it was kind of confusing for the fans, and also for the drivers and teams. For the fans, they’d see us come in, then pull out, go for a lap, and pull back in, and I think the fans got a little confused about what was going on. I think that going back to the regular style pit stops is going to be beneficial to everyone.

Another one of NASCAR’s rule changes for the 2010 season is that the Camping World Truck Series is going to move to the double-file, “shoot-out style” restarts. I never thought that the Truck Series could get any more exciting. We race hard, there is a lot of beating and banging, and in my opinion, it’s the best series of all three. It’s all about the fans, so for NASCAR to implement the double-file restarts in the CWTS, the fans will definitely get their money’s worth.

So now, I get a little time off to spend the holiday with my family and enjoy some real, quality time with my 8-month-old son. My official “offseason” really just started on Wednesday. Once we got through the Homestead race weekend, I stayed around for the series banquet Monday night and didn’t get home until Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, I went down to work some at my shop, catching up on things, then of course Thursday was Thanksgiving. Then, on Friday and Saturday I went to the Autorama Car Show in Houston. I’ve been going since I was a little boy, so I wanted to continue the tradition. While I was there, I had the pleasure of visiting with 89-year-old racer Joe Plowman, who used to race with AJ Foyt. I watched Plowman race when I was a kid, and it was great to be able to visit with him and hear about racing back in the 1960s and 1970s.

When I returned back to Dallas on Sunday, my wife, son, and I went to Southlake Town Square for some shopping and a horse carriage ride around the square. We also took David Jr. for his first visit with Santa Claus. It was really a cool experience as a dad.

On Monday morning, I headed to Charlotte for the filming of SPEED’s NASCAR Race Hub to do a sort of rewind of the Camping World Truck Series with Colin Braun and Rick Crawford. Tuesday, I was in San Antonio giving a speech at a leadership conference for Zachry, so Wednesday is the first day I’ve been able to really just relax and enjoy the “offseason” and start getting ready for the holiday season.

This being my first Christmas and holiday season as a dad, I can’t tell you how excited I am. I got the lights put up on the house, and sometime in the next couple of days, my eight month old son and I will head out to find a Christmas tree. While I love what I do, I really enjoy and always look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially these days. I asked my wife the other day what I did to deserve to be so lucky. I’m just so blessed to be able to do what I love to do for a living, and to have such a wonderful family to share it with.

I’m also very blessed to have so many wonderful fans like I do. It’s definitely all about the fans, and I just can’t thank you all enough. I’m just a normal guy that took advantage of the opportunities I had, and was able to live my dream of racing for a living. And it is unbelievable to me that the fans have cared enough to follow my life on Frontstretch for the last five years.

This will be my last diary with Frontstretch. I have really enjoyed being able to share my thoughts and my life over the last few years, and I thank Frontstretch for allowing me the opportunity. And to the fans who continue to support me, it is very humbling to think that someone would take a moment out of their lives to read about what’s going on with me and my team. I am honored and forever grateful for everything!

Happy Holidays to all of you… and I’ll see you all next year!

Editor’s Note: Everyone here at Frontstretch would like to thank David for his five years of valuable Driver Diary contributions to the site. Before Cup drivers Scott Speed and Marcos Ambrose, before the wonderful wackiness of Kenny Wallace… there was David, who not only set the standard for diaries on this site but attracted others to participate in such a unique opportunity. While our diary program keeps growing, there’s no doubt it wouldn’t even be here if not for David Starr’s dedication to our site. We wish him the best of luck for 2010 and beyond – and we appreciate everything he’s done for Frontstretch!

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