It’s been a while since I talked to you guys, but our season has started off real well. We’ve been pretty much the car to beat every weekend, we just haven’t had the luck that we had last year. But we’re getting up there and getting good finishes. We should have finished better at Iowa, but we got caught out on older tires. At Martinsville we got second, and we were the car to beat there too. Unfortunately the rain screwed us up there. Martinsville I really wanted to win, because of the grandfather clock trophy and the history of running the first East Series race there. But we’re running great, and we’re leading the points. I think we can keep running well and score another championship.
The competition in the East Series this year has been a lot tougher, with Gibbs having two cars now and others. There’s nine or 10 cars now that can win every weekend, while last year there were only four or five. Everyone’s racing harder this year, and there’s a lot more rookies that are good, but they haven’t really figured the cars out. Just like I hadn’t last year. They’re going to get better, and that’s going to make it even tougher as the season keeps going.
It’s been really cool to run at venues like Iowa Speedway and at Martinsville. Those weekends, it feels like we’re Cup drivers, because we’re the biggest thing there those weekends. The tracks have treated us really well and given us a lot of hospitality. Plus there were 20,000 people at Iowa, and that was a really great show.
We’ve run really well everywhere this year, and the only two new tracks coming up on the circuit are Gresham Motorsports Park and Lee Speedway. I actually was testing Tuesday at Gresham in David Reutimann’s Cup car, so I got some laps there. It’s a really nice track, I can’t wait to get there with our cars. Lee, I’ve never been to before, but I know my dad and brother have been there, so I’ll get some advice from them on how to run fast there.
I think the biggest place we need to improve is Dover. We finished seventh there last year, but we really weren’t on it. We struggled to get the car handling. But everywhere else coming up, we should run well.
I’ve been down in North Carolina for the last few weeks, getting our Nationwide Series car ready. We’re getting ready to go to Milwaukee this weekend through Tuesday to test that, and that will be my first time in a Nationwide Series car. We’ve been doing a great amount of testing with our cars, and drove a CoT at the Little Rock and at VIR with my brother, Marcos Ambrose and Michael McDowell. McDowell helped me out a lot with braking and shifting. Racing only 10 times a year, anything is helpful.
My brother’s got a solid season going. I’ve been trying to go to most of his races, have been to the last four or five. They’ve been running great. They haven’t gotten the finishes the past couple of weeks, but they’ve been running well. But he’s still alright in points, and the chemistry is there between him and Pat Tryson and the team. Their pit crew is awesome, the fastest guys on pit road every week. With a little luck, they can make the Chase this year.
I’m there to learn as much as I can. I try to get on the pit box with a radio, and listen to my brother and everything he says about the car, how he relays information and learn how I can communicate feedback better to my crew chief. It’s helpful also to learn about the cars and what they do, the changes they need to be made. My brother’s helped me out too; I texted him after Gresham on Tuesday about the car. We talk a lot about stuff like that, the line I should be running, where to brake, how to get back on the gas. My dad has also been to all of the races helping me out.
Being in North Carolina, I’ve been fortunate to be at the shop a bit more, helping out with my Nationwide car and getting it ready. Everything’s pretty much done after today, the seat and everything’s done. The biggest thing about being at the shop more besides learning is to show that I want to be there and am serious about racing. Going down and talking to the fab shop guys, letting them know how much they mean, helping out. I think it goes a long way to have people around the shop seeing you work on your own cars and stuff like that. I’m just very fortunate to be where I’m at right now in my career.
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