It’s good to be back racing, although we certainly enjoyed the off-weekend. Amanda and I went to the Bahamas, where we stayed along with Kyle Busch and Sam at Atlantis. There was a lot of stuff for us to do and in fact, we didn’t even lie out on the beach or in the sun. We were on the water slides almost the whole time, and they were great to us. I highly recommend going for anyone who has an interest.
Even though it was during an off weekend, we couldn’t get away from racing. They had slides where they would time you and Kyle and I got involved in a little competition to see who would be faster. He beat me just about every time down. Then, we realized they were being a little lenient on the start so the last time, instead of starting sitting down, we ran and jumped down. I actually won that one.
For the record, on the surface it may look like Kyle has had my number when it comes to our head to head competitions of late. But what a lot of you don’t know is that Kyle and I had a pit stop challenge rematch and I won! Everybody publicized the first matchup that he won, but I need to tell everybody about round two! I came back like a champ!
This time it was at the Red Bull shop so I cashed in on the home field advantage. There was no pressure, like having all of Kyle’s guys video tape me performing my first stop, which is what happened the first time. I need to take a little break though before we do it again. I have little girl hands and I’m not used to handling those tools! Regardless, he’s been working on cars for a long time so I’m pretty proud of myself for coming back on the second time. I have good hand-eye coordination, I’m an athlete that can handle those things!
Back to the track, we actually had a half decent day at Indy and had to overcome a lot just to finish 25th. We made contact with the No. 48, which cut the left front down. After that, we ended up losing a valve in the engine and had to fight back from being a lap down. So all things considered, it was actually a pretty good day for us, much better than we expected. At the end, we were actually running pretty good and probably could’ve broken into the top 20 if we had a little more time. We’re trying to build some momentum back and we’re about a quarter of the way back to where we need to be.
I’d actually like to get back to how things were in the beginning of the season. When I think back to the beginning of the season, I actually don’t think about running 11th at Fontana or 10th in Atlanta. I think about running 22nd at Las Vegas and about how messed up we had our car. I mean, we could not have possibly messed it up any more and we still finished 22nd. It’s those types of days that really made me proud of how we ran, where we really had to fight to earn a decent finish.
At the moment, we’re just lacking overall speed. I think some of the problem is related to not having Brian [Vickers] here, which sometimes gets us in the mindset that we have to run setups that we ran last year. Obviously it’s a combination of things that are contributing to our issues because if it was just any one thing, we would fix it. For example, we have the same engines as the No. 00 and they were able to pull off a victory at a mile-and-a-half track where we struggled a bit. We have some updates coming so that should improve our team in the engine department, but it certainly does not explain everything.
I mentioned not having Brian around and of course, we’ve had Reed Sorenson filling in the over the past few weeks. It’s been going well so far. I like him as a teammate and we’re working well together. We’re working with the rest of the team to just pick up the pieces. Right now, we’re all just really frustrated and we’re trying as hard as we can to figure out what we need to do to get us back on track. Right now, to me, improving isn’t about who we have in the car, it’s about improving as a team. For example, Casey [Mears] and Reed are both good drivers, and they both came back with the same feedback about the cars.
On the topic of teammates, some of you Formula 1 fans might be enraged over the supposed team orders handed down by Team Ferrari to Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso at the German Grand Prix this past weekend. I can tell you from experience though, I don’t disagree with what they did. At the end of the day, it comes down to the team and one of the drivers on the team needs to win the championship.
The difference is that NASCAR has twice as many races as they have in F1. In F1, every lap matters so much more than the laps here because there are so many less of them. Things can change so quickly in a NASCAR race where in F1, it doesn’t. In F1, if you have a good car, you’re going to qualify up front and unless something crazy happens, you’re probably going to finish there. So there aren’t many opportunities to make up ground when you need to
You are probably seeing a lot of speculation surrounding our team over the past few weeks. There were false rumors about Mark Martin coming over and now discussions are starting about my future with the team. I can tell you that the team is going to do what they feel is best for the organization at the end of the day. Honestly, as far as I go as a driver, I’m letting them worry about that and I will remain focused on the driving.
Before the year started, it was a tough time for us where we really needed to perform and we started out really fast. So that definitely helped me prove to myself and everyone else that I can drive these cars. It was a tough transition to make so those runs were really a confidence booster. Life is a journey to me, it’s not a destination so I’m taking things one weekend at a time and making the best of it.
I hope all of your journeys are going well! Thanks again for all the support that you give to me and Team Red Bull! See you at the track!