Since the last diary we have been to Indy, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Michigan and we’ve had a mixed bag in all of those events. Indy is a great track to run at. You’ve really got to drive, you’ve really got to earn your way on the Indianapolis racetrack. I would argue it’s one of the most famous tracks in the world. I’ve watched a lot of Indy 500s and that place is just really great. I love going there. We finished 21st, didn’t quite get up in the middle of the pack like we wanted to but we ran strong.
Obviously Watkins Glen is road racing so that was a good experience for us. We knew we’d have a good day and we won the Nationwide race on a part-time deal, so that was really satisfying. Considering all the part-time considerations and changes, it felt good to get back in victory lane again. The Cup race was good. We didn’t win, we had a bad set of tires on the last run of the day and let [Juan Pablo] Montoya get away from us. It’s a shame, but a top three is not bad.
Michigan was great for us. Well, we had Pocono in there too. We blew a motor at Pocono within the first 30 or 40 laps so that wasn’t good. That’s the lumps you take as a race car driver and a team. Sometimes bad things happen no matter what you do. Michigan last weekend was good. We ran strong and were in the top 10 at the end of the race. We ended up 15th at the end with a two tire strategy but the team was strong and I felt we were contenders.
We go to Bristol this weekend. Bristol is a great track. It’s one of the favorites of the year for us. They usually have a sellout crowd. It’s high-banked, short track racing. It just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s one of my favorite tracks to go to. Not for results, just because it’s got a great atmosphere and you really feel like you’re a racecar driver when you run those tall banks.
Everyone else will have an off week next week, but I’ll be going to run the Nationwide race. We’re really excited about going to Montreal. I haven’t won there yet but we’ve come close every year. This year we want to go up there and do one better than last year. We finished second last year. We’ll try to put ourselves in a position to win. We go up there as one of the favorites and we’ll have the same car we had at Watkins Glen. We got it turned around and I feel real good about it. I feel like we’ll be right at the front and if the race goes as planned, we should be somewhere around victory circle at the end.
Obviously the big news is the change of teams. Life’s never boring as a racecar driver. We’re in a very high profile sport with a lot of demands. I just got myself in a position where I thought I needed a change. I needed to make a change to try to get the most out of myself and see what is the difference between what I’ve got, which is a great team. We’re a single-car effort and I think we’re a great team, but I’m not delivering the performances I want to and I just felt like a change was needed. I’m happy that we managed to get off the ground with JTG. It’s never easy to build cars like that, but I felt we’ve done it the right way.
But life is never easy and I felt like we were in sort of a backslide, so it was time to make a change. I saw there was a good opportunity at Ford knocking and we’ve been working diligently for the last three or four weeks to get a contract signing done. I’m really proud of it. I’m really glad. I’m looking forward to the rest of this year and finishing off well with JTG. We’re all good friends and we want to finish off the year with the same intensity and drive to win we’ve always had.
And then I’ve got the new chapter to look forward to in 2011. I’ve got a great sponsor coming on board and a premiere team. I’ve got big shoes to fill with Kasey Kahne leaving.
Toyota has been nothing but commendable. I’ve had great support and help from Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota and it’s been a privilege to drive for them, but most of my career has been with Ford. They helped me get here in the first place. I feel like it’s a great home to go back to. It feels good to be back with the Ford family. I’m looking forward to the future. A big part of it is really I wanted to stay in NASCAR. I wanted to shake things up and make some changes and it’s all really come together perfectly. I’m really excited about it. At the same time I’m very thankful for JTG. I’m thankful to be a NASCAR driver and without them I wouldn’t get an opportunity like this.
RPM is a multi-car team while JTG is a single-car effort, so that’s different, but that wasn’t a huge part of the decision for me. We have a great alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing and I just felt like I needed to make a change. The people at JTG, we do exceptionally well for what we’ve got. I just felt like I needed a change and going to a multicar team, the resources they have available to them look really good. It’s a great car. Kasey Kahne’s No. 9 car has been strong for years at all the races. I hope to step into Kasey’s shoes and hopefully deliver the same performance.
As for off track things, I’ve finished the gold boat so I’m excited about that. I’m going to test that out when the weather cools down a little bit. It’s taken much longer than I thought it was going to, but it’s going to be a good hobby and hopefully we’re going to find some gold with it. I’m excited about getting it in the water in the next few weeks.
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