The start of our year has definitely been the tale of two seasons for the entire Furniture Row Racing Team. For the first few races, we performed well, but we didn’t get the finish we deserved. At the last two races, we didn’t perform like we needed to during the race and to tell you the truth, that is much more frustrating to me. If I had to choose, I would much rather run well and not get the finish I expected because at least your speed is where you need it to be. If you have a sub-par run and back your way into a good finish, you can give yourself a false sense of security that you just had a good day. It’s a lot tougher to get over a bad run and move on to the next race than it is the other way around.
I actually expected Bristol to turn out a lot differently, even thought it traditionally is not one of my better tracks. We were good throughout the majority of the weekend. Things were just a little off when we started the race but I still felt like we were still going to be somewhere respectable, better than where we finished. We actually had a malfunction in the car that impacted our performance but we didn’t find it until we got back to the shop. I don’t ever want to make excuses because I still don’t feel that we were a top 10 car that day, but I think we would have finished better than 22nd.
One of the big positives this year has been our qualifying and honestly, I can’t tell you why it has been so good all of a sudden, because we struggled with that for quite some time last year. We hit on a few things at the end of the year that helped us in qualifying trim. Unfortunately, we haven’t hit on those same things yet in race trim on a consistent basis. In fact, at California, I have no clue how our qualifying was so good because I wasn’t happy throughout practice nor was I even happy with the qualifying lap itself. So we got one quick lap but struggled throughout the rest of the weekend. They don’t pay any money or points for qualifying, so the end of the story is that we need to keep working on our stuff for Sundays. I am confident the results will begin to show.
It certainly has been a tough NCAA tournament for me this year. I was actually able to get home in time from Bristol to watch the entire Syracuse game live. They had every opportunity to win it and win by a lot. They just weren’t playing their best basketball. I don’t think it was that they peaked early or any thing, they just had an off night. Some of their starters missed shots that they normally make. What was really unfortunate is that the way things lined up, they would’ve played North Carolina in their next game. I have a lot of friends down here who are Tar Heels fans, so I was looking forward to a bit of a rivalry. It’s pretty rare for those two teams to play each other, but it didn’t work out.
I haven’t paid too close attention to the tournament after Syracuse fell out but I did see who is in the Final Four. The one that kind of surprised me was Butler as I didn’t think they were that good this year. It’s pretty cool to see them return to the Final Four and it will either be them or VCU playing for the national championship. I think either one is a great story from an underdog perspective. I just hope that the final game isn’t a blowout with Cinderella’s slipper falling off a little too early. I said the same thing last year and it turned out to be a pretty good game, so hopefully we’ll see the same this year.
While things haven’t panned out the way I hoped in college basketball, I still have some hope for the hockey season. Every game is a must win for my Hurricanes right now. We should know by the end of this weekend if they have a shot in the playoffs. They play Buffalo on Sunday and that will be the swing game, as I think the Eastern Conference will be pretty much settled by then. The game is 5:00 on Sunday so I’ll have to TIVO it and watch it when I get home from Martinsville. One of the nice things about Martinsville is that it’s only about a two hour drive from where I live. I could almost go back home during the weekend, but I like to stay focused on race stuff while at the track and not add any distractions. Plus, I’m not a big fan of getting up early.
To sum up the first five races, I would say that things have been up and down, but good overall. We still have a lot of work to do but I am confident in my entire Furniture Row Racing Team. Thanks again for all of your support!
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