It certainly has been a really busy couple of weeks with all of the additional media obligations I’ve had since our big Southern 500 win. There have been a lot of events down here in North Carolina and I got to tour ESPN studios, which was really cool. That was something that I always wanted to have an opportunity to do and it was neat to get that experience. The studio was much bigger than I expected and it was quite eye-opening to learn about how much goes into the production of their shows.
The momentum from the win has definitely helped our race team, especially when facing adversity like we did the very next week at Dover when the track bar broke. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to get over those types of problems though. What the win has done is give us a better understanding of what it takes to be in position to win. So when we have bad luck like we experienced at Dover, we have an even better idea of what we need to do to rebound and re-establish ourselves once again. We know the things we need to do to be capable of winning, how critical each element is and how to focus on making sure they are done on a weekly basis.
I think you all know how excited I was to be able to compete in the All-Star race and I have to tell you that my experience last weekend exceeded expectations. It’s like a rock star event as much as a race. The fans really get pumped up with all of the festivities surrounding it. I think it’s cool for our Furniture Row Racing crew to get some special recognition as well.
We certainly did not get the finish we wanted in the All-Star race but that doesn’t mean all was lost. Once we got to a point where we knew we weren’t going to win the race, our goal was to learn what we could for the Coca-Cola 600. I think running the All-Star race gives us a huge advantage for the 600. If you’re in the Showdown, you get some track time, but you don’t get the opportunity to run those laps later in the evening, which will be comparable to when we will be running Sunday night. I think we definitely learned some things that we need to go a little quicker as far as our setup goes. Certainly, anytime you are on the track in race conditions, you’ll learn something.
Another cool thing about winning is that this year, it gives us a shot to capture one of the wild card positions for the Chase. While that possibility has certainly entered our minds, at the moment, we are mostly concerned about making up points. So if we get caught up in a wreck or have mechanical problems, it hurts even more knowing that the resulting poor finishes can impede a legitimate shot at the Chase. That’s why it’s more important than ever to for us to minimize mistakes and take advantage of opportunities so we can get back in the top 20.
One of the only downsides about the win was that my mom could not be there to celebrate with me. Of course, what she was doing instead, helping displaced pets in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, definitely puts life into perspective. She came back pretty soon after the win and we talked about her experience. She was able to help a lot of animals out there and of course witnessed the mass amounts of destruction. Unfortunately, it seems like there will be more similar work to do with the floods and additional tornadoes that have hit the central part of the country. My thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted.
On a much less serious note, I’ve twittered about this new fad of planking, where someone picks an unusual place and lays face down with the arms at their sides. I can tell you that you absolutely will not be catching me doing that anytime soon, or ever. I just don’t get the humor in it.
I have taken my love of hockey to a new level by starting my own blog for the Carolina Hurricanes which you can read at CarolinaHurricanes.com. I knew some people in the organization and when they approached me about the idea, I thought it would be cool to try. I’ve only done one so far (http://hurricanes.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=561021) but I am working on my next one, which should be coming out soon. I’m contemplating writing about my thoughts on the upcoming draft, but you’ll have to check in to find out for sure.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your kind words over the past few weeks since our win at Darlington. Your support means a lot to not only me but this entire Furniture Row Racing Team. I know that this is just the start of something good and we will be giving you a lot more to cheer about in the future. Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter, at Regan_Smith as well as our race team, at FR78Racing to find out what we’re up to!
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