This past weekend at Richmond was an emotional one for several reasons. First and foremost, it marked the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Like most people, I know exactly where I was that entire day, down to the moment I realized it was an actual attack. I can remember wondering when the third plane hit the Pentagon, exactly how far was this going to go? Were they going to start hitting buildings here in Charlotte? Is this going to go all the way across the coast? Fortunately, our government did a good job getting all the flights out of the air as quickly as they could. It was such a memorable day, one I hope this nation will never have to see again.
They certainly did a good job at Richmond commemorating that tragic day. In fact, I think one of the best things about NASCAR is how we honor this nation. We have the ability to run special paint schemes on cars and our sponsors will support running patriotic symbols instead of their company logo. Teams in other sports don’t have that luxury like we do in NASCAR. It was cool to see the support that so many companies gave as well as the NASCAR community as a whole to honor the day.
Meanwhile, different kinds of emotions were running high on the track as it was definitely one of the more aggressive races at Richmond that we’ve seen in awhile. With these cars being so close, track position is so important that you need to make some bold moves on the restarts in order to get as many positions as possible. I know I would rather be the aggressor then have someone make an aggressive move on me. On top of that, we had the wild card situation where some guys had to win in order to make it in. Meanwhile, there were drivers who were locked in and a win was the only thing that could advance their position. It was a wild night for sure and some people ended up going home quite angry. Overall, I think it’s a good thing when we’re all digging that hard. It puts on a great show for the fans.
I think there were actually three wrecks that involved my Furniture Row Chevy alone. The first incident happened in the opening laps, where I sustained some nose damage because of a chain reaction. The second one, I never actually spun but I might as well have. I was trying to avoid Bobby Labonte who got sideways and nearly lost it. The last one was the most bizarre, I don’t even know exactly what happened. I think the No. 17 got in a little deep and locked up the front brake and got up into me. I have no idea how Paul Menard got involved behind us. I was trying to save my car at that point, went into a power slide and made it out safely.
The prior week’s race at Atlanta was eventful. All I can say about the finish is that I got wrecked by the No. 5 car at one of the fastest tracks on the circuit and I’m not happy about it. You all know the story leading up to the race, where we had a rare two-day delay, which is always a tough situation for everyone involved. Some teams headed back to the North Carolina area. I opted to stay in Atlanta. We made the best of it on Monday and had some fun at the go-kart track.
Another thing that helped is that Monday evening I was involved with my very first fantasy football draft. I’ve always been involved with fantasy hockey and actually still prefer it. I will say this though, I’m 1-0 after week one and I scored the most points, thanks in part to Wes Welker’s big performance, who I got a lot of grief for picking by the way. So I guess the blind squirrel found a nut! I certainly was a super star this week, we’ll see how long it lasts.
On the topic of hockey, I am heartbroken about the players on the Russian team who were killed in the plane crash. I remembered watching one of them, Josef Vasicek, when he played for the Hurricanes a few years ago. I also recall watching a few others when they played in the NHL as well. It really is sad to lose an entire team like that, no matter what sport it is. Some of them were young and at the start of their careers. You just have to pull together and move on. My thoughts are certainly with all the families of the victims.
On a more positive note, my trip back to central New York last month for the Watkins Glen race was a blast! A lot of my immediate family still live there as well as many friends, so it is good to see them. When you race in your home state, people have a different attitude towards you. They know you are one of them and they can relate to you, coming from a small town up there. We didn’t have the weekend that we wanted on the track by any means. We had a fast race car, just didn’t get the finish that we wanted. We’re moving in the right direction with our road course program though so I feel good about that.
So now the “regular season” is over and we are on the outside of the Chase looking in. For us, in order to be able to make it next year, we need to close. What I mean is that this season, whether it’s me giving up spots on the restarts or parts malfunctioning, we can look at a lot of races and say we ran 15th all day long and ended up with a 30th place finish. Those are the races that cost you about 15 points, which is huge. We need to eliminate those type of problems. You can look at the total amount of points we lost due to those kind of races and we should probably have 100 points more than we do right now. We had enough speed and consistency where we should have at least been on the cusp of making the Chase. For the remainder of this year and into 2010, we need to ensure that we get the most out of each race. We have definitely made some positive strides this year and I am proud of that and looking forward to building on it.
As the seasons are turning, I’m now getting a new sports perspective as a Colorado resident. As you all know, I won’t change my allegiance to the Hurricanes. I watched the Broncos for a bit last Monday and will probably follow them from the standpoint of wondering how they are doing since I live there. In general, I’m not a huge football fan to begin with. I was interested in watching the Panthers games while in North Carolina because they are on all over here. I watched them this past weekend to see how Cam Newton would look, and I thought he did really well. We’ll see how my casual watching translates into fantasy football performance.
As always, thanks for all of your support of our Furniture Row Racing team. We always love seeing all of our fans at the track and appreciate your loyalty!
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