It’s been a fairly busy start to the 2013 racing season for me. As I’m sure you know, I was involved in a pretty exciting and crazy finish to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona. I was getting pushed from behind to the finish line and when the cars in front of me started wrecking, there wasn’t much I could do. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and then when I was hit behind the final time, my car went airborne into the fence. It was a scary wreck, primarily because of the debris getting into the stands. We never want to see any of our fans get injured and I’m glad that everyone who was injured seems to be getting better. From my seat in the wreck, it certainly hurt but these cars are so safe and we’re so protected it didn’t hurt near as much as several of my sprint car wrecks. It’s a testament to my Turner Scott Motorsports team for all the hard work they put into these cars to make me safe, and I was able to walk away and live to race another day.
Many of you probably heard that I decided not to race at Ocala the night after the Daytona race. I made that decision out of respect for the people who were hurt in the stands. I didn’t think it was right to race again that day while they were in the hospital.
After Daytona, we headed to Phoenix and had a decent race, although not as good as we would have liked. The car was just a little off and we didn’t quite get the finish that we wanted to have. While we were in Phoenix, I did run a midget at Canyon Speedway Park, which was a lot of fun. I always try to race open wheel races if they’re close to where I am, so it was fun to get out there both nights after being in the NNS car. I finished second and fifth to Bryan Clauson on back-to-back nights.
Vegas was next on the schedule and we definitely started to get the car better after the first pit stop of the day. We restarted on the outside of the front row and I was battling for the lead with Trevor Bayne when he got a little loose on the inside of me, slid up and collected us. After that, I was just trying to make it to the end and another car turned sideways in front of me and I didn’t have anywhere to go. But while we were in Vegas, I ran two nights with the World of Outlaws at the dirt track right next to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The first night I was leading and ready to take the win, but at the end of the race I started running out of gas. I couldn’t quite power it to the finish and was passed to finish third. The second night we came home with a fifth-place finish.
After Vegas, we headed to Bristol and it seemed like our luck really turned around. At the end of the race, we had the best car on the track. I was able to run down the top three cars, and it was definitely exciting to be within striking distance of the lead on the final lap. Coming out of turn number four heading to the checkered flag, I saw Kyle Busch go to the bottom. I put the car on the outside and almost got by him at the start/finish line. It is pretty cool being part of the second closest Nationwide race ever at Bristol.
When we headed back to California to race at Fontana, we were pretty good again, although we were probably about at top-five to top-10 car. I made a couple of mistakes on pit lane that cost us a little bit. The first couple of races, I felt like I was being too cautious heading into the box so at Fontana I tried to get in a little harder. It ended up I got in a little too hard and had to back up, but my Turner Scott Motorsports pit crew reacted quickly and we were able to bounce back. In the race, it was a lot of fun on the restarts. The track was really fast and slick and the action before things spread out was really fun. I definitely learned quite a bit there and was happy that we were able to get a solid sixth place finish.
After practice on Friday I flew down to Stockton with Tony Stewart and scored the win in an Outlaw. It was their first ever visit to the track and it is a great facility. I was able to score the win for Paul Silva. I got the lead early, lost it to Tim Keading on a restart and was able to get by him with two laps to go to win the race.
Outside of all of the racing, I was able to have a couple of days off to hang out with some friends in California, but I’m already getting back at it. I was able to learn a lot about road course racing at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Nevada, learning to drive Corvettes in the Ron Fellows Racing School yesterday and today. It is interesting doing the heel and toe technique, but I’m not sure if I’ll end up using it in the stock car.
This weekend I’m going to be running with the Outlaws in Merced, then going to Antioch to run a 360 Sprint Car race. Monday and Tuesday we’ll be testing at Texas Motor Speedway in the NNS car, then I will fly back to Mooresville to run my go-kart at the Mooresville Motorplex. I’m heading back to California on Thursday and then running with the Outlaws at Calistoga and Antioch. I’m running for Paul Silva out of Sacramento for the Outlaw races and had hopefully we can battle for the win. Running as many races as I can keeps me really busy, but I think it’s important to get as much seat time as possible.
As for the season in Nationwide, outside of Phoenix we’ve been around a fifth-place car — we just haven’t had the finishes. The last two weeks have been good. Hopefully the next few weeks we’ll keep knocking out the top-5 results and we’ll climb back up in the points. For now, I think we’re running pretty well; we just have to keep getting better and we’ll hopefully be fighting for the championship by the time we get to the end of the season.
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