At Bristol, it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were running seventh and making our way to the front when an accident ahead of us took us out, too. At Gateway, it was another strong run for my Toyota Tundra and I feel I definitely had a top-five truck. Basically, it was just hard racing between myself and Rick Crawford. He had the momentum so he was a little bit ahead of me. Coming off of turn 2, at the last minute he seemed to come off the corner and off the wall, and touched the front of my truck just slightly.
Over the Labor Day break, Bobby Hamilton Racing-VA has closed the doors on the No. 4 Dodge until further notice, so all team efforts can be focused on the No. 18 truck driven by Dennis Setzer. Since the announcement, Stacy Compton’s No. 4 Dodge has withdrawn from this weekend’s entry list.
One of the other exciting things that has been happening recently, as far as our Red Horse Racing team, is that we may finally be getting close to a possible second Craftsman Truck Series team. While there hasn’t been an announcement yet, it’s been no secret that we have been trying to expand our organization. Rick Gay has been hired by Red Horse Racing, and while he’s already a huge help for our No. 11 team, he has also been getting people hired for the possible second team. I’m sure there will be an announcement pretty soon, but right now they are just trying to get everything in place and situated. It’s a cool thing for me because I’m excited to have a teammate, and I think it’s going to be awesome for everyone at RHR.
After being off for a couple of weeks, we are finally back to racing again. As always, I’ve kept busy. David Starr Racing, my show car simulator company, has taken up a lot of my time, and we went testing for two days at Darlington a couple of weeks ago, so that was pretty cool. I was also able to enjoy the 4th of July with my family at the lake, and that was a lot of fun. While I have enjoyed my time off, I am definitely looking forward to getting back to what I love to do, which is racing.
Since my last diary four weeks ago, my Red Horse Racing team and I have had our ups and downs. The race at Mansfield was a great race for our No. 11 Toyota Tundra, and while we thought we were going to win the race, we were very fortunate that we finished second. It was pure racer’s luck. With four laps to go, while we were leading, the right front tire began going flat. A lot of people didn’t see that on TV, but with four laps to go I could feel the right front tire getting soft, and getting worse lap after lap. When I went into turn 1 after taking the white flag, the truck wouldn’t turn because by then the tire was completely flat. When eventual race winner Donny Lia got into me, I was already way up the racetrack in the center of the corner, where I shouldn’t have been, but the truck wouldn’t turn.
Donny Lia took the checkered flag 0.241 seconds ahead of David Starr to win the Ohio 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Park. Lia survived a last-lap three-wide battle with Starr and Todd Bodine to score his first career Craftsman Truck Series win Saturday afternoon. Terry Cook and Mike Skinner rounded out the top five.
After several months of sporadic racing for the Truck Series, we are finally at the point of the season where we get to race almost every week. I love it! I hate racing one week and then waiting three weeks. Racing every week suits me just fine. Now, we head to Mansfield — and I am excited. I’m also excited about PIT Corporate Training being back on my No. 11 Toyota Tundra this weekend. We got close to winning at Mansfield a few years ago, so we are going to try to accomplish the win this time. When you have a team like Red Horse Racing behind you, you are excited to race everywhere.
It’s been three weeks since we raced at Atlanta, and I can’t wait to get back into the truck this weekend at Martinsville. As many of you may remember, two years ago I was able to drive my Red Horse Racing Toyota to victory there. But that was then. Even though we won at Martinsville in 2006, I don’t look at this race any differently than I do any other race. I go into this weekend’s race at Martinsville just like I went into Atlanta and California – knowing we can win. I try not to harp on the win two years ago because a lot has changed since then. We’ve got splitters on the trucks now, we have a different gear rule, they took a little power out of the engines, and the truck is totally different from the one we ran there a couple of years ago.
It was a very busy offseason for me. Along with reacquainting myself with my old team and all the testing we did for the 2008 season, I got married to my beautiful bride, Kim, and went on an amazing honeymoon. It was absolutely gorgeous! Considering that I don’t ever get a chance to slow down, it was good to finally do that. As much as we would have loved to stay, we had to come back home and head to Daytona.
The 2007 season was just an OK season for our Circle Bar Racing MaxxForce Diesel team. In our defense, most of my team was put together very late in the offseason, so we kind of had our backs up against the wall the whole time. With that said, being able to get into the top 10 in the final race of the season was a neat thing. Obviously, our expectations were much higher than that, but I feel we did everything we could to be successful. I just can’t thank my MaxxForce team enough for all the effort they put into our trucks and pit stops all season. They were amazing considering everything they were up against.