After getting our motor coach out of the mud in St. Louis, we had a pretty uneventful week. We caught our breath at home, then packed up the coach again, and headed off for Memphis. It's a quick 7.5-hour trip from Indianapolis, and there's a lot of nice scenery along the way.
Sticking to our standard routine, we arrived at the track on Thursday before the race, and this time, we didn't have any appearances to make. This allowed the team, as a whole, to concentrate strictly on the task at hand. As a result, I had a clear mind and a good mental focus for the upcoming race. I can honestly say that I had a vibe about this weekend… too bad that it turned out the way it did.
For the first time this season, our truck was a little sluggish out of the trailer. In the first practice, we were only on the track 4 or 5 laps before I spun out and ran into the infield. Luckily I didn't hit anything, or tear up the tires too much. Tires are a valuable commodity, because in an effort to keep costs down, NASCAR only allows teams to use 4 sets of tires the whole weekend. That includes practice time, qualifying, and racing. In addition, you're required to start the race on the tires you qualify on, making things even more interesting.
"...I went out on the track and went for broke. After hanging on and driving the thing "elbows up", we clicked off a great lap, and started fourth on the grid. Our best qualifying effort this season."
We used a drop-snout truck in Memphis, which seems to do well in tracks with fairly flat banking. It's a good truck, but it was pretty obvious that we needed some extra testing time.
After spinning the truck in the first practice, we got back out, and ended up with the 23rd fastest time. A far cry from where we've been performing at earlier races this season. For whatever reason, Jerry (our soon-to-be-famous crew chief) and I couldn't find a good combination. The front end kept bottoming out in turn one, so we put a different spring package in… That didn't seem to help much either.
By the time qualifying came around, Jerry and I decided to put an entirely new shock package in the truck. We weren't sure what it was going to do, so I went out on the track and went for broke. After hanging on and driving the thing "elbows up", we clicked off a great lap, and started fourth on the grid… Our best qualifying effort so far this season. It appeared we got lucky in qualifying.. Now if only we could get some luck for the race.
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