It feels good to be on a bit of a roll...We've now clicked off two straight top tens, and I'd like to think we've got the monkey off our back.
The team made it to the track on Wednesday, where NASCAR had another one of their "optional" test days. What that means, is that NASCAR opens up the track for the teams to practice all day, without any restrictions. It's an entire day of practice before the regularly-scheduled practice and qualifying sessions. All in all, it gives all teams a chance to work on getting their trucks dialed in
All Chevy teams were having a tough go of it from the start. The aero packages required by NASCAR caused an excessive amount of front downforce, which slows down the trucks on the straights, and makes the back ends very loose in the corners. If there's one thing you need to be competitive here at Michigan, is speed on the straights.
By the time Thursday morning came along, we were able to make a few changes that seemed to make the truck a bit more stable. We got our practice time in, then waited for Friday. In qualifying, we made a pretty good effort. I felt comfortable in the truck, and was able to keep the pedal mashed to the floor the whole way around the track. Our time put us 12th on the grid, which was not as good as 11th, but better than 13th.
Happy hour came along, and we thought the demons were going to bring us down again. We just got out onto the track when the engine blew. Jerry (our soon-to-be-famous crew chief) and the guys did an awesome job of scrambling to get the engine out of the backup truck and into the primary truck. The new engine was the one used at Nazareth, but we weren't sure how well it was going to do at this track. I guess we had to wait and see…
Just before the race started, Jerry and I sat down and talked about how we were going to approach this race. With a question-mark under the hood, we weren't sure if our original strategy was going to work. So when the green flag fell, we just decided to ride along and take things as they came to us.
Once the race started, I felt good, and was able to move into the top ten. Fortunately, the race was completely un-eventful for us. No crashes, spins, or bad pit stops. We were able to motor along in the top ten all day, without being lower than 13th the whole race. Jerry and I were able to talk back and forth as the laps went on, discussing how to dial the truck in even more. It seemed to get a little better, and when the checkered flags flew, we were in 9th place (and VERY happy about it!)
This was a very good
weekend for the team, and an even BETTER one for me. In case you haven't
heard, I dropped down on one knee and asked Amy East for her hand in marriage.
She's meant a lot to me this past year, and I feel like I'm the luckiest
man in the world to have her by my side (when she's not doing pit analysis
for ESPN). Stay tuned for future announcements on the wedding plans, and
I'll make sure all of you get invitations!
Next Race: IRP
Indianapolis Raceway Park is one of those tracks where I've always ran well, but never finished well. Last year we lost our radio communications at the green flag, and ended up wrecking out of the race towards the end. This year, we're going to double-check all our radio wiring, and we're going to "rent" the Busch Grand National pit crew from Jason Leffler to help us drive to a victory. Because I now live in Indianapolis, a win here would make the drive home (short and) very sweet!