The week started last Monday, when we signed in and went through the initial tech inspection. A couple of things brought out the butterflies... the fact we were actually racing at Daytona, and knowing we had a very fast truck. Tech went okay, so it was off to practice, then qualifying.
On Tuesday, we again had one of the fastest trucks in practice. Our time came up 16th best, but that was without the benefit of drafting partners. The aero guys gave us a real good package for this race, so good in fact, that this truck could sniff a draft off a seagull. We put our qualifying and race engine in on Wednesday, and found our times among the fastest on the track. I guess you could say that this is when we were on one of the "high points" of the weekend.
Because of fog Wednesday morning, the day's itinerary got off to a late start. The Busch guys were supposed to qualify ahead of us, pushing the truck qualifying into the early evening. By the time the trucks got out we were under the lights at Daytona, which as a driver is a pretty cool experience. We drew the 18th qualifying slot, which is okay, but we would have preferred to be one of the last guys out. The farther down you are in the qualifying order, the cooler the track is, and the more rubber there is already down for you.
"...you never know what to expect when the green flag drops."
When it came to be our time, I headed out of pit lane, and was beginning to build up speed. As I left turn two, I suddenly felt something tighten up in the rear of the truck. At first I thought it was the motor, so I pushed in the clutch and revved the engine. The motor was fine, so I put it back in fourth gear and mashed the gas pedal. The truck still wouldn't get up to speed, and I started hearing metal grinding. As it turned out, I blew a rear gear, scratching my qualification run. Needless to say, this is when a team starts to see a "low point" coming on. We were fortunate to be able to use a team provisional, putting us back to 32nd in the starting line up. The team remained optimistic, but with a lot of unknown drivers in front of us, you never know what to expect when the green flag drops.
Volume II Pages: