drivers know perfectly well how this sport comes with its share
of highs and lows. When things go well, they go really well,
and when they
bad, it seems like the end of the world. The team was anxious
to get the first race out of the way, and as previously mentioned,
we had good reason to be excited about racing at Daytona.
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.
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.