One Last Race

We ran good last night. It’s a great thing when you are frustrated that you finished third. This year the No. 21 Coast Guard team and I are running for a championship, and with the consistency we have shown in the first 15 races, we have a petty good chance. I am not saying that we are taking our lead for granted because you know just as well as I do that a few bad nights can ruin our lead.

Qualifying was really weird for me. I haven’t qualified a car without practice since 2001 when I ran full-time in both series. It was a crash course on how to get around the Nashville Superspeedway. I almost forgot where I was when I came off turn one. However, Randy LaJoie did a great job getting my car ready and we had a great qualifying effort.

We started the night 12th and slowly worked our way through the field. Nashville isn’t the easiest place to pass and it’s even harder when your car doesn’t handle very well behind other cars. I was finally able to work my way up to the fourth spot with about 100 laps in race. Denny Hamlin and I battled for third for what seemed to be 30 laps, and I was finally able to pass him with about 10 laps left on the board. I was just too far behind the leaders to ever charge for the lead.

With the exception of the first 20 laps, we really had one of the best cars on the racetrack. Then, when it counted, we weren’t where we needed to be. When the car was at its best, we were so far from the leaders that we couldn’t catch them.

Overall, it was a good night for RCR. My plane buddy, Clint Bowyer, finished second and I was able to come home with third. The only thing I didn’t like was that Carl Edwards, the closest driver to me right now in points, won the race. That means he gained a few on me.

We got back to the Pocono Raceway around 3 a.m. but I didn’t have anything on my schedule till noon so I was able to sleep in and recover from the night before.

After the drivers meeting today, I had a few sponsor commitments outside of the No. 29 hauler. One of theses commitments included a meet and greet with some Hershey folks. This is a big race for them because a lot of Hershey employees come to this event since it is near Hershey, Pa., where all the wonderful chocolate is produced. Our sponsors are really involved and we wouldn’t be successful on the race track without their support.

After all my commitments, I was able to sit down and get myself ready for the big race. Every race is just as important as the last. In NASCAR, there are 42 losing teams each weekend. It’s the competition that brings us back, the chance to lead the last lap and pull into victory lane for that trophy and to celebrate with your team. Hopefully, we’ll be there tonight in Pocono.

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