Weathering a couple of stormsTuesday, July 03, 2012

Storms and rain have been following me for the last couple of weeks it seems. The weekend after Bristol, Pam and I headed down to Sanibel, Fla., for what was supposed to be just be a one-day trip to pick out some tile for the pool we are redoing, but we ended up staying a couple of days, as we got stuck in the tropical storm that came through and couldn’t get out. It rained about six inches in 24 hours and there was flooding and three or four power outages. We stayed in for about 48 hours and just relaxed with a book on the couch. We made it home on Monday, and I stayed until Thursday, before heading up to Chicago — where it also rained again.

We picked up right where we left off at Bristol on Friday at Chicago, as we took the top spot in qualifying and held it all the way through all four rounds on the clock. Our Mopar Dodge Avenger is just amazing right now, and we are coming to expect every time we hit the track to have low E.T. and collect all those bonus points, which we were able to do each day at Chicago. I have a good feeling right now, as does everyone on our team.

It’s awesome that we have been the No. 1 Qualifier five times already this year, especially in a class as close and tough as Pro Stock. It gives you a lot of confidence when you are the top qualifier. You can work on some new things to make you even faster or you can keep that base set-up, which you already know is the fastest. You have a little bit of a cushion and some leeway to work on things.

We had a rain delay on Sunday, so eliminations started a bit later than originally scheduled. In the meantime, I watched Tiger Woods play some golf on television. I had my motorhome right next to the trailer at the track, so I went in there and relaxed and just tried to get my mind off everything. In situations like that, I usually will watch some golf or a NASCAR race if one is on, and that helps me relax and be ready for when we get back on the track.

We were very fast on Sunday, and unfortunately didn’t quite have the results we were hoping for. It was all my fault on that one. I didn’t do the staging correctly. I got in too deep on the stage bulb by mistake, and was just scared to death I was going to red light. Whenever you think anything when you’re staging, you are usually beat. That was all driver error. That’s the first one I’ve made in a few years, so I’ll chalk that one up as a mistake and move on.

This week we have the K&N Horsepower Challenge at Norwalk, Ohio, and that is always one of my favorite events of the year. I’ve won it once, and really want to win it again. You have to be physically and mentally in tip-top shape to be in contention in a special event like that. I’ll work out a couple of days this week at the gym, and also relax a couple of days. The main thing is to just have fun. When I’m at Norwalk, I’ll look up at the stands and think how lucky I am to get to be here and how lucky we are to be running as good as we are. We’ll go in there with the eye of the tiger, and try to double up with a win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge and a win on Sunday.

Our Mopar Dodge Avenger is on a rail right now, and our Mopar HEMI engines are putting out some amazing horsepower. The crew if working hard and doing a fantastic job and now it’s up to the driver to do his job each time he gets in the car. I can’t wait to get to Norwalk, and we’ll give it everything we got all weekend long.