Well I must say Las Vegas was good to me. I think I came away from the roulette table with about 100 bucks more than I gambled, and then we were able to win on Sunday. So if you ask me, it was a success all round.
On the Thursday prior to the Las Vegas event, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some kids at UMC Nevada Children's Hospital. There were so many smiling faces and great characters within the staff, and the patients, that we all had a bunch of fun. It was quite a humbling deal and being a new father it definitely reset life's true priorities.
The MLR- Lucas Oil team started the race weekend strong in qualifying, and we never looked back. It was reminiscent of Indy for me. Every time I got in the race car it went down the track, which as a driver, felt awesome.
This 2015 NHRA Mello Yello series is shaping up to be another great one. Every weekend can be anyone's race, and the competition is tighter than ever. So for me, heading into Houston only 36 points out of the No. 1 position, it is definitely time to dig deep and keep pushing for our team to make a serious run at the championship this year.
While at home between races I’ve been loving every second of hanging out with our daughter Emma. She is growing up fast and her 1st birthday is just around the corner. Rest assured, she has me firmly wrapped around her little finger.
Also on my “to do” list has been getting some work done on one of my project cars in my shop at home. My '64 El Camino is nearing completion and I’m really looking forward to strapping the baby seat in and taking Emma for a drive or two this summer. Even though I’m around cars week-in and week-out, there is still something therapeutic about tinkering in my garage at my own pace. It’s kind of ironic that the drivetrain in this car is completely stock and “slow”… but I get to go 300 pretty regularly so it’s okay, I guess.
That’s all for now, hopefully we can keep the ball rolling in Houston and I’ll have some more cool stuff to report in a few weeks.
Greetings from California! I came out here for Toyota Day and decided to bring my girlfriend Stephanie Laski and our daughter Emma out here for a little vacation for a couple days. It's nice to get a little relaxation in after a busy start to the season, and we'll be ready to go in Charlotte next week.
I've been changing gears, so to speak, a little bit for this year. I'm not a rookie anymore, so I've been settling in for my sophomore year and trying to do what it takes to win races as a somewhat experienced driver now. That's really what it's all about for me this year, winning races and doing the best I can for Lucas Oil and Toyota and all our sponsors.
I've heard of the term "sophomore slump" as it applies to other sporting arenas, but I obviously want to avoid that. I don't think we're going to have that problem, though. We have a great team, a great crew, a great crew chief in Aaron Brooks and the results area really close to what we want right now. Morgan Lucas gives us all we need to be competitive, so there will be no slumps for me – hopefully.
For the most part, I'm really happy with the way we've started the season. We've qualified well at most of the races but have just had some bad luck on race day. As long as we keep running well like we have, the results will come. Life is good.
It sure was nice to get Racer Magazine's Rookie of the Year award for 2014, and it definitely put an exclamation point on last season. I got word that I was nominated through social media, and obviously I was very excited that I was in the running for it because it's a worldwide magazine and a worldwide fan vote that covers all motorsports.
I looked at the list of drivers who had won the award in the past, and it was drivers from Formula 1 and Supercross and all different kinds of motorsport. To be in the running was terrific, but to win that award was super humbling. I was really excited and flattered that the readers of Racer Magazine decided I was that guy this year.
Thank you to everyone who voted, and we'll see you all soon!
Man, I can’t believe how fast this season has gone. Some parts of me wish we could race "somewhere" all the way clear through winter, but the other part of me is looking forward to a break, and spending the holidays with family. This year, having our daughter Emma with us for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time will be very special.
I have to say, it has been an amazing year for me. Running a full season in Top Fuel, for the best group of people, and the best sponsors, it has been everything I hoped it would be. Getting two national event victories for GEICO, Lucas Oil and Toyota was what I hoped to achieve, but I didn’t know if I could pull it off. Of course they all took a huge leap of faith when they agreed to let me drive for them, and I am eternally grateful.
Obviously, winning the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis was the highlight of my season, something that is slowly still sinking in now that I've had a few months to digest what happened. We have struggled a little since that weekend, but everyone on the team still seems to have some "spring in their step" from winning Indy, even though round wins have been harder to come by at the business end of the year.
Heading into Pomona, the GEICO team is sitting in 10th position, so we are looking for a good outing to hopefully slide us up a position or two.
It will again be a fun time for me racing in southern California, with Stephanie’s family on hand, and a lot of Australian family and friends once again making their way to the world finals.
Heading into Pomona I will have the opportunity to get into a Sprint Car at Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Car and Midget Racing School in Ventura, Calif. I am excited to get on the dirt and feel the power of one of those cars, and see how I do "turning corners."
As I sit here writing this, I have just unpacked from my first SEMA show. I stayed on after the Las Vegas race and attended the show with several people from Lucas Oil. I learned a lot about the oil business with some great people, and had a great time checking out some cool cars. Admittedly, I was glad to get back to quiet Indianapolis after spending a week in "Lost Wages" but I’m not too sure about this cold weather here. Oh well, I guess it is that time of year.
If somebody had told me 12 months ago, when I had the opportunity to license in Morgan and Brandon’s Top Fuel cars at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, that I would be standing in the winner’s circle at the 2014 U.S. Nationals, at that very track, I would have laughed and asked that person what planet they were from.
Well, the GEICO team did just that. They put us in the winner's circle at the biggest and most historic drag race in the world. Along with being runner-up to Tony Schumacher in the $100,000 Traxxas Shootout during qualifying, we had probably the most memorable race weekend I will ever have, all in my rookie year.
Every team in the NHRA, in every category, wants to win Indy more than any other race. It is such a prestigious event, and we all know how much it means to win "the Big Go."
Although, my first Indy was 2004 working as a crew member next to most of this same core group of guys, we've had very limited success at the U.S. Nationals. That was always a bitter pill to swallow, as this has become the hometown race for all of us transplants.
This is the one event that most of our wives, girlfriends, kids and friends can all attend. So finally breaking through, and having the opportunity to share that great moment with all of our significant others was very cool.
I was very lucky to have my Dad on hand in Englishtown for my first win back in June, but to have friends from Australia as well as Stephanie and our four-month-old daughter Emma on hand for our Indy win was extremely special.
I obviously can’t say enough about how well our new car is running, and the entire team is giving Aaron a flawless car to tune. This win gives the whole team more and more confidence heading into the business end of the year, with the Countdown starting now. The first of the final six races being in Charlotte, where last fall, at that very race, we debuted our first in-house MLR chassis, which top qualified and won the race.
Yet again I am still blown away that I get to do what I love for a job, and I can’t thank everyone that got me to this point enough. Hopefully we will carry this momentum well into the countdown, and finish out what has been a dream rookie season.