Our most recent races were Fontana and Texas, neither of those finishes were near as good as our RCR Chevrolets were. We had a cool deal at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. That weekend we were sponsored by WIX Filters. We came up with the hash tag, #WIXtyTwo. I really think WIX Filters loved it and the fans got into it on Twitter. It was cool a cool deal —I’ve still been calling it the WIXty-Two this year because it just sounds cool. During the race we were running seventh or eighth and had the clutch break. When the clutch blew it happened on a pit stop, and when the crew jacked the car up there was no clutch, so the car rolled off the jack. It was just one of those snakebite deals that all teams have occasionally. The crew did a brilliant job rebounding, they knew exactly what to do. They were able to get a second jack within two seconds and completed the pit stop.
Unfortunately the stop was under green flag, but we barely lost a lap to the leader and we were eventually able to take the wave-around, but never got a caution. The No. 62 team was so good that when we had to start at the tail end of the field with the other wave-around cars; we were able to pass a few cars that had new tires and were on the lead lap. I passed a couple of people to get back to 15th—that’s how good our Chevys were—with old tires, we were able to compete, but it was a bummer, another lost opportunity for a bunch of points.
Then we went to Texas Motor Speedway, and everything started out great. I ended up wheel-hopping and hitting the commitment cone during a pit stop and had to start at the tail end of the field. I got all the way back through the field and finished 11th, but we should have been sixth or so that weekend. We were really, really good. It ended up being another race where we didn’t have much to show for it.
Our Chevrolets have been fast, and that’s the important thing. It’s not like we’re all jumping off a cliff here saying, “What’s going on?” We are fast. The racing part is going well, we just need to find some luck for a whole race and we’re going to be great.
The thing about running the Nationwide Series that is nice is that we do not have as many off weekends as the Camping World Truck Series. That’s the one thing that kind of stinks about Truck Series racing—there are so few races because you have these four and five-week gaps and that makes it difficult for you to get into a rhythm. With the Nationwide Series we had that bad luck at Texas and guess what, we were able to come right back at Darlington and start racing again, I like it that way. It allows all of the boys to get into a rhythm and they get into their track rhythm and they understand the weekends. You can get a little rusty at times in the Truck Series with all those weekends off. Things get forgotten, things get out of synch. Josh Sisco, our car chief this year, was not our car chef from last year. Our car chief from last year stayed at the shop and he’s our shop setup guy now. This has been great; it gives him a chance to get into his rhythm, get himself situated and get the boys working with him every week instead of having these off weekends. He can get his pattern down, and everybody gets used to it.
We have a routine we follow at the track; every week, it’s the routine. From unloading the trailer to setting up the pit area, to getting the racecar to the scale and through tech, everybody gets in a rhythm. The more you do it, the easier that rhythm becomes. The more you do it, the better you get at it. That’s where the Truck Series was great—you could take guys who were a little greener and get away with stuff because the competition level is not as intense as it is in the Nationwide Series. But, here you get to do it every week and it’s easier to get into that routine. With having a new car chief, it gives all the guys a chance to get used to working with him and seeing how he wants it done, and then he gets to fine tune his own processes. Shane (Wilson), our crew chief, gets to see how he’s doing and give him some feedback. This whole sport has got rhythm and routine every week.
As drivers, we can’t really have a specific race day routine. We have autograph sessions or sponsor commitments. We have people walking through the trailer for hauler tours. I might have to go up to a suite to give a speech to a sponsor. We have so many different things we have to do that we don’t really have the same rhythm as the guys have, but that’s what makes our sport unique. As the athlete in our sport, you have to learn how to do all that and then how to get yourself mentally prepared once you get into the racecar.
There’s always a lot of talk about with the Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series. My view is that I need to step up and beat them. I don’t care who it is; I need to go and beat them, I’m glad they’re here. If they’re not here, the sponsors aren’t here and the viewership would not be the same. The fans watching wouldn’t be the same either. Look at Chase Elliott, that win he had at Texas had to mean more to him because he went out with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, and he just kicked their butts. That is even more a testament to what a great win it was for Chase. I know that fans are polarized on the subject, but as a driver, I want the Cup Series drivers here.
We had an off-week while the Sprint Cup and Truck Series were in Martinsville, and you know what? I didn’t do a dang thing! It was great. I got to sit at home with the kids and we went to the park and played and had a nice relaxing weekend at home, which is very rare.
Story of the Month
I think we should stick with the Jackie Gaughan theme. Grandpa was around Las Vegas for a very long time and what is cool is the people he got to deal with. One of the guys that Grandpa did a lot of business with was Howard Hughes. My grandfather used to buy and sell property all the time; that was one of his main deals in Vegas—he probably made as much money buying and selling property as he did with the casinos. There was a very famous piece of property that he bought. The real numbers I don’t remember, but it was basically for nothing. He bought it in the 1960’s and had it for a couple years with a for sale sign on it and nobody was really interested in it. Then one day a guy called him and said he was interested in buying it. I’m making all the numbers up here, but let’s say he bought it for $10,000 and he sold it to somebody for like $18,000. At the time, it was in the middle of nowhere, but that somebody was Howard Hughes; Grandpa was like, “Sure, Howard, have it.”
Well, a couple of years later, Howard Hughes sold it back to him for $12,000. Grandpa owned the property, and about a year went by, and Howard Hughes called him again and said he wanted that property back. Grandpa says, “Okay, $35,000.” So Howard bought it for $35,000. Then about a year later, Howard sold it back to him for $25,000. He bought and sold that property four or five times to Howard Hughes and then finally, the last time, he sold it for a large chunk of money, and that is the land where today the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino sits. At the time, it was in the middle of nowhere and my grandfather always used to say he made more money on that property because of Howard Hughes then he made on probably any other property in his life.