Milwaukee was just incredibly disappointing. We had such a great racecar. We never qualify very well because we don’t put any effort into it. We’re locked in, sitting 19th in owner points, so we don’t put any effort into qualifying. It costs a lot of money to qualify because you have to put on new tires and a set of tires costs $1,700. So we qualified 25th at Milwaukee, but then they dropped the green flag, and my oh my, here we come.
We knew we were good in practice. We got all the way up to ninth, all by ourselves, with no caution flags, only to have the oil pressure line come loose. It put oil all over the motor, so it started smoking and they black-flagged me. The finish was devastating, but we knew we had a good car, so we just had to move on after that.
New Hampshire was a lot of fun. I got to see all my Northeast friends. New Hampshire is close to my heart because I’ve had a lot of success there early in the 1990s. I won a Busch race up there and always ran in the top five. We always have a big fan club party up there. Before the race, I think we qualified somewhere around 22nd, 23rd. So they drop the green flag – what really surprised us was we’d had a really good practice session – and we thought we were going to run a lot better in the race than we did.
We just didn’t run really good. The car was loose at the start of the race and we didn’t make the gains that we wanted to right away. But on the other hand, we finished 20th and we were best in class that day. We raced some good cars, like my brother Rusty’s car with Brendan Gaughan, and we also raced Jason Keller for 20th, 21st and 22nd. It was not the race we wanted but we were best in class.
What was funny was the end of the race. I was trying to pass Gaughan the whole race… could not get him. We took the white flag coming down the back straightaway and they yelled, “wreck in turn 4!” Well, I just kept on going and Brendan hit the brakes too hard and locked up his left front. So I was trying to get Brendan for about 80 laps and here I pass him on the last lap. It was kind of funny.
Daytona went just the way I thought it would. We went down there and qualified 37th and, after having so many problems, we have put some good finishes together. We had a lot of blown motors. I think we blew a motor in three out of four races. So we’ve been putting together better finishes. We went to Daytona knowing that we couldn’t get involved in any wrecks. We worked on the chassis the whole race. Then with 30 to go we put on a set of tires and made our charge, and we were going to have a good top-15 run, but then we had a caution with about 12 laps to go – we had a big wreck.
We got by and were able to get 16th. It was a pretty good, solid run. What I think is funny about all the restrictor-plate races, both Daytona races and Talladega, is we finished 16th and 17th in all of them. All of them were competitive runs. I teased my car owner, Jay Robinson, I told him we ran in all three restrictor-plate races and I put a little dent in the rear bumper after all three races.
We took a trip to the Bahamas after Daytona. The Bahamas were awesome. My youngest daughter Brittany just got done graduating high school and so after the race on Sunday, we got on a plane. We had a great time. In the next three days or so, I will post a video on my Facebook that shares a little bit with everybody.
Brittany is now a high-school graduate and I’ve always treated every one of the girls equally; Brooke went to New York, Brandy went to the Bahamas also, and Brittany wanted to do the same things. It sure gets expensive when you pay for six kids, but it was worth it!
About the author
Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.
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