The first couple weeks of the season have already been eventful for me and the entire Furniture Row Racing team. Generally speaking, I felt that we had a good Speedweeks overall. We had speed in the 500 car pretty much everywhere except for qualifying, which I don’t think is always indicative of how strong the car is. In race trim, it didn’t matter who I was pushing, I could push them to the lead and I made a lot of friends throughout the course of Speedweeks.
One of my main drafting partners became Kurt Busch, which kind of randomly happened. We got out on Friday (Feb. 11) before the Shootout and it just so happened that we were the two that didn’t have anyone to work with in the particular draft that we were in. Working with Kurt really helped me learn the new two-car draft, so it was a good experience for both of us. In the end, we were in contention and at Daytona, that’s all you can ask for. Even though things didn’t work out our way, we still finished seventh and that’s certainly not a bad thing.
As far as the new drafting style itself, there are things I like and do not like about it. One negative is the drivers switching radio frequencies while we’re racing, which I think is a safety issue. I’m not sure if everyone realizes this, but in order to talk to the right guy, we had to scan with a little dial in the left side of our seat while reading a sheet of paper while driving the car.
You also run the risk of selecting the wrong driver. That’s one reason why I didn’t allow many guys to have our frequency. I was also fortunate to have a spotter who was working his butt off on the roof, running around to make sure he was next to the spotter for whoever I was running with. Outside of the radio issue, the drafting style was something different and we definitely put on a good race for the fans. I’m not sure how it’s going to look when we go to Talladega and I’m not concerned either. I’ll be ready for whatever happens.
Trevor Bayne certainly had a great race and as a result, had to deal with some big questions about his future this year. There are some similarities between what I did in my first year in Cup and what Trevor is doing now as far as running a limited schedule. The big difference is that Trevor is the only driver that the Wood Brothers are going to have, where I was splitting a full season in the No. 01 car with Mark Martin. Despite that difference, I can understand the position he is in and I think he is making a good decision to continue running the Nationwide Series while jumping to the Cup side when he can.
At that point in a driver’s career, you need to get as much experience as possible because the Cup Series can beat you down. You’re going to have good weeks and bad weeks and he’s already experienced both. If you’re able to go out and record solid finishes in the Nationwide Series, as a young guy, it helps you keep your confidence. The toughest part for me back in 2007 was that our Nationwide team shut down in the middle of my season. I didn’t have those good days to help me get over some of the bad days in Cup.
Speaking of bad days, our finish at Phoenix certainly did not reflect the way the car was running. We definitely took our Daytona momentum into the desert and honestly, we performed the way I expected to down there. To me, you have to back up your expectations and during the race, we were running good, consistent laps.
I was actually pretty surprised at some of the aggressiveness early on at Phoenix, not only with the incident I was involved in but there was probably 10-15 other instances that should’ve been wrecks. In the perfect world, you try to keep your track position and run in the front all day but unfortunately, everyone gets on different strategies and you have to stick with your own.
With the way it all played out, we were 14th or 15th on the restart and guys got pretty wild up ahead of us. As drivers, we all understand that wrecks are a part of the sport, but we were on lap 67 of a 312-lap race when our wreck occurred and racing the way people were at that point didn’t make any sense to me.
Overall though, I feel very good about where we are at as a team. While we did not get the finish we expected at Phoenix and to an extent at Daytona, we have been running very well and I know we will continue to do so all year long. You can’t help if you get swept up in wrecks that happen around you. It’s a part of our sport and it will happen from time to time.
Last Friday would’ve been the 50th birthday of my racing hero, Davey Allison. The first thing that drew me to him was the bright orange paint scheme on the black car that he was sporting at the 1992 Daytona 500 that I attended. Winning that race also helped. He was really young at that point, one of the original “young guns”, and he just struck me as this cool, charismatic racecar driver. I liked the way he handled himself on the track and in front of the media.
It was watching him race that made me want to become a driver. I think it’s such a shame what happened, his career was cut way too short. Who knows what we could’ve been talking about as he turned 50 years old. It could’ve been how many races or championships he had won. You just never know how that stuff works out.
Thanks once again for all of your support. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season with the No. 78 Furniture Row team, as I know that we have all the pieces in place to continue to have a strong year!
About the author
Tony Lumbis has headed the Marketing Department for Frontstretch since 2008. Responsible for managing our advertising portfolio, he deals with our clients directly, closing deals while helping promote the site’s continued growth both inside and outside the racing community through social media and traditional outlets. Tony is based outside Philadelphia.
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