Bristol was about learning the car. It was our first short track with the team so there was a lot to learn. It was a different tire there as well, so there was a lot to adjust to. I think we did a really nice job adapting to the day. We finished 15th which was a solid night for us. We fought hard to stay on the lead lap all night. We learned an awful lot from it. I think if we could have done another race the next day we would have done even better just because of getting that first short-track race under our belt. It’s always a challenging one and I was proud of the run.
Fontana was a big disappointment. We qualified 13th, which we were proud of, and then struggled to get the car turning through practice. We made some adjustments overnight but it didn’t help. We may have made things more challenging for the day. We really fought hard there to try to stay on the lead lap and couldn’t do it. We got off strategy and ended up two laps down. Very disappointing day for us. You’ve got to lick your wounds when you have runs like that and as a team we rebounded pretty good for Martinsville.
We qualified decent at Martinsville. We had a great car, I just didn’t quite get the lap I wanted. Running 15th or 16th there during the race early on, we started on the outside on a restart and got dirt and corruption on my tires. I was trying to get to the bottom and got wiped out by the 66 so pretty bad day there too although we did finish. We finished a few laps down because we ripped the fuel vent hole off the car so we were having to manually hold the fuel vent every time we filled it up. We lost 12 laps trying to keep the car filled with fuel to get through the day. So that was a bad experience for us.
Then we went to Texas and had a great night. We qualified well, in the top 10, stayed in the top 10 all night. We had a really faultless night as far as pit stops and strategy goes. We over-adjusted a bit on the car on the last run which cost us a few spots but in general it was a good night and I think that our confidence is up. I think our team has that self belief that we can excel any week. It’s been a solid start and we’ve got a good foundation to really get into the summer.
The new points system is different. It really rewards top fives and top 10s, so it’s good we have had a couple of them. We need more, but we’ve strung a few good weeks together here and I think the points are going to help us. It really rewards finishing in good positions. You used to be able to finish 20th or 22nd every week and it would be really hard for guys to overtake you because the spread in points was small.
Now the spread in points is bigger, about three times the rate of change compared to last year and I think that really helps. If you can run fast, you get a big bag of points. It looks different when you look at the championship standings at the end of each week. You can see really good results have you up in the points ladder. I like the new system. I like the racing so far this year. I think we’ve had some really good races and it’s been very competitive with a lot of different winners. I think NASCAR’s made some good choices in the offseason.
This week we go to Talladega. Nobody really knows how the car is going to run there. We’ve got a new plate. There were rumors that the small plate doesn’t allow for the two-by-two as much, it allows the big pack to really stay tight together. If that is the case, then it’s going to change the way the race runs. Otherwise I would expect the two-by-two to dominate the day, so we are practicing two-by-two and we’re going to put ourselves in position to start the race to go two-by-two and try to stay out of trouble that way. It doesn’t matter to me which way it plays out. As long as we’ve got a partner in the two-by-two I don’t mind it.
We’ve been working hard on the gold boat and we’re finally starting to find the honey pot. We’ve got a really good location in the Carolinas here and we’re working hard at it. We’ve got a TV crew coming out next week to do some filming on it and we’re gearing up for a big push over the summer, so we’re having a lot of fun with that. It actually has stayed afloat, hasn’t cracked or broken so I think we’ve built it well. We’re looking forward to really working that over the summer.
We’ve got a lot of good things going on too with Marcos Ambrose Motorsports. We’ve had a pole position and a second place. We actually got to the finish line first in round two, but unfortunately the series has a rule that if the leader hits the fence on the last lap he gets demoted to the back of the lead lap. My driver George [Miedecke] was in a bit of a tizzy with a guy on the lap who put him in the fence so we got relegated. We’ve got good speed and although we haven’t quite got to victory lane yet, we had a pole position and a second place finish so all things are looking really good.
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