Well, that sucked.
First things first, I have to say thank you to my awesome team & wonderful sponsors for all of their help & support this past weekend. We deserved a much better end to the weekend than what we actually got.
Practice went well. We went out and drafted a couple times & the Diamond Gusset Jeans Chevy handled really well. The only problem was that it didn't quite suck up to the other trucks bumpers the way that I wanted. Kevin Eagle, our crew chief, made a few changes to help lower the front end of the truck, which we felt would help us with overall speed. We made a few single car runs to prepare for qualifying, but we never made a full blown mock run, so we weren't totally sure how the thing would run.
I was disappointed in qualifying - we finished up 33rd out of 43 trucks - but I really don't know why. We're running SB2 motors (the old style compared to the new Chevrolet R07's) and that is obviously going to hurt us on single truck qualifying time at a track like Daytona. There were a couple things we learned that we could've done differently that would've picked us up a couple tenths, but as a whole, running a 51.84 - less than 2 seconds off the pole time - with an old style motor is a pretty solid effort.
We wound up starting 28th, but we didn't stay there for long. The truck was a BULLET. I was trying to play it safe for the first couple laps, but we were just so fast in the draft that I had to make some moves. I think we were the first truck to make the field three wide, but it was just so stable and easy to pass people that I never felt like we were really putting ourselves in harms way. We had made our way up near the top 20 by the fourth lap when our troubles started...
I'm still not totally sure what happened. Judging by the pictures, it looks like a tire went down or something broke in the right front of the truck. I did everything I could do to try to keep it off the wall in turn 4, but the thing just went straight up the racetrack. I'm just glad we didn't collect anyone else in the incident so early in the race.
At the time (and right after the race) I was pretty sure that Scott Lagasse in the 14 truck had bump drafted us in the center of the corner, sending us into the wall. Upon review, that definitely wasn't true. Scott is a veteran, and it was silly of me to think he would do something that dumb on the fourth lap of the race. So, I want to make sure I apologize to him and his team.
I brought the truck down for repairs, and the pit crew did a nice job getting all the sheet metal off the tire as efficiently as they could; we didn't even lose a lap! On the restart, the truck felt okay - not great, but okay. That didn't last long. We passed a few people, and while running on the high side going through turn 4, the truck made another sharp right and headed into the wall again. Kevin made the smart move and decided to just pull the truck into the garage, ending our night in last place - 32nd.
I think that's what I'm the most upset about, finishing last. It's a race, and we finished last in it. As a small team, there are some places that we won't have a chance to WIN the race, but Daytona levels that playing field & gives everyone a chance to get a great finish. We didn't capitalize on that opportunity, and some of our direct competitors in the standings were able to get top 10's out of the night. I knew that racing in Daytona could mean us having a torn up race truck, that's just part of it, but the competitor in me HATED our final finishing position.
I hate that we're starting off the season battling uphill in points, but we'll make the best of it. I'll be looking to make up of those points we lost at Atlanta, and I know Kevin and the crew will have another great truck for us there.