That’s what my Dad texted me right after the race, and I think it sums today up quite nicely. Plus it made me laugh, which I needed at that point.
Talladega is a weird place, and a weird weekend. It’s generally low key, we don’t practice very much, don’t make setup changes, and try not to hurt anything prior to the race. Then the race is wildly stressful, which today certainly was. We had a bit of an issues during out 12 planned laps in practice 1 on Friday, so we had to scramble a bit, make some changes, and re-run in practice 2. From then on it’s pretty much cruise control, we qualified Saturday early afternoon and then the car is impounded for the rest of the weekend.
So a group of us got out and played golf Saturday afternoon, which was fun if a little bit of a mess. As a foursome we lost more balls than I can count, but had a good time. Team dinner at Talladega is typically hibachi at a Japanese restaurant, which is fantastic. Steak, shrimp and sushi were the highlights for me.
And then race day. We were concerned about rain today all weekend, it was on the radar, and actually seemed quite like to push the race back to Monday or later. Fortunately the rain held off until about 5 mins after the race ended, small miracles, but it still hung over the race strategy and planning for all of it. In essence, you plan to race to be the leader starting at the halfway point, since we have to run at least that many laps for the race to be official. Then at every moment after that, if it starts to rain, the race could be over. So it definitely ratchets up the intensity. Which I think manifested itself in a lot of questionable moves by drivers, which lead to a lot of destroyed race cars. Walking through the garage area after the race ended felt like walking through an armageddon video game, it was just carnage everywhere.
Our car was ok, when we got hooked up with a couple of team mates we were able to get to the front and stay there. But it seemed like one by one we were getting picked off in the wreckage. We eventually got wrecked when the 48 lost it, after being what we call squirrely all day. We scrambled to fix the car, which somehow still had water in it and 4 wheels pointed in the right direction, and stayed on the lead lap. And somehow it still seemed to be kind of fast, we laughed every time the spotter cleared us on passing another car. Then we got ran off the track by another squirrel, which caused us to fall out of the draft, but of course, there was another caution. And then we got caught in the last wreck within spitting distance of the finish line, and ended up 13th I think. What a day. We would all have taken 13th to start the day, just really didn’t see it playing out the way it did.
The good news is that we head to Kansas this week, which is a track where we are much more in control of our own destiny. We will fly out Thursday for a Saturday night race, which will hopefully give us Sunday to celebrate!