Driving out of Darlington county…

I will write something this week, I promise. Landed last night at 3:45 am mountain time, about 3 hours sleep, and then back to work. I am a little tired, a little exhausted and a little worn out. But what a night!

Alright, here we go, where to begin.

It was kind of a rocky start to the week.  For reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture, I got to Florence, SC (where we stay) via a flight to Laguardia (which is a mess!) and then Myrtle Beach.  From there I rented a car and drove up to Florence Thursday night.  Oh, and there was a hurricane apparently.  It started raining at 11 pm on Thursday night and rained hard straight through until I went to bed Friday night.  Fortunately, NASCAR was actually thinking ahead, and they cancelled all at track activities for Friday.

So what do you do with an unexpected day off in Florence, SC??  Well that’s a bit of a struggle apparently, especially when it’s pouring rain.  A couple of us found a gym and had a decent workout Friday morning.  And then Friday afternoon we went and saw the new Jason Bourne movie.  Which is exactly the same as all of the other Bourne movies (sorry for the spoiler), somehow entertaining even though you know exactly what’s going to happen.

But anyway, Saturday morning we finally got to the track.  Qualifying had been cancelled and the grid set by points (we would start 8th) so all we had to work on was race trim in practice.  And our car was good, we were a top 5 long run car.  Didn’t take off like a bat out of hell, but the car seemed to come alive around lap 8, which seemed like a pretty good plan.  We had team dinner on Saturday night, but I can’t talk about it as it was a part of our teams attempt to change our luck…

And then Saturday ended in rather unexpected fashion for me, I learned that my Grandma Jean (my Dad’s mom) passed away Saturday evening.  While I can’t say it was totally a surprise, it still seemed quite a shock at the time.  I say it was shifting gears without a clutch…

So raceday dawned, much like all of the others.  A Sunday night race meant the garage didn’t open until 11 am, so I got a sleep in, or as much as I can manage anymore.  As I previously mentioned, we started 8th, which seemed an alright place to start.  We fought in and around 5th-9th for the first 250 or so laps.  We struggled to get the balance, probably like everyone else did.  It seemed the car was loose one lap, and tight the next lap.  My favourite exchange was when Martin was complaining of this exact thing, and the next lap Cole asked us if we should tell Martin that he was the fastest car on the track.  It was that kind of race.

Eventually we broke into the top couple, and between clean air and the adjustments we had made to our car, it really seemed to come to life.  We lead the last two runs of the race. I was really hoping there was only going to be one.  With about 25 laps left we had a 4.5 second lead, and I thought from there we could more or less cruise to the flag.  And then there was another caution.

The biggest break through for our team that night was the pit crew.  We could see them through out the race get better and better, faster and more confident.  And that can only help us going forward.  They had their best stop of the year (I would guess) the last stop of the race, and kept the lead for us.  And Martin got a good restart and drove away.  It still didn’t seem possibly, I was watching the times every lap, and even visually trying to gauge each lap before the time went up.  But he eeked it out, half a tenth here, half a tenth there.  And weirdly I didn’t expect anything to go wrong this time.  As long as Harvick didn’t catch us, I thought we would be ok.  And we were, and what a feeling that was!

The Southern 500 is one of the big races, one of the old historic, nostalgic races that everyone wants to win.  It’s also one of the toughest tracks we go to.  And all that just made it that much sweeter!  We celebrated for a bit in victory lane, and then had to take the car through tech and load it up on the NASCAR hauler.  And then it was truly time to celebrate.  We hung out by the hauler for a while, and then went back to the coach lot.  And finally at about 2 am we went to the airport, landing in Denver a little before 4 MT.  We were a happy but exhausted group.

But no rest for the wicked, I got to the shop a little before 11 on Monday morning, hoping to get some things knocked out of the way so I could be social Monday and Tuesday nights. I got to see Jeremy’s new house (which is quite nice) Monday night, and met another friend in Larimer Square on Tuesday night.  On Wednesday I did Ryan’s RiNo brewery crawl (highly recommended to all) before crashing for the rest of the day.  And today I’m off to Richmond, Virginia for the last race of the regular season.  I wouldn’t say this is a great track for us, I personally am hoping for a solid 6th place finish and then on to the chase!


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