Home away from homeTuesday, April 17, 2012

Tennessee will always be home, but Florida is quickly becoming a home away from home for my wife Pam and I. Last time I blogged, we were down in Sanibel, Fla., and we are getting ready to head back this weekend. It’s such a beautiful place and we really enjoy our new house. After Las Vegas, we were able to spend a full week in Sanibel and had a great time. We went out on the boat for a day, went to a birthday party and had some company as well. It was just an awesome time. The weather was perfect and we were able to celebrate my Las Vegas win a little as well.

The week in Florida went by fast and it was time to head home to Greeneville on Saturday night for Easter. We got up early to go to church on Sunday and then had our family over for the whole day. It was great to have everyone in the same place and get to spend time together.

Following Easter, it was time to climb back in my Mopar Dodge Avenger for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. That is a very challenging event in a number of ways. As a driver, you have to really get focused and change how you’re used to doing things, especially at the starting line. The level of concentration that it takes is amazing. Every single driver screws up at least once during the weekend. Whether it’s looking at the wrong bulb on the tree or having something crazy happen, everyone gets bitten at least once. Several of those instances happened in all three classes over the weekend. Fortunately, nothing like that happened to us on Sunday.

We started the weekend very strong and came pretty close to topping the charts in qualifying and ended up second on Saturday. Dad and the engine guys are making great power with these Mopar HEMI engines that we run. My crew chief, Mark Ingersoll and our team engineer, Jim Yates, have our Mopar sorted out and it’s very fast right now. We have a great package right now. We had one of the two cars to beat at Charlotte and just didn’t get the job done. We made a boo-boo in the second round and shook the tires.

We stayed over in Charlotte on Monday to test and worked through a few of the issues we were having. We had a little blip in the car that we wanted to figure out and what we learned testing will benefit us when we go back to Charlotte in the fall, as well as at all the tracks we are going to the rest of the season. Everyone on the crew is working so hard right now and doing such an amazing job.

After a couple of days home this week, we’ll head back down to Sanibel on Friday. We will be taking some of our friends from Greeneville with us, and it will be their first time down there, so we’ll do our best to help them get the full Sanibel experience. I think they’ll have a great time and will want to go back again for sure.

I’ll fly from Florida to Houston next Thursday, as I’ll be playing in the Darrell Russell Memorial Golf Tournament with the Mopar/JEGS team later that day. I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve golfed a couple of times since the surgery on my right bicep last fall and I’m getting the hang of it back, but my swing and game are still not quite where they need to be. I’ll get to play a little more now, so I’ll get back to where I was in time.

Speaking of my surgery, it’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my arm. The doctors say it will probably take a year to fully heal, so it’s probably 80 percent right now. I can work out with it and do just about anything I did before. I just have to make sure to not fall on it or yank any super heavy weights or anything like that, which could tear it back loose.

After some R&R this weekend, we’ll put our game face back on and head to Houston, as we look for our second win of the season in our Mopar Dodge Avenger.