Fans firstTuesday, May 15, 2012

Without the fans, we would not get to do what we do. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have gained a very loyal following over the years, and being associated with Mopar has certainly helped, as Mopar fans are some of the most passionate in all of racing. With the technology that is available nowadays via email, Facebook and Twitter, we’re able to interact and stay connected with more fans than ever.

A fan that I’ve known since my early days in Pro Stock has been Sarah Blumhardt from the Dallas area. I recently received a photo of Sarah when I first met her in 1996 at her school, while she was in first grade. Sarah’s dad had gotten in touch with me and asked if I would come to the school for a “show and tell” day. Through the years, her family has come to the track in Dallas when we are there. They’ve cooked us dinner at the track and had us over at their house. Sarah raced a Jr. Dragster for a number of years and even has driven Super Gas and Super Comp cars. Right now she is in college and concentrating on that, so she doesn’t have a race car, but her dad said she is dying to get back in a car. It’s pretty neat to have fans that have been with you since the early days and still come out to the track and cheer for you.

We’ll have a chance to hopefully make some new fans this week, as there will be a Fan Fest in Topeka on Thursday night. The track organized a Fan Fest in the past, then it went away for a bit, and now it’s coming back. I’m glad it’s back, because that gives us a chance to meet and greet people and try to get them to come out to the race track and see what NHRA racing is all about.

Looking back since the last time I blogged, we raced at Atlanta and reached the semifinals, while turning the fastest speed and lowest elapsed time of the weekend in the first round. That was the second straight weekend we had the fastest speed. Every race we’re getting more consistent and learning a few more things that will make us even faster as the season goes on. I’m very happy with our Mopar Dodge Avenger right now and we have just a few small bugs we are trying to work out. We are third in points, which is great, and that’s a testament to my whole J&J Racing crew and how hard they work day in and day out.

In Atlanta we stayed pretty close to the track and focused on the task at-hand. I did have a chance to go eat some very good prime rib though. Everyone knows how much I enjoy prime rib, so anytime I have a chance to visit somewhere that traditionally has good prime rib, I have to stop. Last weekend was Mother’s Day and we had an awesome time. My mom was over and my wife Pam’s mom and her grandmother as well. We took everyone to the lake in Newport, Tenn., which is right near our hometown of Greeneville. We were planning a boat ride, but it rained, so we couldn’t do that. It was great getting to have our families together and just being able to relax and enjoy the company.

We headed out early for this week’s event at Topeka and made a stop in St. Louis on the way to do some testing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Our main goal is to just keep honing in. We aren’t chasing anything big, just the little bitty glitches, trying to catch and fix what bit us at Atlanta. We want to make sure that next time we are in that situation we know what to do.

At Topeka this weekend, we have to be consistent and qualify in the top-two or three cars. Then it’s up to the driver to go out on Sunday and do his job. If we can do all of that, then we can pick up another win in our Mopar Dodge Avenger.