In it for the long haulThursday, February 16, 2012

A DNQ right out of the box is a tough way to start the season but I talked to the team and reminded them that we made our share of mistakes, had three opportunities, and didn’t get it done. Unfortunately, the fourth run got rained out. I was confident the car was gonna run fast and strong but we’ll never know. I felt we tested well in Palm Beach although our fuel curve wasn’t quite right when we left. We were confident we could adjust it and make a few tweaks in Pomona to get it right but it never materialized. We still had a few things that weren’t 100 percent and, unfortunately, that led to not making it into the field. I told the team let’s learn from our mistakes which is all we can do. There’s no point in hanging our heads and feeling bad. We have a heck of a race car and a great sponsor behind us. We made enough changes in the off-season to make this car better, that it’s going to take a few runs to get it dialed in but I’m confident it’ll be better than what we had last year, which was a great car! We’re in this for the long haul and it’s a long season so we’ll shake it off and get ready for Phoenix.

Before the race, we went to a Grill ‘n’ Chill with Snap-on franchisee Domenic Valentino in Glendora at Certified Automotive Specialists. They had a really nice shop with a family environment. The owner and his wife started the company almost 30 years ago and are still going strong. It’s nice to see a small business succeed. They had a great turnout and a lot of Domenic’s customers from his route came by to eat and hang out.

Our next stop was the Pomona Valley Hospital where I met a group of students from C5LA, a philanthropic outreach program based in Southern California for at-risk youth, and we made valentines for patients. It was very cool for me to not only make the cards (for the first time in my life) but I also got to hand them out to a few of the patients. Visiting with some of the people who had open heart surgery really made me stop and think how lucky we are to do what we do. We hope we were able to cheer them up!

After that, we went to the NHRA museum for a dinner with the students from C5LA. Nacho Bravo from our team and Domenic from Snap-on were there. too. The students had a chance to walk through the Snap-on truck and talk to everyone there about different career opportunities available to them. These kids kind of reminded me of me when I was young. They have good families who support them, are polite, and striving to do the right thing in life regardless of their surroundings. The C5LA program is giving them the opportunity to learn and get the best education possible. I shared with them some of the things I went through and hopefully was able to inspire them.

Along with all of our Snap-on guests, we hosted about 20 of the students from C5LA at the track Saturday and gave them an up close look at the car. They had a great time and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with their group in the future. If you want to learn more, visit their website at

Now, we’re looking forward to getting to Phoenix and getting some fans and family from El Paso out to the track.