Current points position: 7th | Best season e.t. to date: 3.721
Early-season report card: The Winternationals marked the return of crew chief Brian Corradi to the Matco Tools team and, after struggling in Pomona, where they qualified just ninth and shook hard and lost in round one, they looked like they were in trouble again in Phoenix, qualifying just 13th before finding some raceday magic and a semifinal finish.
Looking back: “All last year and even in Pomona this year, we couldn’t figure out why the car wasn’t 60-footing no matter what we did; we could give it a lot more power, give a lot more clutch, but it had a governor on it somewhere. Brian figured it out Saturday night in Phoenix and it hit us like a ton of bricks to find what was plaguing us all last year. We came out the first round and made a good lap (3.729) and the car made the same run next lap (3.721) and then we dropped cylinder against [Doug] Kalitta in the semi’s.”
Looking ahead: “I think everything is going good. I wish we had more races so we could keep with what we figured out. I know Brian and Mark [Oswald] and Brad [Mason] are all chomping at the bit to get back out there again because we know that we’re going to be highly competitive. We’re looking forward to getting back after it again so we can try to pop off some wins. What we found is going to be a help when the tracks get really nasty, which will help us a lot because we’ll be able to get down them; our car will go down a dirt road, so the next thing to do to run those mid-.60s.”
Shop talk: “We’re getting a whole bunch of parts and pieces together. On the DSM side that makes all the manufacturing pieces, those guys have enough cylinder heads lined up ready to go and our crew guys have been working on finishing them so when we run weeks in a row we can be ready, because that going to be a big toll. I’m gonna be ready. I’ve been doing everything I can, working out, and keeping my mind right. I have been working on a new reaction-time simulator where it catches my reaction time for letting the brake lever go and hitting the gas pedal. I’m gonna come back hungry and ready.”
The final word: “It’s been fun being with the family and getting a little home time with the kids. I’ve never taken racing for granted, but I know what we’ve been through is gonna put things in a lot different perspective for me. I’m really going to enjoy all the moments at the racetrack, knowing that nothing is guaranteed for you to actually race again. This definitely puts that in perspective.”