Kickin' it with Carl
Carl's foot injury happened after our interview, but I asked him about it early Friday. He said he didn't want to go beyond what he'd already said in his press release, which was:
"I know this probably sounds ridiculous to a lot of people and I could hardly believe it myself. I was playing Frisbee with a couple of buddies and we both went for the Frisbee at the same time. I put my foot on it, my friend dove for it, and the next thing you know...we all heard a pop. I knew it was broken and we all kind of looked at each other in disbelief that of all things, I would break my foot playing Frisbee. I immediately went to the doctor and have been working with a great team of people at the University of Missouri who work with all the college teams here. They have me on crutches to help me walk but said I could race in both races this weekend and shouldn't have a problem using the accelerator."
So once I got by him, I just had to run down Marcos. But I wasn't sure that was going to happen ...
Marcos left after the race, but we text messaged each other back and forth this week. He is a world-class driver and a really great competitor, and that's what made the win so special. I know next time, if the roles were reversed, he'll show me no mercy and it'll be tough to hold him off. That was just good racing.
So, that was awful. But I wouldn't have won the Nationwide race if it wasn't for that, because Marcos showed me a lot about how to get around that race track. And even before I got to this track,
Auto racing will humble you very quick. It's completely possible that we could blow up on the pace lap in the next two races, finish 43rd, and be in a bad spot. So I know that, and I just have to go do my very best and be just as cautious as ever to make it in.
But the coolest thing about it was the implications of him and his administration taking the time and effort to have us there and to recognize NASCAR in that setting. That meant a lot to everyone.
Of course I wish I would have won more races. So, I guess the question that people should be asking that they hardly ever ask is what are you doing differently this year? And the answer is nothing. I'm doing everything the same way I did it last year as a driver; we just haven't had the results. So that begs the next question, which is, "Well, why do you think you haven't won as many races?" And the answer to that is this is an extremely competitive environment. And the fact that I haven't won shows you how competitive it is.
That's it. There's really nothing else to say. I could get mad about people asking a question, but I just humor them and give them the best answer I can. It's like asking Jeff Gordon, "So what do you think about your back?" Well, it appears it really hurts! So, I wouldn't ask him what he thinks about his back pain ... it is what it is, there's nothing you can do about it.
I can tell you this much: when I get in a race car, I drive 100 percent, I do the best I can, and I'm better than I've ever been. I'm learning tons, and I get what I can get on the track.
To some people, it might cross their mind once a week, "Oh yeah, the No. 99 team hasn't won yet this year." Trust me, it crosses my mind at least four times an hour, every day, "Man, we need to win a race." So you don't have to remind me. Heck, that's what I do for a living ...
Sometimes, though, that has to be done for the big picture to work, so that the whole team can prevail in the long run. So it meant a lot for Jamie and their team to sacrifice for us. That was a big deal.
All eyes are on Hurricane Jimena this week as it batters the coast of Baja California. Being from Missouri, I don't expect you to be much of a hurricane guy, but what's the craziest experience you've had with storms during your lifetime? Are you a big-time thunderstorm guy?
Yeah, I was flying along coming from somewhere on the East coast. I was flying over St. Louis, at 18 or 20,000 feet, and there was a big line of thunderstorms with a very small gap between them. I couldn't see the actual thunderstorms because I was in clouds, but in my little NEXRAD radar it would update every five to seven minutes. The gap was getting smaller and smaller, and I was racing the clock trying to get through it. But suddenly, the NEXRAD updated and there was no gap ... and I was stuck in this storm.
That was one of the dumbest decisions I ever made as a pilot. For the next five minutes, I was petrified because I had done the thing they always say not to do: I gambled with the weather. Luckily, everything worked out fine, but I was by myself, and it was scary. In the airplane, I couldn't see anything out of the windows. It was a dull gray out of the windows, and I was just bouncing along in that thunderstorm at 20,000 feet, and just waiting for that one terrible updraft or downdraft ... it was bad.
So, from that point on I've always stayed far away from the bad weather.
"Hey Carl, I'm going to be an incoming freshman to the University of Missouri this year. I know you still live in the area, so are there any cool places for young people where you loved to hang out when you were in school? And seeing as you went to Mizzou yourself, any words of wisdom for an incoming freshman from out-of-state as to how to make friends on campus?" --
I'd say that Stankowski Field is also a good place to go meet people. They've got outdoor volleyball courts set up. Football, basketball, soccer, there's a running track ... and at night, there's a lot going on there. A lot of people are being active, which is really cool. As far as clubs and stuff, it's been awhile since I've been in that scene here but comedy at Deja Vu is always entertaining, and there's any number of places you can go downtown and have a good time. And don't forget the Katy Trail, the state park that runs across the whole state and right into the middle of town. You can ride your bike there, or go for a run and meet lots of people.
It's just a really cool town.
Take us around a lap at Atlanta. What's the best place to make a pass there, and why?
I don't know if there's going to be an improvement in the quality of racing with the offseason tire test. I thought the tires were great last year ... I didn't have a problem with them. Because my car was good, and I'm glad the tires were so hard to drive because I didn't have to race as many people. I think as long as the tires hold up and they don't come apart and everyone has the same tires, then the race will be fine.