Yeah, well actually the start of the race went really well. All the Penske cars qualified poorly for some reason, but when the start came we began to move forward, up to the 13th or 14th spot. We actually passed
I tried to dig my feet in, say no, this isn't going to happen, I'm going to settle in here somewhere around 10th. Instead, I ended up busting my butt, overdrove the car and put it in the fence. As a driver, for that time in the race, that was too early to have made that statement. And I got myself in trouble, making the rest of the race a long one just to make it to the finish.
Well, for me it's a lot easier to do things like that when you're not quite as confident in your car. So you're essentially in a mode where you're like, "I can't lose these spots because I'll probably never get 'em back." So, you risk more to try to keep them, whereas when you're confident in your team and your car, you allow things to happen knowing that you will recover.
Well, I think the spoiler has really helped that race track, there's no doubt about that. I think the racing at California has gotten better. That's not to say it can't continue to get better, but the quality has really increased by leaps and bounds.
I don't think losing a date in California is necessarily a terrible thing. I think that you have to look at it from the perspective of what a NASCAR event means. You'd like to have continuity in your schedule, but sometimes you have to switch it up a little bit. So I don't think changing the track is going to fix anything other than costing a lot of money. So I don't know, I kind of have mixed emotions about it. Again, the racing at California has gotten better there the last few years.
With that said ... I thought track president
I think the right guy got in with
I thought a little bit about
Well, it's not much different for me, I can tell you that. Unfortunately, I actually work harder on Charlotte race weeks. But the big thing is to not have to travel, and be able to be home with your family. For our on-the-road guys, that's a huge deal. I'm single, and don't have a family of my own other than Mom and Dad, so it's not quite as big for me. But it is nice to be able to drive to your own house and go to bed at night. It's almost like having an 8-to-5 job for a week, and that's what everyone appreciates about it.
Well, I think more than anything else, I'm surprised at the fact a brand new team, people, cars, etc. were able to run as well as we have without failures. That's remarkable to me, because that's very, very difficult. I look at a large part of our points gap established as some of the failures they had on the No. 60 car. Maybe 200 points of it has been through failures, while the other 180 has been from performance.
That, to me, is the remarkable piece. It's the one where you go, "Wow, this is a really good team."
Yeah, we've been playing just a little bit of basketball, trying to keep it semi-low key and private. You know how things can get... and we want to be safe as well. It's really easy to get hurt. I missed my game this week, but my team won, which was good. It's a cool way to try to stay in shape and have fun, because some of us don't really like to exercise -- so we need to have fun if we're really going to stay in shape. We've got five teams of five, it's pretty cool.
The Cornelius Cougars. There are some other names that are not exactly PG, we'll leave it at that. As for the best nickname, we have this guy we call The Microwave. I like that one; I don't know if you remember back from the '80s, the Detroit Pistons used to have this guy they called by the same name.
I can't remember what I did, though. Something about wrecking
These are tough questions, because they're more than about our sport or somebody else's sport. They're questions about society, what it is to be an athlete. Are you automatically assumed to be a role model, a question that's been going on for quite awhile.
Our society's sports stars should be held to a little bit higher standard. But is that fair, is that fair to an athlete? A lot of people say, well you make millions of dollars, so you should be able to be an x-y-z, all good person? But is that fair to them? Probably not. Is it true? I think so. So, it's kind of a tough boundary to really define. From what I gather on Brett's deal, he didn't do anything illegal. It doesn't make it right, but it wasn't illegal per se. So I don't know. I don't know where you go for that. I think that's a question for society.
Nashville. I'd like to do Nashville. It was like a Bristol before Bristol, it's in the downtown area, which is kind of cool. A lot of good races came from there, and it seems like a good ol' racetrack that had a lot of quality short track features.
Well, Charlotte is one of the fastest mile-and-a-half tracks, and it doesn't let a lot of credit for it. It was repaved recently, about three or four years ago, and it has a lot of speed. It's also very, very slick because the asphalt has a lot of grip; we always seem to bring a tire that is capable of holding up to it.
The layout of the track is a tri-oval, with dogleg frontstretch-style corners. It's the typical
The guy that can get into Turn 1 the hardest and roll on that white line is usually the guy to beat. It's always hard to put the throttle down as you're coming up off of 2, whether you're on the top or the bottom. The track kind of gives you a lazy, falling over feel that kind of unhooks the car, makes the back dance around slightly. So you see a lot of people spin out on the exit of 2 all by themselves, it's very common there.
You drive off of Turn 2 with a lot of wheel input, and right when you emerge right from the exit of 2, the track actually has a slight elevation change where it essentially has a dip. It's a pretty substantial dip coming off of Turn 2 that tends to bottom the cars out. And that's right as you merge to the wall. So you'll see a lot of movement to the cars up and down the backstretch. It's common for Charlotte, and you used to have even more before they repaved it, but it still has some.
So you go down the backstretch -- the backstretch is fairly fast, because 1 and 2 are some fairly fast corners -- and then you're at the entrance of Turn 3, which is a narrow, slick corner. Very slick, one of the toughest corners in racing, 3 and 4 at Charlotte. It's because you go into it, and you have to put some huge arc into the corner. So essentially the corner will open up, and the bottom will go away from you. It creates this weird sensation in your mind where you feel like, "I just missed this corner. I need to turn down to get to the bottom." But you don't.
So you hold a real large arc, probably the largest arc in any form of racing, as you go through Turns 3 and 4 of Charlotte. You don't even apex the corner; most people will run the bottom. You're not even apexing the corner of 3 and 4 until way past the center, to give these cars the look of, "Where's he going?" But when you back up and see the corner from the driver's perspective, you can understand that. And back to the other side of it, if you run the top, it can be very treacherous as well, because the track and the way the banking is, it's very hard to see your marks. It's very hard to look ahead. It's one of those tracks where I have to have the windshield of my car painted up very high so I can see around the corner, because it's that steep and there's that much banking.
So you put this large arc into the corner because Turn 4 narrows up. It's very, very narrow on exit and it also loses the banking again. It's fairly similar to the exit of Turn 2 at Darlington, where you want to know, "What were they thinking here?" You have to be very careful, and the car has a tendency to get free and try to spin out while putting the power down. That's because you have so much wheel input into it to make sure you don't hit the wall on exit. And if you get your car to where it doesn't try to spin out right here, of course you push into the wall.
So it's tricky to get off of Turn 4, it's a very narrow corner. The reason you run up high in 3 and 4 is not because it's faster, it's only to give yourself a little more room to turn the car down on exit.
So you carry your run off of Turn 4, that run really sets up the whole lap and it's critical to running a good lap at this track. Once you exit, that sets you up for the front straightaway and you complete your lap.