Dover Disappointment, Kansas Excitement
I don't know how many of you have ever driven a car without power steering. It's not easy on the highway, much less at 150 miles per hour around a high-banked oval like Dover International Speedway. I got to know firsthand what that is like this past weekend. If Dover isn't the hardest track on equipment, it's right at the top. It places a lot of stress on several areas of the car and, unfortunately, we ran into a little back luck this past weekend when our power steering belt was knocked off halfway through the race. The Miller Lite crew did a great job in diagnosing and repairing it, and we were able to still finish on the lead lap.
I felt like we had a car that could have finished inside the top 10, even after the power steering issue, had the caution flags fallen our way. You definitely need a little bit of good fortune along the way when you're fighting for a championship. But I'm proud of the car the team built. It was fast, for sure. Kurt [Busch] was able to bring the hardware home for Penske Racing and that team deserves a big congratulations for that. His win just helps reinforce that we are building two great teams here.
On the bright side, we only lost three points to the points leader. However, we were in a great position to capitalize on the points leaders having a bad day. Still, we're only 14 points out of the lead with some great race tracks on the horizon.
This weekend it's back to Kansas Speedway, a place where I picked up my first win for Penske Racing the last time we raced there. So much has happened this year since we won at Kansas, but I don't want the significance of that win lost in the fact that we won two more races and made the Chase. That win at Kansas was special because we knew we were doing the right things to be successful. Winning at Kansas was a validation, of sorts, and it was definitely the catalyst for what we were able to accomplish as the summer months wore on. We won the race on fuel mileage, but we had a very fast car throughout the race. We ran in the top 10 most of the day. With a fast Miller Lite Dodge and good fuel mileage, I'm confident about our chances this weekend.
This week's fan question comes from Mike in Hickory, N.C. He wants to know how much I learned from Dennis Setzer when he drove my family's truck a few years back.
Thanks for the question, Mike. There was quite a bit that I learned from Dennis. I was just starting out my racing career back then. Dennis and my dad were two guys that I talked to a lot. Dennis is a master of short tracks. Always has been. I've heard stories about him running his "Orange Blossom Special" at Hickory Motor Speedway back in the day. He is a very smooth driver, which is a trait that I immediately picked up from him as I made my way around the short tracks of Michigan and Ohio.
I still talk to Dennis today. He's still at the track and he's someone I can always go to when I need advice. I appreciate his friendship.
That's it for this week. The Chase is starting to heat up. The points are as close as they have ever been. If NASCAR wanted excitement with the new point system, it sure got it.