Hello everyone on The Hot Lap! The Nationwide Series is at Gateway this weekend for the track’s last NASCAR race. I think it is unfortunate that the track is being dropped from the schedule. Gateway has always had some really good racing and I have had a lot of great memories there. I made my first start at the track in my rookie year (2005). We qualified second and won that race. In 2007 we did it again, qualified second and won. The track has been really good to me and hopefully we can do it one last time tomorrow.
A lot of people ask me what it is about this track that seems to ‘click’ for me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, to be honest. I guess it’s because I grew up racing on short tracks, and although Gateway isn’t necessarily a short track, it’s a fast track for as flat as it is. It just seemed to fit my driving style the first time I raced there. You definitely have to use some finesse when you’re driving this track. You’re out of the gas for a long time and you have to be careful not to overdrive it. I tend to like tracks where you have to get your braking right on entry, where you have to brake hard and have your car free enough to come off the corners as well.
When we left Gateway in July with another second-place finish, we were already counting down the races until we came back. The win there keeps getting away and the Dollar General team is hungry to get it. It will definitely be a bittersweet weekend. The fans have always been very supportive there. Thank you to all of you who came out to see us race there over the years. I think it would be really cool to be the last NASCAR Nationwide Series winner there.
Last weekend we were at home in Charlotte Motor Speedway. That is another track where I have a lot of good memories. I won my first ASA race there, way back in 2004. I also ran my first ARCA Racing Series race there and finished third. Racing at home in Charlotte is always nice for the teams. The guys get to sleep in their own beds and spend the entire week with their families. The weekend was also extra-special for us because Dollar General was the title sponsor of the Nationwide Series race. It was a very busy but fun week for me.
I traded in my traditional yellow and black colored Dollar General Toyota for a BRIGHT pink one and proudly sported a pink fire suit for a great cause. I joined with Dollar General in supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. IndyCar® Series driver, Sarah Fisher, recently drove her pink No. 67 Dollar General car in the series’ finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. I’d love to do the pink scheme for the entire month of October! Breast cancer hits home for a lot of us here at Braun Racing. My mom has four aunts that were diagnosed with breast cancer. Each fought hard and survived, but not everyone is as fortunate. My teammate, Jason Leffler, lost his sister to breast cancer. Hopefully one day, this terrible disease will be defeated.
Not only do I get to do what I love on the track with Dollar General, but I get to do some pretty neat things off the track as well. Dollar General and Unilever sponsored a reading program with the Cabarrus County Schools and one of the kindergarten classes at W. R. Odell Elementary School in Concord, N.C. won by logging the most minutes read. To celebrate their success, I visited the class last week and read a Curious George book to them. My favorite part about visiting the schools is when we open the floor to questions. It is amazing what kids will come up with! Because we read the story about Curious George going to a costume party, Halloween became a topic of discussion. Most of the kids that came up to the microphone had things to tell me and not a question. It was great. One girl told me she was going to be a peacock for Halloween. I thought that was pretty original and told her I might have to borrow the idea. It was a lot of fun to visit the school. Congrats again to them on their reading win!
I better get ready to head out for practice. Thanks again to all of you who have been following this blog this year! Have a great weekend!