I don’t have much to report in this week’s race recap. The audio on my Trackpass was so bad that I couldn’t really tell what was going on with AJ. I pretty much just saw what everyone else did – yet another crappy race for the Dinger.
The 44 crew had a rough start to the weekend after qualifying was rained out on Friday. They started in 30th position based on Owner’s points, and were planning a strategy for track position when the competition caution came out. Unfortunately, by that time AJ had pitted because the car was too tight on throttle, then pitted again because of a tire vibration, and then pitted again after a spin.
That put AJ in the back end of the field, and of course that is where the accidents tend to happen. After contact between Elliott Sadler, Scott Speed, and Michael Waltrip, AJ got caught up in the accordion affect and slammed the right front of his car into the back of someone else. The fender damage could have been repairable, but AJ called in and reported that the steering was all messed up. So Sammy Johns and the Berlin City Auto Group crew brought the #44 car behind the wall for repairs.
AJ rejoined the race in 38th position and 34 laps down. The group’s efforts in the garage paid off though, as a couple more incidents took cars out of the competition. By the time the race ended early under rainy skies, AJ had moved up to 32nd place. He maintains the 29th position in driver’s points, and the 44 car is still 30th in owner’s points.
It was a disappointing day to be sure, and a frustrating weekend after coming off of the team’s top ten finish in Sonoma. I can’t imagine the emotions that AJ is going through after such a rough year, but he is being generous enough to give us a little insight into it. AJ now has a featured column at http://www.racer.com/ where he talks about his struggles. His first column is aptly titled Keeping the Faith, as that is just what all of us Dinger fans are doing. We’re keeping the faith, AJ – never doubt it. We believe in you!