2010 has come to an end. It was a year of ups and downs as a fan of the #43 driver AJ Allmendinger. The year started out on a good note purely for the fact that AJ was locked into the Daytona 500 for the first time in his NASCAR career. The Thursday of the Duel races wasn’t looked upon with the normal dread, and hopes were high for a great year on the track.
Despite a fast car, the pothole got the better of AJ in the Daytona 500, and the team spent the next couple of races struggling to find some momentum. After the spring Atlanta race, the #43 team put together a run of consistent finishes inside the top 20 and top 15, though. AJ even scored his first career pole start at Phoenix during that stretch.
The team again searched for answers during the mid-summer races before gaining their stride. A season best finish of 4th at Watkins Glen and a great run at the fall Dover race marked the high points of the year for AJ and the Insignia crew. Then a strong finish to close out the last few races left everyone wishing the season wasn’t quite over yet.
In all, I would say 2010 was a successful year for the Mike Shiplett led team. Richard Petty Motorsports was dealing with a lot of financial instability and trying to fund four struggling entries, three of which were in lame duck status with the drivers moving elsewhere. It wasn’t the ideal circumstances for AJ to try and flourish as a driver, but he did the best with the circumstances he was given.
I would have to say that the fall Dover race where AJ led the field for 143 laps before having a tire issue was the highlight of the year for on-track activity, followed closely by the pole win at Phoenix in second place. Off the track, the Las Vegas race was by far the best race of the year, though. As a NASCAR fan for almost ten years and never having seen a live race, I ventured to the Vegas track for my first excursion and couldn’t have enjoyed the experience more.
Just like AJ’s year in racing, I had a very up and down year in my personal life. From illness, to financial troubles, to the dreaded cancer word, my life was turned upside down in 2010. Yet at the same time, I made some really great friends that changed my life for the better. In both the racing world and my own world, I could choose to focus on the negatives that happened and say that the year was a disappointment. Instead, I’m focused on the positives and looking forward to seeing what other good things might happen.
I have a sticky note stuck to my computer that reminds me to be thankful every day. In 2011 my resolution is to sit back every evening and think of one thing that made me happy during the day. And on the racing side of things, I’m going to take the time after every race next season to find something positive that the team showed me, no matter what the finish is.