Kansas Speedway is a pretty special place in my racing career. No, it’s not because it’s a track that I got a NASCAR Nationwide Series win at. It’s more because it’s a track that I shrugged off critics, including possibly myself, by putting one of the worst wrecks of my entire racing career behind me in a BIG way.
Last year, the week before the Kansas race, I wrecked my Home Depot Toyota in Dover during the Cup race and made the highlight reels. Of course, it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to make the highlights, because I was rolling over and over down the banking. The week after Dover, all people could ask me about is if I was ok and if I was still going to be mentally in the game. I guess they figured I was young and I was a rookie, so it might have taken it all out of me.
So we came to Kansas and I knew we’d be good in the Nationwide Series event in our #20 GameStop Toyota. We’d been good all year long on the 1.5-mile tracks. And in Kansas, it was no different.
When I got in the car, nothing had changed in my mind. It was another race. And I hadn’t lost a bit of confidence. And in NO WAY was I scared one bit. I mean, this is what I do and what I’ve always done. I get to drive racecars for a leaving. No reason to be scared of that. It could possibly be the coolest job in the world.
So we went out there and put on a show for the fans and for my sponsors, including GameStop. We passed our JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) teammate Kyle Busch late in the race and picked up what was our fourth win of the season.
That race did a lot more for me, and was more important to me, then almost another other win that season. It brought me from the lowest of lows back to the highest of highs. It was about as opposite of weekends as you could get.
And there is no better medicine for anything that is ailing you as a racecar driver then pulling into victory lane.