Round Fifteen – Fontana

Editor’s note: It’s been three weeks since the season finale and I haven’t been able to call my parents ONCE without them asking when “that blog write-up thingy” will be posted. Well, Mom & Dad, here you go.

Question: Have you ever had the chance to eat habanero peppers whilst sitting in a hot tub that’s located inside a sauna that’s sitting in the desert with a black roof that attracts the sun? No? Well Fontana felt a lot like that. We have this clock/thermometer thing that hangs outside the team transporter and as you’ll see in our Fontana photo album on facebook, watching it read 138°F was… special.

The thing is, I’m not complaining because I don’t allow myself to complain. The crew guys have to put on a freakin’ firesuit and Alex has to drive (not just sit and bake, but DRIVE) in the even-hotter-than-it-is-outside cockpit. So I’m not complaining. Just merely observing… with a hint of disdain.

So, let’s talk racing.

It was a funky way to end the season for Barracuda Racing, no? Going from the feeling of ‘we just might win this thing’ to watching the cloud of smoke come out the back of the No. 98 was tough. But if it’s gonna end, methinks I’d rather have it end without driver error, crew error or any other kind of error that involves a wall.

Any other time that you leave the track with a P20, it’s disappointing. But we weren’t disappointed. Nor did we leave the track right away. That race seemed like the perfect excuse to join our friends from Bowers & Wilkins for a little post-race fun in turn two. If you’ve never camped in the infield at Auto Club Speedway, you’re in the majority of the U.S. population. But you’re also missing out.

The B&W gang had good food on the grill, some fierce competition on the cornhole boards and high-definition, amazing-sound-quality tunes crankin’ on the Zeppelin (shameless sponsor plug). Good times were had by all and it was a fun way to celebrate the end to our season. It also meant that we arrived back at our hotel at 1:30 in the morning, just in time for a nap before leaving for the airport at 4 a.m.

Like many other times during 2012, the results didn’t show the full story but we know that Barracuda Racing is unique, motivated, focused and full of potential. There’s an unspoken vibe here about our high expectations for 2013 and how we can’t wait to get to St. Pete next March.

For now, it’s back to the shop for the winter. Hilarity will most definitely ensue as the boys develop cabin fever and start running into walls. They miss the open air of the trackside garages and often times, starting the car indoors at the shop treats them to an extra-special dose of fumes and thus, hilarity.

It’s that time of year when they start remembering all their favorite lunch spots and developing awesome ideas like Five Guys Fridays. When almost every sentence starts with “Hopefully next year…” and it almost feels like a normal job. ALMOST.

I want to say thanks to everyone who has read ‘Slightly Off Track’ this season and laughed along with us. The spirit of the team is hard to capture with TV moments and post-race interviews. I hope I’ve been able to share some of the fun and shenanigans properly, so that with all the choices you’re given on race day, you choose to cheer for the crazy Canadian and his No. 98 crew.

By the way, watch for a NEW idea for the 2013 “Slightly Off Track.” I’m more giddy than I should be about it.

The Hot Lap

  • Miles traveled: 4,062
  • Obligatory In-N-Out Burger visits: 5
  • Temperature during qualifying: 104°
  • Water bottles consumed: 528
  • Race length: 500 miles
  • Laps lead: 21
  • Mid-race smoothies consumed by crew: 20
  • Sets of Firestone Firehawks used: 12
  • Barracuda Racing top ten finishes in 2012: 8
  • Days until the next race: 165
  • Pranks on poor, unsuspecting team members as part of a reality show: 1
  • Pictures in the Barracuda Racing Fontana photo album: 73 (see them here http://on.fb.me/Qh4M62 )