By Ryan Reed, NASCAR XFINITY Series Driver
Is it time to get back racing yet? This is the second off-week of the season for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and I’m itching to get back behind the wheel of my No. 16 Lilly Diabetes American Diabetes Association Ford Mustang. It was really hard leaving Fontana and not having a chance for redemption the following week. We had an unfortunate pit road penalty that put us a lap down while we were running in the top 10, which ultimately cost us a top-10 finish. We had such an awesome weekend of speed at Auto Club – like I had never experienced there before. I think I told the team during qualifying that was the first time I was able to hold the throttle wide open through Turns 1 and 2 at that track. I think that’s just a testament to the work Roush Fenway has put in to turn things around on the competition-front. We’ve seen improvements on the Cup side as well, where the struggles have been more notable. It’s definitely helped morale around the shop to know that what we are doing is paying off. While there will still be setbacks from time to time, we are getting back where we need to be.
Personally, I feel like I’m in the best shape I have ever been in. While it’s important for me to stay healthy to manage my diabetes, I’d say it’s obvious that the drivers that are better athletes tend to handle the conditions in the car better and ultimately are more successful – take Jimmie Johnson for example, who is a triathlete and a six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion. Since the beginning of the season, I have dropped 15 pounds through spending more time in the gym and cycling in a group setting or on trails in the Charlotte area. That’s been my main focus of the off weeks – being the best I can be physically so I can concentrate on the mental part of driving the car at the track.
The off weeks have also given me some time to hang out with friends and do some work around the house. I saw the new Batman v Superman movie in theatres, which was pretty awesome, and I remodeled my garage. I’m excited to relax this weekend and watch the Cup race on Sunday at Martinsville. I actually had the opportunity to race there when I was 17 in their yearly late model event. It was my first time at the track and I qualified 10th so I was pretty stoked about that. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to race there again someday.
I’m really looking forward to going back to Texas in a couple weeks. It’s the first night race of the year, which is always exciting, and we had two solid top-15 finishes there last season. We also have a bunch of guests from Lilly coming out to see us so we for sure want to put on a good show for them.