By Ryan Reed, NASCAR XFINITY Series Driver
As we head to the final road course of the 2016 XFINITY Series schedule this weekend, I still don’t think anyone has stopped talking about the race at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago. In case you missed that, it poured down rain for the majority of the race and we attempted to race with rain tires. Needless to say, it’s better in theory than it is in practice. It definitely made for an entertaining show for fans, but even the best road course racers were spinning out, even under caution. There were a lot of opinions after the race on whether it was good, entertaining racing or just plain embarrassing. I would say it’s somewhere in the middle – for us anyways. We had a really fast No. 16 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford Mustang but got caught up in a few incidents that weren’t our fault and a few that were. We ended the day 11th and after the ups and downs of the day, I will take it. I will say one thing – no one came away from there saying it was a boring race.
After Mid-Ohio was Bristol, where we weren’t so lucky. I don’t know what it is about that place but we just cannot seem to catch a break. We got caught up in someone else’s mess at the halfway point in the race, leading to having to replace the entire rear end of the car. A repair like that takes a ton of time, and Bristol is not the place you want to have to make that kind of repair with the laps being so short. We ended the race 35th and a lot of laps down, but the good news is after the rear-end was repaired I had the best-handling car I had ever driven at that track. Of course it was too late to make up any ground at that point, but still reassuring to know we have the people and equipment we need to get it done.
This weekend we head to Road America in Wisconsin. This road course is way different from Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen, but I really feel like we have found something that works at the road courses this season. It’s a good feeling going to these places and having the confidence in your car, team and yourself to run well.
After Road America, we head to Darlington Raceway, which is exciting for so many reasons. Of course it’s a legendary place that really is “Too Tough to Tame,” but their NASCAR Throwback program is really cool to witness and be a part of. We will run Bobby Allison’s Matador paint scheme from 1975, which he won both Darlington races with while driving for Penske. My friend and fellow diabetes advocate Sam Bass helped us adapt the paint scheme to our No. 16 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford and will be painting a portion the decklid live at-track on Friday. There’s a ton of pressure to perform well there, but it’s such an honor to be a part of it.
Outside of the racetrack, I have been training for a different kind of race – my first triathlon. Me and a few buddies are preparing to compete in a couple months. The physical and mental preparation will be intense, especially when adding diabetes management in there but It’s just another way I can show people living with diabetes that anything you want to do is possible if you prepare and take care of yourself. I look forward to keeping you posted on my journey on and off the track as we head into the Chase for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship here in a couple of weeks!