<
>

High intensity at Indy, high expectations at Pocono

Indianapolis was probably the strangest race I've ever been involved with. It was pretty nerve-racking for us. We were cutting it so close, almost wrecking our race car every 10-lap run. We were on pins and needles. We were basically adjusting the balance of our race car around tire wear, trying to make the right-side tires wear equally.

Personally, I had a lot of fun with it. In a way, that was the best thing that could have happened to us. We've been working with our pit crew, changing some things around, and this was the most solid race we've put together on pit road. We were making up spots on pit road almost every stop. We felt pretty good. We had a good race car, but with 50 laps to go, we had a right-front tire that got really bad. It was on the verge of blowing, but Bobby Labonte hit pit road half a lap too soon before the caution came out, and it was just too much track position to make up. We really felt we had a top-10 car.

I know there were fans disappointed with the race, but it was a neat race for the people in the garage area and the pits. It was cool for our pit crew to have their moment to shine. I told them all before the race, "You guys will determine the outcome of the race more than the drivers," and they did. I think if you were a fan, the best seat in the house was on the front straightaway, because all the action was on pit road.

Now we're getting ready for Pocono, and we usually run a pretty similar setup to Indy. We made some big setup changes for Indy, and they seemed to be good changes, so we're pretty excited about going to Pocono. We have some pretty high expectations.

We did go to Road Atlanta to test on Tuesday, and we felt pretty good about that. It was a good, solid test for us. We worked on different brake components. Looking back at Sonoma, we had a good car but we may have given up a bit in the braking points, so we went to Atlanta to work on our brake system. It's been tough going from Indy to a test for a road course, while preparing for Pocono, so you definitely have to keep an open mind all the time.

Jeff Meendering is the first-year crew chief for the famed Petty Enterprises No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger driven by Bobby Labonte. Meendering will take ESPN.com readers inside his life on and off the track each week with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.