What a weekend!
Saturday greeted us with Sunny skies and 90 degree weather, which anyone who lives in the Great Pacific Northwest knows, is a rarity in mid May. After a rousing set on Rock Band at the shop which included some Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Boston, we loaded up and headed to the track.
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the later back gate opening time is causing people to miss practices. That, combined with 2 different times listed on the Evergreen website makes it kind of difficult to know when to be there. Eventually we made it in, but we missed our 1st practice session. Normally this would be of great concern to me and at the time it was, but when the 2nd rolled around we headed out and boy howdy if the car wasn’t pretty good! I got nothing but silence each time I asked about the car. Finally I asked how the water temp was and got an answer, which relieved me as I thought maybe the radios were not working.
When Scott finally came in, he was pretty happy with the car. We decided to make a small trailing arm adjustment, throw the sticker tires on and go qualify. We qualified at an 18.4, which put us 14th on the grid. Not our best effort of the season, but not the worst either.
Lesson learned: Scrub in the new tires… We would probably qualify a bit better if the new was rubbed off of them.
We lined up for the heat race and we were finally moving forward. Scott was throwing the car around like he felt confident with it and while we finished pretty much where we started, there was definite improvement! I asked Scott if there was anything he wanted done to the car and his simple answer was “Great in, rotates well in the center, really loose off.” So after a conference with our chassis guru and all around expert Steve, it was decided a little tweak was all that was needed.
Note: It is always extremely gratifying to see your driver’s face light up when you make a minute change to the car and he states that he is “amazed” that we are to the point in our rookie campaign that those sorts of things are what’s called for. (I can’t give away all of our tuning secrets ya know!)
We lined up for the main and from the drop of the green I knew we were going to have a good night. Scott was hitting his marks and the car looked better than it has all year. He wasn’t just passing cars; he was passing them and driving away. The loose off condition pretty much went away and as the race wore on, you could tell he was making adjustments as the car started to change near the end, that he is finally able to trust the car and start pushing it to the edge.
We finished 9th after running as high as 8th. Our best finish of the season! While this may not be a high for some, the fact that we were running well and raced our way into that spot is a sign of progress, which is very important to our young Late Model program. I truly believe that if not for a couple of minor bobbles and the lack of a 4 speed transmission we could have run as high as 6th or 7th this night. Running the 2 speed was fine at first, but I think now that we have the car and driver in sync with each other, we need to be able to get good starts and restarts and that just isn’t possible with our current tranny.
In the end, we all walked away from the night on a high… we know that we are close to that 1st top 5 finish. The team operated flawlessly, the driver finally had a car under him that gave him the chance to drive to his capabilities and the crew chief… well let’s just say he slept pretty well that night knowing that we are going into this off week with a good performance on and off the track to build on… I think the big Mo is finally swinging our way!