Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And thats a wrap...

Well, its over.

Season #1 in Late Models for Team LaCross is now complete. And with a final points finish of 7th, I am pretty pleased with how things went.

We started the year with some specific goals in mind:

Finish every race in the top ten - Close, but no cigar on that one We had 11 top ten finishes in 19 races

Finish in the top ten season points - Done!

Make every race - It was a real challenge at times, but we did it

Get a top 5 finish - Oh so very close a couple of times, but 6th was the best we could muster

Start on the pole - Done... Twice! Sure it was with the invert, but its still the pole!

Lead a lap - Done... and not just by luck. While getting to be on the pole obviously helped, the laps we lead were good ones, ones where we got out there and ran well. I think it was a total of about 30 or so over 2 or 3 races...

Learn about the car and have fun - Done and Done!


As I sit back and reflect on the year that was, of course I beat myself up over decisions made, adjustments not made, set up changes that could have been done sooner, parts swaps that should have been done sooner... you know, the old "hind sight is 20/20" thing. But in all reality, I couldn't be happier with how things went. We faced serious adversity a number of times this year. From replacing most of the nose of the car to scrimping, saving and downright hawking ourselves to get that set of tires for the next race. By the end of the season, I think there were more Rivits holding together the nose and fenders than there were on the entire rest of the car, but damnit we made it...

All year long, we worked hard to get better and I think it really showed. We went from getting out of the way to making people get out of our way. From rank rookie to someone that every other driver knew they could race clean with and get a hard honest run, be it for 1st place or 10th.

Thank you's... Where do I begin??? Of course with our Sponsors:  

TnT Mechanical, Papa Murphy's of Monroe, Speedway Performance, Melinda Knight.com, Fire Down Graphics, and of course, Scott's Mom!  None of this would have been possible without your support. Pretty please, with sugar on top... go to our links page and click on these fine folks names, check out thier web sites and utilize thier services. They spend thier hard earned dollars to help us get to the track each and every week to promote thier businesses, let them know that you appreciate them as much as we do by making them your choice when it comes to HVAC, Pizza, Autobody repair, Spiritual guidance and Graphics work.

Also, we want to recognize the following folks who lent expertise, advice, parts, a swift kick in the butt and all sorts of other helpful things this year:

Our families - thanks for coming out to the races and cheering us on, for understanding when we miss parties, birthdays, anniversaries,etc. because we have a race that weekend, or the car needs work that night. It really does mean a lot to us!

Roger Habich, Jamie Thomas and Steve Craig - The Man, The Wizard and The Guru - These gentlemen were our go to guys on all things over our heads, which was sometimes a lot! Roger helped us get the car pointed in the right direction before the season started and was there whenever I picked up the phone to ask him even the silliest of questions. Jamie, well he is the Wizard... Our motor and Carb ran strong all year, a testament to what a good motor guy does, even when all he can do is adjust valves and keep it tuned properly. Steve took time out of his busy schedule helping our good buddy Jeff to answer our questions concerning set-ups and changes we should make. He also taught me how to refresh shocks, the proper way to check angles and provided me with a lot of confidence in my own decision making abilities.

Rob Touchette - Rob was right there with offers of parts whenever we seriously wrecked the car. He also helped us with a set of wheels at the start of the season so we would have 2 sets and not have to swap tires at the track all year. He's a cool guy with a lot of talent and knowledge and we are glad he is one of our buddies!

Fred and Trevor Hall - The old Father son Duo and Painters extraordinaire! Not only can they paint the pants off of a car, they also helped us out at the track a number of times when we were down on Crew members. Fred also loaned us his scales any time we needed them, which was a big deal to us. Even when he was racing his own car, he never once balked at letting us borrow them for a night to do set up. And what can we say about Trevor? The kid is going to be a really good painter one day, if his work on our racecar is any indication. Plus, he plays a mean Metallica Bass part on Expert during our RockBand game play nights!

Jeff Knight - What cant I say about Jeff? Without Jeff's grace, we would be sitting here talking about the season that could have been. When, after 4 years of being a part of TVM proper, we branched out to race our own car, it was Jeff who became one of our biggest cheerleaders. When we purchased our chassis, Jeff was there to tell how cool it was that we did it. When the season approached and we were short on money and long on dreams, it was Jeff who loaned us a Transmission and Shocks. When our brakes went the way of the dinosaur, again Jeff came through with a set of calipers for all 4 corners. Springs, A-Arms, sway bars, you name it, Jeff helped us with parts from his own inventory. When times were tough, Jeff would always stop by the shop and offer encouragement, words of praise and strengthen our faith. I know that it may appear that he is our parts supplier by what you see here, but he is much, much more than that... He is our Pastor, our teamate and most of all, our very good friend. Thanks for everything Jeff!

And last, but certainly not least, the team...

Scott Harrison - From being our major sponsor (TnT Mechanical), welding the occasional parts together, to providing the tow rig and trailer all year long, Scott's help could be seen in all areas of the team. When he was able to make it to the track, I never worried about having to hustle back from the spotters area to make sure the car was being serviced and all the info we need getting gathered. Being a business owner keeps Scott really busy but when he was able to break free and come out to the shop, he was always a great help and ready to take on any task.  

Jeri Harrison - Team Manager - Jeri totally and completely kicks major butt. Her always sunny attitutde and willingness to do just about anything we asked of her makes her #1 in my book! She ordered the Pizzas every week, made us dinner during the times when she knew we were going to have to work into the wee hours every night the fix the car, made sure the car was waxed and cleaned every week, learned how to do tire temps, how to stretch and size tires, cleaned and organized the shop and toolbox whenver it needed attention and of course, was the lead singer during RockBand breaks. Jeri likes to think that she really didnt do much, but she couldnt be more wrong about that. You rock Jelly... dont ever forget it! 

Scott LaCross - The Driver - Man, we have been doing this a long, long time haven't we? From the early days of not knowing that tire pressures actually made the car handle differently, through the championships in the Ministocks, spending many, many late nights at the Grid or the barn, making all those minute changes to help make Rogers cars that much faster to our finally moving into our own Late Model, invariably, its always been you and me, bro. Thanks for making me look good all these years, It's your desire to leave nothing on the table that we can control and ability to wheel a racecar around the track like a madman that makes it all tick.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity and letting me come along for the ride! 

Ok, well I think that pretty much covers it... if I forgot to mention anyone, please know that it wasnt intentional and that in every way, everyone who has been a part of this season should take credit and be proud of what we accompished. Thank you all very much!

Eddie C - Crew cheif, spotter and lifer - Team LaCross #99 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Race #19 and the final points standings

Position - Number - Name

1 - 00 - Naima Lang

2 - 51 - John Zaretzke

3 - 34 - James Mugee - R

4 - 70 - Jeff Knight

5 - 11 - Mike Holden

6 - 06 - Steve Ptacek - R

7 - 99 - Scott LaCross - R

8 - 48 - Tom Hughs

9 - 16 - Daniel Moore - R

10 - 26 - Michael Prudnick


These are the season ending points standings for the Evergreen Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Stocks for 2008. 4 rookies in the top ten... not to shabby eh?

On the last day of the season, the track put us out behind the turn 2 wall to pit. I think it really was a great idea as everyone was laughing and joking, you know, enjoying ourselves. Something that is sometimes lacking when we pit on the 5/8ths during normal nights. We unloaded and all was well until we went to start the car for practice and *poof* starter went kaput. I wont bore you with details, but we never did get it fixed, so the push truck was our good and faithful friend the rest of the night... Thanks Cascade Push Truck association!!!

1st practice was ok, but changes were needed so we went to thrashing. Unfortunately for us, just as we got it all done and were ready to go out, they cut the session short, so we were unable to gauge the success or failure of said changes. We must have done good however, because we went out and qualified faster than we had ever done before. But the field was also pretty fast that night, so we started 15th on the field, not last, but not as far up as we had hoped to.

At the drop of the green we knew that we needed to move forward quickly in order to stay on the lead lap. This proved more difficult that one might imagine as there were a couple of cars that were holding ourselves and another car up. As the leaders closed in, we eventually made it around the cars that were... well lets just call them Choppers. But it was a case of too much, too little, too late as the leader got by a lap or so later.

And then, there was a yellow. Now, while we were not in line for it, I was lobbying for a "lucky dog" rule... Positioning ourselves to recieve it the next yellow, right? Well, it didnt fly, but we did end up the 1st car a lap down a few laps back under green. Now comes the frustrating part... we stayed with the leader for what seemed like 20 laps... then we were caught by the 2-4th place cars and of course did the right thing and let them by, but then we held that 5th place position on the track for the rest of the race. Nobody else on the lead lap had anything for us.

It seems like we have that track somewhat figured out, but we really need to put together a decent qualifying effort so that we can start mid pack or better instead of at the back. I know the car can do it, I know Scott can do it, I just have to be able to put both of those pieces together for 2 laps... I've got all winter to think about it now... and damnit, I WILL figure it out... I will get Crash a set up that will match up to his driving ability and get us those top 5 qualifying spots... 

But I digress... we finished a dissapointing 11th, but at the same time, we were very happy with how we ran. For the majority of the race, we were a top 5 car, even if the lap counter didnt show it. We ran with the best Evergreen has to offer and we stayed with them. With all the money and talent those guys up front have, our little 2-4 person team, with a 14 year old chassis, 2 speed transmission, old school shocks and just enough money each week to buy tires, ran with the big boys on the big track. How cool is that?

Well, thats it for the 2008 season. In the coming days and weeks,  I'll be posting a recap of the season overall, sending love and respect out to some special people who made this all happen and perhaps pick back up on our history of Team LaCross series. Also, I will provide updates on the off season progress, make sponsor announcements and generally keep you all aprised of the comings and goings at the shop. And Hey... if you want to get involved in a more hands on way with the race team, come on by! There will be plenty to do this winter to get ready for next year and what better way to get your feet wet and come on board for a run at the championship in 2009!