Saturday started out exactly as most do in April here in the Northwest... Drizzle and cold, with the weather services calling for partly sunny... I wonder why they even bother trying to predict weather around here.
When we got to the track and unloaded, the skies looked dreary and we rolled out for the 1st practice under a steady light drizzle, reducing lap times substantially. We skipped the 2nd session, deciding to use that time to put a "lightly wet" set up in the car for qualifying and trying to figure out how best to manage our tires, as we were only allowed to put 2 new sticker tires on instead of the usual 4 for the first race.
New for this year is weekly qualifying instead of qualifying heat races. We still run heats, but they do not set starting order anymore. Also new is F-1 style qualifying, which is where they send 5-6 cars out on the track together and allow you to run 6-8 laps. They take your best time in those qualifying hot laps and there you are. The track was drying out nicely at this point and even with a semi-wet set up in the car, we qualified 3rd, with our good pal Steve Green setting the pole.
For the heat race, we still were not sure the rain was going to hold off, so we dialed back the wick a little on the set up, but not quite back to a full dry set up and headed out. We started inside row two of the 7 car heat race and Scott was able to take advantage of the pole car sliding up the track in turn one to make a quick move to the front of the field, quickly stretching out a 6 car length lead. A late caution brought the field back together, but we were able to hold off a hard charging Steve Green to take the win.
We went ahead and left the set up alone for the main, as rain was still a possibility. We started outside of row 2, due to the full invert and several cars being sent to the back due to the new 7/10's rule, which puts any car that does not qualify within 7/10's of the pole time to the rear of the field. We were told just before the start that our race would be cut down to 25 laps from 50 due to time constraints, which was pretty bad considering the fact that all of the other classes got their full shows and went WAY over their allotted time. The start was a crazy blur, with cars beating and banging into each other, but the fast qualifiers quickly made it to the front. Scott was doing amazing things weaving through traffic, one time I almost had to close my eyes as he was the meat in a three wide sandwich! Eventually we found ourselves settled into 3rd place behind the 12 car and Steve Green. In turn 3, the 12 car slid up the track just a tiny bit and that was all it took to open up a hole for the 1099 train (Steve and Scott's car numbers of course!) to slip by on the inside. The 12 hung with us for about a half a lap, but coming out of turn 2 Steve and Scott pulled away and by the entry to 3, they had pulled out to a 6 car length lead and it became very clear that they would be the two cars fighting it out for the win.
Lap after lap they ran nose to tail, Scott looking for an opportunity to pass and Steve doing his best to make sure he stayed out front. When the final caution came out around lap 20, we felt that we certainly had a shot on the restart of being able to get around Steve by going high, but alas, it was not to be. The track went red as the EMTs were called to the stands to care for a fan who was having a medical issue(Heard today that she is fine, so that's great news) and race control decided to throw the checkered flag, declaring Steve the winner and placing us 2nd. It's too bad really, because the remaining fans were going to be treated to what I think was going to be the absolute BEST final laps of any race that night. Two wiley veterans who in addition to being great drivers, are great friends and know each others driving styles very well.
|LaCrash and Steve celebrating the 1, 2 finish|
In the end, the top 4 were Steve Green, Scott LaCross, Dale Creager and Michael Fritz. We couldn't have been happier to see this finishing order (well, ok, if we had won I might have been a smidge happier... lol) as these guys are all our very good friends and to see them all do well is a great sign that this year is going to be an absolute barn burner! You are not going to want to miss a single race this year!
Next race is April 30th, Car Sponsor Appreciation night. Check out our Tire Angels Program post below and perhaps you too can become an official sponsor of Team LaCross!
See you at the races!