Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another night, another crazy finish!

Wow... This season has been something else. This week we were scheduled for a 50 lap main event, so we were pretty jazzed up as these long races are always pretty good to us. The car was all set and ready to go Saturday morning, but we stayed up a little late Friday night standing around the shop and chatting with friends that had stopped by, so we got to the track about 1/2 hour later than we anticipated. Normally, this would not be a big deal as we have an assigned pit stall, but for the next few weeks, the 5/8 track is in use and our pit stalls are not accessible.

The lower pit area was a madhouse as there were darn near 100 cars competing in the various classes. We ended up pitted almost exactly where we had spent the previous 2 years, right by the pit entrance on the backstretch, which is a heck of a walk, especially when you are pushing a 2500lb car... but more on that later.

We ran a decent practice and felt like the car was pretty good for qualifying. Unfortunately, we had our worst qualifying run of the season and found ourselves managing the 4th spot. Once we found this out, Scott decided he needed to have a little talk with the car...

The Racecar whisperer

The Racecar whispers back!
Since there were quite a few events, we did not have heat races. The first late model main event went out and our JZ Motorpsorts Teammate Jeff Knight was moving forward quickly when he was tapped going into turn 3 and backed the car into the fence pretty hard. He drove the car back to the pits and we all sprang into action, JZ directing the combined 70 and 99 teams to make repairs. We almost had it fixed when the race ended, but it was close enough so that Scott and I could head back to our pits and get lined up for our main event while the 70 crew finished repairs to the car so they could run the 2nd of their 2 scheduled races that night.

As we hit the track for our race, the officials notified me that our transponder was not working. The transponder is a little yellow box that, when passing over a buried wire in the track, counts your laps and the lap times. They sent us back to the pits and replaced it with a fresh one and sent us back out to our grid position, which was about 14th position. When the green dropped, Scott took off towards the front but a problem  was brewing deep within the car's electrical system. You see, they always stop us on the front stretch for driver introductions. When Scott went to fire the car up, he noticed that it was very lazy, which as many of you can figure, means the battery is low. Now, in your street car, this is a minor inconvenience, as once the car is running, the alternator charges the battery and runs the computer, fans, lights, etc. In our racecar, we do not run an alternator because it robs horsepower from the motor.

As the race went on, there were several lengthy cautions, during which the car started to get hot. Scott had to turn on the cooling fan, which used more battery power. making the car weaker and weaker. We had worked  our way up to 2nd place and it looked like we might have something for the leader dangit! With 10 laps to go, we got our final restart of the night and by this time, we were thinking there was no way we were going to be able to hang on till the end. Scott was able to get a good restart though and we were able to challenge for the lead for a few laps before he had to start running about half throttle to nurse the remaining electricity. 4 laps to go and Scott came on the radio to tell me that he wasn't sure there was anything left in them to give. I told him to rub the car, kiss it, talk dirty to it, whatever it took to will that old girl to finish this race.

Well, whatever he said, it worked, because we held onto a 5 car length lead over the 3rd place car until 1 lap to go, when traffic slowed us enough and make it REALLY close as Steve Green was able to close right up to our bumper, but we were able to cross the finish line just ahead of him to take 2nd place. 1 more lap and I think we might have looked just like Dale Jr. at Charlotte the next day, running out of gas (or electricity in our case) in the last corner and getting passed by a half dozen cars! The top 3 in the end had Jon "Fozzy" Roberts taking the victory, we were second and Steve Green in third.

As I arrived in Tech, Scott was sitting in the car smiling as he knew that we had dodged a HUGE bullet. However, I think he was smiling for another reason, which I will now show you a picture to explain...

Where in the world is a push truck when you need one???
Yup... that is Me and Bill, pushing the car back to our pits, about oh, a 1/8th of a mile. The car wouldn't even turn over! We finally got it back and put it on the battery charger so Scott could go out later and receive his trophy. So, on the agenda for this week: Replace 2 batteries, possibly add alternator! Next race is June 11th, so make sure you plan on being there as we continue our season!

What can I say... I've always been a sucker for redheads! :-)

See ya at the track!

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