We got to the track under sunny skies for the first time this season. It wasn't quite warm, but it was lovely considering how it's been lately. As Scott headed down to tech, Britt and I readied the pit area and chatted up our fellow racers, everyone seeming to be in great spirits. One of our great Sponsors, Bill Hampton, owner of Monroe MotorWerkes was our guest in the pits and let me tell ya, he had a front row seat for a lot of action!
First practice was cut short due to a couple of cars spinning on the backstretch. Unfortunately, that meant we only got about 5 laps in and really were not sure what we had to work with, so we decided it would be best to go back out without changing anything. 2nd practice was going along alright, but about 10 laps in, Scott came over the radio and said he was coming in early, clearly there was something amiss.
When he hit the pit stall, we commenced our normal procedures and Scott told me, "There is something broken in the left front. Sure enough, when I got the car in the air, the upper control arm had snapped almost completely in half! We had less than 30 minutes till qualifying so the team jumped into action. Bill fired up the generator, Scott ran off to borrow a welder and I pulled the suspension apart. Everything flowed beautifully! Our JZ Motorsports teammate Lance O'grain came walking up and he welded up the control arm in about 2 minutes ( it would have taken me 15 easy! lol) While I put the car back together, Bill pulled off the practice tires and put the race ones on, Scott was busy talking with the producer for the Comcast SportsNet Reality program "Adrenaline Hunter" as they wanted to mount some cameras in our car for an episode they were shooting that night and Britt was doing her best to keep the flow of transmission fluid (blood) at bay from the cut i got on my hand (she's a great nurse!) Right before Scott jumped in the car to qualify, we decided to loosen it up just a smidge and off he went.
Qualifying was broken up into 3 groups this week. we were in the 3rd grouping and with only a few practice laps under our belts, I wasn't really sure what would happen. But as always, LaCrash drove her hard and we grabbed the 2nd spot behind Steve Green. After qualifying, there was a prolonged autograph session as it was sponsor appreciation night. The stands were by now filling up nicely and as we stood on the front stretch, we all remarked about how it looked like old times. Lots of fans, plenty of cars and smiles everywhere you looked.
Heat races began shortly after autographs and since we had so many cars (21 total in our class, best turnout in a very long time!) they broke us up into 3 heats. we were in the 3rd one, which contained the top 6 qualifiers and as the 2nd fast time, we got to start on the inside of the back row. Normally, this wouldn't be horrible, but on this night, it was almost an omen of things to come. The inside line was decidedly NOT the fast line as the race began and soon we found ourselves at the back of the field, struggling to find our way around the 5th and 6th qualifiers as the 10, 12 and 2 cars began to run away from us. The 65 kept making dive moves as we tried to get under him and finally, it worked to his detriment as he dove across our nose going into turn one and recognizing this, Scott backed out of the gas early. He came down in front of us and ended up with 2 in the dirt, which spun him around. Scott unfortunately had nowhere to go and spun trying to avoid him. This brought out the yellow and we were able to get going again and return to the tail of the field for the restart. At the green flag, we had 4 laps to go and Scott got around the 64 and 2 of Mikey Fritz, setting off after the 10 of Steve Green and the 12 car. Alas, there were not enough laps left and we finished the heat in 3rd.
The main event was the first of the evening and the track decided to give us 40 laps instead of the normal 25 to 30 to make up for the shortage of laps the previous race. (Thanks Evergreen!!) The TV crew came over and fired up the video cameras that they had placed on Scott's helmet and on the roof of the car and we lined up. We were to start on the outside of the 10th row due to our full inverts, but with the inclusion of the 1 second rule, we moved up to the outside of the 5th row. It was a thing of beauty to see 21 cars take the green flag. Scott immediately began making moves and before long he found himself fighting for the lead with the 12 car and our old pal Steve. As we found our way to 2nd, the 12 began making a few poor choices in his efforts to stay in front of us, culminating in spinning the 18 car and bringing out a caution flag. The restart found us leading, Steve in 2nd and the 12 in 3rd. At this point, we were able to fend off several taps on our rear bumper after the restart, which could have been terrible as they could have taken out both us and Steve, who had restarted on our outside and was next to us at the time. At this point, we were able to stretch the lead out to over 10 car lengths and were looking solidly in front. Traffic became a factor, as Scott carefully picked his way through, Steve and the 12 were able to make up quite a bit of ground, cutting the lead to 3 car lengths. Just as we broke free of lapped traffic and began to stretch it back out again, we got another caution flag and were grouped up again. This time, it was the 12 who chose the outside and he was able to retake the lead for a short amount of laps. As the 3 cars duked it out again, another caution flew and on the restart, it was Steve on the pole, Scott outside of him and the 12 behind Steve. With only 3 laps to go, it was shaping up to be a whale of a finish. On the drop of the green, Scott missed a shift, which wouldn't have normally resulted in what happened next as he wouldn't have been slightly off Steve's pace. Out of nowhere, the 12 darted up and hit our left rear. As Scott was pitched sideways, he mashed the throttle to straighten the car out. The 12's right front tire climbed up our left rear and his car got locked onto ours as they came out of Turn 4.
As I told Scott to keep his foot in it down the front stretch, sparks were flying off the locked together cars. You could see the driver of the 12 sawing his wheel to try to unlock the two cars and as they crossed the start finish line, they finally became unhooked. He had a flat right front and spun out going into turn one, then pulled off to the pits for a tire change. Our car was torn up pretty badly and Mikey Fritz relayed to me through his spotter that the left rear was bouncing quite a bit. But we weren't going to pull in, it was damn the torpedoes time! On the final restart, we took the outside line and at the drop of the green, it was obvious something was amiss. While we were able to stay with Steve and give him a good battle, the car was far from the dominating performer it was earlier. As the checkers flew, it was Steve 1st, Scott 2nd, Mikey 3rd, Travis Woodward 4th and Jack McGeehan 5th.
As Scott headed to the tech shack, he came on the radio and said, "Um, bring a jack and spare to tech, we've got a flat." Yup, we ran the last 3 green flag and 3 caution laps with a completely flat left rear tire! The pictures below show the damage better than I can explain it...
|The right rear (Yes, the one we just replaced!) after the race|
|Aaand the left rear with a spare mounted so we could load the car. Guess we need to replace that too now!|
We would like to take this moment to again thank our sponsors, TNT Mechanical, JZ Motorsports, Monroe MotorWerkes, Millennium Motors, Joes Racing Products, Deyoung, Inc. and our Tire Angels for supporting us the way you do. You are all AWESOME!
Next up, the first of 3 double header nights we have this season, with Twin 30 lap races. And don't forget, it's mothers day this Sunday and so Saturday night, all Mom's get in free! So come on out to the races and see what happens next!
See you at the races!!!