Well, it’s been a long winter. In fact, I think winter is still hanging around, but that didn’t stop the race season from kicking off last Saturday night for the opener at Evergreen Speedway. The day was brisk cold, rain-filled and we spent a lot of time congregating around the heaters inside the race haulers.
At 4pm a pit meeting was called and it was agreed the track was dry enough to run a 10-minute practice session. We left the meeting, suited up and buckled in. I was pumped to be getting in the race car for the first time in 2011. The sound and smell of the engines and tires are a refreshing aroma to a winter of icy clad trees, deep snow and mountain sleds.
Taking the track I brought the #70 Sound Advice, Snohomish Pie Company, Domino’s Pizza, J’s Interiors Chevrolet up to speed, but something was amiss, the engine. The car was not running, in fact, running on 7 cylinders. Because the practice session was our only time on the track to tune the chassis for the race I tried to at least get a feel for how we would handle. It was useless. The car was just slow, really slow, so I brought it in. Moments after lifting the hood off the problem was discovered. Something happened in the top end of the motor, and we would need a new stove if there was going to be some heat on the race track this cold April Saturday.
The guys went to work pulling the expired engine. I went to work trying to find a replacement. As it would turn out I would find a motor in a car in Snohomish. I drove to the shop, took the engine from the other race car, put it in the Snohopieco work truck and raced back to the track. The promoters had rearranged the order of the show trying to buy me more time. The team worked frantically, it even got a little rough around the edges as all of us were in the red zone.
With 3 laps to go in the 1st Main Event for my class we entered traffic on the track at speed. I was elated because I was expecting to get last place points for making green flag laps on the speedway, more on that in a minute. The checkered flew, I came to the pit, high-fived a few of the guys, and they went to working on the car to not only complete items left undone, but make sure everything was copacetic for the 2nd main event of the double-header.
We lined up on the grid for the 2nd main event, starting dead last. The green flew and we were getting the feel of the car. It was the first I’d been at speed on the track in 2011. The car was really decent, not surprising, I’ve got a great team and package for this track at Evergreen. We went to work the high groove and started passing some cars.
I made my way through the field on the outside, and had a good battle going with some of my on-track rivals until things would get tricky. The 2 and 5 car were ahead of me battling for position. The 16 car was inside me and we were racing strong. Entering turn 3 the 2 car slid up in front of the 5 car. The 5 car looked to be evading, but all of a sudden he slowed, a lot. I only had one option when I saw the mess in front. I went to go around the high side and avoid them both. As I made the move the 5 car did the same. My trajectory changed and there wasn’t room for my beautifully prepared race car, and I clamped down on the binders trying to slow, and steer.
Nothing doing, I went head long into the concrete barrier better known as the fence. The impact was strong. My body let out this massive yell as every muscle flexed, to protect the vitals I assume. The car deflected on the wall, but the damage was enormous. The right front tire was nearly shoved into the passenger side door area. The car was on three wheels. Under power I rolled around to our pit dejected and disappointed that my speedster was severely wounded. The night would end with me finishing 2nd to last and dead last in both main events. That is definitely not where I was thinking the opening weekend would start.
Sunday we had an incredible day at church. I spent the afternoon and well into the night cutting off the damage with my team. The car is basically clipped off at the firewall just below the base of the windshield forward. Monday met us with ordering parts, shipping and freight plans, the search for some tubular steel and a bit of controversy.
Hmmmm? controversy and racing? nahhh. Turns out there is a rule in the NASCAR rule book that says if a driver doesn’t receive the green flag on the track they cannot be scored in that particular race. Up until Monday afternoon I was under the impression, based upon what track officials and staff had relayed to me, I would be given credit for my 3 laps in race 1, and as a result last place points. Turns out there was some internet discussions going on about me and this very rule. I spoke with the speedway three times on Monday, as late as 10:00PM. The discussion centered around precedence of the rules, fairness and consistency and the qualities displayed by my team deserving reward.
In the end it was determined that because I did not start (DNS) the race on the green flag I would not receive points for the 1st race. Obviously, I was anticipating this outcome and disappointed because the mountain to climb to win the title, let alone repair the car, was a tall one. When all was said and done I support the decision of Evergreen Speedway, and stand by their commitment to consistency and fairness even though the message delivered to me by officials changed between Saturday and Monday.
In summary, my rivals can breath a little easy right now as I’m not anywhere near the points championship, and I will depend on good ole fashion racing fate if I am to have a shot at it. However, we will turn our disappointment with the resolve to dominate. Truthfully we race to win. If I win as often as I can for the remainder of 2011 the points just might favor me in November at the awards banquet. If not, no worries because my team are champions.
NASCAR Championships are deserving of teams who work hard, handle adversity with perseverance and through it all display an immense amount of passion and heart for their sport. My team displayed those qualities on Saturday, and I am super proud of them.
I want to give a huge shout out to Sound Advice; Snohomish Pie Company; Domino’s Pizza of Monroe; J’s Interiors, Main Street, Monroe; JZ Motorsports; Steamline Automotive; and DeYoung Inc. for getting the #70 back on the track.