Saturday night was another double-header on the 5/8’s mile oval at Evergreen Speedway. I love this track! Super fast, good grip, technical enough to separate the fast cars from the slow. It’s all around a great track to race on. We’ve been on it more than usual this year, and since I haven’t written about the other races you can guess I’ve had some bad luck. The first weekend out since my last post racing was rained out. We then had a double-header and I was turned into the wall early in the first race, and had a mechanical as a result of the crash in the second, not my favorite night. The next twin 50’s events I went 7th and 4th, simply because I wasn’t up to speed. We’ve had a lot of damage this year resulting in my doing more management than racing.
Cars are a lot like guitars. A musician can get a new top of the line guitar, but it’s not a favorite until it’s been played a while. While playing, small tweaks impact the feel and action of the strings. Now and then the strings need to be replaced, so once again the only way to get it perfect is to play it. Race cars are like that. You can have all the best stuff, but until you’ve raced it and made small tweaks the car just doesn’t perform as good as it can. When you spend a lot of time fixing the car because of crashing it’s hard to get the feel and action back. So this weekend, June 25th, was really the first time I felt like the car was where it needed to be.
We qualified at a 22.8! That’s the fastest I’ve ever went around the old 5/8’s mile. The team was awesome and the car performed really well on corner entry, through the center and exit. Fun times.
In the first main we started outside row 4. There was a rookie on the pole, so it was best we were in the outside line because I remember my first race starting on the pole and I knew he was nervy. My outside row got with it and we all pulled into the top 4 pretty quick. It didn’t take long for me to get to the front, and the car was just spectacular! Dan Moore, the 16, had come up and taken the lead from me after a long hard fought battle on the outside of him. He was just better off the corner than me and it was frustrating because I was totally wide-open with the accelerator and we couldn’t keep up. We had a couple restarts and the battles ensued, but I just couldn’t hang with him on the straightaway. Eventually I dropped to 2nd, and after another restart Naima got me. I had a great car, but not enough speed down the chute. We finished 3rd! Which was acceptable after the previous weeks. We continually are showing improvement.
Before the second main things got interesting. The guys discovered the throttle linkage was bound up, meaning I was only 75% wide-open. Even with the pedal on the mat we couldn’t go as fast as the others. What a relief! Because I just thought this amazing car was slow. However, we had a new problem. The guys made HUGE changes to the chassis before we got the throttle fixed in order to find speed. We had know idea now what we would have for a race car in the 2nd 50 lap main.
In the second main we were decent from the green flag. I started outside row 3 and quickly found my way to 2nd place. We probably had a 2nd place car, but things would get rough entering turn three. Not really sure why this happened, other than the other driver not having patience, but entering turn 3 I was contesting for the lead on the outside. My car pushed up in the center of the corner. When I rotated it and went for corner exit I got left reared. The 9 car was there and we made contact which sent me into this long drift. Smoke filled the cockpit and I started the big whip hoping to spin the car 360 degrees and avoid another crash into the wall. It worked! We missed the hard impact and just grazed the wall, and were able to throw it in 2nd gear and take off! The 9 car was not penalized which infuriated me and my fans. There was just no need to get turned like that.
We started back up dead last, and after a hard charge to get to the top ten ended up 7th or 8th, don’t know for sure.
Anyway, it was a great weekend of racing. Still don’t have the gremlins out of the car or my head just yet, but we are getting closer and closer to getting that first win of the season. July 9 and 10 is a huge weekend for racing at Evergreen Speedway. Can’t wait.