Today, I am decompressing after the Fall Classic where we had a great showing on the track, after some huge adversity all weekend long. I am super proud of my performance behind the wheel of the #70 race car and will start off by saying, “Get IT!”
These were the words my three year old daughter said to me on Thursday when we picked up tires for the weekend. We arrived at Yakima Speedway while another car was testing. I let Seven out of her car seat and she asked, “Dad, are you racing?” I replied, “Yep, this weekend.” She looked around with a distinct brightness to her eye and said, “Dad, get it.” It was the slogan all weekend long.
We returned on Friday for track testing all day. The car was pretty good, but not great. Right at the end of the day we found something big that would prove to be a help as the weekend progressed. We needed to make a change, but it would require getting parts from home, 2.5 hours away. We had a crew member stop at the shop on their way over, so they got what we needed.
Saturday morning we made the change. It took a while, so we missed 1st practice. In 2nd practice we were not as good as prior day, but the problem was qualifying was up next, then a shootout race for starting spot that evening. I didn’t qualify well at all, car was just not good. We started the shootout race 13th on the grid. I raced to 9th. Car was huge loose, and didn’t feel like a contender. But how many know Sunday’s are good day for someone like me?
Sunday morning the guys worked over the entire car, checking and double checking. Well, we found something else! And it was the secret ingredient to what would become a huge WIN for me, but not by how we finished on the track. The car was awesome good! BUT, the win was what happened in the area of mental toughness for this race car driver! I had this tenacity on the track I’ve been trying to develop for a few years, and this weekend was as testament to how my confidence as a racer is improving.
We started the 24h Annual Fall Classic in the 17th position. We moved forward at will for the first 1/4 of the race. On a restart a car positioned 2 spots in front of me missed a shift. Just like the accordion effect in traffic, we all stacked up, and like the pressure in your tea kettle at boil something has to give. Well that something on this restart was me. I flew sideways, hit the wall and slid to a stop thinking our race was over. Once I got the car going again I pulled onto the track and took my spot at the back of the field. We then started working our way to the front of the 32 car field. The car was still good!
There was a spin ahead of me, I was collected. This time the steering was hurt a bit, the throttle hung up and the car didn’t brake very well. But we were still on the lead lap, and I would make a charge again. The car was hurt, but fast! Really fast!!!
I believe I made it back up to 5th or 6th place with a hurt race car. It was time for the half way break, for fuel, tires and repairs.
There was a ton of damage to my car. The team worked on every side of it, except the only corner not hit, the left front. With about 2 minutes to go in the break time for repairs one of the crew noticed the upper control arm on the left front was broken. The upper control arm is a major component of the front suspension, so not having it was not an option. They tried to weld it, but with the time-frame given, and not wanting to miss getting on the track to start 6th for the second half of the race, we had to go.
A couple laps after the restart of the race the upper control arm broke, completely. I brought the car in, and sat there for 20 laps while the team fixed it. We went back out with an awesome race car, still as fast as the leaders. I drove the wheels off it, just to show my team how proud I was of their effort this season, and this weekend in particular. We passed a lot of racers on Sunday night. Some of them 2 and 3 times.
It was a great Fall Classic. My rival and friend at Evergreen Speedway Naima Lang won the race. It left me thinking, “oh, what might have been?” We were good this night, just didn’t have the on track favor to keep my nose clean. In fact, it was Naima on that restart I was trying not to slam into when the car ahead of him missed the shift. If I’d hit him like the car behind hit me…well, who knows?
My theme for the weekend, “May the team, car and driver bring glory and excellence to Jesus.” Here’s to doing our best every time I buckle in.