“Is it bad luck to say that I feel really good about this race?” – Brian McIntosh in a text to Kyle Bruss Thursday before the race.
Well here we are, another race weekend. After the second half of the last race, I was full of confidence in the car and my ability. The only problem is I have to wait 2 weeks between races and that is an eternity when you are pumped up like that. There wasn’t a lot of work that needed to be done on the car, just the normal maintainance so we were ready to go for today’s race.
So we show up to the track and sign in, I do my number draw and pulled a 38, my worst pull of the season thus far. There were 21 cars in our class as of the driver then a 22nd car showed up later. So we had a full field and the maximum amount of cars before we had to go to a B-Main. So with that many cars maybe a bunch of people would pull all the numbers behind me to 50. Technically it was our turn to be the Feature Main and run first in the line-up but because we are such small cars we can’t work the water in to the track so they put the Modifieds up before us. Time to go Hot Lapping.
First race of the summer and it’s starting to get pretty hot outside, and besides dripping sweat like crazy in a suit that isn’t meant to breathe, it really dries the track out. This made the track a really dry slick and loose. It was also really gravelly, you could see where the track was run in but there were still all kinds of loose dirt sitting on top. I went out in the second group, everyone was extremely loose, several people spun out, I wasn’t one of them but there were a few times where I was close. There wasn’t much to learn out there except that the track was going to be tough for the Heat Race.
Back in the pits, I decided to make a change and tighten the car up. I was totally confident in our Main setup so we made a big swing and tried something, hoping we could sneak away with one and learn something. There was something a little new about the Heat racing and line-up for the Main. The officials would do a dice roll which would randomly invert the starting rows for the Main Event. So winning the Heat could get you the pole or you could wind up 10th or 12th. Because my number draw I was starting 5th in the first Heat which was arguably the fastest Heat of the three. Of the 8 people in our Heat, 5 were from the old Pro division, me, and 2 rookies.
Well I could tell right off the bat that the change we made didn’t work. It’s not that it didn’t work, it’s more that it worked too much. I tightened the car up but the track had been watered and so it made a weird dry/wet condition and made the car push really bad through the center of the corner. We went green and the 99 got around me and the rest of the field got a little distance on me. I started to run down the 75 and as I was going to make a pass on him he nearly spun out across my nose. I never touched him but it must have been inches. That killed my momentum and I still couldn’t get by as he corrected himself. Then another lap and a half later or so I was using a lot of throttle to get the car to turn with the rear end but I started to get really sideways. I thought I had it, fluttered the throttle to keep it sliding but I didn’t save it and caused a lazy spin. One the restart the 77 waved me by and I over took the 13 to get back to 6th then on one of the last laps the 7A spun out the 94 on the front stretch, he kept it going for no caution and the race ended shortly after that. I finished 5th.
Well that didn’t go so well, could have been worse I guess but we tried something different, that’s what you have to do to find new and better setups. Now it was time to get back down to business though. We went back to our key setup, made one slight change to try to dial it in a little more and got ready for the Main Event. Like last race I would be starting 13th again, only this time that was about middle of the pack. I was also starting behind Bobby Brown Jr. driving the 22 who is without a doubt the best negotiating traffic and moving up through the field, I plan to use him as a blocker and follow him.
It’s time to go now, we roll out on the track and take an extra lap to line up our biggest field of the season, then the green flag flies. One of the biggest things I’ve been working on this season is being more aggressive which was good because it allowed me to stay in touch with Bobby and some of the other really fast guys. We all started battling, I took a shot in the right rear going in to turn one, lost a little ground then got it back in three and four. Then in turn one on lap two the 7A, who had has been driving with physical aggression all year, dumped the 22. I was right under them taking the low line to make a move should they have a problem, but there was no escaping it. He spun down and collected me, fortunately I had the presence of mind to let go of the wheel because right as I did it snapped it a round super fast and could have taken my hands with it. We got locked up and that was the first caution of the night. Once we were cleared the corner workers looked at the car and said it was good to go. Bad news is I had to fall in line at the back of the field, along with the 22 and the 7A who caused that wreck.
With so many cars lined up single file the line stretched from the middle of turns three and four to the exit of turn two. I had my eye way down the track on the leader and when it went green so did I. I got the 24 right on the start, got a little hung up on the 77 but got by him, then the 13 and the 17. The problem was, while I was picking them off one a lap, the field was running away. When I had open track in front of me they were a good straightaway and a half a head of me. So I just started to click off lap time and chip away at the lead, then as I started closing on the 3, the caution came out again. While my passing ability has great improved this season, I still am learning how guys like the 22 pass cars and never lose speed or track position. Again the line was very long even though I was further up it, it went green again and I got another great start passing the 3 and the 68 like they were standing still before we even got in to turn three. Now I was back behind the 22 again and slowly gaining ground as a cluster of car fought it out. The suddenly everyone checked up and the caution came out and I nearly spun to avoid them, safe though.
The next restart I got in to the back of the 7A a bit as he checked up to try to get a run on the 22 he had been battling, that killed my run on him but I fell right in line. Four of us came off turn two in a wad, I stuck my nose in a three wide situation and thought better of it. We sorted it out by the time we came out of turn four and I got hung up behind the 75 who was all over the track. That allowed the 68 to get back by me and the 75, then the next lap I took the 75 on the inside. With some clean single file racing ahead we run back up to the pack. The 68 runs up on the 44 and they both check up to avoid a spin on the inside of turn three, I try to move under them but didn’t have the time or brakes to check up like that and drove up the 68′s left rear tire. I was on the brakes and he must have been on the gas because I never went over him and he drove out from under me. The 3 drove past me after I came back down but the caution was already out and it wasn’t for what we just did so he should have had to give that spot back, he got to keep it though. Being in the car there isn’t much you can to or say to officials and I should have drove up next to him to contest the spot but it didn’t cross my mind as I was more focused on the race and not scoring. There were two more cautions after that where we only got about a quarter to half a lap in and they gave up the checkered flag under caution.
Just as we went green on the last caution the 44 car stalled out and another car spun in the infield bring out another caution, but the 7A also blasted pasted some of us. His move was legal but because we didn’t even do a full lap, let alone half a lap, he should have been put back behind all of us. But he was able to keep his position under the caution checkered. I believed I finished 13th after all that craziness but I should be given 11th if I get those spots back. I will have to talk to scoring about what they saw.
Overall the car was great, it was fast, putting down some of my fastest lap time yet, even over last race. Just didn’t have the track position. I still couldn’t hang with the leaders or someone like the 22 but I had at least a top 7 car and with a race like that, I would be proud of that. This is all in preparation for next race, the CDCRA come to town, the last time they were suppose to be here it rained out. This time expect somewhere around 40 dwarfs if not more. That’s going to take some fight to get in the A Main, there could even be a C Main. It is unfortunate that our class will be relegated to the back of the line-up but maybe the track will make an exception since a lot of the CDCRA guys are from far out of town and heading home at 11pm really sucks for them. So to answer the text, I don’t know, It could be classified as a wash. Some bad luck, some good luck not breaking anything, and some good driving.