In The Beginning 5/1998 6/1998 7/1998 8/1998 9/1998 10/1998 Current News
Overcast conditions and a rainy day were the order of the day. For the second time this year we have a heavy track to work with. During the week we have corrected a problem in the driveline that we've had since day one. So naturally I'm expecting big things. Ha! My second place finish 3 weeks ago have me starting at the rear of the heat, along with Chris Kokosa, George Marcus and Roy Bridge. I make my way past a couple of jingles and end up with a 2nd. The car is pretty decent, so we make only minor changes before the feature. We take the green from the 6th row and right off the bat, the car is not working. It takes me several laps to get settled down and figure out how to make the thing go. In the meantime, I 've worked my way back to 14th or 15th. I finally catch on towards the middle of the race and start to move up. I narrowly miss a spinning Bobby Hackel in the second turn and by the end of the race I'm in 7th. It's a decent run for us, with one race left in our regular season, but I'm still disappointed that the car is not the way I'd like it to be.
A change from a 3/4 to 7/8 master cylinder along with new pads, front and rear, solved our brake problems this week. I start 10th in the heat and it looks like I have my work cut out for me to move up. Things get pretty hairy on the backstretch on the original start. I just about get turned around but am able to save it. On the restart the outside row gets a good jump and I go from 8th to 4th, which is where I finish. We bolt on a set of 3 inch offset rear wheels to scuff in some new tires for warmups and it really hooked up the car through the middle and exit of the turns. So we roll the dice and decide that we would use them in the feature, where we start 12th.. Seems like the right move for about 6 laps, then I pick up a pretty bad push. I'm up to about 8th or so when I get crossed up coming out of 2 and spin myself. Art Collins barely misses me as I do a complete 360 and continue. Just a little something I like to do now and then for the fans.;) . I'm able to pass a few more cars and end up 14th.
Week 2 with no further engine problems. Plenty of other problems, but no engine problems. We made a front brake change to bigger calipers this week, hoping to improve our braking performance. I used warmups to bed in the new front pads so we weren't really pushing 100%. The car felt good, I figured we'd be pretty good for the heat race. I start 7th in the heat, but after 2 laps I feel the engine start to skip. I go a little bit further, but it gets no better and I drop out of the race, worried that there might be another problem with the engine. When we pull the hood to look at the motor, it's immediately apparent what the problem is. While checking the timing, I must have pulled the number one plug wire partially out of the distributor. And it fell completely off in the first couple of laps. As bad as I feel, I'm relieved that the motor is okay. So now we're in the consi-last of course. We start the race and the car feels really good-for about 1 lap. Then the engine starts cutting out in the middle of the turns. As I continue, it gets worse. I'm trying to figure what the problem could be, thinking it's fuel related. So I reach down and feel that the fuel shutoff is 3/4 closed. I must have hit it with my foot getting out of the car. With 4 laps remaining, I start passing cars and end up 6th, 1 spot out of qualifying for the main. I get to start the feature with a provisional, dead last(hmmmm, I think I remember being here before!). Don' know where I got that provisional from, but I'll take it. During this whole keystone cops thing, we're still not happy with the brakes. I have a long pedal, and the brake performance just isn't where I'd like it to be. The feature is another crash fest and we miss 99% of them. The one we were in I thought I escaped unscathed, but after the race I discover we bent the right front shock tower nearly 45 degrees. The car was decent, not as good as it was last week. The end result is a 9th place finish which puts us back into the top ten in points.
So in the category of "strange things and why they happen", last week's problems were caused by 3 stuck lifters. Not your average everyday problem. So after a little TLC on the lifter bores, and 3 new valves, we were back in action on Saturday. Start 4th in the heat, behind Hawley Smith. Pay attention to that name, you'll see it again later. We grab second place on the original start and set off after Mr. Smith. Except we have nothing for him. Even after some restarts, we still follow him across the line for a 2nd place finish. Now I figure after dropping out of 2 races in a row we'd be lookin' at a front row start in the feature. Not to be, we line up 7th on the grid. I get a good run on the original start and grab a few spots coming out of 2. By the end of the 2nd lap I'm in 2nd. We do a little green flag racing for a while, but I'm only able to cut the margin between Hawley a little. Boy is he fast! Hey wait a minute! That must mean I'm pretty fast too! ;) A restart on lap 11 has me thinkin' I might be able to put a move on him, but he's just too strong. I try a few different lines to see if there's more bite anywhere else, but in the end we end up second. Our best finish to date. The car is running the best it's been all year. It's nice to be smilin' again...
Thanks to Heads Up Machine and Dan Bedell, we get the motor finished Friday afternoon. Got it in the car late Friday afternoon, and spent the rest of the evening preparing the car for Saturday. That, of course would be my first experience driving a car with no power steering. In warmups the power steering belt gets tossed coming out of turn 4. Hello wall! (almost!). What next? I start 4th in the heat race and get to the point in a few laps, which is where we finish. The changes we made in the car Friday night were definitely the right move. The car has never turned in as good as tonight. Feature time has us starting 5th. I get a decent run on the original start and am able get to 4th. A few laps later we slip into third. Couple of more laps and we're into second. I think this is the longest period of green flag racing we've done to date. Mike Boomhower has run off and hid while the rest of us were mixing it up behind him. I'm able to cut Mike's lead to about 1/2 a straightaway when I hear a pop as I go past the flagger's stand. Then coming out of 2, we lose a cylinder. And for the second week in a row, I have to drop out while running second. These motor teething pains are getting tougher...