In The Beginning 5/1998 6/1998 7/1998 8/1998 9/1998 10/1998 Current News
Well, after exercising my prerogative to change my mind, Saturday finds us at The Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Got to give special thanks to Ronnie Johnson once again, for hooking me up with tires. Thanks to Roy Bridge also for letting us borrow some quick change gears. The first surprise comes at the gate to the pits where they DON'T have us draw for start positions in the heats. Come to find out, unlike the 'Valley where there was a draw and a heads up start, the Malta race will be handicapped, which puts all the 'Valley cars at the rear of the heat races. Seems like a pretty bullsh*t deal to me. I go to start the car for warmups and the battery is dead. Once out on the track, there's not enough juice to get the motor over 4 grand. So we miss warmups. We're able to get the battery changed in time for the heat race, where I start 9th. The track is slicker than snot. We have too much gear, and too much stagger. Don't even get close to qualifying. We make some major changes for the consi, pulling a bunch of gear and stagger, as well as moving some weight around. We start 9th again in the consi, but this time the car is much better---for a while<g>. The 1 inch of stagger is not enough and the car develops a pretty good push. At least we were able to pass a few cars this time. We still don't have what it takes though, and miss getting into the feature by a few spots. This getting track time 16 laps at a rip is just not getting the job done. So once again the Malta visit is a very frustrating experience. That's it for the season. Next we concentrate on getting the new Teo ready for Syracuse for Dave Blaney. And with luck, this should be my new car for next year.
Well it looks like I might not have forgotten how to drive after all. :) The Sportsman challenge for LV and Malta cars was the last race of the year at the 'Valley. The flyer says LV or Malta rules, so we can run aluminum wheels and gear. It's a heads up start, so my 3rd place finish in the heat starts me 9th in the feature. We put 5.28's in it for the feature. It's the right gear but because of the smaller tires, we hitting valve float again. Oh well, run it. I get a decent start and try to conserve my tires for the end , without going backwards too far. By the 7th lap, I'm 7th or 8th. On lap 10 I pull to the inside of a Malta car on the front stretch and he moves right into my lane. I was already committed and couldn't back out of it fast enough so I got turned around. Did my patented "Joey Chittwood" thing, locked up the brakes and slid backwards down to turn one. Fortunately I didn't hit anything, nor did anyone hit me. Once again I get to give starting from the rear a rip. Several laps later I'm about 16th. A big wreck on a restart around lap12 gets me to 8th. The car is starting to get a pretty good push now, but by the end of the race I end up 5th. It was a good run for us and a much better way to end the season than last week's performance. The Sportsman challenge moves to Malta next Saturday, but I don't think we're going to run it. Or maybe you can all talk me into it<g>.
Well, as good as last week was was how poor this week was. Get out in warmups and the car is the best it's been all year. We throw some gear into it for 358 warmups and our old friend 'valve float' rears it's ugly head again. This motor will just not go above 7000 rpm. Start 6th in the Sportsman heat and get a wicked jump on the original start. The feature is a heads-up start-where you finish in the heat is where you'll start in the feature. And since I'm in the 1st heat, if I win, I'll be on pole for the feature. So I've got my foot in it, going for 3rd, when the guy I'm passing just moves over and almost puts me in the wall. I recover from that and finish the race in 3rd. I start the 358 heat in 6th also. Once again I get a wicked jump on the start and by the end of the first lap I'm in 3rd. We pulled some gear after warmups and it's just about perfect. After a few laps I take a stab at the guy in 2nd, going in low into turn one but the front end shoves and I get into his rear fender and spin him out. As I go around him I get up into the loose stuff and smack the wall. Hard enough to break the front panhard bar. It was a dumb move to try, I threw away my chance to qualify for the Race of Kings. I start 14th in the 358 consi and put on another poor performance, spinning out by myself about 1/2 way through. Well, at least we have the Sportsman feature, I start 5th. I take the green and manage to put together a few decent laps. It's a 30 lap race, so I'm just trying to hold my position and save my tires for a while. I drop back to 7th. Then, coming down the front stretch, I move to the outside entering turn 1 when the car snaps right. It happens so quickly that I have no time to do anything about it. I end up hitting the wall with the left side a ton. Bent a bunch of stuff and got my bell rung pretty good too. Bumps and bruises, and I'm sure I'll feel it all tomorrow. :) The jury's out whether we'll race this weekend.
Tonight was our last points race. We roll into the track in 11th place, 10 points out of 10th, behind Jeff Cassidy. Turns out that he wasn't even at the track. Funny how it didn't really matter where I finished at the end of the year when this all began, and now we want to be in the top 10 worse than bad. :) We tried a few more changes this week to see if we could get the car to turn in better (Jeesh, where have I heard that before???). The car is still too tight in the heat race. Rick and Mark Quinn and myself decide to make a pretty large change in the rearend alignment to try to loosen the car getting in. That, and a to-out adjustment make a noticeable improvement when we go out for hot laps. We start 8th in the feature, I'm fairly optimistic for a top 5 finish. At the drop of the green I head for the high side and get a pretty good run. I stay up there for a couple of laps and quickly move to 4th place. We get several cautions and before I know it, Chris Kokosa is next to me for one of the restarts. He gets a great jump and is soon in the lead. Meanwhile, I'm in 3rd trying to get around Lee Gagliardi. The car is still tight getting in, so I'm finding it hard to get by him. We finally get a run on him low in turn 3 and move into 2nd. Chris is long gone by now, I'm just trying to be smooth and not loose my 2nd place position. We have a couple of late race cautions but I have nothing for Chris. We end up in 2nd in the race and jump to 9th place in the points. It was a great run for us and as a bonus, Greylock Auto Parts kicked in some extra money for the top 3 positions, giving me and extra $100 for my 2nd place finish. Next week we will try to run both the Sportsman and 358 Modified races on Saturday night.