Spring 1999 5/1999 6/1999 7/1999 8/1999 9/1999 10/1999 Current News
As expected, the correct gear in the car made a huge difference this week. It's still difficult to try new things in the car without fast warm-ups, you just can't take a chance with something that might not work for the feature. I roll off 10th in the heat and get up far enough to qualify. I start 7th row, outside for the feature. This is absolutely the best car I have driven. I'm up to 7th in about 2 laps before the caution waves. There is a jingle in front of me on the restart, and I'm looking like I'm going to be 4th, but a car comes down on me and we get together a little bit. I really didn't expect there to be any problem, but as I entered turn one I had no brakes. Unfortunately I didn't think about the right front brake shut-off until I pulled onto pit road. The guys checked the car out and sent me back out on to the track. I have to tell you, driving with one front brake is a little interesting. It takes a few laps to figure it all out, but soon I'm moving up in the field again. A few more laps go by and a car spins in front of me. I just clip it with my right front, which leaves me with about an inch of toe-out. Now the car is starting to get a little evil, it takes about a half a turn on the steering wheel before the car starts to turn. We're getting to the end of the race now. As we come down to get the checkers, I'm concentrating so hard on catching the guy in front of me that I take it way into the first turn before I lift. Unfortunately, for some reason the cars in front of me are stopped in the middle of turn one. And of course with no front brakes, the second I hit the brake pedal to try and get slowed down, the back end starts to come around. I end up piling into Mike Mason a ton. Wrecked his car, wrecked my car. It's got to be about the worst possible scenario, wrecking you're car after the checkered flag. We've got a lot of work to do before next week.
Sooooo........where do I start? We came to the track this week with some substantial changes to what we were running the last couple of weeks. I can tell from lap one in warm-ups that the car is going to be good. It felt kinda strange having to not try to change a dozen things to get the car going better. I started ninth in the heat and ended up 4th. That puts me in the 7th row, starting 13th in the feature. There are a couple of early cautions, and a bunch of 3 and 4 wide racing, like there was the first night. The difference this time was that I could run up top. This allowed me to move up through the field pretty well in the first half of the race. On lap 12 the water temperature light comes on. The car is running hot, at 240 degrees, but I decide to keep going. The feature stays caution free for the rest of the race and I finish 3rd. Or maybe not. After the feature, the top three cars get teched for gear. I figure this is no problem, 'cause we're not pushing the rules envelope at all, least of all in the gear dept. But apparently my confidence was a little premature, the result of the inspection found me to have a final gear ratio about 30 points lower than the 5.04 called for in the rules. I had the correct quick change set in the rear, but the ring and pinion ratio was 4.57 instead of the mandatory 4.86. This is the way the car came from Syracuse, and I never checked it, assuming that it was a 4.86. Seems pretty stupid looking back now, but for some reason it never occurred to me to check it. I didn't even know there was a 4.57 ring and pinion till about 2 weeks ago. So anyway, even though the gear ratio I was running was actually a disadvantage, it was considered a major rules infraction. No points, no money. A discouraging lesson, especially in light of how well we ran. I must be the first guy who ever got caught with the wrong gear, and gets to come back with 30 more points the following week. :)
Nothing like a nice 2 weeks off to get you ready for racing again! We came to the track with a slightly different setup. And that was as problem-it was a little too slight. The car still remained too tight through the center of the turn. We made some more changes for the heat race, where we started 5th. The car was a little bit better, but not fast enough to catch Lee Gagliardi. So we threw some more stuff at the car to try in hot laps. WAIT! We don't get hot laps before the feature for some strange reason. Must be too pressed for time to spare the 5 minutes it would take. Anyway I roll the dice and decide to leave in the changes for the feature. We roll off 8th and after a lap or two, I can feel the car is definitely better. A few laps later, a few cautions later I gain some spots and lose some spots. After 7 or 8 laps I start to find my rhythm and move up to third, behind George Marcus. In the mean time, Hawley Smith is giving me all I can handle from fourth. George gets past Lee, and the race begins to wind down. Lap 18 I dive down the inside of turn 3 and get a good run on Lee when the caution comes out. Back to third I go for the restart. On the final lap I try the same move, but I can only get to his door at the finish line. It was a great race with good clean competition and we look forward to next week.