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You know, the danger of a rain out is having enough time to make some silly decisions...

There we were, minding our own business on Friday, when we decided to head to Malta to race instead of the 'Valley to practice.  Because of the last minute decision, we weren't as prepared as we should have been.  Trying to get tires mounted, gears changed, and the car inspected caused us to miss warm-ups.  And from that point on we were a step behind for the rest of the night.  Track conditions were challenging, to say the least.  Unbelievably rough.  To make a long story short, we didn't qualify for the feature, although I did get some valuable experience in the heat and consi.

Saturday at the 'Valley was a different story altogether.   First time at the track with the Sportsman setup.  The track had unbelievable bite in it, I came in from warm-ups thinking we might have the gears in upside down or something.  Way hooked up, as were most of the guys.  The car was good, the driver a little rusty.  Started 6th in the heat and right from the green I could feel that the car felt much better than it did in warm-ups.  Spent most of the heat trying to avoid the rough stuff that was developing in the middle of the turns at both ends of the track.  A late caution allows George Marcus to take a shot on me on the restart, but I held on to win.  Started 8th in the feature and in the first couple of laps I'm 5th.  A few more laps later I'm up to 3rd.  The caution flies a couple times sticking me with an inside row start each time.  Now I'm back to 5th and about to lose that.  I head upstairs to try and get away from the rough areas on the track and start to make some progress.  Another restart has several cars in front of me getting tangled in 2.  I get caught up in it for a while, but continue, ending up 3rd.   A few laps later after the restart I'm in second, trying to chase down George Marcus, but the harder I try, the slower I go.  I hang on for 2nd.   


Unfortunately weather has reared its ugly head again this week, taking away the opportunity for me to run the big block once more before getting the car ready to run the Sportsman class.  Spent the better part of Saturday at Jack Boyds running two of the motors on the dyno.  I'm pretty happy with the numbers that we (I mean Dan!) got.  Spent the rest of the weekend switching the motors.  Hopefully the weather will be a little kinder for Thursday's practice...


By the sound of things, I missed a pretty good race last night.   It was a little hard to see from the back of the pack where I was doing business.    :)  Started 7th in the heat.  Passed 1 car to end up 6th, which got me in the race, starting 22nd.  There was action right from the start as Mike Benson got turned around down in 1 & 2.  Got by okay, actually picked up a few spots, but promptly lost them to guys who were more aggressive than me under the caution.  I kept getting stuck on the inside for the restarts which killed me.  The track was pretty difficult to drive, it was breaking up in 2 and 4.  I just tried to run a consistent race without overdriving the car, trying not to overdo it after a long winter off.  After a few more incidents I end up finishing 14th.  Of course one of the little incidents tore the right side of the body off the car, but all things considered, I'm pretty happy with my big block debut at the 'Valley.  Congratulations to Matt Quinn for bagging one right out of the box!   And a tip of the hat to Ronnie Johnson who started deep in the field and finished 4th after a wicked battle with Kenny Tremont.


There we were, sitting around with nothing to do (yea, right!) when we came up with the bright idea to drop a big block in for the first 3 weeks to run with the modifieds.  Looked good on paper.  :)  What should have been a fairly easy project turned into a job with a few more challenges than we would have hoped.   But we got it pulled all together in time to get to the track Saturday for warm-ups.   First set out I was just starting to push the car a little bit when the brake pedal went to the floor going into turn 3.  Fortunately there was no one around me and I was able to throw the car to the bottom of the track and avoid any contact.  Turns out the retainers that hold the brake pads loosened up and let the pads fall out of the left side.  Now that's not exactly the way I was hoping to test my reflexes, 3 laps into the new season.  With that little problem corrected, we continued with practice.   Each session we made a few changes, improving the car to the point that by the last set we ran, we were among the fastest cars.  Should be interesting next Saturday...  


Well for those brave souls still the least bit curious about what's happening, let me bring you up to date.  The car is 80% complete.  We're only waiting for two minor things - an engine and a new primary sponsor.  As I mentioned previously, last year's engine was damaged enough that it did not make sense financially to put it back together.  This opened up an opportunity to start with a clean slate.  And as usual, we're probably biting off a little more than we can chew.   Basically we're taking the design we used for the 358 modified motor and adapting it for a flat tappet cam.  Unfortunately, I think we're the only ones in the country trying to do this.  As a result, we're a littler behind schedule, although Dan promised that I'll have it in time for warm-ups.  The other item is a result of Pennzoil restructuring their corporate identity.  We're in the final negotiations to hopefully have them as an associate sponsor for the coming year.  In the mean time, we're working hard to find a primary sponsor for the 2 car.  So with all that, and a significantly increased work load at the dealership, it looks like it will be an exceptionally busy year.


A brief update....  Got the car about half put together.   The bad news is that the motor is going to need some major work, due to the block damage in the mains from when the two cranks broke.  Such is life.  New pics from Syracuse and The Empire State Nationals on the Pics page.