Well with all the hub bub behind us, it was a gorgeous day for racing. Another light weekend for the crew, Todd was at Indy spotting for his friend Tommy, and John was in Charlotte for the 600. So it was Jimmy, RJ and myself. We picked up where we left off in warmups, the car felt very good. The track, however was the poorest it's been since the season began. Way slick right of the bat, which was very unusual. Started last in the 3rd heat and manage to get to 4th. After hot laps Jimmy and I put our heads together and we made a few key changes to the car before the feature. The car felt very good and we started moving to the front. When the first caution came out on lap 7 I was in 5th, biding my time. On the restart I was able to keep 5th, but a lap later I got hit from behind coming off of 4 and spun in front of the entire field. I kept my foot in it and nearly was able to complete the 360, but not before I got hit a few times, the worst causing some pretty serious damage to the front end. I kept the car going and lost only a few spots, but the right front was bend so badly it was hopping up and down even under caution. I ducked into the pits and the boys changed the right front and let me know that the radius rods were bent. A single file restart and I began working my way to the front again. The car felt okay for a few laps, but started to get real tight in a hurry. I was somewhere around 12th or so working on the 39 car. I made a run under him coming through 3 and 4 and he came down and pinched me. I lost the back end and ended up spinning again, throwing away a decent finish. We found a bunch of damaged or bent stuff in the front end this morning, and the boys had put a soft tire on during the pit stop, which explained why the car got tight.
Just got word that the manifold is legal.
Well after last weeks performance, Jimmy and I sat down and came up with a new game plan. We completely changed the setup under the car for this week. I used warmups to bed in some new brake pads after having rotor problems last week. I started 8th in the heat and was determined to take my time. On the first lap going into 3 though, trouble reared its ugly head. I saw the two cars in from of me spin, I tried to get the car slowed down but I ended up spinning into the wall along with the other two. I thought someone had dropped some oil or antifreeze on to the track but it was water seeping up through the track and making the calcium-rich surface extremely slick. We popped into the pits to check for damage, but we were good to go. I restarted at the rear and we managed to get up to second. The car was good but we were still a little off. The tough luck from the first night was still helping us with the handicapping, I ended up starting the feature in 11th instead of further back. We had made some last minute chassis changes before the feature and they made the car absolutely perfect. We got a lap or two in before the first caution and I had gained only one spot. But it was key, putting me on the outside of row 5 for the restart. I sent it in on the high side going into 1 and passed about 7 cars by the time we got back to the flagger's stand. The car was absolutely perfect. We had several more cautions and it wasn't long before Artie was next to me at the front on a restart. Replay of last week? Not tonight. Each time I was able to pull away and we got our first victory of the season. A little redemption for last week. The only down side to the whole night was Artie protested my intake manifold and we had to tear down the engine. The track still has the manifold and I won't know till later this week what the outcome will be. Dan says we're good to go, so hopefully we'll be okay. And as it turns out as of today (5/13/02) we are completely legal.
Well this week we were the beneficiary of a 1 race handicap, gracing us with a front row heat race start and a front row feature start. We were fast again in warmups, and in the heat. In hot laps before the feature the car was a tick tight, but since we were starting up front I didn't think it would be a problem. That's what I get for thinking. The 19 and I ran side by side for the first couple of laps till I was able to pull ahead. And then the caution fest began. We'd go 2 or 3 laps and the yellow would fly. It wasn't too long before I saw that Artie was right behind me. I was still pretty decent, Artie was sticking his nose under me coming off of 4, but he couldn't really do anything with me. Somewhere after halfway we had a wicked long caution. I must have fell asleep in the car, I never tried warming up the right front tire before we went back to green. On the restart I shoved up a little in 1 but gathered it up. I shoved again going into 3 and that was all she wrote. Artie put the slide job on me and that was the end. I made a few stabs at him, but I just didn't have the car set up good enough to get back by. So we ended up with a 2nd.