There just must be something about this race. We started out the same way that we did last year. We were junk in warmups again, the track had a ton of bite and we were tight as hell. Jimmy and I changed a good bit of stuff for the heat. I drew 5th starting spot and had my hands full right off the bat. The car was still too tight but we made the best of it. After a restart on lap one, I slowly worked my way towards the front. Got to second with one to go, too late to catch Don Miller who started on the pole. So then Jimmy and I decided to change just about everything on the car for the feature. Springs, sway bar, wedge, spring rod, shock pressures, and panhard bar, you name it we changed it. They say if you're gonna make a change, make on you can feel. The heads up format had us 4th in the feature. I had a good run going down the frontstretch behind Miller till the 55 moved up a lane and I had to check up. I dropped in behind the 55 going into 1 and ducked under him coming off of 2. And for the next 18 laps I chased Don around, just a few feet off his bumper. I got next to him a couple of times but couldn't make it stick. The caution came out on lap 19 for what looked like a trail of oil on the backstretch. After a short red flag we ran around under the yellow to run in the speedy dry. Don got the jump on me a little on the restart but shoved a little in 1 and 2. I caught up to him on the backstretch and went to the inside going into 3. It looked like he shoved again and his car took off into the wall. From that point on we were all set. Once I could run my line closer to the top the car was on a rail. We ended up winning by a decent margin. Not sure I could have gotten Don or not, but it was an awesome race while it lasted. Now we tear the car apart to get it ready for Syracuse.
Man, what a weekend. We started on Friday night in the make up Tony Stewart 358 race. I had one of the 358 Mopar engines that I got from Jack. Things started off on the right foot in warmups, we rolled off the trailer and were very quick. A couple of small adjustments for the makeup consi had us in real good shape. I started on the inside front row and by the end of the 1st lap I had the lead. From that point we checked out, turning some of the fastest times in the field for the night. That put us 20th for the feature. And all I can say about the race is that it was awesome. We were fast, passed some fast cars, missed some close calls, and worked ourselves to an 11th place finish. I think that was the most fun that I ever had in a race car. We followed that up Saturday with the Race of Kings. The boys had worked late Friday night preparing the car for Saturday so again we were in pretty good shape. We were turning laps in practice right at the top of the heap. Time trials went well, we were tied for 6th fastest. That got me on the front row of the heat race and when the green dropped, I beat Andy Bachetti to the first turn and was able to stay there till the end. The car was good, but not quite as good as the previous night. We scuffed our feature tires in hot laps and got ready for our 7th place start in the feature. And right off that bat I knew we were in trouble. The car that was so good on Friday was a handful on this night. The car just wouldn't roll through the corners as free as I needed it to. I was able to hold off the big dogs for a few laps, but it wasn't long before they were able to get me. I was still running in the top 10 though. I nearly did myself in on one of the mid-race restarts, getting into Matt Sheppard's left rear 1/4 panel hard enough to bend something in the front end. It took me a second to gather it up again and I lost a few spots. So we kept on trucking and spent the last 30 laps of the race trying to find a way past Justin Haers. Got close a number of times but couldn't pull it off. And we ended the night in 9th. Turns out the set of tires we had closed up stagger over an inch making the car way too tight. Total damage for the weekend: A few worn out tires and a bent radius rod. Not too shabby. Congrats to Roy Bridge for knocking down the LV Sportsman race!
Sunday was the 200. Tony was good all day long and rolled off for the feature in 8th. He immediately moved up to 5th, and by lap 50 passed Billy Decker for 4th. Then the music stopped. He got tangled up going down the frontstretch with a lap car and ended up in the wall. He wasn't able to get free in time to stay on the lead lap. Game over.