So this is the end... The 30 lap heads-up extravaganza returns. If you've read what I've written about this race in the past, this will sound familiar. I went out in warm-ups and the car was pretty quick, but too tight. We have this problem for this race every year. Jimmy and I made some changes for the heat race and I went up to draw for position. I must have used up all my luck last week, I picked 6. We took the green and the car was a little bit better. I quickly made my way up to 2nd behind the 39 and took a few runs at him. I thought I had enough to get by, when the caution came out with two to go. I couldn't get my rhythm back to try and make a move and I finished 2nd. We made some more changes to the car to try and free it up and in hot laps it was a little better. I decided not to put new rubber on, we would have needed 3 tires and the payoff wasn't good enough to justify it. I lined up 6th in the feature and going into turn 1 on the start I shoved pretty hard and a couple of guys got by me. I gathered it back up and got back to 6th in a few laps. On the next restart the 9 shoved in front of me and I ducked down to go underneath him. At the same time the 39 was coming up hard from the bottom. I stabbed the brakes but still hit him with my left front which shot me towards the wall coming off of 2. I gathered it back up again and then the 32 slammed into me and I got stuck in the wall. I was able to keep it going and the car didn't feel like anything was wrong so now we were in 13th with 10 laps down. There were plenty more cautions and lap after lap I picked my way to the front. I was third behind the 14 with about 6 laps to go. I could pull up next to Lorne but didn't have enough to get by. By this point our well used rubber had pretty much given up. So we got ourselves a 3rd, and probably passed the most cars all night.
I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while. This year the Sportsman race and the 358 race were on different nights which meant that we could run both. After last year's
disappointing events, I was looking to redeem myself a little in the Sportsman show. We started with the Sportsman race Friday night. Lyle had his mojo going, the track was in awesome shape with tons of bite. We were real good in warm-ups and we left the car alone for the heat. I was lucky enough to pull the pin in the second heat and we ran some pretty quick laps on our way to the win. We decided to make a couple of small changes to the car and bolted on a new set of tires and we were ready for the feature. The heads up start had us on the inside front row next to the 14 and for the first time this year, the motor bogged down when I hit the gas when we took the green. Lorne got a jump on me but I made up most of the distance by the time we got to turn 3. Lorne pushed up in 4 and I ducked inside him to lead the first lap. Next lap by and I couldn't believe it, Lorne was at the bottom of the track, wrecked. There was a flurry of cautions in the first few laps which gave a couple of guys the chance to take a shot at me. We were able to fight them off and finally got some green flag racing in. I was quickly into lap traffic by lap 10 and that was the way it stayed for the balance of the race. I tried to be patient and not do anything stupid working the lap cars and did a pretty decent job. The remainder of the laps went by pretty quickly with no cautions and we picked up the win.
Afterwards all the preparation we did earlier in the week paid off when we swapped motors at the track. It took a few hours to get everything buttoned up and we finished sometime around 2AM. The next morning Jimmy and I got to work changing the rest of the car over to 358 trim, mounting tires, and getting things cleaned up. Jimmy went up and managed to pull #2 for time trials. I got in the car and got in line for DIRT inspection and suddenly the engine quit and wouldn't restart. We pushed the car through inspection and ended up with a short list of things to change. We went back to the trailer and Jimmy went to work on the changes while I went to work on the engine. I did a little trouble shooting and decided that I would start with a new coil. Fortunately that did the trick and we were able to move on to scaling the car. We got that finished and went back through inspection clean. Next was warm-ups. I had a pretty conservative gear in it so that we wouldn't hit the 7600 RPM rev limiter too bad. We were pretty close, just hitting it for about 50 feet at the end of the straight. We left things alone for time trials and I ran a couple of decent laps to put us at the top of the charts for a while. I wish I had put some more gear in, the car was just bogged down in the turns and it seemed that the fast guys were on the chip for a long time. We ended up 5th in time trials which put us on the pin in the 3rd heat. Jimmy put some more gear in and we were ready. I had JR lined up next to me so I knew I was going to have to pedal hard. I got a pretty good start, but there was a caution right away. The restart was good too and we ran 8 clean laps to win the heat. We decided to leave the gear in for the feature even though I was on the chip hard 2/3 down the straight. I thought I would need the gear to get me through the turns in traffic. The top 10 had to redraw for the feature and the luck ran out at that point. I pulled #9 right next to Brett who pulled #10. At the drop of the green we were off and things were a little tight for a while. I was doing a decent job holding my position but I realized pretty quickly that we had too much gear in. I was good on restarts but once we got going it was hurting me. I ran 9th for most of the race and was actually catching the pack ahead of me as the race went on. I managed to get past the 24 with 5 or 8 to go and was close to getting the 32 a few times but ended up finishing 8th. I have to thank Jimmy and Bobby for all the help this week, not only do we do the work of 6 people but we have a ball doing it. One race left and the season is in the books.
So the end of the season is upon us once more. After all the ups and downs this year, I
guess we're pretty fortunate to be in 3rd place in points. What was unfortunate though was
the track decided to squash our heat races for a B main and a feature. We were pretty good
in warm ups but still missing a little. Jimmy decided to make a couple of changes and we
went out for hot laps later in the night and we definitely made the car better. The track
seemed to be having some difficulty getting the handicapping right so there were a few
changes before we actually got on the track, and I don't think they had it right even at
that point. I started 15th and we never even made it off of turn 4 before the carnage
started. The guys on the front row help off the start so late that everyone started pushing
the guy in front of them. I tried to stay back but was still getting shoved. Soon the guys
in front of me were spinning and I ducked low and shot down pit road to get away from it.
They relined everyone up and we tried it again. I think we made it 2 laps before the next
big wreck. I was going through 1 and 2 on the high side when the track completely closed up
in front of me. I saw a hole to my left and started moving that way, on the brakes hard. I
got the car pretty much stopped, but not before I hit the inside Jersey barrier pretty hard
with the left side of the car. I squeezed past the wreckage and got in live to try it
again. We finally got some racing in on a very difficult track to pass on. I was making
some pretty decent progress and cracked the top 5 with about 2 laps to go. There was a
restart with 1 to go but I didn't have enough to get past the 16 and ended up 5th. Artie
won the points, Bobby was 2nd and we ended up 3rd. There are 3 races left for us so
hopefully will finish on a positive note.