Sunday, April 08, 2007

Willow Spring Race Summary for March 23rd, 24th and 25th.

After months of rebuilding and tens of thousand of dollars invested both the #47 and #87 Monte Carlos were finally ready for testing.

The first event on the schedule for 2007 would be held at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, CA. I was really looking forward to the race not only because I wanted to see what these cars and my team were capable of but it was very important to me to defend my track record of 1:24.049.

On Friday’s test day I decided to spend the majority of the time on the #87 and only if we had time and felt that the #87 was close would I spend time in the #47. It started off a little rocky at first struggling a bit with set up and gear selection. However by late afternoon the #87 was working great with times in the upper 26’s. That’s right were I wanted to be. It wasn’t close to my track record however ASC is running a much harder tire than I ran to get the track record. So we decided to call it a night unfortunately that didn’t give us anytime in the #47.

Saturday morning came quickly but we didn’t miss a beat during practice. We were 2nd quick overall and 1st in ASC. I felt good and the car felt good but my Crew Chief Bob Johns wasn’t satisfied and wanted to make the car faster. He made a few more adjustments and we headed of to qualify. Unfortunate we fell a little behind and were late to pre-grid. This proved to be very costly and we were 2nd to last to go out. With over 28 + cars to contend with I never got a clean lap and qualified 5th in ASC and 6th overall. I wasn’t at all happy with the outcome but I like a good challenge and it just gave me more cars to pass.

As the group came through turn 9 getting ready for the green to drop I positioned myself right on the bumper of a Dodge Viper GTS-R. I knew I was going to get walked by the Viper however with all the time and money spent going into the #87’s power plant I was confident that no other ASC would be able to do the same. Boy was I wrong! The green came out and the Viper walked away as anticipated however so did the group of ASC cars in front of me did. Anyways, going into turn 1 and made it up to the bumper of the #25 who qualified 2nd with the #61 in front of him and the #34 right behind me. For several laps all four cars were bumper to bumper but on lap 3 the #25 got past the #61 exiting turn 2 B. With the #61 on my nose and the #25 pulling away I needed to make a move. Exiting turn 1 on lap 5 I got a great run on the #61. Going into turn 2 A the #61 went wide and I went to the inside. However either the #61 didn’t know I was up to his door or he made a bad attempt to close the door but he made contact right behind my FRONT left tire and we drifted off the track. That wasn’t the worst of it though. The #34 got mixed up into it and t-boned me right in the left rear quarter panel. Even though it was a hard hit the #87 was OK. Unfortunately the #34 got the worst of it and was unable to continue as well as the #61. I felt terrible about the #34 because he had nothing to do with it. I got back on the track and continued to race but the car didn’t handle so well. We finished 7th and found out after that the #61 sent it a protest about me for “rough driving”. I really couldn’t believe it. He unsuccessfully tried to close the door when we were side by side and I was to blame? What happened to giving a little room so we can race it out? That’s what we’re here for at least that’s why I’m here. As most who observed it agreed no penalty was accessed.

On Sunday we got a very early start since we had to finish up on some repairs and get the car resent up. But that didn’t slow us down a bit and we were right in the swing of things with a 3rd place qualifying run. However we were forced to start in the back of the entire field due to a penalty I received for passing under a yellow during qualifying. I had a good reason however they didn’t want to hear it.
Starting in the back I came up through turn 9 bunching up tight awaiting the green to drop and I got a great start. By turn 1 I was in 4th behind #25 once again. We raced real hard and clean where in lap 5 I made a pass on the outside exiting turn 2B. We raced close for several more laps until about lap 10 I stated to pull away. From that part forward the car began to tighten up a bit on rights and was very loose on lefts. On lap 17 going into 3 the car spun up the hill to the left. I was a sitting duck waiting for impact. A Protruck coming up the hill either didn’t see the yellow or wasn’t paying attention, hit me head on. The impact was probably less than 10 MPH however the damage was done. Noticing that my hood was coming up I knew that my air-box was badly damage. So instead of taking any chances cooking another motor, I limped back to the pits. We later found out in the pits that my right rear tire was down to 13 pounds of pressure. No wonder the car was so bad.

All and all looking back I was pretty happy with the car. This car came from being completely redone to one of or the fastest spec LEGAL cars out there.

Keep tuned for updates as we shift gears into the Grand National West Series.


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