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Lowe's Motor Speedway SARRC
Quick update on our June 17 & 18 weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway - qualified first (of four) in GTA, 12th overall of 24; finished third in GTA, 15th overall. Yes, that IS going the wrong direction, so you may want to read the longer story. Next race is July 22,23 at Road Atlanta.
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The results are up on MyLaps.com (http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=142474) for those that want the facts, but here's my story and I'm sticking to it:
Not wanting to buy new tires for a track I've never raced on, we took two used sets of Goodyear's 1132s to the "Last Ever" SCCA event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Set #1 had three weekends (RRR, VIR & CMP) and six heat cycles on them, Set #2 had two weekends (VIR & CMP) and 3.5 heat cycles (I'm counting the rain race at VIR as a half).
We put Set #1 on for the practice session, ran 13 laps and had the best time of the four GTA cars there (Dave Price, Mark Tcherkezian and Steve Macgowan plus the BK Racing Monte Cuervo). Since they held up pretty well (four straight 1:20 laps after I figured out we have to turn left on the oval), we left them on for the single afternoon qualifying session. I ran a 1:19.277 to sit on the GTA pole (12th OA) followed by Dave with a 1:20.0, then Mark and Steve. The GTA rules require that you race what you qualify on, but even though the race would be the ninth heat cycle we ran four sub 1:20 laps in qualifying and there was plenty of rubber left, so I figured we were good for Sunday. We covered the car up, got busted by the Speedway cops for having glass containers (we poured the beer into plastic cups so they let us stay), watched the first hour of the ECR race and some of the Solo event on the infield access roads (more on this later), then headed out to look for a Pizza Hut but had to settle on Hooter's instead for our formal team dinner.
The city of Concord does not allow race engines before noon on Sunday, so we arrived at the track around 10:00 to get Cuervo ready for his day on the high banks. We were paddocked right in the middle of the infield, so Data (crew chief) and Harriett (the Boss) got up on the top of the rig to call the race while I drove down to the false grid (no 4-wheelers are allowed, either - I guess to keep the Good Old Boys from holding impromptu motocrosses on NASCAR weekends). From their spot they could see the entire course except for the exit off the oval just past start/finish and the return TO the oval (called Turn 5 on the road course).
At the green I passed a couple of cars and things were working well, then I turned my fastest race lap on the second lap (1:20.265).  After we entered onto the oval on the third lap, the car suddenly turned sideways as I shifted from second to third in NASCAR Two! Thinking the RR tire might be going town, I proceeded (relatively) cautiously around the rest of that lap, but things seemed to be okay so I turned the wick back up since Mark had caught up six seconds on that lap (Dave Price had dropped out after Lap 1, not sure why). The car was a handful but still driveable and I maintained about a one-second gap on Mark, then about lap 11 (of 16), Jeff Buice (overall leader) caught me in short chute in the infield and Mark closed up on my bumper when Jeff went by in 4-A. I was still able to pull Mark on the banking, but then the big yellow #10 would fill my mirrors again in the infield. Ends up I pushed too hard on the next lap, ran out of talent in the sweeper onto the banking ( the aforementioned Turn 5) and looped the car. After getting stopped (a Miata on Friday DIDN'T get stopped and had taken itself out on the concrete barriers defining the course right there) and knowing that Data & Harriett couldn't see me, I radioed that I was okay but "the cloud of dust you see is me".
At any rate, Mark and Steve both got by so I rejoined the fray hoping to maybe catch Steve. A couple of laps later I again almost looped the car on the banking in NASCAR Two (Todd Carter had a better camera angle than I did as he was coming up to lap me), so after that I pretty much just survived to the checkers - third in GTA, last car one lap down, but still in one piece.
At dinner that night I said we tried for one heat cycle too many on Set #1 and Data (who doesn't have to pay for the tires, by the way) replied, "No, we tried for SIX heat cycles too many." Regardless, we now know what the limit is on the 1132 tires so we'll stop before we get there next time.
(On edit - it ends up the springs in the Detroit locker had gotten soft and allowed the rear end to intermittently go into "open diff" mode, so that's what caused the car to get so loose under acceleration.)
Prior to this event the CCR Board had voted to not run at Lowe's any more for financial reasons, but if you go to their website forum they mention that being able to run the Solo event on the access road "shines a whole new light on the financial picture." I had a great time even with the spin, so if they DO hold an event there in 2007 I'd go back. Going into NASCAR Three at 160 mph is a SERIOUS rush!
Next event for us is the SARRC at Road Atlanta July 22,23. Let me know if you'd like more information about that weekend.
See y'all at the track...