Saturday, April 12, 2008
I pulled into CMP friday afternoon at around 1:30 and committed to be the fire bottle/fueler for 3 teams (BeerTech, Malt Liquor Tech and #82 car). The sky looked threatening but didn't interfere with the race. It was interesting to be a part of each teams strategy to beat the other. In the end it came down to team MLT making a bad call on a fuel stop. If they had filled up all the way... they could have had the overall win. But I'm sure the #2 car (Al's car number not a reference to the condition of the car) team is happy with the 2nd place trophy.
Friday night was a low-key affair. Hamburgers, hot dogs and a few spiked beers. After a fairly impressive light show (complements of mother nature) the sky opened up, blew our tent into a worthless ball of metal and fabric then proceeded to rain... and rain... and rain.
Saturday was wet and miserable most of the day. Practice was alright but the track during qualifying was some of the worst conditions I have ever been out on. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. I couldn't even keep the car in a straight line on the straights. I qualified 16th out of the 19 cars that showed up (3 cars either didn't go out or didn't do a full lap)... so I was dead last. And after watching the Thunder race I was telling everyone I wasn't going to race because I didn't have rain tires... of course I was saying this as I'm putting on my drivers suit and climbing into my car.
While race conditions were far better than qualifying it was still pretty slick. My fastest lap was a 2:10.498. But none of that mattered. It was a great race and it was the first race where we had all three of the BeerTech cars actually racing. JP started somewhere up front (1st I think?) and Brian and I started towards the rear. Things started off cleanly and without any of the turn one excitement that was seen in the February race.
I had Brian in my sights for the first several laps but with my tires being what they were, he was slowly putting some distance between us... that was until I passed him as he tested the waters of the outside line coming out of turn 14. From there I was able to move up spots but the highlight of the race was on the last lap, when coming out of turn 8 I got in front of IndyJim as he was coming back on to the track after a spin. We had a great race all way to the start finish. We were drag racing down the front straight while all the cars passing the start/finish line were almost coming to a complete stop. With Jim and I door to door... I wasn't going to lift until I reached the finish line. I'm not sure if I was more than an inch or 2 ahead of him or if our transponders were if different locations, but it didn't matter. I had beaten the February, 2008 CMP 6th Place Award Winner.
Sunday didn't start out as sunny and clear as we had hoped. For qualifying we were the second group to hit the track and there were still several slick spots. I got behind some traffic that was wasn't going to willingly let me by so I came in early (2 laps left) and settled for my 12 place starting spot.
I completely blew the start by spinning my wheels and then shifting to 2nd with nothing to go on. I got passed by 3-4 cars before ever even getting to turn 1. I was able to work my was past a few cars and played leap frog with Bob Chrystler most of the race. The highlight of the race (for me) was on lap 11, when I caught up to the Pink Panther, Gasman and Bob going into turn 1. We were all bunched up and we 3 wide coming out of turn 3 and I was able to pass all 3 of them.
Soon after that, my brakes had started to fade and I was having a much tougher time going into 1, 11 and 14... and my lap times had started to go up. Steven's #77 had been reeling me in for a while and I could no longer fight him off. Going into the kink with a lap and a half to go, he moved ahead and held on to that top 10 finish that I've been chasing since the start of the race.
While 11th is pretty good—especially when you consider the level of drivers that were in our 19 car field, I was mostly pleased with the fact that I left CMP with the 9th fastest lap of the day (1:54.963), the satisfaction of knowing I'm improving my performance (with lots of room for improvement), and that I still have my car and friendships in tack.
Looking forward to RRR and the IFU2... oh and a 10th or better finish