Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shakedown at Palm Beach Recap.

When the celebration was finally over after the victory at SGMP. Me and Chris and Mike headed south early Monday morning . Stopping off in Orlando for three days for a company expo, We arrived in Palm beach Wednesday afternoon. Thursday was a full day test session, Phil flew in about noon, and we drug the ole hot rod to staging. I left the same tune up that we ran four days earlier at SGMP, Well that didn't work. The car moved 3 inches before annihilating the tires. The racing surface at PBIR is very smooth and flat, but the track was prepped for pro mods, Which seem to prefer a looser surface. So we backed car down, and went 70 feet, backed it down again, went 150 feet. then on our final run we went 330 feet. I figured out that the track could be fast but the power application had to be a little different. By the time Qualifying was done on Friday we were sitting 4th with a 4.71. But we had a smoked transmission. Phil rounded up some parts from the pits and we took the unit apart Friday night and overhauled it. That was a fiasco in itself. We banged it back in the car about 3 am, Not quite sure if the backwoods overhaul we had just performed would even shift. We had one more session of qualifying Saturday morning before eliminations. Me and the boys decided to turn the wick up a little. But so did everybody else. We went 4.49 at 177mph, which put us third, number one being a 4.46. We felt pretty good. Then the rains came, Buckets and buckets and buckets of rain. To our dismay, eliminations were put off until Sunday. We had been away from home for 12 days and were ready to head back to Georgia, But we all talked about it, and decided that we had come this far, and were going to see this through. we went through the first three rounds without a hitch, The car was consistent, and doing what i told it to. With one exception, I was unable to cut a light. At this point I had made 27 passes in two weeks, and the best reaction time thus far was a .093 with most averaging in the .105 to .110 range. This is very very slow for me. There is a problem in the car causing this, whether it be a valve body issue, or a wiring issue, I don't know, but I will find it. So the final round was upon. I knew we couldn't cut a light so We decided to stand on the tune up. I burned in hard and pulled to the tree. Easy does it, inching into the lights. I was racing Scotty G in his camaro from New York and i know he's sharp on the tree. We bumped in and a flash of amber later we were on our way. He drilled my ass on the tree, his .066 to my .121. I was a half car back, but making ground, we buzzed half track and I was a fender back, then the Mph cone and It was dead even. We were glued together going through the traps. I thought I was out front, He nudged me out by .003 seconds. That's about 3 inches at 170 mph. I went 4.48 to his 4.53. The Hole shot killed me, and the extra foot of front overhang his camaro has. I hate pecker extenders on mustangs, But I now understand why people have them. Congrats to Scotty G and his crew for being the better racers that day. They were class acts before, and after kicking my ass. Their car was on a rail all weekend and they deserved the win. This is my first ever loss on a hole shot and no matter what I have to do, It will not happen again. I don't care if I have to take the transmission out and chunk it in the river and start over. In our first two races of the year we won and runner up'd. Me and the boys are focused like a laser beam. I cant wait to see what the rest of the year brings. I want to take a second and thank some folks that normally don't get alot of praise. Of course we always thank our sponsors and without them we cannot race, But there are a couple people who I can always count on when the dirty part of racing is being done. The countless hours working in the shop, the many many sleepless nights, the blood sweat and tears that go on behind the scenes that make us successful at the track. The thousands and thousands of miles driven back and forth up and down the highway, and the encouragement and faith they gave and had in me last year when we were getting mopped up race after race. My friend and partner Chris Johnson. Big Johnson never complains even when my ideas are stupid and unrealistic. He works on everything I have, runs parts back and forth, welds all my blown up stuff together all the time, drives the motor home everywhere we go, and sacrifices time away from his family so that I can pursue my dreams. Friends like that cannot be replaced. Mike Merriet has worked 60 hours a week for the last month helping me finish the car. He can do anything on the car from front to back and is truly an asset to our team. He also sacrificed the last two weeks straight of his life to go on the road with us. Brian doesn't do much work on the car because he is most of the time watching sports, but he is irreplaceable at the race track. He is always there when i need him and believes in me no matter what. Phil Shuler is the voice of reason when I wanna do something stupid and flies all over the world to race with us. His creativity has led to many behind the scenes innovations on the car that all lead to performance gains. It is an honor to drive his car and before we are through, alot of people, at alot of levels are going to have hurt feelings. I know you guys are tired of reading the mushy mushy stuff, but Its important to me, for folks to realize how much has to go on to get this thing to the track when you are a low budget team like I am. Our next race is April 1st in Brainerd, Ga. followed by April 7-9 at Rockingham, Nc. I can't wait. We may have a little surprise for everybody when we get to rockingham. Stay tuned :)

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