Saturday May 3rd
Welcome to another exciting year of racing! We started the season on May 3rd, one week late as the track opened the week before. But we have a new engine for 2003 and it was not quite ready yet.
The night started on a good note as we started outside the front row in our heat race. I thought we had a good shot at winning it so long as everything worked right. We only had a couple hot laps on the engine and some major chassis changes I made. We took the lead on the start, but about halfway through my water system lost pressure and the motor started to run a little warm. I backed it down hoping just to finish. I did hang on for a 2nd place finish. The filler cap on the intake had vibrated loose and I was loosing water.
We started 12th in the feature. There were quite a few spins and accidents in the race. I got clipped in one of them and banged up the right rear quarter and broke my rear spoiler. But I managed to finish 4th, more or less by just missing accidents and being there at the end. The car was a little too loose and I was having a hard time getting it off the corner. We made some adjustments this week and hopefully we are better the next time out.
Saturday May 17th
Not a bad night overall, my setup changes made the car a little better. We started 3rd in the first heat race and moved up to 2nd on the start. The race went caution free and we finished 2nd. I had a good draw for the feature, outside front row. On the start the pole sitter drove deep into turn one and took the lead. I fell in behind him...but could not keep up! Joe really has his car dialed in and he ran off and hid! Late in the race another strong competitor worked past me and dropped me to third. The car was pretty good, but from the center off, the nose wanted to wash up the track. I had too much bite and not enough stagger. I managed to stay in 3rd to the finish.
Saturday May 24th
More changes to the car this week and they worked pretty well. The car handled very well in hotlaps. We started 10th, dead last, in the heat race. After a couple laps I was battling for 2nd-4th. I finally settled into 3rd and finished there. Another good draw for the feature this week, a 4th place starting spot. On the start I tried to go low under the outside front row car, but could not clear him before turn one. I went low in the backstreatch to try a pass in the low line. I could not get good traction and I fell a couple more spots. I was now in 7th! One car dropped out of the top 5 and I passed one car to move up to 5th, that is where I finished. The car handled much better. At this point, I feel the car is handling very well...the driver is just not driving it hard enough. I am driving it hard, but comfortably hard. I need to drive closer to the edge, where it is not so comfortable..but should be faster. The car will take more then I am giving it, I just have to push it there! Time to work on the driver!!!
Saturday June 7th
We had a nice day for racing Saturday. We had some carburator problems tonight. I could not get the floats to stay steady. In hot laps they kept draining by mid-staight away and running out of fuel. So I came in and adjusted them some more, I brought them up more, so even if they flood over, they will not run dry. Makes no sense, but it worked. Started 5th in the heat race. Good fast heat race, we ran green to checkers and I managed to make it to 3rd.
Started 9th in the feature. Some very fast cars starting in front of me, moving up will be hard work in just 15 laps. I moved up to 8th early. Ran 8th for a few laps, caution comes out. A few laps back under green I manage to move up to 7th running the low side. The track was very smooth, but dry slick top, so you had to really be careful not to spin out. Makes for some fun and tricky racing! I tried every line and angle! Low was OK, but could not make more ground. So I went high...weeeee, way to slippery for me. So I started to diamond the corners, but still not gaining ground on 6th place. Finally went back to the very bottom. Got a good rythme going and caught the 6th place car...just in time for him to spin in front of me. I managed to clear him high though. As I said, the track was smooth, slippery, and tricky. But that is fine...on a tacky hooked up track, everyone can run wide open and be fast. You really have to work hard on a dry slick track. But the top 5 are a good bit ahead of me now. I just stayed running my line and finished 6th. Not too back overall. We will get the carb fixed up this week and hopefully run a little better.
My compliments to the track crew at Oakshade. The past few weeks the track has be OUTSTANDING! Very smooth and well prepared. Great job guys and gals, makes for some great racing.
Saturday June 14th
The weather was awesome for racing tonight. We drew a 5th place starting spot in the heat race. The track was very smooth and already dry and slick. I managed to get to the lead in the first 3 laps and went on for my first heat race win of the year. We drew a 3 for the feature. The car has been handling very well, so I have not been making any adjustments on it. But I knew the track was pretty slick in the heat and figured it would still be for the feature. So I decided to put two full turns of bite in the left rear to tighten the car up. The change worked well right from the start as I grabbed the lead on the first lap of the race. The car was perfect, coming off the corners straight and really running well. There were a couple cautions, but I managed to hang onto the lead on the restarts. But shortly after the 2nd restart I felt the car starting to tighten up too much, so I backed down a little. The caution flew again so I knew I had to go hard on the restart. Little did I know the right rear tire had overheated and glazed. On the restart I hit the gas to pull off the first corner and the car pushed up the track very badly. The extra LR bite I put in the car kicked in, and the RR tire was slicked over, no traction. The car really became undrivable! Every time I hit the gas, the car would just turn right and push up the track. I fell all the way back to 7th before the end of the race. This was a VERY disappointing finish after running up front. If I had not made the adjustment before the race, the car would have started loose and come to me. Instead, it started perfect, but faded away. We have made several changes to the setup this week that are meant to make things better. Lets hope they work! I need to redeem myself from that horrible second half of the feature last week.
I have to say this, the track was awesome smooth! The track crews again did a great job getting the track packed and very smooth top to bottom. I
Saturday June 21st
Another nice night for racing. Had a bad draw tonight and had to start in the back of the heat race. The track was wide open, very smooth and in great racing shape top to bottom. This made it possible to for me to run where I needed to and eventually I made it to the front and took another heat race win.
We started 9th in the feature. The track was dry and slick again, the warm and windy weather dried it out. The racing groove was again right on the bottom of the track. Years ago, I was the only Sportsman car that would run that very bottom line, but today all the guys are running it when the track goes dry slick. You really have to be able to keep the car pinned to the bottom! I moved to 5th on the first lap as cars got sorted out. We ran 5th until Joe Derback passed me. Joe was REALLY keeping the car pinned down well and he made it all the way to the front and took the win! I ran 6th for a few laps until the 4th and 5th place cars got together and one spun out. That moved me back to 5th. The top 5 ran nose to tail the rest of the race and I finished 5th. Not a bad night overall. I made more changes to the car this week to get it so it will stay on the bottom of the track better. Hopefully we can pull out a feature win yet this season.
Saturday June 28th
Well, I am 4 weeks behind on updating this website! I am sorry, but life has just been absolutely crazy! Between working, summer activities with my family, septic backups, and racing...I just have not had time to sit down at the computer. I will keep the next few updates short as I may not remember some of it exactly as it happened.
The one thing different about this weekend was...I was not driving my own car. Instead I let Bill Eversole drive the car. Bill is a friend of mine from my hometown. Bill owns Track Time driving school (www.tracktime.com) where they run Winston Cup style cars at Michigan International Speedway, as well as at some other oval tracks and road course. Bill is also a veteran dirt Late Model driver and current ARCA Rookie of the Year contender. He wanted some seat time in a dirt car to prepare for the upcoming ARCA races on dirt.
It has been a few years since he ran dirt, so he was a bit rusty. I had also just put a completely new setup on the car. I had changed shocks, 3 of the springs, tire stagger, and a few other things in an effort to get the car dialed in better. So Bill was my test driver! He started 5th in the heat race and quickly moved to 3rd running way up on the outside. He then made his way to 2nd, but was too far behind the leader to contend for the win. Bill started the feature in the 9th spot. He was driving well and passing for 6th coming off turn 2 when he hit fresh water. The water was in the very low line, put down there to keep the dust down. But Bill got too low and hit the water, causing him to spin out. He had to restart at the tail, 20th place. The rest of the race went without a caution and Bill did a great job of driving. He worked his way back up to 8th. Had he not spun, or had a caution late in the race to bunch the field back up, he would have been in the top 5. It was an experience being a team owner for a night. Well, I was also the setup guy, tire changer, gas man, etc. But it was fun.
Saturday July 5th
I was back in the drivers seat tonight. Knowing the setup was pretty good from Bill's run last week, I was confident we would have a decent night. I started 5th in the heat race and quickly moved to 3rd. I stayed in 3rd until the last lap when the second place car spun out allowing me to finish 2nd.
I started 7th in the feature. About halfway through I had made my way to 2nd. The leader who had started on the front row had a 1/4 lap lead on me. I slowly started to gain on him and on the last lap I caught him. We came thru turns 3 and 4 side by side, but he had the momentum on the top and beat me by a few feet. It was a great race for the fans and fun for me. If I had only had one more lap!
Saturday July 12th
We started 3rd in the heat race tonight. I ran the first half of the race in 3rd, fighting hard with the second place car of Jeff Brown. On a mid-race restart Jeff and I both passed the leader and continued our door to door battle, but now for the lead. We ran that way the rest of the race... back and forth, side by side! It was a blast to race like that for the lead. He did end up beating me by a nose at the finish, but it was a fun and exciting race.
Again I drew a bad number for the feature, 12...the worst you can draw. On the original start, the outside line did not go and I fell back even further. But the caution came out and we had a complete restart. This time I saw a hole low as we took the green flag so I shot thru it and by the time I got to turn 1 I was already in 5th...the inside line had not gone this time, and I managed to benefit from it! But on the second lap the third place car broke and hit the 2nd place car. I checked up so I would not hit them, but the car behind me did not check up. He hit me and spun me out. So now I had to go to the tail...18th place. The rest of the race was caution filled! I think we only ran 2 laps under green each time, then there was a crash. Being at the back...all the crashes were in front of me. At this point I was just trying to stay out of trouble and finish in one peice! I managed to do that and by the end I had made my way back up to the 6th position.
Saturday July 26th
The night started out with a good draw at the gate, so I started 2nd in my heat race. I managed to nab the lead on the start and led the entire race for the win. I had another good draw for the feature, another 2nd place starting spot. The car that drew the pole had been pushing all night, so I knew that I would have to clear him on the start or I would be in trouble. As luck would have it, I was not able to clear him, but instead was beside him going into turn 1 on the first lap. He pushed up and pushed me right up to the marbles on the top of the track. This allowed both cars in the second row (top 2 guys in points no less!) to get under both of us and into the top two spots. I was very disappointed, I felt I had a very good shot at winning this race from the front row! I did manage to run with the top two cars and at times we had a good 3 wide race going. But I never could clear them and I finished 3rd. I should be happy with a third place run, but having the prime starting spot, I was very disappointed the pole sitter could not hold his line and forced me off the track. I can only hope for a good starting spot again next week!
Saturday August 9th
I let my 8 year old son draw my numbers tonight...he did very well! He drew me a front row starting spot in the heat race, outside front row of heat 2. I jumped in the lead on the start and never looked back. We won this one and my son got his picture in victory lane, he thought that was cool. My wife does not let him come to the track much as with only my dad and I there, it is hard to work on the car and keep an eye on him in the pits.
My son drew a 3 for the feature! Second row inside. I thought the track would go dry slick and the bottom would be the place to be. But the track stayed in nice shape and the top ended up being the fast way around. Devin started outside front row and lead it start to finish, he is very fast. I moved to 2nd early, but the car was a bit too tight and I was having a tough time getting through the corners. Joe, second in points, got by me about mid-race and I ran the rest of the race in 3rd. Not too bad with the car being tight. But if the track had been slick, the tight car would have been perfect. Was just setup for the wrong track condition.
Saturday August 16th
My heat starting spot was not quite as good tonight, neither was the weather! It rained a lot and I really did not think we would get to race. But thanks to a fantastic job by the track crews, they managed to get the track run in and race ready! It was a little wet still at heat time, but it was very fast. I started 5th in the very first heat race. I knew that with the track still very heavy, I had to move on the first lap since we would get single file. I jumped to 3rd on the start. A couple laps later the 2nd place car slid high and I moved to 2nd. I stayed in 2nd for the rest of the race.
I started 7th in the feature. The track was in great shape, another night of the high line being very fast. I jumped to 4th on the first lap and settled in running well up high. The race went caution free and by halfway we had caught lapped traffic. I was trying to decide when to go low to get under the lapped cars. I wanted to stay high as long as I can. When I came off turn 2 I had to check up to avoid a lapped car, when I did it allowed the car behind me to dive under me. I could then not get low to go under the lapped car! By the time I could get back in line and around the lapped cars, I had fallen to 7th. Just got hung up out of line. The car was still a tick tight, so we are making more changes this week.
Saturday August 30th
Rough night tonight. Started 6th in the heat race. The temp was cool and the air was damp, so the water that was put on the track (to control the dust) had not soaked in when we took the green flag. I knew there would be a crash on the first lap, there had to be. The track was just too slippery for us all to make it through the first turn. So I decided to back it way down going into turn one and be prepared to avoid an accident. Unfortunantly, when I went into turn 1, teh two cars in front of me tangled and went sideways. I hit the brakes, but just slid on the wet clay...right into one of the cars. I planned to pull off, but a couple other drivers gave me the thumbs up. Even though the front was all smashed in, it was running fine and not loosing water, so I stayed out. Had to restart in last place. I managed to work my way to 5th, and transfer to a 13th place starting spot in the feature.
We spent the next 3 hours taking the car appart and fixing it. Had to put on a spare front bumper, straighten all the bent body panels, and get it all back together. We made it in time for the feature. Again, the cool damp air did not allow the water to evaporate. The top groove was good, but the rest was a little too loose and slippery. Starting on the inside, I was not able to get into the high line right away and lost a few spots in the first few laps. I managed to get a few back and finish a very disappointing 14th. The track crew has done an awesome job all year, so I cannot complain. The track has been smooth and tacky top to bottom and there has been some great racing. With the cool damp air, the track could just not dry out fast enough.
Saturday September 6th
It was Championship night for our class. We started 3rd in the first heat race. Pretty uneventful race. I make my way to 2nd and finish there. Drew a 3rd place starting spot for the feature. The track was tacky top to bottom, easily could run 3 and 4 wide! Fantastic track conditions! But, the high line would be fast and the place to run! We take the green and I drive deep into turn one. Right between 1 and 2 the car on the outside of the front row diamonds the corner to try a cross over move. He lost too much speed in the process and I could not get slowed down. I locked up the brakes, but hit him in the drivers door. I started getting hit from behind by the 16 cars behind me! Lucky for me he spun down the track and out of my way, I got through. The nose was damaged and both rear quarters had been hit and pushed into the tires though. But the radiator was not hit and my dad gave me the thumbs up. So I got to restart the race 3rd...with a smashed up car. I dove low into 1, slid up off of 2 and was running 3rd. One car gets under me and I fall to 4th. The leader had a flat tire and pulls off, so now I am 3rd. Still under caution, the second place car blows the motor and pulls off. So now I am in second! I should have made a run on the bottom on the restart, but instead Ray slides me (cleanly!) and takes 2nd away. One more caution, I follow Fisher and Ray the rest of the way, they were both very hooked up and running well. So I just tucked in line and finished the race in 3rd. Not a bad run in the championship feature.
Saturday September 13th
Second Annual Twin 25's Sportsman Special at Oakshade Raceway. We won this in 2002, but with not winning a feature yet this year, my hopes were not really too high. The night started with us qualifying...which we normally do not do. We qualified 5th fast.
I line up 5th in the first heat race. Made my way to 3rd and settled in there.
Lined up 4th for the first 25 lap feature. I fell in line 4th and ran there for a few laps. The leader broke and pulled off, so I am 3rd. I am running the high line, but the car was a little tight. One car goes by low, then another. Bottom line appears to be working well. About 15 laps in I decide that if low is working that well, I will go down there. I slam it into turn 3 on the bottom and set the car. The second place car loops it and comes down right in front of me! I cranked it sideways and slid my passenger door square into his nose. Luckily the hit was only in the door, no suspension damage. So I refire and get go to he back of the line. I work my way back to 9th by the end of the race.
The cars left on the lead lap (10 cars) are inverted for the start of the second 25. That puts me on the outside of the front row! I took the lead on the start. I was running a really odd line, using most of the track, but it felt really fast. About 10 laps in I started seeing a nose under me. I cannot make a mistake or he will have me! Darn if I did not slip a little in turn 3 and he clears me! But the caution flag flys on that lap (17 laps in) and I am put back in the lead. A second chance! On the restart I dive the bottom and block that line, then went back to the line I had been running. Again I could see his nose getting along side me. It was spin or win at that point! I was running the car as hard as I could trying to hold onto the lead. Finally I pulled away. WHITE FLAG...CHECKERED FLAG! We did it..we won the Twin 25's feature number two for the second year in a row!!!
Lady luck was on our side tonight. The accident in the first segment allowed me to start on the front row of the 2nd feature. Then the caution came out at just the right time when I had made one little slip and lost the lead. Finally, we crossed the scales at only 4 pounds over the legal weight limit! One more hard lap of racing and I would not have made it through inspection. Finally...luck was on our side!
Great way to end the season! Thank you for reading my highlights this year, see you in 2004. Check back in a week or so for pictures from the Twin 25's, including victory lane pics.