Solid Top 10 After Month Break
8/09/2008 - Hagerstown - Finished 8th - Started 1st - 27 cars - In Car Video - Slideshow
In Car Video: 8/09/08 Feature
After 28 days since being behind the wheel, it was a blast piloting the Shamrock Inn Ford Thunderbird covered in decals from Walrus Signs and Embroidery Saturday night. With SwigerWoodWorks.com, Ecolab, and VegasRadio.net supporting us as well, Team 7 finished a solid 8th out of 27 cars at the Hagerstown Speedway.
3 Generation Picture- My father's business, myself, and 'Clayton' altogether.
Thanks Jason! Photos can be purchased from WRTPhotos.com
With four weeks of car prep, all systems on the car were tuned up and ran great. From the motor to the tires to the brakes to the suspension, the Blue Oval ran Ford Tough. Although better, we are still struggling mid corner out with getting the rear tires to bite when I get back on the gas... I swear there seems a snowstorm hits between qualifying and the feature in turns 2 and 4 each race night! That is the best I can describe it- like sitting on an ice patch in the winter and mashing the gas- the rear tires just spin and don't propel the car forward- that is what is called forward bite, or the lack of. NASCAR just ran a road course this weekend and you hear them talk about that condition on the road courses- they make 800 horsepower and trying to get off those tight turns on a road course with all the power is difficult to set the chassis right to be able to get all that power to the ground. On dirt, that is our number one chassis setting we fight... trying to get 400 HP to the ground. That is why "purpose built" racecars like the late models pick up their left front tire exiting the corner- their racing chassis are designed to plant their rear tires in the ground. In our street stocks, we have much less adjustability in our cars to help correct chassis problems. On top of which, my unique Unibody chassis and they way the car was built into a racecar, wasn't conducive to allowing the optimum traction in the rear. I wish we had the opportunity to rebuild the car and shift the motor, the pedals, my seat and the roll cage back 1 foot. This would put more rear weight over top of the rear tires and help the car to get the forward bite out of the turns. That being said, Don and I have a trick or two up our sleeves and we are planning a big chassis change for next week.
Finally got right rear spring correct as we lead heat #2
The raceday was about as smooth as we ever had. With the time off, we had the car ready to go and it was quite relaxing at the track. After the chassis work during the month off, I knew in practice it wasn't enough because even with the wet and heavy track, my Ford power plant could still spin the tires. Starting on the pole in the heat race, we lead 99.9% of the race and the 27 car of Mike Sanders got a little more bite in turns 3 and 4 and got to the line inches ahead of us. I had a pretty horrible restart on lap 4 after a caution and it opened the door for Mike's Chevy to get the win. Tony Catlett, the only other Ford driver, won the first heat and I had an opportunity for the only Fords to win both of their heats (with 25 Chevrolets), but I came up inches short.
Great battle to the checkers in our heat race. Hard, clean driving Mike
We had a pretty hard crash in my heat with the 94 of Darren Younker hitting head first into the front stretch concrete. Darren was okay, but his car wasn't as you can see in the photo. Darren is a veteran of Hagerstown Speedway and is a super nice guy willing to help anyone who needs it. He is a clean racer as well and he just has had terrible luck this year. I just want to wish him the best of luck getting it repaired and hopefully we will see him back out this week.
This is why some people say there are only 2 real sports- boxing and auto racing
Finishing second in the heat, put us on the pole for the feature. Don put our best tires on the Bird and we even added some more left rear bite to the car. Left rear bite is the difference in weight from the left rear corner and the right rear corner. Meaning if my left rear corner weighs 900 pounds and my right rear corner weighs 800 pounds, we have 100 pounds of left rear bite. The more bite in the left rear the tighter the car is on exit. If you are loose coming out of the turns, adding left rear bite can fix that- at the expense of loosing you up going in. We also added an extra 5 gallons of Sunoco race fuel to get more weight back there as well.
It was definitely one of our better handling features of the year, but I still slid 7 spots to finish 8th. It is just painful as a racecar driver to not be able to get back on the gas as quickly as you need because the tires spin. In the in car video, I think you will see we entered the corners with the same speed as the cars passing us, but around mid corner and exit, where you are getting to full throttle, their cars bite in and go and I am working the throttle to get the tires to bite.
But all in all, our laps times in the feature are getting closer to the top 5 cars and that means we are heading in the right direction. A little more aggression by the driver on corner entry and resolving the forward bite on corner exit should get our lap times with those ahead of us and get our Ford into the top 5!
Can't wait until next week!
In closing, I just want to thank the Shamrock Inn for their continued support and it was great to see a packed bar after the race! Also, Walrus Signs and Embroidery- the car wouldn't get to the track without you guys and I am glad we got some business heading your way! Maureen, Bobby, Walter and Heather- I sincerely thank you guys! Also, thanks to the Brunswick Little League that allowed us to display the car and get our beloved sponsors extra exposure during the end of year picnic!
In Car Video: 8/09/08 Feature