By Mike Buckley Last week we went out to the brand new Kansas City Speedway. This place is nice, ....real nice. ARCA ran as the primary show with Winston West as the 1st race. The WW race was 100 laps, the ARCA race was 200 miles. The ...
By Mike Buckley
Last week we went out to the brand new Kansas City Speedway. This place is nice, ....real nice. ARCA ran as the primary show with Winston West as the 1st race. The WW race was 100 laps, the ARCA race was 200 miles.
The facility is great. The ARCA race drew 45,000 and the race track kinda used this event to prepare for those later in the year that they have sold out. They will run trucks, IRL, and a Winston Cup/Busch weekend. The city is ready...there was plenty of excitement for the 1st race.
There was an all day practice session on Thursday that we elected not to attend. We left Thursday morning (12 hour trip) and could not take off Wednesday from work. We finished the car Wednesday night and loaded up Thursday AM and arrived in Kansas City at midnight.
Friday's schedule at the track had an hour practice session at 11:30 before a 2:30 qualifying round.....then happy hour after qualifying. We took 4 people including myself. One was our spotter....that left two for the pit crew and no scorer. We had to hussle to get the car through tech and prep it for the practice.
Our plan for the weekend was to originally to run the race for points, take it easy and save the equipment for the Michigan race the following week. We would get or buy used tires to run on and pull in when we ran out of tires since we had no crew anyhow. Well, this plan seemed to change all the time.
We started practice with the Michigan gear in the car. We had a set of real old Charlotte tires (same as Kansas). Because we arrived a day late there were no used tires to be found. Plus, the tires used at Kansas were having a problem if run on long runs being mounted as stickers. They had to be scuffed and then cooled down because the new asphalt had so much grip. Therefore used tires were gold. So we started practice on the old-old tires, then switched to a new set to be able to scuff them in before qualifying. So we broke the first rule of our plan, we bought a set of tires.
After practice, and on the new tires, the car handled OK but had no rpm in the engine due to running the Michigan gear. After talking with other competitors, we installed a better gear but still short of what it should take to really run well. We did this between practice and qualifying and got the engine rpm to 8000 on the long strait. We qualifyed 19th out of 38. Hmmm.
Weather was moving in on the happy hour practice. I needed to get some tire temperatures to check the setup. The engine did not do as well in happy hour. The air was getting really heavy due to a big Kansas style thunderstorm (read tornado). We went back to the hotel room. We still had no crew and no more tires to change on the car....so the plan was still the same.
Then came race day. As I prepped the motor for the race, we put a sign on the rear of the car asking for pit crew help. It took about a 1/2 hour before 6 guys and 1 gal volunteered to crew the car and be the scorer. They were all local guys from Kansas City and were thilled to have the opportunity. About an hour later, a guy volunteered to dump fuel. We was going to dump fuel at a race at I-70 speedway that night and had his firesuit and helmet with him. We now had a crew.
Just about that time, I spotted one of the top teams dismounting some tires. Now remember, scuff tires were gold. They had a problem with an inner liner and had dismounted the tires to find the probem, but had mounted up stickers to the wheels. We then made a deal to put these tires (11 laps on them) on my second set of wheels. We now had tires. Time for a new plan.
New plan was to run a smart race. Stay ahead of the real slow cars. Stay out of the way of the real fast cars. Change tires at half way and finish the race.
Race starts and plan goes into action. I had expected, because of the big spread of cars that there were going to be several cautions early. There were none. Everyone did a great job at the start of the race and the first caution was a ARCA caution to enable the crews to do a tire check. We had went a lap down about five before the caution. We put in gas only and checked the tire wear. It was good. The leaders all had blistered tires. We stayed in the top 12 to 15 all day.
At half way under a green flag, the motor went down a cylinder. I pulled into the pit and had the crew check the plug wires. They thought they may have found a loose one, but while the hood was up, they spotted that both front tires were blistered. A caution came out while we were on pit road and we changed all four tires. The motor seemed to pick back up but maybe not up to full song. From that point on the car was dialed. I could drive it anywhere and was passing cars in the top 10. But we had lost laps on pit road for the stop. Towards the end of the race, the motor was missing at the upper RPM and I kept backing off to nurse it home. I thought it was acting like an electrical miss.
Finished the race in 15th. Thought I should have been racing for at least 9th place if we hadn't lost the laps in the middle of the race. We were very happy to finish the race. Our local interim crew was estatic, they had a blast. We had gotten quite a bit of Kansas City press for using the local volunteers. They were a great bunch a guys.
Drove home after the race on Saturday and unloaded the car. Sunday night I started looking at the distributor and wires for the electrical "miss". Pulled the valve covers and found the intake pushrod laying in the valley for #4 cylinder. The lifter had broken the wheel and was thrown up at the top of the stroke, but it had wiped the camshaft. Pulled the motor Sunday night. Called on some favors and had a camshaft being ground and delivered to my house by Tuesday. Monday night, took the pan off the engine to clean up the lifter mess and found that two pistons had tryed to push the piston pins out towards the cylinder wall and had broken the spiral locks. One of them succeeded and messed up the cylinder wall.
It is now Tuesday, and we are still trying to put together an engine deal for this weeks race at Michigan. This track is 30 miles from home and there is a lot of local press waiting to cover the "local boys". This is not a race we can miss. The Michigan race will be broadcast on Fox sports at 4pm Saturday (two hour delay). So if you see us in the race, you know we got an engine to run around the place.
Mike Buckley ARCA #28