Double header action at Pocono: Two races, a qualifying session, and a happy hour in three short days. We were scheduled to race Pocono in June, but rain had the ARCA race rescheduled to Friday during the July activities. This meant that we were...
Double header action at Pocono: Two races, a qualifying session, and a happy hour in three short days. We were scheduled to race Pocono in June, but rain had the ARCA race rescheduled to Friday during the July activities. This meant that we were going to qualify for the Saturday race on Thursday, then have a final practice on Friday morning for both events. We would race the June event on Friday afternoon (200 miles), then race the Saturday race the next day. For our team this meant one car and one engine were going to have to make the distance.
We debuted a newly bodied car at Pocono this weekend. The team has been working on getting this Hendrick 2002 body mounted on one of our chassis for over six weeks. A lot work went into getting the car done, and we had to finish a few little things at the track. Inspection went well. The templates fit good and we had to make just a minor spoiler location adjustment to get it to pass.
I needed to be a little bit conservative with my trans/gear combination. I needed to have enough gear to pull off the short corners, but our little motor wasn't going to stand a lot of RPM down the big front straightaway. I set up our ignition boxes with two different rev limiting chips so that I could select how hard to turn the motor. The motor was pulling 8600 and was just acting like it was getting into the 1st box chip (8600).
For our qualifying run I would select the other box (8900 chip). Well little did I know that the switch was labeled wrong. During qualifying, the rev limiter kicked in at 8500 and surprised me enough that I jumped out of the throttle and did not get into the corner. It was only good for 36th and we would start the Saturday race on a provisional.
Friday in practice, I got the chip and box selection worked out and we turned some pretty good laps for the little bitty motor that we have. It was time to race. We were starting 25th for the Friday race. Our happy hour speed would have been good for 18th in this field, so I liked our chances.
The race started and I settled in. The tire pressures were a little low for restarts but the car has good on a long run. However, the long run would not happen right away. On lap 5, the primary ignition box shut off at the flag stand. It didn't just shut off, it popped and banged.....I thought the motor blew up. I clutched it, the motor shut off. I coasted into turn one and waited until traffic clear, then let out the clutch and watched the oil pressure come up and the motor refired. Drove easy down into turn 2 and no problem. I switched the ignition box and the car never burped again....however I went a lap down due to coasting around. Then later in the race, I had a flat left rear tire cut and go down on the back side of the track. Almost lost the car, then drove slow to the pit. Changed the tire under green. Finished the race without further incident in 19th spot, 4 laps down. The motor was still running strong and we had a good car for the Saturday race.
The team turned the car around on Saturday morning for the race at 1:00 pm. They did an outstanding job. We made a few minor adjustments and got rid of the faulty ignition box and reset up the chips for a little stouter run. Our little motor did a lot better than I thought it would and we were able to stay on the lead lap the entire race. There were two times we were in danger of losing that lap, but the caution saved us. The motor was hitting the 8900 chip regularly and the tach said at the end of the race that it hit 9200. Time for some new valve springs.
That little Joe Rhyne 18 degree power plant went 400 miles this weekend and was good for a 14th place finish. It was good to see the crew so happy after the race....they worked hard. We brought a new car to the track, raced two races, it still runs, and doesn't have a scratch on it. Not a bad weekend.
Mike BuckleyOwner/driver ARCA #28