It was an awesome weekend of racing for the team and I at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) in Colorado. Not only did I learn more in that 100 mile race than any other, we brought home the "Rookie of the Race" award presented by Turbine,...
It was an awesome weekend of racing for the team and I at Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) in Colorado. Not only did I learn more in that 100 mile race than any other, we brought home the "Rookie of the Race" award presented by Turbine, Inc. and a chance to compete for Rookie of the Year. The race will be televised July 7th, on ESPN2, 9-11PM ET.
We arrived Friday at PPIR along with 43 other teams trying to qualify for the 100 mile Silver Bullet Silver Crown Rocky Mountain Classic. The temperatures were a scorching 90+ with track temps well over 100. With the higher elevations and thinner air, strange things can happen to not only the way the car runs, but it can also make it difficult to breathe even after only mild exertion.
We had two practices Saturday before our 3PM qualification. The car and the track felt awesome. We posted the 6th and 9th fastest times at 25.889 (139.055MPH avg..). I could not believe how quickly I felt comfortable in the car and with the track. During our practice sessions we opted to simulate race conditions with ¾ fuel and used tires. This would give me a better feel for how the car would feel during the race.
I took the green flag for my two lap qualifying laps, knowing I had some quick times to beat. Our best lap of 136.94 secured us the 23rd qualifier spot out of 24 cars, with 6 more cars coming from the last chance race. I had mixed emotions. Of course, I was glad to be in the race, but I was disappointed because we had faster times in practice. I realized that there is a total different driving style for qualifying and we are going to work on simulated qualifying runs during practice next time. The remaining 6 spots were filled in Sunday's last chance race.
We took our place inside row 12 immediately following the IRL race. This would be the longest race I ever ran in either the midget or silver crown series .The car was loaded with 750 pounds of fuel…there would be no scheduled pit stops. I knew the way the car handled was going to change significantly as the fuel level dropped. Also, with this type of track, the right rear tire takes a lot of wear and could cause problems. I was confident with our set up, though.
The green flag dropped. In the next hundred miles I learned a lot about endurance, strategy, patience, and drafting. What a great learning experience this was for me!! The first 5 laps I was just getting comfortable with the car. Then I just got into the grove and went for it! I was getting a good run coming off Turn 2 and on the backstretch where I was able to move up the pack. I had a tendency to run a little high into three and four, but I smoothed it out and solidly passed twelve cars. I was hoping for a yellow so I could catch up with the next group of leaders, but it didn't' happen. I averaged speeds of 132 MPH.
I didn't know exactly where I had placed until later. I could hardly catch my breath or speak when I got out of the car. What a ride! We finished 11th and were awarded the "Rookie of the Race" award. This also puts us in contention for Turbines, Inc., Rookie of the Year award.
My team and Bob East did a great job setting up the car this weekend. Thanks also for the generosity of Truck Air who hauled our racecar to Pikes Peak and back for the team.
Wednesday, June 30th, will be the 38 lap completion of the rained delayed MCI WorldCom Midget race in Anderson. July 6th - 10th we'll be at the 16th St. Speedway Summer Sizzle. All seating is reserved so call the track for information and tickets if you are planning to come out. (317-955-5000) Once again, thanks to my friends and sponsors for your support. Talk to you soon…