Do you believe in the Sophomore Jinx? Federico does!
Wilmette, IL (September 4th, 2002) -- Labor Day weekend at Crandon, Wisconsin is like the 'Daytona 500' of Off-Road Racing. Kicking off the weekend was the town's traditional Friday morning parade down Main Street. Leading up to the parade was the tire-changing contest where Team Federico took fourth place. "At one point I noticed the Precision Gear water truck going down the street so I decided to hop a ride and help promote my new sponsor, Precision Gear", said Federico.
The Borg Warner time trials ran late Friday night, necessitating the cancellation of practice. This really put a crimp in our plans to tweak the suspension and was sure to make the Saturday morning warm-up difficult. We got to the staging area and when we started up the truck we had a fire due to a backfire through the carburetor! Steven tried to put out the fire with his hand and got a really good burn so we were off to a somewhat less than auspicious start. The team was all over it though and got the air filter cleaned and changed in time for Federico to find out the guess we made at the suspension change was totally wrong. "I couldn't even make it through the start of the track every jump I hit the truck would totally bottom out", quipped Steven. "Thank GOD and the crew that, through hard work, were able to swap out that air filter because if I had to race that way I would have not only killed myself but also finished last".
We owe a lot to Mark Krueger, a former Pro-Lite racer. Federico explained the suspension problem to Mark (who just happened to be at the track) and he generously came over and totally readjusted the shocks. WOW!!! What a difference it made! Federico wasn't fighting his truck anymore and it looked great from the sidelines.
SATURDAY'S RACE, ROUND #11
Before the race began Steven had a ball signing autographs and tossing out autographed souvenirs (hats, Frisbees, etc.) to the delight of fans. "It's a great way to relax before the race", said Federico.
"I especially love signing autographs and talking with the grade school kids they are so into Off-Road racing!"
Federico got a great start coming out of the first Signing autographs for the kids turn right behind points leader Jeff Kincaid. "Jeff simply has more horsepower than we do. Supposedly he spends a small fortune on 'research and development' and it really shows it's hard to keep up with him". Federico's main objective was to run a smooth race and hold the other 16 trucks at bay. "We were running strong until my hip pad came loose and I had to get rid of it as it had begun getting in my way. As I was trying to deal with this problem I opened the door and Chad Hord made a great move going over the barn jump to take second place". Again the 'Sophomore Jinx' (there's that word again) hits, but finishing a strong third made us happy.
SUNDAY'S RACE, ROUND #12
Federico was excited to get to the starting line for the last race of the season, having confidence in even more more more more more more (sounds like a stuck CD, doesn't it?) more suspension changes that Mark Krueger made for Sunday's race. Anticipating another good start the green flag flew and seventeen trucks head into the infamous first turn at Crandon. Again Steven came out in second but entering the gravel pit turn he saw red and yellow flags flying everywhere. "I thought to myself that someone didn't make it through the first turn so I radioed Steve Krieman and he told me that Rick Huseman took a wild ride flipping five or six times and totally trashing his race truck and perhaps himself" (as it turns out he was just beat up a bit but OK). We were going to have a restart and again we all lined up for the 'land-rush' type start.
The Land Rush...
(Fay the starter) sent the red board to yellow and held us there for what seemed to be forever. "I can't keep my truck 'red lined' for that long at the instant I came off the limiter Fay threw the green and I got a really bad start. Coming through the first turn in eighth position I knew that I had my work cut out for me".
Going into the gravel pit Federico took an aggressive outside line and picked off two of his fellow competitors. "I've always dreamed about that move. Every time I've walked that track I could envision that line. I also realized that it was kinda 'now or never' so I went for it", Federico said. Now Federico was running sixth and became a 'man on a mission' to pick up as many positions.
Steven began tearing it up and ripping off some great lap times until he found himself in third place. That's when the 'Sophomore Jinx' once again reared its ugly head, this time in the shape of the power steering box. Federico picks up the conversation "I knew the box let go as the truck became impossible to drive but since it was near the end of the race I forged ahead, utilizing the last of my strength and only lost one position". Finishing a strong fourth gives us a great platform for heading into the next season.
We would like to extend our congratulations to Jeff Kincaid on winning the CORR Pro-Lite Championship. We also would like to send our 'Get Well' wishes to Rick Huseman. Feel better, bud!
Steven sums it up "We knew this season was going to be hard. We have learned a lot and will be ready to run for the championship this coming season. With a little more help we can once again be at the 'head table' come banquet time next year".
We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support... P.F. Chang's, Ingles Super-Markets, Mountain Dew and Pepsi-Cola, Italian Village, Racing Optics, Mechanix Wear, Wilmette Auto Body, Goodyear Tire Company, Phillips 66 Racing Fuel, Phil's Inc.com, American Racing Custom Wheels, Toyota, Venom, Precision Gear and Steven's family.