Season Ends in Chula Vista, CA.
First, let me give my apologies for the lack of recent updates. As many of you are aware, Crandon was not to kind to me or the truck as in round 12, I had a major fire in the truck. It has been quite a frantic pace since that race weekend, and I will try to fill in the gaps now, starting with Crandon thru the California races in Chula Vista.
Lets start with Crandon and rounds 11 & 12.
The team was set to have a great weekend with the addition of a new engine with an additional 35 HP and 25 ft/lbs of torque from Pro Power Racing. The new power was significant and was evident at the start of round 11. Kevin came through turn one at the famous Crandon Land rush start in the #1 position. Leading for several laps, Kevin held off Carl Renezeder for the position for 4 laps. The track was dry and blue and Carl eventually made a move to take the lead from Kevin. Kevin maintained the 2nd spot until the lap prior to the white flag. Douglas was closing as tire grip was becoming an issue for everyone. Douglas made contact with Kevin spinning the #99 US Army /Toyo Tire Chevy leaving Kevin in 5th after the recovery. That was it as the positions were never regained. Kevin was 5th at the end after a great effort for the team to run top 3 this weekend.
In Round 12, the truck was good once again and Kevin was in the 4th spot when suddenly the truck quit running. Kevin coasted off the track and was in the process of trying to start the truck. After switching the ignition system to the backup, Kevin cranked the truck to check for problems. With everything seeming ok, Kevin turned on the ignition and pumped the carburetor for fuel as normal in the startup of the engine. With the first spark came a blast of flame that engulfed the truck under the driver's seat and pedal area. Not really thinking about the serious nature of the problem, Kevin pulled the fire system handle and watched helpless as the flames continued. "I was watching my feet and legs burn!" said Kevin, "it was as if I had all day." The rescue personnel came to try and extinguish the flames, but they just kept burning. Art Schmitt, another racer had broken his Nissan Titan just up track. He saw the situation and quickly reacted to help Kevin out. Art said the flames were too big, and new that Kevin was not coming out quick enough. Art released the safety net and seat belt sternum strap and pulled Kevin to safety rolling him on the ground to put out his legs.
Kevin was lucky that Art was in the right place as the burns to his leg and foot was only second degree and not real serious in relation to what could have happened. "I have to thank Art for the help, He save my life" said Kevin later," I was in a panic and could not get my shoulder belts released. Much longer and it could have been bad!" The truck continued to burn for 5 minutes and was finally put out buy safety workers, but only after 7 fire extinguishers were deployed. The truck was a mess. Kevin had to scratch the #99 from the Borg Warner shootout later that day. In the end, Kevin's leg healed quickly, but the burns on his right foot are still healing today. The pain and burns are mostly gone and should be gone in another week or two. Thanks to all the friends and well wishers that worried about Kevin.
The next chain of events went quickly. With only 5 days to repair the #99 and load it for the trip to California, the team was putting in overtime to repair the damage from the fire. With all repairs completed and the other two trucks ready to leave, (What trucks you ask?) the team was loaded and ready to leave the Sunday following the fire in Crandon. The other two trucks were the Marines truck and Kevin's first pro 2 owned by Paul Seidler. The trucks were to be driven by celebrity drivers in California and were prepped by the team to leave. The list of drivers under awning in the Team pit was long, but in the end, the Marines truck was driven by Marty Coyne for rounds 13 & 14, and the CORR truck was driven by Roberto Guerrero (yes the Indy car driver) for rounds 13 & 14. Both drivers were very pleased to utilize the team efforts and had a great time with both trucks finishing both rounds.
Kevin's #99 was not as fortunate as in round 13, while in 2nd place, the belts for the power steering snapped and caused Kevin to go into a high bank getting high centered. End of Day for the #99 US Army truck. Round 14 was also a no fun day as Kevin was hit by another driver while running 3rd with 4 laps to go. The impact ripped the rear end housing out of the truck and broke all the shocks. Another incident out of control of the team, but that is the nature of racing. Stuff happens!
The next weekend (October 2&3) had the trucks back in shape to race again after the hard work of the crew,(Zach, Adam, Drew, and Ray) who had stayed in California for the week. This week's celebrity drivers included Travis Pastrana and Jesse James. Travis drove the CORR #9 and Jesse the Marines on Sunday, and Scott Steinberger and Larry Roessler drove Saturday. Both Drivers Saturday did fine and finished the races with no issues. The Sunday races were not the same. Back to Saturday, Kevin started with the race behind the 8 ball with a bad start leaving him 8th into turn 1. By the end of the first lap, Kevin was 5th. By the mandatory 2 lap yellow on lap 9 he was 4th. The Nissan Nationals had a twist to the normal 15 minute race, a 2 lap yellow with a pace truck followed by a single file restart to finish the remaining 5 laps. It was great for the crowd. The restart found Kevin in 3rd and by race end; it was Taylor, Kevin and Evan Evans in the podium positions.
The weekend's races were to be cumulative for points for an overall weekend cash payout of 25000 for the winner. Kevin was in good position for an overall win on Sunday. Sunday, the day of the press, Jesse James, Travis Pastrana, and many thousands of people. This day was different to say the least. With big name drivers in the pits, the normal day became a bit hectic. Jesse James showed up at 7 AM to get fit to the truck. He seemed like a great guy that just likes to do crazy stuff. I suppose that is why he ended up driving a Pro 2 truck with no test time. Travis was another deal, as he tested and did well earlier in the week. The media and spectators were all over the pits and Jesse just took it in stride. Then Jeremy McGrath came over for a photo shoot. There must have been 1000 people watching and 50 media outlets taking pictures of these new Pro 2 drivers. It was fun and exciting to have these guys in our pits, said Kevin, They were all great guys with different stories to tell.
The whole team was having fun and it was big time PR for our sponsors. The races were started with the ARMY, NAVY, MARINES trucks in front of the 20000 spectators for the opening ceremonies. There were many military persons on hand to take part in a solute to the troops prior to the singing of our National Anthem. Then the race started. Kevin was boxed in and ended up 8th into turn 1. By the yellow, he was up to 4th. 2 laps from the end, he almost rolled and lost 4 spots finishing 8th with a overall of 5th for the combined weekend only 2 points out of 3rd. Jesse finished 10th and Travis 13th after rolling. The team was in CA for 3 weeks starting with Press day on the 15th of September. Then we took the trucks to many displays to promote the events. One was the Thunderboat races in Mission Bay with 150000 people in attendance. It was big time fun and more exposure. Look for many pictures from these events on the web site. We will keep you informed on the 2006 events as soon as possible.