Local Driver Battles in SCCA Road Racing Season Opener
January 31 - Fontana, CA -- It wasn't easy, but Bakersfield road racer Madalynne Crowe added to her record of top-10 finishes in SCCA's season opening race at California Speedway January 31, 2004.
During the off-season, her 7s Only Racing prepared Mazda RX-7 underwent a substantial refreshing which was completed only a few days before the season's first race. After successful test and practice sessions on Friday, Ms. Crowe and her 7s Only Racing support crew were well positioned for Saturday morning's qualifying session. Unexpectedly, the #86 Mazda RX-7 developed a fuel system problem just after leaving the pre-grid. Several attempts to correct the problem were unsuccessful, and Ms. Crowe was unable to complete a single qualifying lap. The crew continued their repair work, and after two subsequent "hardship laps" the effort was deemed successful.
When asked how she felt about having to start from the back of the grid in 29th position, Ms. Crowe responded "if the car runs the way it did in practice, I can pass half the field by the third turn. If I can do that, I'll be fine."
As the green flag fell on the Pro-7 field, Madalynne quickly worked her way up, passing 15 cars by the first turn, part of the Speedway's high banked oval. Putting on a passing clinic, she continued to pick off cars lap after lap to the cheers of a larger than expected crowd in the grandstands. By lap 10, Ms. Crowe had passed the #21 car of Ed Reich, moving into third place. The next three laps showed the #86 closing on the second place car of Bryan Hintz, further electrifying the spectators.
Making a final charge for second place with just two laps remaining in the race, Ms. Crowe was unable to prevent a spin in a complex string of four turns. Falling back to 10th position, Madalynne rallied once again, moving up three more spots before the checkered flag fell. Her 7th place finish marks the 22nd time in 24 starts that Madalynne has reached the top-10.
Although clearly disappointed by the spin that cost her a podium finish, Madalynne commented on her race: "Tom Dragoun and the 7s Only crew did everything they could to give me a good car, and I gave it my all to get to the front. Starting from the back was a new challenge. I knew the clock was running against me, and I had to get to up near the front as quickly as possible. It's hard to drive that aggressively and still drive clean, but I managed to do it today. It really hurt to finish off the podium, but the spectator response and the praise from my fellow drivers makes it a little easier. I learned a lot about myself today, and I'm energized about our chances for the 2004 Championship points chase."
According to crew chief Tom Dragoun, "she gave it a heck of a run. With any sort of decent qualifying position, this would have been a win. We're in great shape for the season."
The team will now begin preparing for a February 21 contest at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, CA.