SCRA Sprint Cars at Perris Auto Speedway 9/26-9/27

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SCRA Sprint Cars at Perris Auto Speedway 9/26-9/27

The subject is a little misleading because this 2 day show was actually an "open" event which means it was not SCRA sanctioned. This also means it was not a points race, there's no tire rule, there's a bigger purse ($45k), and...

The subject is a little misleading because this 2 day show was actually an "open" event which means it was not SCRA sanctioned. This also means it was not a points race, there's no tire rule, there's a bigger purse ($45k), and the officiating is sometimes less than premium. Our motor for the #16 car is still in pieces and I hope to finish it up later this week, so I decided to skip the Friday night show and went to the track Saturday night with Rickie Gaunt (who drives Don Blair's #33 car). Upon entry through the pit gate the first thing we noticed was the track surface was v*e*r*y dry, and this was after they had been watering it profusely. Rickie told me that this was a complete contrast from Friday night as there was so much moisture in the track that it remained tacky all night and was literally a one groove track. He also mentioned that there was a problem with gravity as cars continually flipped and kept bringing out the red flag. It was so bad that they ran into the curfew and did not run one of the 20 lap qualifying races, so that was the first thing on the schedule for tonight (after wheel packing, hot laps, and qualifying). After wheel packing and hot laps we made a few minor adjustments to the car and went out for qualifying. There were 47 cars checked in (oddly enough most of them survived the previous nights carnage) and we were scheduled to be about the 25th car to qualify. On an already dry track this was not really a position we wanted to be in, but Rickie made the most of it and turned 2 consecutive 17.51 second laps, which eventually left us as the 15th qualifier. The first real race of the evening was the 20 lap qulaifying race leftover from the previous evening. We were to start in the 3rd row inside, if we finish in the top 4 we go directly to tonights main event. As soon as they threw the green flag there was a mad scramble up front with a number of cars getting tangled up. Someone got into Rickie's right rear tire and shredded it and tore off the right side nerf bar. Rickie pulled into the designated work area and we were able to get the tire changed and send him out while the yellow flag was still waving. Since the incident occurred on the green flag and yellow flag laps are not counted we didn't lose much, but Rickie had to restart at the rear along with a couple of the other front runners who were involved. When they threw the green flag again we got one whole lap completed before there was another pile up in turn 2 which brought out the red flag. We took this opportunity to change the right rear tire again and put on a more optimal tire (the previous one's requirement were that it was round and held air). Once everyone got started again we managed to knock off a couple more laps and were once again treated to a yellow flag for a spun car. Out of 20 cars that started there were still about 18 running and about 3 laps completed. Give or take a few yellow flags we made it to lap 12 before our next red flag as several of the front runnung cars got stuffed into the turn 3 fence. This time all we did was add some fuel and adjust the chassis a little whilst the track was cleared. I'm going to press the fast forward button here and get to the end of the race.... we finished 9th and were in one piece, which is a lot more than some of the other guys could say. Since we weren't in the top 4 it meant we had a complete show to run before we were safely into the main event. We were in the 3rd heat race, but prior to that we had some work to do. We had changed the injector pill to fatten the motor up a bit in an effort to alleviate an overheating problem. This only partially worked so we decided to change the fuel filter. We had wanted to do that before the previous race but didn't have enough time. We also had to replace the right side nerf bar that disappeared in the first lap melee. Since the track was already starting to get very loose we adjusted ride height, right rear wheel spacing, stagger, and shocks to tighten the car up. We were pretty much ready in time for the start of the 1st heat race, but that was really a moot point as it took over 30 minutes to run an 8 lap race (shortened from 10) due to numerous yellow and red flags. The most noticeable of which was a spectacular crash on the front straight that sent several cars end over end into turn 1. The 2nd heat race wasn't quite as abominable as the first, but it wasn't from a lack of trying..... Finally we pushed off for our race.... Rickie started on the outside of the 3rd row. Our strategy was to keep the car high against a relatively non-existant cushion. This race went extremely well, I think there was only 1 yellow at lap 3.... Rickie was running a consistent 3rd till about lap 6 when he fell back to 4th, which is also O.K. as the top 4 transfer directly to the main event. With less than 2 laps to go Cary Faas pulled a rather risky slide job in turn 3 to take the position away from Rickie. For those that don't know a "slide job" is when a driver goes into a corner low carrying an excessive amount of speed and the car will then slide up to the top of the track. This is an intentional and dangerous move as the car that is already at the top of the track, although he has further to go, is still carrying more speed than the guy who went in low. The only option is to jump on the brakes or hit the car who slid in front of you. With only one lap to go Rickie was not able to get past Faas so we finished 5th. When Rickie pulled in he immediately walked 2 trailers over to the Faas pit and proceeded to get in a rather heated discussion of the Faas' family geneology and their possible relation to cloven hooved animals. Once the hockey game was over we settled down to getting the car ready to run the semi-main event. We further tightened the car up and adjusted the ride height and tilt. Rickie was scheduled to start on the outside of the 2nd row. Sometimes it helps to drive angry.... Rickie ran 3rd for the first 6 of the 12 laps and was passed by only 1 car but got him back at the checkered finishing 3rd. This transferred us to the main event. During intermission Verne Sweeney stopped by to see if we wanted to buy a brand new McCreary tire from him. Verne had destroyed his car Friday night and apparently spent the evening in the hospital as he was knocked out when something took a chunk out of his helmet. After a bit of discussion we decided to go with the new tire and mounted it up for the main event. We also spaced the left rear tire out and raised the left rear trailing arm to get some more forward bite when exiting the turns. Since there was no longer a cushion to run pn the top of the track we specifically set the car up to run along the bottom. We started on the 6th row outside of the 22 car field. The main event was scheduled to go 40 laps and based on how the earlier part of the evening had gone we expeted a long night. We were not disappointed..... The first yellow occurred before 1 lap was complete so we had a complete restart. After a couple more laps were run we experienced the first red flag when a car went over in turn 2. We made a couple of chassis adjustments and when everybody got going again we managed to knock off 1 a few more laps and were running in 9th place by lap 12, when the next red flag occurred. Somewhere during one of the first yellow flags John Scott got back out but was 1 lap down, however the folks scoring the event placed him on the lead lap (remember this, it comes into play later)...... After the track was cleared everybody got going again with a few of the cars who were up front now at the rear due to getting tangled up and causing the red. When the field came around to take the green flag *someone* got a little excited and hit the throttle early and realized they did so and promptly stomped on the brakes. This little activity caused a a number of cars to get front and rear nerf bar damage (all restarts must be single file). Rickie got the worst of it as he suddenly lost 4 positions due to someone stomping on their male apendage. Suddenly a few laps later 2 of the front running cars stuffed it into the fence, with almost nowhere else to go 3 more cars added to the dog pile. By now the Valium seemed to have kicked in up at the flag stand and it took them 2 yellow flag laps before they saw it prudent to throw the red. This time all we did was add 10 more gallons of fuel to the car and we were ready to go. The wreck was bad enough that at least 3 of the 5 cars involved didn't make it back to the track. Once again, the green flag eventually flew and racing proceeded for about 10 laps or so. Rickie had once again made it up to 8th when JJ Yeley got past putting him back to 9th. 2 laps later JJ went to set the car for turn 3 and proceeded to perform a wicked barrel roll all the way through the corner bringing out yet another red. At this point there was a considerable question as to the restart order, the officials were telling us that John Scott was on the lead lap and just in front of us. We vehemently questioned this to no avail, there was also a question about Steve Ostling who we thought had gone a lap down as well on a previous yellow. I still believe both of these cars were not on the lead lap, but but they time the main event was over they relented that John Scott was indeed a lap down, but had a plausible story for Ostling not sharing his fate. To make an extremely long and rambling story short, we finished out the night in 8th place and the car rolled onto the trailer in one piece.... which is more than a lot of other guys could say... I'll have the motor done for the #16 car and am planning on making the October 10th (Friday night) show at Las Vegas Speedway. We will probably stay over for the IRL race on Saturday as I know a number of the guys there. The following weekend we'll be running in the Quaker State Classic at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix (10/17-10/18). Jon Robertson R&R Racing USAC Midget #42 SCRA Sprint Car #16

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