Roller coaster ride for Washinton Apple team in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids, IA. ( April 28 ) There would be no other way to describe the days events, except as a roller coaster ride of emotions for Ricky Bryant and his Washington Apples - Hy Vee race team on Friday at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids,...

Cedar Rapids, IA. ( April 28 ) There would be no other way to describe the days events, except as a roller coaster ride of emotions for Ricky Bryant and his Washington Apples - Hy Vee race team on Friday at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The fact that Bryant & the Washington Apples - Hy Vee team recorded their best qualifying effort of their young ASA careers would definitely be the high point in an otherwise emotion filled day.

The Washington Apple - Hy Vee team brought a new Pontiac Grand Prix to Hawkeye Downs for the weekends events. This car was the result of a collaborative effort between Bryant, the race team, and ASA 200 national champion Gary St. Amant. Bryant was excited about prospects for the weekend,

"Since Gary St. Amant stepped forward, at Lakeland, and offered his help to the Washington Apple team, our team has been working around the clock to get this new car ready for this weekend. We are definitely blessed to be able to have a racer , and a champion, the caliber of Gary St. Amant offer his help to us, and we wanted to take full advantage of that opportunity." The Washington Apple team just completed work on the car on Monday, in time for a short test at Caraway Speedway, near the BG Motorsports shop.Immediate test results proved the work was not in vain as the Washington Apples car was almost a half second quicker than their other Pontiac Grand Prix. Then it was time to load the car for the 1,100 mile trip from North Carolina to Iowa.

Right off the trailer Bryant recorded some decent practice times, and by the end of the days 2nd practice the Washington Apple - Hy Vee Pontiac Grand Prix was 10th fastest out of 44 ASA cars practicing for the race. Then the days emotions began its downward spiral. The Washington Apple crew slapped on a new set of BF Goodrich tires to prepare for a mock qualifying run that all teams do in order to get the last bit of speed for qualifying. As Bryant accelerated down the back stretch the back of the car kicked loose.

To try and save the car from going head on into the wall Bryant spun the car towards the infield grass only to head directly towards a concrete barrier just placed there as protection for a TV camera. The left front of the Washington Apple Pontiac impacted heavily with the concrete barrier cracking it and leaving Bryant slightly shaken and the Washington Apple Pontiac badly damaged. As a rookie with no provisionals yet things were not looking good for the Washington Apple team. If they could not take their qualifying run the only other way to get into the race would be by finishing in the top 8 in the 100 lap qualifying race. Both prospects looked dim at this point.

Not to be denied the entire crew and Ricky began to rebuild all the damaged parts, and replace the damaged body panels as soon as the car was towed to the pit area. It was only 2 hours till qualifying. Qualifying began on time at 4:30 with the crew still working feverishly on the Washington Apple car.Finally after 3 hours of hard work Bryant was able to hop into the car, while crew chief Wesley Page informed the ASA officials the car would be able to take a qualifying run. A quick trip through tech was next and Bryant was able to wheel his Washington Apples car to the line in time to be the 44th and final qualifier. Without any practice time to test the repairs, and check the setup Bryant then proceeded to take his 2 lap qualifying run and record his fastest times of the day thereby putting the Washington Apples - Hy Vee Pontiac solidly in the field in the 1st round. Bryant's 12th place qualifying run marks the 2nd straight race he has qualified in the 1st round, and it is his best ASA qualifying effort to date.Afterward Bryant was extremely happy but also focused on what could have been today, " I can't really say how thankful I am for the effort my entire team put in for me. To rebuild this car in 3 hours was simply amazing. I also owe a lot of thanks to several of the ASA teams who assisted us with some help and some parts. We could not have done this without them. This really shows what a family this ASA community is. I'm pretty happy with starting in 12th place, but had I not lost it in that last practice I wonder how good we could have been today. I still want to capture a pole, and win a race this year. We will take this and go on. I am really happy because Washington Apples has been working with the Hy Vee stores in Cedar Rapids this week, and I wanted to put on a good show for all of our sponsors. We could not do this without them!" And so on Saturday at 3 PM ET, a very thankful Bryant will line his bruised # 35 Washington Apple - Hy Vee Pontiac Grand Prix up with 33 other starters and try to record his best ASA finish in the Iowa 300.

After Saturday's event the Washington Apple team has a short turnaround time as the next ASA race will be in Montgomery, Alabama next Sunday, May 6th. The Actionline 300 will be held at the Montgomery Motor Speedway at 12 Noon CT. All ASA races are televised live on TNN.

-Tom Granelli

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