Finally, a top ten finish! Memphis is a 3/4 mile semi banked oval with tight turns. I wouldn't call it a speedway, but I wouldn't call it a short track either. Our trip started Wednesday night. We installed the motor on Tuesday...
Finally, a top ten finish!
Memphis is a 3/4 mile semi banked oval with tight turns. I wouldn't call it a speedway, but I wouldn't call it a short track either.
Our trip started Wednesday night. We installed the motor on Tuesday and everything was ready except for a gear. I ordered one and it was due to be delivered on Wednesday. I got a ring and pinion and had to build the gear and install it in the car. I did not want to "turn" the motor too many rpm this week. It is fresh and we have been waiting for it too long to trash it the first week. Anyway the UPS truck showed up at 6:20 PM. Arrg. Put the gear together, installed, then started to run the new motor and break in the gear. Loaded the trailer and did not get out of Ann Arbor until 10:00 pm.
We needed to be in Memphis at 6:00 am. Not possible. This was a good 12 hour trip. We showed up to the Memphis track at 9:30 am. Unloaded the car and went to the drivers meeting. Practice would begin at 11:00. We had no tires mounted and no setup in the car. The weather was hot and muggy with storms moving in. We were told we had to practice before the rain came since there was a good chance qualifying would be rained out. We got the tires on the car and got thru the inspection line. We made it on the track and it was just starting to sprinkle. I ran a couple of slow laps in order to claim we "practiced". The rain held off and we were able to get the car setup and run some better laps on old tires.
I changed the left rear spring for qualifying. The car was pushing bad in practice. The spring change actually made the car much worse. We qualified 20th. Not so good. But we had not actually bought any tires yet. I had 7 tires left over from Gateway (same compound) and they had 30 laps on them. After qualifying they had 50. I changed back the left rear spring and worked on the right front spring for happy hour and got the car much better. We were now 11th on the speed chart and still had the old tires on, 75 laps now. Got the car pretty well balanced but had some camber problems in the right front and the way it was acting, the toe and bump steer needed work.
Got some much needed sleep that night in the hotel. We did go down town Memphis and have dinner at BB Kings Blues restaurant. Excellent food and entertainment.
Race day saw us working on the front end. I messed around with the bump steer on both sides, the right front camber and the ackerman adjustment/toe out. I think this work is what paid off.
The race started and the first 15 laps or so was OK. Then the wrecks started. I drove through a bunch of them. Seemed they were running into each other everywhere and all right in front of me. The car was handling fine. We started on used left sides and new rights. As the leaders started getting slower on used tires, we never fell off and just kept moving up. By lap 50 I was in 12th place. And due to accidents and other mischief we stayed on the lead lap. We pitted a little early and got fresh right sides. We made two tire stops all day so that we would not lose laps in the pit. Several others did. By lap 125 I came in for left sides. I think we were in 8th spot. Then the race got more interesting. An accident happened right in front of me. I spun the car to avoid them, managed not to hit anything and came out of it in 6th place. I was the last car on the lead lap and would stay that way through lap 175 where I was now 5th. I then brought a caution out by getting very loose at the exit of turn 4 and slapped the wall with the right rear quarter and wheel. On the caution, changed the right sides and pulled out the sheet metal. We were still 5th on the lead lap.
From then on the car was a handful. I had damaged the right rear drive plate. The right rear would spin and grab. The car was very loose all of the sudden. My lap times slowed. Kimmel and Van Zant got back on the lead lap when Kimmel turned Bigley around. They both were faster than me on the restart as my car would not get off the corners. With three laps to go the leaders finally put a lap on me and I finished 7th, first car one lap down.
Hated to lose that lap at the end, but I could not go faster without loosing the race car. So we have a right rear quarter and tail to replace, some right rear drive components and we will be set to race that car again at Kentucky.
Our next race is at Watkins Glen. We are currently making modifications to the short track car to run the road race. Should be fun. I did drive in the last ARCA road race back in 1994 at De Moines, Iowa street race. This will be much different. Hope to stay on the course and finish out in the top ten there.
Mike Buckley ARCA #28