Buckeroo Racing is back from Daytona, in one piece, tired. Yes, we were in the race. Our car, the ...
Buckeroo Racing is back from Daytona, in one piece, tired. Yes, we were in the race. Our car, the #28 McNaughton-McKay Ford, was started by ex-ARCA champion Scott Stovall. He drove the car until the first caution, we then changed drivers at lap 16 and Mike Buckley finished the race. ESPN didn't report, or didn't notice our scheduled change and listed Scott as the driver for the entire race.
Here is a recap of race week.
This was the first day at the track. Inspections took place starting after the haulers were unloaded at noon. We made it through the garage inspection and the motor line where the engine is checked for cubic inch and compression ratio. This took all day, and we did not make it through the template line which we would have to do on Wednesday.
Went to the template inspection line first thing and began getting the car ready for practice. We were anxious to get on the track and shake down the car. Just as Mike entered the track, it began to lightly sprinkle. The practice was yellow flagged before we got up to speed. We then began waiting for the rain. Late in the afternoon we got back onto the track for some good practice....now we're in trouble. The car is not nearly as fast as we thought. Mike was flat on the floor board and we were only at 167 mph. The car was handling fine, we had not near the horsepower we needed. Big trouble. The car was pulling 6400 rpm and we were told the motor should pull 6700 from experience the previous year. The crew began changing the gear before the garage closed for the day.
We finished the gear change and went out for practice. We picked up 4 mph with the gear, but the car was still too stiff in the corners. We began softening up the setup and revalving the shocks to hold down the rear of the car. We found a major problem with the carburator/restrictor plate setup we were using in practice. We were confident qualifying would be better.
First round qualifying saw the car do 174 mph, better but not near enough. The car was now turning 6800 rpm and was only doing 174, time to change the gear again. We again started the gear change before the garage closed.
Finished the gear change and got ready to practice. We softened up the rear some more, both in shocks and springs. With the gear change we were now up to 177. We knew that by Saturday we needed to be 180 or better. Between the morning and the afternoon practice we softened up the front of the car and changed the seat position to fit Scott Stovall. Scott would have to practice the car in order to be eligible to qualify. Scott has been around Daytona when the cars did 200 mph and knew the lines. He had been coaching all week. He tried some high (very high) lines and got the car up to 178. We were still going in the right direction.
We had 25 minutes of practice beginning at 8:00 am. We decided it was best to leave Scott in the car for practice and 2nd round qualifying. If we could get the car into the show on qualifying speed, Mike would start the car from the rear. If we had to use an ex-champions provisional, Scott would start the car. The plan was set. We again had changed our shock setup and were late getting the car out to pit road. An accident during the practice halted everything, Scott hit the track and after a warm up lap clicked off a 179.5 which would have been the like a 1st lap qualifying effort. On his next lap, practice ended. We were sure the car had a 181 in it. We then softened up the car one last time in the front.
Second round qualifying:
1st time all week that a change the we made to the car backfired. The car nose bottomed out on the track during the qualifying attempt which significantly slowed Scotts effort. We backed up to 178 and didn't make the show on qualifying time. We did make the show on the champions provisional. Scott would start the car.
The last practice on Saturday saw us return to the 179 setup and the car picked back up. Scott practiced the car, then we changed drivers on pit road and showed the ARCA officals that both of us could safely fit into the seat, reach the switches etc. This wasn't easy as Scott is twice Mike's size. He was a little scrunched, Mike was a little extended, but we made it work....and it was safe.
Our race plan was simple. Scott would start the car and race until the 1st caution. We would then try to change drivers without loosing a lap. He was told to race as hard as the car would allow, Mike would do the same.
The race started and in the 1st corner, there was a spin but no yellow. Scott backed out of the throttle to avoid the incident and ended up loosing the main draft. He then ran without loosing a lap until lap 16 when a caution came out for a wreck. We had planned on waiting until the car was caught back up with the field before he would pull in. But he ran over some debris from the wreck. Some sheet metal from a wrecked car lodged under the left jack post and was dragging on the track. He pitted with pit road closed and we began the driver swap.
Couldn't get it done before the pace car came around and we lost a lap. We were also penalized for pitting too soon and started from the end of the longest line.
Mike describes his drive, "I hung on to whatever car I could for drafting, but it wasn't easy. The motor would not pull the car by itself. I restarted on the front row inside on two restarts and was quickly run over by everyone. I did run some in the main draft, which really picked up the car. It handled great, would go anywhere....just needed more motor.
"I saw one wreck happen just behind me in my mirror. Drew a breath of relief. After the next restart, we were running in a good draft when the temperature went up and wouldn't come back down after I lost the draft. I had to go to pit road under the green. The grill was full of rubber and blocked. During this stop, the fuel cans would not work. Our catch can probe which opens the overflow vent was too short and fuel would not go into the car. We lost two more laps....not good. The yellow came back out while we were on pit road.
"This was the yellow where Joe Cooksy hit the pace car. Joe and I get along well and I hated to see it happen to him. No matter whose fault or what circumstance caused the incident, Joe will always be known for taking out the pace car.
"The next restart was terrible due to cars in front of me not getting going. I hooked up with Bob Strait to draft with and finished the race without being lapped on the track. I finished, listed as Scott Stovall in 23rd place.
"We had a lot of family and friends in my hometown watching the race, so I was pretty upset that ESPN had missed the driver switch. Most didn't know that we made it into the race since the car was a rental and didn't have our normal paint scheme. We were also running our new number. Oh well, I guess to get noticed you either have to be running anywhere near Shawna R. or maybe hit the pace car. "Anyhow, we brought the car home to its owner, not a scatch on it and the motor still in good shape. We went from 41st to 23rd and a ball. We know the car and chassis had much more in it if we could have gotten it from the motor."
After the race, The team loaded up the stuff and started the 23 hour trip back to Michigan where it had just snowed 5 inches. Arrived 11 pm in Ann Arbor.
Can't tell you when we'll race next. The next ARCA event is at Atlanta in March. We will start looking for a sponsor for the Atlanta race and see what happens.
Mike Buckley ARCA #28