Mike Buckley Owner/Driver ARCA ...
Owner/Driver ARCA #28
Last week, on the 30th of April, we travelled to the Salem Speedway for the annual spring race. It took me about a week to recover from the event so the race report is late.
We spent the last three weeks getting the short track car ready for the race. We had a lot of work to do. Last year during the Salem fall race, we ruined the rear clip of the car. We had a fabricator, Wes Russel, that fixed the car about three weeks before the race with a new clip, tail, deck lid and quarters. He had done a fine job but the car needed bondo and paint, crush panels and replacing all of the accessories behind the rear wheels. Also during this time our good friend Jim Jones from TICO racing engines left that position and moved down to Moorsville to take a new job building Cup and BGN motors. The engine was not yet completed at TICO and Tim (owner), Tom and myself put the engine together during the final week. We completed the car and did the setup just before we needed to leave for Salem to arrive at the gate when it opened.
On the way to Salem, at 1:00 am, we got stuck behind an accident on the freeway. It was a rollover, and probably a fatality. The freeway was closed for 2 hours and we were stuck in the backup. We finally got to Salem at 8:30 am when the pits opened at 6:30. We were the last ones in, last ones to get inspected, last ones to get tires, etc. We were behind the 8 ball again and still had some minor work to do on the car.
There were two hours of practice before qualifying. We made it onto the track during the second hour. The car seemed sluggish out of the corners. It was balanced well but our times were in the 18:80 range on new tires. Most of the faster teams were running in the 17:90's or low 18:00's. We knew we had a good engine but something wasn't right. We ran around 20 hard laps on the 1st set of tires. I like to scuff in my qualifying tires, just to get them so they take a good set on the 1st qualifying lap, however Hoosier did not get our 2nd set completed on wheels before practice was over. I would qualify on stickers.
The tires did not stick at all on the 1st lap and got a pretty good bite on the second lap to get us into the field....barely at a 18:60 and 27th spot. 28 spots were filled on time. Something still was not right with the engine. Saturday was done, we were tired....time for some sleep.
I talked to Jimmy and told him how the motor was doing. He agreed that something was wrong and told me to double check the timing.. that we usually run a little more that normal at Salem to get the car down the straight. When I fired the motor to add some timing Sunday morning, the engine was running rough at low idle. I got out our temperature gun and took header temps, found a cold header then traced back until I found the obvious, a plug wire off the cap behind the cowl where it could not be seen. We had been running on 7 for practice and qualifying.
The race began and the plan was simple. We needed to stay on the lead lap. Bill Baird had hit the wall during qualifying and was starting in the rear. If I could hook on his bumper, I might have a shot at moving through the field. We had two sets of good tires. One set on the car and 1st set of practice tires. We would try to make it to lap 100 on the 1st set and get track position knowing the most of the front runners would be changing at around lap 65.
I got behind Baird and moved on up. We avoided the wrecks and stayed on the lead lap. When the leaders came in for tires on lap 70, we were running in the top ten and still doing well. I was going to need that caution at lap 100.....and I got it.
Around lap 90 the tires were junk. I was holding on at lap 98 and some of the leaders who had changed were now looking to get by. I got a little sideways in turn 2 and a car nailed me hard in the left rear to finish the job and send me for a spin. I kept it off the fence but lost a lap getting the car refired. I came into the pit for some rubber. During the right side change, the jack got hung up in a hole on the concrete in our pit box. The car came off the jack after the tires were pulled off and the car fell onto the frame. We lost 3 laps in the pits. That about took all the wind out of our sails.
During the rest of the race, I kept out of the leaders way. The handling went very far away during the last 50 laps due to a suspension problem. I flat sided the right side of the car on the turn 3-4 wall.....a Salem strip if you will. We finished the race in 22nd spot and survived several close calls with accidents in front of us.
Woulda, Shouda, Coulda:
We had a strong car.....we shoulda been able to find the plug wire on Saturday before qualifying.....we woulda qualified better. We shouda changed those tires and gave up the track position at lap 70...we woulda if we coulda afford to buy the third set of tires. We shouda not have had the car fall off the jack in the pit......hey that stuff happens sometimes to the professionals. No one to blame except the hole in the concrete. We coulda had a decent run......we will do better at the next race.
We will be skipping the Anderson race. We are not running for points. Last years Anderson race was a crash fest, and this year they are running 300 laps. We need the time to properly prepare for the Kil Kare/Flat Rock weekend at the end of May. We have some body work to do on the right side and some minor leak fixing/retourqing to do on the engine.
The race will be aired on Speedvision on the 19th of May...8pm EDT.
Congats to Tracey Leslie who won the race. I understand that the last few laps was very entertaining with Tracey and Frank Kimmel using all sides of their race cars to go for the win.
We need to thank TICO race engines for getting the motor ready in a hurried situation. We also need to strongly thank Midwest Mall Fronts for finanically helping us get the car fixed and on the way to Salem.....thanks Mark!
Thats all for now.
Mike Buckley Owner/Driver ARCA #28 firstname.lastname@example.org