Chicagoland: BCR Racing race report

BCR Racing Fights For 16 Place Finish At Chicagoland Speedway JOLIET, Illinois (August 31, 2009) - - BCR Racing had a solid 16th place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Friday evening's Ansell Cut Protection 150. The finish further signifies a...

BCR Racing Fights For 16 Place Finish At Chicagoland Speedway

JOLIET, Illinois (August 31, 2009) - - BCR Racing had a solid 16th place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Friday evening's Ansell Cut Protection 150. The finish further signifies a step in the right direction for the team led by veteran racing ace Howard Bixman.

J.R. Heffner, the team's driver of the No. 74 Austin Powder Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS looked to improve on the team's previous run at Kentucky Speedway where Heffner showed his true potential by qualifying his team a career-best sixth before falling to 14th in the final rundown.

Heffner learned especially that even if the look is very similar on paper and in color, that they can in-fact be very different.

After testing at the 1.5-mile speedway the week before, Bixman and his BCR Racing team went back to their shop in Michigan tweaking on their automobile from items they learned at the test that would enable them in the 15th race of the ARCA season.

When the teams arrived at Chicagoland Speedway on Thursday the challenges began for the BCR Racing team. Mother Nature was feeling uncooperative in the area with spotty rain showers threatening to ruin the practice session scheduled for the ARCA RE/MAX Series. The other hiccup was Heffner missing in action. Prior obligations had Heffner competing in a dirt late model event in another state.

The team was prepared for the absence of their driver as they relied on fellow ARCA driver Michael Simko to shake down the team's No. 74 entry. In all accounts, it was a good thing that Simko did.

Mother Nature returned to the Chicagoland area on Thursday night and drenched the track forcing the cancelation of the final practice scheduled for Friday morning. With Heffner on location, the team would have to rely on their notes from the test session and hope the setup they installed for qualifying would be one that Heffner would take a liking to.

In time trials, Heffner laid out a lap of 31.501 seconds at 171.423 seconds miles per hour placing the team 19th on the starting grid. Overall, the lap wasn't bad considering it was the first lap for the Pittsfield, Massachusetts native of the weekend.

"The car seems pretty good," said Heffner, a 2007 and 2008 Modified Champion. "Obviously not being able to have a practice Friday morning probably hurt the BCR Racing team the most. I hate it for the guys for that. There's not much we can do now leading into the race, so hopefully when the green flag drops we can go to the front."

Taking the green flag shortly after 5:30 p.m. local, Heffner began his run towards the front only to be halted when the yellow flag waived on lap one. Unable to give his team a clear indication of the car's handling, Heffner would have to wait for the next green-flag run to further brief his team of his car's direction.

A good 20 lap run saw the No. 74 try to charge towards the top-10 but a loose condition would settle in forcing the car to backslid through the field.

During the first planned pit stop of the day, Heffner brought his machine to the attention of Bixman for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to tighten up the team's entry.

Back to business, the BCR Racing development driver continued to hover inside the top-20.

Over the course of the event's second-half, Heffner showed steady improvement. The team welcomed a late race caution which resulted in some final adjustments for the final laps.

In the final handful of laps, Heffner found himself in a tough battle for a top-15 finish but cars that were able to beat the No. 74 from the center of the corner were able to overpower the ARCA rookie forcing the team to settle for a 16th place lead lap finish.

"It wasn't an easy 100 laps, that's for sure," said Heffner. "As a team we made some progress, but with weather and limited practice time made for a long weekend.

The team hung together and never gave up and the car did get better there during the last run. We are very thankful to Austin Powder and all of our sponsors."

For Bixman, who also serves as Heffner's driving coach the day proved some valid points. "J.R. did the team a good job today. He learned a lot out there. The weather seemed to play havoc with a lot of the field and we were one of them. I think the biggest thing that J.R. learned is that seat time and practice is extremely crucial. I think if he would have been in the car on Thursday, we could have dialed in the car a little better for him."

Heffner now plans to end his season with BCR in style at Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 150 set for October 1st. The team is committed on utilizing the final intermediate race of the year to gel together a solid development foundation for next year.

-credit: bcrr

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Series ARCA
Drivers J.R. Heffner