Mike Buckley "Buckeroo" ARCA Charlotte report

The Charlotte report begins Wednesday after work. One of my pit crew members, Mark S. met me at the work parking lot and we were off. Drove all night to make the 6am credential opening. We were going to be a little short on pit crew this week.

The Charlotte report begins Wednesday after work. One of my pit crew members, Mark S. met me at the work parking lot and we were off. Drove all night to make the 6am credential opening.

We were going to be a little short on pit crew this week. Jim, our motor tuner, lives north of Charlotte, so he and Mikey met us at the track. There were four of us....including me. We had a little bit of work to do before the practice session started, like change a gear and all of the shocks. Got the ride through tech and we were ready for the track.

Since I was the driver, and Jim was spotting, this left Mark and Mike in the pit for changes on the car. The car had a push that would not go away, and we started working on that without doing anything major. Broke a left front shock in one of the practice runs....that was fun. The car leaned over on the right side and I thought I had a flat....nope..broke a brand new adjustable rebound shock....and bent the right front as well. They had large flanges around the mounting heim on the lower control arms that were hitting the steering arm when the car was driven around the pit with sharp corners. First time I had used this model. Lucky for me Pat was there from Bilstien shocks and was able to bail me out.

We worked on the setup for qualifying and get the car a little quicker. Good only for 26th spot. Something was wrong with the front end. The car would push up with the front of the car...and now I had the car loose on the entry, so that the rear of the car wanted to keep the car real free while the front was steering at the wall. Time to work on the front end.

Right away we started tearing apart the left side suspension and found our problems. We had some ball joints and an upper control arm that needed replacing. We would not practice anymore until this was fixed. Good thing about racing in Charlotte....if you need parts for a stock car...it is here. After the garage closed it was time to search for some replacement parts.

Doug at Competition Gears then bailed me out. Now this is after 8 pm at night, and getting closer to 10 when we leave Doug's shop with a repaired lower control arm and replacement for the upper. Can't find a nicer guy to get you back in business. He says I need to buy a lottery ticket....cause he can't believe how lucky I am running some of the stuff he has seen. Got back to Jimmy's place where the floor was awful comfortable for some much needed sleep.

Friday at the track was used to replace the suspension parts and reset all of our bump steer, caster, and camber settings. No wonder the car would not go around. We took our time and got it right, and I was not quite 100% done at the end of the day. We did not use either practice session after the car was qualified. Had a descent dinner and got a good nights sleep.

Saturday morning and it was raining.  It would stop however and we made our
way to the track.  We will be there earlier next year as we got stuck in the
traffic getting to the track.  It was 11:30 am.  Garage opened at 12:00 and
already there were tons of people trying to get into the speedway.  Didn't
get to the garage until 1:00 pm.  Then it was a slight scramble to get
everything done for the race.  Mark L. and Carol arrived Friday night and
they did the gas duties.  Lee and Cyndi arrived Saturday morning, and they
did scoring and spotting.  We had us a crew.

The race started and the car was much, much better. It was too loose....but it was much faster through the corners. I was able to stay on the lead lap by the first caution at lap 16 and used it to top off and make adjustments to the car to get it stable. We were set for the rest of the race. I had not planned on changing tires and the tank had enough fuel to go the distance. We would get track position when the rest of the lead lap cars pitted. Then the big wreck happened.....and right in front of me. We know now that Tina Gordon and John Borneman are OK.......but it did not look good from my vantage point at the time.

We ran under caution while they removed Tina from her vehicle...or what was left of it. The long caution period meant that the leaders in front did not pit as we had expected them to. I was running 19th. The last 8 laps were run under green. I lost spots to the 03 and the 75 car, but gained 2 spots overall due to others having problems. The car was real tight after the long yellow, and I was lucky to keep the 81 car behind me on the last lap. We finished 17th.

So the next race is in Kansas on June 1. Yes we will be going. We had a local group of people that crewed the car last year when we were there and had a good race. I am looking for those people to contact me and let me know if you will be in the ARCA garage again this year.

Mike Buckley
Owner/Driver ARCA #28

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Mike Buckley , Tina Gordon