Mike Buckley Daytona ARCA Qualifying Review

Just returned from Daytona where we tried to qualify for the ARCA race. It was a tough field of cars in order to make the race. We had some problems getting the car up to speed the first day, but we made up time and gave the one round of ...

Just returned from Daytona where we tried to qualify for the ARCA race. It was a tough field of cars in order to make the race. We had some problems getting the car up to speed the first day, but we made up time and gave the one round of qualifying a decent effort with what we had.

We took the same car that we had at Daytona last year. If you remember, this was a rental, a 1995 Ford Thunderbird. We recieved the car 7 days before we had to leave for Daytona. The car had not been raced since we had it on the track last year, but the engine was tired and the body needed work. We took out the engine and sent it over to TICO engines (our normal builder) to find some horsepower. We did, a bunch with the help of a good manifold that we built(too good....more later). Meanwhile back at our shop the car needed to be painted, the hood, spindle and deck lid tethers were installed and some minor body work was done. We installed the motor on Saturday night and headed for Daytona on Sunday.

Two blown trailer tires later (5 hours on the side of the road) we rolled into Daytona Monday evening. This is always cool, no matter how many times you have been there.

Tuesday was inspection day. Everything was going OK until they looked at our intake manifold. It did not meet the spec plug that needs to fit in the opening. We would have to grind on it and destroy the work (horsepower) that we had found. We took off the intake and took it back to the hotel room where Jim (engine guy) would be flying in that night. He did some work to it that night but we didn't know if it would be enough.

Wednesday, practice day. We still had not been approved to run with the intake mainifold we had. Jim spent all morning getting it to pass tech......however he about ruined it in the process. We bolted it on. We missed the morning practice because of the intake problem. The first afternoon practice was scary. The car overheated due to an air pocket in the motor. It was pushing water out the overflow and the frame rail filled with water (this is where the overflow tube was routed). I about lost the car in turn 3 when it got scary loose due to the water on the rear tire. We spent the rest of that practice fixing the problem and getting the overflow routed behind the car instead of in frame rail. The next practice we finally got the car flat out to see what the motor would do......nothing. Only 171 mph. We were devastated, and we knew that the intake manifold was the problem, but what to do. Well, we borrowed one from Joe Ryne who builds several engines in the ARCA garage. He didn't have to help us out.....we sure appreciated it and installed the intake before we left the garage.

Thurday... practice and qualifying day. The morning practice saw our speed go up to 177.5 mph without any changes to the car. We gained 2.5 seconds due to the intake. I changed the rear springs during the session and gained another 2 tenths. For the second practice session we decided to change the gear to see if our motor would pull the car around any faster and soften up the front end of the car to get the nose closer to the track. We lost 5 tenths to the gear change, our motor would not pull it and the RPM would not get into the peak horsepower range. We needed a gear in between the two we tryed, didn't have one and put the old gear back into the car. Taped it up, made some wedge and tire pressure adjustments and put it in line for qualifying.

We qualified at 50.3 something....178 something...our best lap of the week but nowhere near what we need to make it by speed. Provisionals were not good to us either. What we needed was rain to get in on points and it was clear and sunny all week.

We leaned a bunch this trip about restrictor plate motors, aero packages (we didn't have one) and other such stuff. We knew that we didn't have a good aero car, and most of the competition this year was in Winston Cup 1999 cars from last year. We keep gaining track time and experience....what we need now is the funding in order to buy the equipment necessary to qualify and compete. We tried with what we had, and learned what we need.

Mike Buckley Driver/Owner ARCA #28

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Series General
Drivers Mike Buckley