Anderson, IN (Tuesday, August 12th, 2003) - - USAR (United Speed Alliance Racing) rookie driver Greg Van Alst headed to Illiana Motor Speedway last weekend in an effort to get the monkey off the team's back, as engines problems have plagued the...
Anderson, IN (Tuesday, August 12th, 2003) - - USAR (United Speed Alliance Racing) rookie driver Greg Van Alst headed to Illiana Motor Speedway last weekend in an effort to get the monkey off the team's back, as engines problems have plagued the team all year in their limited schedule.
Heading into the event, Van Alst had spent countless of hours surveying the engine, making changes, and testing the engine out of the team's shop in Indiana. "We feel like all of our engine problems are fixed," said Van Alst, heading into the weekend.
Things were looking promising for the No. 35 Thermtech Systems Pontiac Grand Prix during the course of the practice session. Van Alst whipped his machine around the track, clocking off times between the 15th - 17th fastest competitors, an extreme amount of difference from earlier this season. "The car is really good, we're going to make some adjustments, and hopefully we'll continue to march forward in time for qualifying."
The monkey returned for the Van Alst Motorsports team during the course of time trials, as the No. 35 lost a half-second, even though the team had put brand new tires on their machines. "I cannot believe, that we lost that much ground, I would have thought putting on new tires would have made our car faster, I guess I didn't scuff the tires enough."
Despite, the disappointment the team was happy to be in the field, as Greg claimed the 29th starting position. "We're glad to be in the show, we hope that our problems have disappeared," said Greg prior to the start of the race.
As the green flag dropped the former Sunoco Super Series driver used patience while guiding his Pontiac Grand Prix through the field. Van Alst reported that the car was loosing power at some points during the race, but it would quickly restore itself.
While racing towards the front, Greg would be punted by another machine, sending the No. 35 spinning wildly, without making any contact with the wall. When he tried to refire his machine, the same problem that he had before with the power had reappeared sending Van Alst quickly searching for results.
Greg finally noticed that the battery was bouncing around in the machine, which was causing it to shut off and turn back on as he raced on the track. He thought this could have been one of the reasons the team had run so poorly in qualifying.
The team quickly went to work and become repairing the battery, even though the team was quick once they returned to the track, they were 25 laps down to the leader. Greg remained out of the leader's way for the remainder of the event, while gaining seat time in his first full USAR race.
"Even though we did not have the night that we were looking for, it was still pretty solid, said a somewhat dejected Anderson, IN native after the event."
"The brightest point was that we were able to finish the race, however, who knows where we would have been if we did not have the battery problem, I guess it's all a part of racing," said Van Alst, who finished 25th.
The Van Alst Motorsports team will regroup and prepare to run their next USAR event next month.