Anderson, Indiana - - Teamwork wins. No doubt 2004 has been a year full of frustration for Greg Van Alst, but that mood turned into celebration as Greg soared to his first top-ten finish at Illiana Motor Speedway last Saturday night. After ...
Anderson, Indiana - - Teamwork wins. No doubt 2004 has been a year full of frustration for Greg Van Alst, but that mood turned into celebration as Greg soared to his first top-ten finish at Illiana Motor Speedway last Saturday night.
After spending sleepless nights and mindful days this season wanting to prove himself, Van Alst headed to the track last weekend with the thought "saving the best for last." With just one planned race left before entering the "playoffs" aka Championship Series, he had hopes of turning some heads.
Turning the 17th fastest lap in practice, the Anderson, Indiana driver wasn't pleased. "We're farther off the pace then I want to be," he said. "The car is okay, but we're battling a little bit of an handling issue, we've got some ideas on how to correct that, hopefully qualifying will steer us in the right direction."
In time trials, Van Alst clocked the 16th fastest lap. The changes they made to the sponsorless No. 35 Chevrolet Monte Carlo worked as the 23 year-old rookie gained three-tenths during his lap.
"Yeah, we're on the right track," said the former late model competitor. "The changes worked, I think if we can tweak a little more, we can be good for the race."
21 cars took the green flag, but problems erupted before the green flag for the VAM team. Screaming to his crew, Greg thought he was having a rear-end failure. Bringing his car to the attention of the crew on the pace lap, the crew quickly examined the machine. Without noticing anything out of the ordinary, they told their driver to regain his thoughts, sending him back on the track, ready to do battle.
But, coming to the pits before the green he was forced to relinquish his qualifying position and would be told to the start the 250-lap event from the shotgun position.
After taking the green, he quickly set himself into a concentration mode. Knowing the leaders were going to be closing from behind, the former Sunoco Super Series driver wanted to blast his way to the front, and do it the right way.
In deed, that's what the factory worker by trade did. Minding his own business and racing hard to the front, Van Alst was able to overcome some early and mid-handling woes to cross the line a very clean tenth.
The finish was the first top-ten finish of his young USAR career. "Illiana has always been one of my favorite tracks," exclaimed the driver/owner.
"What a night," said an all-smiling Van Alst. "I thought we were going to have a rear-end failure, but luckily someone was watching out for us, and we had a great night."
The former ARCA RE/MAX Series driver who completed 247 of the 250 markers also said "In all this is a small victory for my team, hopefully we turned some heads this weekend. We're also looking for sponsorship, so I know this run didn't hurt that cause as well."
With confidence know on their side, the Van Alst Motorsports team now turns their focus towards the United Speed Alliance Racing Championship Series set to kick off on September 25th, 2004 from Jennerstown Speedway.