USAR: Mansfield: Greg Van Alst race report

Greg Van Alst Soldiers Home To 23rd At Mansfield Anderson, Indiana - - Despite lacking a sponsor, Van Alst Motorsports led by driver, car owner Greg Van Alst headed to Mansfield Motor Speedway last weekend hoping to improve on their string of...

Greg Van Alst Soldiers Home To 23rd At Mansfield

Anderson, Indiana - - Despite lacking a sponsor, Van Alst Motorsports led by driver, car owner Greg Van Alst headed to Mansfield Motor Speedway last weekend hoping to improve on their string of top-twenty performances and finally break into the top-ten bracket.

Arriving at the speedway, the eyes of Greg reminded him that MMS was a lot like South Boston Speedway. "We definitely had some ups and downs at South Boston, I hope we don't go through the same again," he said calmly prior to unloading the hauler.

Unfortunately, the first practice session proved to be the start of a rocky roller coaster ride for the Anderson, Indiana native. While turning solid lap times, a track bar broke sending Van Alst hard into the wall. Slowly limping back the battered Chevrolet Monte Carlo the crew immediately went to work trying to repair the car.

Thanks to generosity and good samaritans of his colleagues, Greg was able to piece his sponsorless automobile back together in order to make a qualifying attempt.

In time trials, Van Alst posted the 27th fastest time. "I was very cautious in qualifying," explained the former Sunoco Super Series driver. "Despite being a half second off from our practice times we still made the show on time and that was important to me."

Greg, however would be forced to forfeit his starting position as he missed the drivers meeting. "I know how important the drivers meeting are, but I had to get the car done in order for us to even take the green flag," he continued.

Luckily, the team was able to roll the No. 35 down pit road, with preparation of competing in the entire event. The team opted to come down pit road and make changes to the car once again before officially taking the green flag.

At the start, Van Alst was on fire. A car that had been wrecked in practice turned out to be turning out some wicked fast lap times. At one point, the driver exclaimed to his crew that he felt the car was faster than it should have been.

While making his march towards the front, an uncharacteristic move had him tightly latched to the back of another competitor. He made contact with his opponent, bringing out a yellow and sending the 23-year old rookie to the tail end of the field.

From there on, Greg returned to his normal perception, a calm yet cautiously aggressive driver. With help on pit road from JJ Pack's USAR team, Van Alst had soared his way into the top-15 with his thoughts of turning his rough weekend into a positive.

Suddenly on that march, a problem erupted for the VAM team. With thirty markers remaining, the ignition box failed sending a dejected driver to pit road to correct the problem. The team was able to correct the issue and send their rookie driver back onto the track.

While losing several laps in the pits, he was able to gather his groove back and solider home 23rd.

"I thought we were going to have a good day," said Van Alst who completed 232 of 254 circuits. "I got myself into a bind early on, but we were able to overcome that, but we had a problem with our ignition box and sadly it took us out of contention for another solid finish."

He also continued "It's a shame we had such bad luck, I really like the track. Hopefully next year we'll bounce back here, and prove that this weekend was just a case of bad racing luck."

More importantly, this young-gun didn't want to forget the people that were able to make him compete this weekend. "A huge thanks to the whole Jimmy Spencer, Jr team for their help on Saturday afternoon after we wrecked. They had their own car to work on, but they were nice enough to come and lend us a hand, that's something I will never forget."

The former ARCA RE/MAX Series driver also stated "I would also like to extend a huge thanks to JJ Pack's team. They helped us out on pit road and did a fantastic job," a smiling Van Alst replied. "This is what the USAR series is all about and I'm proud of it."

The Northern Series for the United Speed Alliance Racing tour resumes action on Saturday, August 14th at the "sister track" of Mansfield, South Boston Speedway. But, Van Alst will make his next attempt at a top-ten performance at the Illiana Motor Speedway on August 21st.

Tape delayed coverage of the Pepsi 250 is scheduled for this Thursday, August 5th beginning at 8:00pm EST. It will air a second time the following day (Friday, August 6th) at noon EST.

For more information on Greg Van Alst and his Van Alst Motorsports team, please logon to http://www.gregvanalst.com

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jimmy Spencer