Winchester deals blow to Blackstock's Championship Series hopes. WINCHESTER, IN (Sept. 23, 2002) - Winchester Speedway is a place that Roger Blackstock always looks forward to going to. This weekend, however, he might have wished he stayed home.
Winchester deals blow to Blackstock's Championship Series hopes.
WINCHESTER, IN (Sept. 23, 2002) - Winchester Speedway is a place that Roger Blackstock always looks forward to going to. This weekend, however, he might have wished he stayed home. The No. 1 Mancini Performance Parts/Michigan Auto Racing Fan Club Dodge Intrepid finished the Alan Kulwicki Memorial 250 in 31st spot after motor problems during the race.
Blackstock unloaded on Saturday morning and found the competition to be extremely stiff in the Championship Series, much as he expected. On the practice charts, Blackstock was listed as 23rd fastest, but he was less than one-quarter of a second out of the top ten. Running his new, 105-inch wheelbase car, Blackstock was extremely pleased with the effort, although he was still adapting to the car.
"It was basically the same setup. We didn't change much on the setup. We put it back on the scales to see where we're at," said Blackstock. "It's just a type of feeling in the car that I don't know how to explain. It wasn't the same feeling I was used to, that's all. I still think we're gonna be in a learning process because of the car. It was a lot different than what I thought it was going to be. I just figured it'd turn easier, and it did turn easier, but you have to have a different driving style too. But it did definitely turn a lot better. Everybody tells me I'll like it a lot better."
Blackstock had the new car at Winchester, but his primary motor was still in the process of being refreshed when time to race came around. Therefore, the team was forced to load the secondary motor, one that is down around 75 horsepower according to Blackstock, and do as best they could. The No. 1 Intrepid got a late qualifying draw and was one of the final few cars to take to the speedway once the sun went down in Indiana. Driving sideways with a handicapped motor, Blackstock only managed to clock in 36th out of the 44 cars that attempted.
"Practice didn't go to bad, but when we had to qualify, I think we lost our motor when we were qualifying," said Blackstock. "I think it was starting to lose a head gasket when we went to qualify. We turned a little bit of RPM and I think it just lost a head gasket."
Hoping for the best, however, Blackstock and team gridded the car on Sunday morning and took the speedway for the Alan Kulwicki Memorial 250. From his 36th starting spot, Blackstock was moving up early in the event, flirting with the top thirty before lap 25. It was then that Blackstock realized his day was going to be much longer than he had expected.
"During the first couple laps of the race, I thought we were gonna do good there. We were starting to move up a little bit, then all of a sudden the motor started losing power," expressed the Michigan resident. "Then I knew we were in trouble and that we were just riding. We couldn't do much after that. We were trying to get as many places as we could get, so we just kept going out there. We did whatever we could do to get as many points as we could get. We knew there was going to be a lot of attrition, but it didn't happen till after we fell out."
The team began spraying cool water on the motor to keep its temperature down, but the temperature difference cracked the head and hot water began spewing from the exhaust pipes. Blackstock then parked his racecar and was scored as finishing in the 31st position, 69 laps down. Even so, Blackstock still has some things going his way. The car came home in one piece, which is more than some of the top point contenders like Brian Ross and Mardy Lindley can say. The primary motor was scheduled to be dynoed Monday and ready to pick up later this week. Additionally, Blackstock changed his familiar red and green paint scheme to flames this week and received mass approval from fans and competitors alike, but it was a total surprise to Blackstock as well.
"I gave the guy the paint for my car to paint it, and he decided to paint it how he wanted to," Blackstock explained with a laugh. "He was doing a flame job at the shop so he needed a little bit of practice. So, he decided to practice on my racecar.
"Everyone needs a little change now and then. It's almost like starting a whole new season, but I like to change things a little bit. Every year I like a little something different. The flames are nice, but now I've got to make him paint them on the other car now. He just made more work for himself," Blackstock concluded, again with a grin and a laugh.
Following the Alan Kulwicki Memorial 250 at Winchester, Blackstock is now 23rd in points, 73 out of the lead. The event can be seen on SPEED Channel on Thursday at 9 pm EDT. A total of two subsequent re-airings will follow; consult listings for times.