After Phoenix, we spent our time out in the western states, in preparation for going to the Bakersfield area. I did make a brief jaunt over to Louisville, KY for a promotional appearance at the Great American Truck Show. Then after flying in to Laguna from Louisville on Thursday, we headed over to the track for Friday AM check-in.
Jerry (our soon-to-be-famous crew chief) told me that we were going to have a fast truck right off the hauler. And at first, he was right. You see, the track in Bakersfield is shaped like Martinsville, is about the same distance (1/2 mile) but unlike Martinsville, the turns are banked. We thought we were prepared.
Because this track is comparatively old, it had been seal coated (with SealMaster Products) as recent as last season. A seal coated track can be very slippery until you get a few laps on the tires. We had the right setup for this track, and practiced well at the start. We were consistently in the top ten in practice times, and thought we were going to be good for qualifying… that is, until we started messing with a few things.
"Once the green flag came out, we immediately picked up a couple of positions. Then things started to go to heck in a hand basket."
For our qualifying run, we guessed on our shock pressure. We increased the pressure, but in actuality, we should have either decreased it, or left it alone. As a result, it slowed us down a bit to where we qualified 15th. The up side to this is that we were only about a tenth of a second off fifth or sixth fastest, which shows you how competitive truck racing has become.
Just for the record, this track is very hard on brakes. Like Martinsville, you need to make sure your truck is geared right, and that you do whatever possible to keep brakes under you the whole race. More on this later…
Once the green flag came out, we immediately picked up a couple of positions. Then things started to go to heck in a hand basket. Just like qualifying, we went into the race with the wrong shock pressure. We thought the track was going to loosen up as the race went on, but it didn't. As a result, we were very tight all day. There are a few things we can try to do to adjust the truck, like adding spring rubbers and making air pressure changes. But nothing seemed to help much at all. As for our pit stops…well, let me just say that the crew had an "off day."
Dodge California Truck Stop