"Secondly, we put in what I call the 'Idiot Stick'... if we wind it up a bit too much... it's like somebody hitting you with a stick and saying 'Hey Idiot! Let off the gas!' "
Once the race started, we remembered to follow Jimmy Hensley's advice, and be as patient as possible. There's a lot of bumping and banging at this track, and it's very easy to lose your temper. As turned out, things started out going just as we hoped. When we set up the truck , we kinda put some components inside that would help me out as a driver. First, we put in a relatively high gear that allows the engine to help slow the truck down in the corners, thus saving your brakes. Secondly, we put in what I call the "Idiot Stick", which is a rev limiter that prevents the engine from running too fast. If we wind it up a bit too much, the limiter kicks in, and tries to shut down the engine. It's like somebody hitting you with a stick and saying "Hey Idiot!… Let off the gas!" You're forced to let off the gas early, again saving your brakes.
Because Martinsville is a short track, the leaders lap slower trucks early on. We were able to keep ourselves in the top ten, and use a little pit strategy to boot. Around lap 60 or 65, a caution came out while we were in 10th place. All of the leaders went in for fresh rubber, and we elected to stay out. In doing so, we gained the lead, and the valuable bonus points that go with it. When the green came back out, a couple of the guys with the fresher tires got in front of us, but we were able to hang on to 5th spot. Another thing we did different was change our left side tires first. Almost everybody else changed right sides, but because we changed left lefts first, the truck tightened up, which actually helped us over time.
"Nobody was at fault...one of the trucks got into me a bit in one of the corners. Well, I bobbed when I should have weaved ... and got punched in the nose by another truck. We...had to sit out for a few laps while the team put in a new [radiator]."
We had an extremely strong engine, and our brake management was doing just fine. Our track position was consistently in the top ten, and we were looking forward to another strong finish… that is, until around lap 200. Nobody was at fault, and there's no hard feelings. It just so happened that it's a small track, and one of the trucks got into me a bit in one of the corners. I spun, and tried to get going in the right direction by mashing the pedal and getting the nose of the truck in the right direction. Well, I bobbed when I should have weaved (or vice versa) and got punched in the nose by another truck. We ended up with a slight nose bleed (or in this case, a leakey radiator) and had to sit out for a few laps while the team put in a new one.
The truck got fixed, and we went back out to finish the race and avoid a DNF. Nobody likes to lose, and nobody likes to finish far back in the pack. I guess you could say the silver lining in the whole thing was the fact that we DID have one of the strongest trucks through most of the race, and… there's always the next race. The guy who nailed us in the front end came up to me after the race and apologized. He's a rookie this year, but quite a class act. I won't say what his name is, but I will say that he did not intend to BUSCH-wack our truck.
It's another two-week break until our next race in Portland, OR. I'm going to head down to Talladega to visit some friends in the BGN series, and (hopefully) enjoy some mild weather. In preparation for Portland's road course, we're going to take the truck over to Putnam Park in Indiana and nab some practice time. Road courses are the absolute toughest on your vehicle, wearing out everything including transmissions, breaks, drive lines, and the driver!
I don't what it is, but I always seem to do well on road courses. I finished fourth at Portland last year, and got a second place in Topeka the year before. What's unique about Portland, is the fact that NASCAR has authorized the use of rain tires for this race. Rain or shine, it's going to be another dog fight.
In conclusion… we wish we had finished better in Martinsville. But, we proved that we have a strong truck, a unique bond among our team, and above all, a desire to win. With the success we've had thus far, Portland could be our road to victory!
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