Race Time: Things started out well. We immediately went up to sixth, then on the 3rd or 4th lap, the engine picked up some sort of miss. At first we thought it might be another valve spring, but after I played with the throttle a bit, I seemed more like a problem with the fuel system. The engine would run best at half or three-quarter throttle. If I floored the thing, the engine would try to quit. We started losing positions, and I found myself back to 11th or 12th. The truck was on rails in the corners, but we had no ponies down the straights. Well, to compensate for the lack of straight-line speed, I decided to make up ground in the corners. In corner one, I tried to out-brake the next guy, and without going into a long-winded explanation about tire bounce, I spun the thing, and ended up axle-deep in the pea gravel.
"I spun the thing, and ended up axle-deep in the pea gravel. By the time the wrecker yanked me out, I was a lap behind..."
By the time the wrecker yanked me out, I was a lap behind, and somewhere around 24th position. Road courses are different from the ovals, in that re-starts after cautions are done in single-file. On ovals, the lapped cars get to pull up to the leaders, making it a bit easier to get a lap back. Here at Portland, you're pretty much stuck back there, unless a little luck comes your way.
Anyway, we were towards the back of the pack, and after picking up some fresh rubber, we had to ride around and pick up as many positions as we could. Interestingly enough, our little "off road" incident somehow fixed our engine problem, and we once again had a full throttle to work with. On the down side, we busted one of our mufflers on the truck, making the engine a bit too loud for NASCAR's liking. So we spent what amounted to about 4 laps in the pits fixing the muffler enough to make us legal again.
We started out with a truck that could have won the race, and ended up in 22nd position. The bad luck started with needing to switch an engine, then we had the fuel problem, then I spun the darn truck, then the muffler thing. I felt like I was in the middle of a game of dominos. On the up side (and there's ALWAYS an up side), we once again proved that we had a very strong truck. As mentioned before, let's hope all the bad luck is now behind us. From here it's on to Gateway.
Preparing for Gateway
We're going to be using the exact same truck we ran there last year. The truck qualified well, and we had would have been in the winners circle if we hadn't have busted a valve lifter with only a few laps left. On the luck side, I'll be driving the motor coach there, and so far this year, driving the coach to the track has seemed to bring me good luck. Maybe I'll bring a rabbit's foot, too.
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