So here we go again... Over the winter we didn't do a whole lot with the car other than reconstruct the motor which had expired at the Harvest Classic last year, move a few plumbing items around, and repaint (of course). As it was, we were down to the wire with the painting, but we actually fired the motor the week before the race!!! (some sort of record for the team). As if that wasn't enough, we were at Madera on Friday before the race to shake down the chassis and make sure we had the leaks taken care of - yet ANOTHER first for the beginning of the year!!! All of this is due in no small part to the dedication of the team (Joe Todd, and Joel) as well as Dutcher Racing Engines - thanks Pat! Anyway, testing went OK Friday, but we had one rather persistent leak that required us to head back to the shop...well, there were tires to mount and decals to apply anyway..:) The best news of the week was that we rolled the car back into the trailer with new rubber and ready to go at a bit before 2AM, which is yet another record, and almost embarrassing. Next thing we knew, it was off to Madera!
On to the race... Well we got to the track and got set up and ready to fire the car. Expecting no problems (Friday had been perfect), we pushed off, but nothing happened...not a pop, snort, or anything...it appeared we had a bit of a fuel malfunction and reprimed everything, but it wasn't enough - not so much as a whisper came from the new motor... After some amount of gyration, we figured out it was likely the fuel pump and set about replacing the offending unit with our spare. As we soon found out, the spare and the main-line part were pretty much totally not alike, which required modification to the drive stub and the pump shaft - Thanks again to Pat for the expertise and the #5 team for use of the tools! After that bit of madness, we rolled up to the line for Practice #1.
Practice was fairly uneventful - we cruised in the first session just checking gauges and looking for trouble with the motor. Everything was working pretty well and the motor felt very strong - hooray!! In the second session we opened it up with all new rubber and what a difference! We were running in 13.6's which posted us 4th fast in class following El Senor Tuey, Kenny Kinchen, and El Guapo del Norte, Mr. Tatro... The chassis was pretty good and the car was totally drivable.
We fooled around with the tires a little bit for qualifying, but that was about it. The car was almost too neutral... Our first qualifying run of 2009 landed us at 4th fast with a 13.672. Good enough for the dash! Grandpa D was quick at 13.402, followed by KK with a .485 and Tatro with a .504.
When we lined up for the dash, the track got it a little wrong and put me at off pole and Tatro on pole - backwards from the way it should have been...Tuey pulled in with a malfunction and after reviewing the start, I think I may have actually dozed off when the green fell...anyway, Tatro and KK blew by and then KK made a move on Lance and thats how we ended up.
In the Heat races they separated the 360's and 410's which landed us an outside pole position with Willie Northamer (driving the Harvest Supply #15), on the inside. As soon as we got pointed sort of towards turn 4 we blasted away and beat the 15 into turn 1 and never looked back. Kinchen pulled up on the inside a few times, but after clobbering the left side headers and adding another set of 'bead lock notches' to the same nerf as last year, he went spinning off in the dirt at turn 4. When the race resumed, it was Lance and Lance followed by, well, everyone else...lol. The remainder of the heat race was great fun...Tatro was shoving his nose underneath, but there was nothing on the bottom and we were able to keep our momentum for the last 4 or 5 laps and finally got another heat win - YAY!...Not a bad day so far...even though we still had a bit of a heat problem to deal with.
For the Main, we started outside pole again with Willie in the inside. The start was just a little crazy (I'm not sure the car was ever really pointed down the front straight) and beat Willie into 1... and then we were off. The car was flying until the yellow was out. The beautiful 72 car of Lance T was facing the wrong way at the entry to turn one with all manner of pieces scattered about and busted up. Lance was OK, but you'd really have to see the car in order to appreciate the magnitude of the crash... As we rode around under yellow, I thought we had the heating problem solved, but as soon as the green was out I found out we just were not getting enough cooling. We dropped a couple of spots as I tried to find some way to run that allowed the motor to cool just a bit... after 27 laps, I decided it would be much wiser to live to fight another day, so we pulled in and called it done. A few laps later, Troy Regier went into the turn one wall like a freight train and Jim Birges went on the win the 410 part of the show, with Dave T winning the 360 class. The good news is that I think we found the heating malfunction so everyone had better start to take notice of the 18 car...
A gigantic thank you to Joel, Todd, and Joe for the hours and hours of work, and I think we still may be onto something...LOL
Also, a big thank you to all the fans that braved the cold to come watch us play :)
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