Our best result so far this season and the worst the car has ran, funny how that works.
This round was intense and we’re not just talking about the driving, it was a difficult and tiring weekend for the whole team. Our first day of practice went well with just a couple of times where the car was slightly overheating but in this track it’s not uncommon so we didn’t think too much about it. Come next day though and we were desperately trying everything we could to keep the car cool, it got to the point where it would overheat just warming up the tires before the actual run, pair that with the fact that the engine was delivering inconsistent power and the brakes weren’t 100% and we got a recipe for failure, or do we?
Without enough time to figure everything out, we went out to our qualifying laps still testing theories on the overheating and power issues, we qualified lower than previous rounds in the 24th spot which put us against Justin Pawlak in the Top 32 bracket. After the day was over we went back to the hotel still thinking and trying to figure out what could be wrong with the car.
Competition day comes by and early in the morning we finally figure out what the issue is after all this time, blown head gaskets, no wonder we couldn’t keep the car cool and power delivery was bad. We didn’t have time to replace them so we decided to skip practice and just save the engine.
While the day went by and competition came closer, lo and behold, RAIN! We like rain, Jeff likes to drift in the rain and our not-in-top-shape engine would like the light load so it seemed everything was coming together for us after all the work and bad luck of the weekend.
At the time of the Top 32 battles, rain had stopped but the track was still very wet, the judges allowed a recon run in the wet for everyone before their battles, we were saving our engine so we decided to forfeit that run going straight into battle with 0 laps done in the rain. Sounds risky? Yeah but whatever, we won the battle. Justin went off the track on his lead lap while Jeff completed a slow and steady wet lap while saving the engine. Our lead lap didn’t have any major mistakes so we took the win. Not bad for our first 2 wet laps of the weekend.
We’re in the main show now, top 16, driver introductions on track, umbrella girls, hanging out with the VIP experience people, this is what we’re here for! Our battle was against Alec Hohnadell who was having a great weekend so far. We knew we probably would only be able to make 1 run before calling a competition time out to let the engine cool so that was the plan. On our chase run, Alec straightened out going up the hill but after that, we also had a big correction coming down the hill making the runs even out as incomplete for both of us.
Now sticking with the plan, the engine is hot so let’s call a 5 minute time out… actually never mind, to our surprise, Alec’s team actually called it before us, it seemed they were trying to figure out the cause of his straightening going up the hill. So we were waiting and letting the engine cool down hoping this was good enough but it wasn’t, we had lost too much water from the pressure cap to the point where it spilled out of the overflow tank so we had to call our own 5 minute time out to refill our system and jerry-rig a bigger overflow tank.
We went out to our lead lap and the engine was hot already at the start line, oh well, let’s go for broke. Our initiation was off which threw the whole rest of the track out of line, Alec did a stellar job keeping close though and with that obtaining the victory over us.
That concluded our weekend, kind of… since the car was going in the trailer for storage until next round, we thought it would be best if we took the head gaskets off right away, that took us until the very early hours of the next day so we just didn’t catch a break all weekend.
On this round we realized that hard work does pay off in the end, with all our struggles in the first two rounds, this was a great refresher and reminder for the team of what we’re here for and what we can accomplish working together. Next round is New Jersey, we will have new head gaskets and an engine running in top shape again so watch out for us!