(For more from the 2012 Silver State Nitro Challenge, click here.)
Coming off of a good result at Neo ’12 two weeks ago, I was hoping to make it into one of the A mains this weekend. It started off looking like I would have a good chance at achieving my goal in buggy. Things took a dramatic turn for the worse, however. My buggy was amazing in the first practice round. The second round didn’t go quite as well. I definitely ran the wrong tires, and I had way too much rear brake bias. There were a few corners on the track where it would really cost you if the front end locked up, so I was trying to find the minimum amount of front brake that I could get away with. The adjustment that I made was too much, so I just had to be really easy on the brakes for that round. Since the second round was the timed one, I ended up in the B heat after the re-sort for qualifying. That still wasn’t too bad considering I NEVER do well with the “three fastest consecutive laps” way of seeding. Truck practice went the way it always seems to go for me… My truck is always just okay when the week starts, but gets better and better as the race progresses. All-in-all, my dad and I were pretty happy with the way practice went. We had some clutch issues that we knew we had to figure out. Part way into qualifying, my dad was able to get them set up where I wanted them.
I just wanted to get a clean run in the first round of qualifying. Truck was up first. We were having problems even before my heat was up. My starter box decided that it didn’t want to work anymore. It managed to start the engine once, but my after my truck flamed due to a low idle, it wouldn’t start it the second time. This meant that my dad had to run over to the Kyosho pits and use Jared Tebo’s starter box. By the time he got back and had tuned the engine, the qualifier had started. The first round of buggy qualifying wasn’t any better as I ran out of fuel with about a minute to go. Both of my throw outs had already been used. That’s always a great way to start the race.
The second round of qualifying was at night, so I was able to make the full seven minutes without running out fuel. This would be the only time though. I made too many mistakes in this round and ended up around 20th overall in buggy and truck. After a rough day of qualifying, we got back to the hotel around 10:30 PM, ate dinner at FatBurger with Daniel Adams and John Cary, and headed back to the room at 11:30 PM. I went to bed around 12:30 PM every night, which meant that getting up at 5 Am the next morning wasn’t easy.
With one more round of qualifying, I was hoping that the next day would be nothing like the last, but unfortunately, it was almost identical to Friday. I ran out of fuel in buggy and truck. No one could figure out my lack of fuel mileage. Normally I get good fuel mileage because I have a fairly smooth driving style. There were other guys having issues that you would normally see near the top. At least I wasn’t alone in my fuel mileage woes.
Since qualifying was the best two out of three rounds and I had only finished one round in each class, I was in the D main in buggy and the C in truck. Surprise, surprise, I flamed in my buggy main. This was just getting old! To my relief, I didn’t flame in my truck main. Taylor Peterson was leading while Drew Moller (two other guys that had similar problems) and I were battling for second. I wrecked on the most rutted-up part of the track and lost a lot of time. At this point I was having a good battle for third with my teammate and awesome team manager, Marty Korn. To the surprise of both of us, the guy in fifth managed to go one less stop. We were able to get within a few seconds of him, but it wasn’t enough. I really should have bumped out of that main. It was the best it had been all week after I made a lot of setup changes.
This was just one of those races that I need to forget about. My dad and I put in countless hours on the cars before races like this, so it’s extremely frustrating to go there and have all these problems. I’m just going to try to learn from it and move on. There’s nothing else I can do.
The track crew did an amazing job this year. They brought in different dirt and the track held together like it never has at this race. To the shock of everyone, there was no wind this time. It was pretty hot though.
I have to congratulate my teammates Dylan Rodriguez, Chad Bradley, and Barry Baker. They all had great A main performances. Barry won the 40+ buggy main and was in contention for the pro buggy A main. Chad finished seventh in the buggy A main. Dylan made the buggy and truck A mains. He amazed everyone when he qualified second overall in buggy; he was absolutely flying! He had some bad luck in the buggy main with multiple flame outs.
As always, I need to thank my sponsors and my dad for their continued support. With guys like Chad, Marty, and Kendall, I have some of the best people in the industry around me and I need to take advantage of their knowledge. On to the next race!