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Paolo Morganti and Dj Apolaro were both in great shape with the Mega powered Serpent 720 cars.
A 2nd place for Paolo and a 3rd place for DJ showed the pace was excellent.
Very stabile 720 cars, good handling, no traction rolling and very quick and consistent.
In the final things started of well, but Paolo broke a belt which very rarely happens.
DJ was leading the A-Main for a while, even with a half lap leap and doing well with his tyres staying very well and no reason to change. However a locked one-way bearing in this 2-speed ended his hopes.
Thanks to the club at Frt Meyers to host the Nationals.
This past weekend we had the 2008 sedan Nationals at the very hard Fort Myers track in Florida. Myself and Paolo arrived Wednesday afternoon and started getting ready for the race. The qualifiers started on Friday and I had a few things to try and get ready. Most of the tops drivers were there and it was going to be a very close race. The track is very difficult to go fast and you need a lot of cuts to hold the throttle in some parts of the track that will break your car even if you just breath on the boards. Wednesday and Thursday Paolo and I just got track time and tested.
On Wednesday the traction was really bad and it was hard to find a set-up, so I just tried to learn a new line to drive. It seemed that the track was going to be line sensitive and I figured that I must try to be smooth and not worry about being fast. The faster guys will most likely end up in the wall on a track like this. As the week went on the track got better and I could start working on the car. Thursday I tested a Diff in the front and the car was much smoother in the turns. I decided to stay with this and find a good balance with the diff. I have never used a Diff, so for me it was weird. By the end of testing I had found a good balance for the different areas of the track and felt good about the qualifiers.
Friday was here and I had gone through my car to make sure it was good for the qualifiers. The Nationals in the United States are based on a points system and it really makes it hard to go fast. You need to be consistent and finish your races. They use the best 2 rounds out of 6 for setting the mains. With this, 6 cars direct quall into the final and the other cars come from the semi finals. For the first 2 rounds I chose to drive safe and just get good points. I was able to be in fourth overall after the first 2 rounds and now I could really try to go faster. In the third round my car was good and I could have battled for the top spot, but my car stripped second gear. This was the end to the first day and I ended the day in fourth place. Paolo was in TQ over night and looking really good.
Come Saturday there would be three more runs and I was going to push. The first run I was able to TQ the rounds and now was able to fight for the TQ for the weekend. I needed only one more win to tie for the TQ with Paolo and it would then come to a tie breaker. In the second run it was close and with five laps to go in the race I was in the lead. I hit the front chicane and broke the car. This gave the win to Paul L. and now it was coming down to the last race. It was between Paolo, Paul and myself. Who ever won the last round would be TQ for the National event. My motor was a little off and I was not able to get everything out of the car. In the end it was Paul that took the TQ. After the race I started getting tires ready for testing to see about my strategy for the main event. I would start 3rd on the grid for the final. I did not want to have a tire change and the tire wear was a little high. We had been running 40 rear for the qualifiers and now would try running 45\'s for the final. At the end of the day I had some ideas of what I wanted to do for the final and felt good. I know that I would have to keep to the strategy though. If I got caught in the hype of the race I could very easily run out of tires.
Sunday was here and I needed to get the car ready. It turned out that a lot of the regular serpent drivers did not have help for the mains and Paolo and I had to help a few people. This combined with helping my friends left little time for me with my car. I actually only finished the car about 10 minutes before my main. I asked Eduardo Cabal to help me in the main and he did a great job. The Main started and 1, 2, 3 we were gone. We started to make distance on the first lap and on lap 2, car 1 and 2 got together and that let me by. I was now in first and driving safe to save my car and tires. On the first pit stop I came in first and got out in second just behind Toso. It was then him with me about 1 second behind. He seemed to be pushing harder, but I was able to stay within 2 seconds and he did not make it to the next pit stop. He ran out of fuel, although they got him started pretty quick. This put me up front again and Josh about 2 seconds behind me. At about the 15-20 minute mark the entire field was a minimum of a lap down and I had pulled about a 1/2 lap on Josh. Then I heard him commenting on comming in for a tire change. Now I really felt confident. With now having a 2 lap lead on the field and Josh changing tires he would also go down 1 or 2 laps. I was driving safe and my pitman was great. It was all but ours and then it happened. I lost second gear all of a sudden and had to come in to change the gear. Not sure but I must have lost about 8 laps. I got back into the race and recovered to 3rd. Then it happened again. I lost 2nd again and then 1st. I could not do anything and eneded up finishing 6th overall. It was a very up an down race for me and propably the most fustrating race I have ever been in. I had a very good package and my pit man did his job. I though for sure this was my year, but thats racing.
I would like to thank the Fort Myers crew and the Roar officials. The race ran well and smooth. I also would like to thank Kevin H. for the pit work in the qualifiers and Eduardo Cabal for the pit work in the main event.
Thank you to my sponsors for the chance to perform at the high level and for the products it takes to compete against some of the best racers in the world. Between Serpent, Xceed, Novarossi World, Maxy\'s Fuel and Twister Tires USA I am able to give it a run every time I hit the track.
Till Next Race !!!!