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Less than two months ago I reported from Lost Creek ,PA about the ROAR Nationals warmup race held at LCRC. This time, same place, same facility, new layout and another new condition, they held their Annual race called “The Big One”.
The turnout was a little lighter than I would have expected, but with the Memorial day weekend going on the same time, im sure that had something to do with it. The most noteworthy driver in attendance was Ryan Maifield along with his tire guru Jason Ruona. There were some other drivers though that bring heavy loads of competition like, Jason Schreffler,Chad Phillips,Gunner R. AE actually had the largest variety of team drivers in attendance testing for the upcoming Nationals.
The Layout was the most difficult one I have raced on in a while. Its not so much that the turns were tough, but there were a series of 2 downhill doubles and a huge uphill triple that really gave drivers a tough time, including me.
The jumps were difficult to clear and you had to set them up perfectly, if not you were heading into the dugout with your ball cap in hand. They incorporated another step down type jump and even some ant hills. The layout as a whole was actually quite fun, but awe so difficult. The track saw a lot of rain, much like the last time I raced there.
This time though the dirt seemed to be more saturated and soft to walk on. The traction was a bit down from the previous time we were there and with minimal sun, the track never really dried out and grooved to the same level as in the mains at the Nats warm up.
With the grip being low, I turned to the Proline Holeshot as my go to tire for the event. I found that the m3 compound in this pattern provided the most stable grip for me. Since the dirt was saturated tire wear was low, allowing you to run holeshots for the duration of the qualifiers and main.
The good news is, in the lower grip condition our car really produces a fair amount of traction and it really helps. You seemingly have more steering and rear traction than most others. This pays off in the lap times. I was unable to test my newest setup in the higher grip, perhaps we will have to wait until the nationals but it was working really well in the current condition.
I really did not adjust too much of the car, mostly the shock oil, springs and some camber links. I switched over to the OPT.1 steering bar, this really seemed to help the car here at LCRC. I also liked running the wheel base in our centered position vs. our other past setups. The shock oils are pretty much the same as I usually use, with the exception I went up in oil when the temperature went over 80 degrees F.. Aside from that, I liked Pink springs in the front and white ones in the rear.
As Qualifying went off I felt my car was pretty good. I at some point lead 3 out of the 4 or maybe all the qualifiers. The only difference between Maifield and me was not the speed, but I had a mistake in almost every qualifier. Maifield simply was putting together clean runs, while I was making small errors. Unfortunately, you make a mistake you pay the price against guys of his Caliber.
Hopefully, I will be ready at the Nationals and mistake free or at least I hope.
After qualifying was over, the rain began to fall. The track was saturated again, but the track owner Kevin was hard at it. He did a good job getting the track in order after the rain and it was ready on final day. It actually was in far better shape than I would have thought. Either way the condition was still damp chalky dirt with lower grip. The sun really never showed its face all weekend. It was hot, muggy, but not really any direct sun.
The mains went off without a hitch and our main was exciting in the beginning. Mostly only the first five minutes, LOL.
The flag man lowered the flag, and then raised it. We were off, I caught Maifield sleeping on the line and was able to get around him in the first turn. I lead the opening lap and was holding strong until we made it to the large triple in which I was headed for the dugout after missing the jump entirely. Maifield took over the lead, and I kept it close, while gaining on him slightly. A small mistake would set me back and I would try again to catch up, I closed again slightly, but another mistake would put me further behind. Unfortunately, He drove a really good race, and without mistakes. I really didn’t have the best of mains, making small errors here or there. He opened up a gap, and in the late stages of the race, I closed it a few seconds, but I was so far behind, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
In the end, it was a good race, my car worked really well. It was one of the first times I was able to run at the same lap speed or faster than another world class driver. I feel like our car is really coming together and we have come a long way. Hopefully things will go our way at the nationals and we can make some serious noise.