Calistoga is always a great race to attend. It's two nights of racing are always full of excitement and action. This year was extra special because the track had a lot of love are care put into it thanks to the Abreu family. The track was slightly reconfigured, fresh dirt, new catch fencing, sound system, and not to mention a big fat purse for both nights. Everything came together to dish out some fantastic racing in both midgets and sprints.
We started the first night (Aug 31) pretty
well. We struggled a bit in qualifying but had a great heat finishing
2nd. I started way back around 18th in the feature, but I had a fast car
and quickly broke the top 10. There were some pretty nasty holes out
there and it bit a few drivers, myself included. Luckily, I kept it
rubber side down unlike many. Unfortunately though I smashed this hole
so hard it did some major damage to the car; bent torque tube, ladder,
and the car landed so hard that it even bent both front shocks. After
that I was unable to march forward, I just held on ending up 7th.
We went through the car and fixed the ladder for the second night
(Sunday 9/1). Unfortunately, we didn't know the shocks were bent and fought a
bound up race car the whole night. It was a rough night for us. But we
were excited to get the heck out of there and head up the road to Rotary
Rex's shop to prep for Chico which was on the following Thursday. It was there that we found our
shock problems and were able to fix them properly with the right
tooling. Rex and his wife Gale were incredibly good to us. Gale did
laundry for us and Rex cooked us up a fantastic steak and sausage dinner
as we spent a day getting the car ready.
At Chico we
qualified well (3rd) out of a competitive field of cars. In the feature I
started 4th and moved up to P2 behind Ronnie Gardner. It was a solid
night for us, but there was one major problem. The head sprung a leak
and got the engine a bit warm. We had to run home and prep for Ventura
in two days.
Since our back up engine was currently occupied
by the pavement car, our best option was to assemble the red 05 car. We
did it in one night thanks to my dad and Tres. My dad was already
zombie-like from driving straight through the night to get home and had
been up for 36 hours straight when the night was just getting started.
Nevertheless, we got it done and made it to beautiful Ventura Raceway.
Our poor red car had been parked since our win in May and the engine
hadn't been run since April. This caused some trouble for us. We
couldn't get the little F motor to run clean at all. I was able to get
the thing to a 4th place finish, but that was all it had. It was
disappointing for sure, but that whole week just proved how dedicated
this team really is. Our hard work continued into the next week as Tres
and I worked as quick as we could to get the engine out of the pavement
car and into the dirt car for the next race which was Ventura again on
Sept 14th. We got it done and headed to the track with high hopes of a
The night went smooth early on. We had a good starting spot of 5th in the main with Ronnie just to my outside. I jumped to an early lead with the 68 of RG not far behind. I was down low on the racetrack but it was going away fast. I could see the cushion getting taller and then I could hear Ronnie behind me. I knew the low groove wouldn't make it much longer and I needed to move up even if it ment risking getting passed. If he did get by me, at least it was early enough to make a move back instead of getting smoked around the top late in the race. I moved up to the top shelf, but as soon as I did the engine coughed and sputtered. I shut it off quick and pulled off. Upon later inspection, we determined the engine wasn't a bad failure, but it was definitely going to put us out for awhile until we could buy the necessary parts.
Unfortunately, because we were in this predicament we were unable to make the next race which was Bakersfield on September 21st. It was not looking good for the next Ventura race either coming up this past weekend on September 28th. However, just two days before the race Cory Kruseman gave me an opportunity to run one of his cars. Cory and I spent all Friday with his crew prepping and setting up both cars. We had lots of fun on Saturday, I got acclimated with the car quick and loved it right off the bat. We were second quick in hot laps and brought home the win in our heat. This put me starting 8th, RG was 6th, Cory was 4th, and Cousin Cody started pole. All of us including David Prickett, Josh Lakatos, and Shannon McQueen had a great race going. It was a race to the front between Ronnie and I. We fought our way up there and slid Cousin Cody for the lead and for 2nd. With just a hand-full of laps remaining I chased Ronnie down with everything it had. I put a wheel on him a couple times on the white put it way up in the fluff trying to make a run at him going into 3 but I couldn't make it stick. We brought it home second in probably one of the most fun races of the season.
A huge thanks goes out to Cory Kruseman, Hobie and Barry for giving me the opportunity to run the Lucas Oil Krusman car, and also to Tres and Stew Van Dyne for there tireless work giving me a blue #5 to run. I also have to thank George Blacker - Ram-Bull Racing, Lucas Oil, and Phil Goodwine - Goodwine Glass. They are the major supporters of this team and we surely wouldn't be successful without them. A special thank you to Alex Frazin for his support and letting us use his motor-home on a regular basis. Thank you to the rest of our supporters for helping keep us going; DC Racing Cams, HPD, Eibach Springs, Swanson Inspections,
K&N Filters, Simpson Race Products, Simpson, Oakley and One Day
Stay tuned for the next update, at this point you never know what our next race may be!