BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (July 7, 2022) – As we continue with our JCM Motorsports dirt program this summer, Crew Chief- Cale Finley and I took our #19m Dirt Late Model up to Moulton Speedway on Friday night and then followed it up by running at North Alabama Speedway on Saturday..
The Moulton event was a Crate Racin’ USA series race featuring many of the top “Crate 604” cars in the South East. Having run at this track a few times this season, Cale knew exactly what set-up the car needed and I felt confident we had what it took to battle these seasoned drivers.
After a good Hot Lap session, we lined up for the 2-lap Qualifying. I put in a pretty good first lap and then nailed-down turns 1&2 on the second, going into Turn-3 I came off the throttle a car-length too early and the car tightened-up in me going into Turn-4. Through the Checkered Flag I knew that small-bobble cost me some time as was just hoping it wouldn’t drop me out of the Top-15. Turns out my sense of time is just as bad on-track as it is off (ask anyone who knows me), so as I was massively disappointed by my mistake, Cale came up with a smile on his face telling me that we clocked in 3rd overall! Man, I was glad I was wrong on that one.. lol
After some advisory-words from Cale, I started our 40-lap Feature inside the 2nd row. I was able to get a fair start and was side-by-side with the driver who started 4th. As we approached the Starting Line, he made an attempt to fulfill the statement he made to his car owner and others before the race, “that he was going to be to the inside of the track before Turn-1”. Problem with this plan was that my car was still there but with reckless abandonment he turned dead-left into the side of my car even though he had a lane and a half to his outside that he could have used.
Unfortunately for me, this shoved my car off the inside of the track, forcing me to collide with the large tractor-tires the track placed on the inside of the corners to prevent driver from cutting the corner. When my car’s nose collided with the 5-ft diameter tires, my car was spun around collecting 8 or more drivers that had absolutely nothing to do with this incident. In an instant, this thoughtless act by the 4th place driver caused a lot of teams to spend money needlessly on costly repairs to their cars. For me, I was lucky as only my car’s nose was turned up a bit after colliding with the large-tires.
Since this happen before the entire field had crossed the Starting line, a complete restart was then in order. On the 2rd-Start the same driver tried the same maneuver. This time though, his actions only bent up more of my right side bodywork but again, our collision stacked-up the field and cars behind us suffered the results, collecting each other and spinning in the middle of the track. Again, another Red Flag and aborted start. Lining up for the 3rd time, my patience had reached its limits and as the same driver tried the same move I made sure I was not going to get the worst of it. This time our contact resulted in his car nearly flipping over and spinning out into the infield. For the life of me I don’t know why he didn’t fell that giving me one-single lane to race in was a bad idea but in the end, he was awarded his just-rewards.
Once the race finally got started in earnest, I was able to slot my Torco / JCM Motorsports car into the 2nd position and though we had to ensure a few more Caution Flags and Restarts, I was able to hold that position to the Checkered flag. Miraculously my car’s suspension was unhurt for all the contact and even though the new CFR Performance body was in ruins, the car was still fast enough that I was able to maintain a pace that was faster than the leader, only losing out to him as we navigated through lapped traffic.
This was our best finish with the Crate Racin’ USA Series and save for the one inept-driver, thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Between the Moulton Speedway staff and the CRUSA Officials, everyone made us feel welcome and I eagerly look forward to racing with them soon. Due to the crazy action on the track, I have to give a shout out to my safety equipment partners: The Joie of Seating, Safecraft Racing, MPI Steering and Simpson Racing Products, all did their part in keeping me safe on the track and prevented me from injury while I was bounced around like a Pin-ball.
As one can imagine, Cale and I had a ton of work to do Saturday morning getting our car’s body repaired after the previous-nights beating-&-banging. With an entire new nose installed on our Rocket XR1 chassis, we cleaned everything up with our Molecule Sports products, gave our Wilwood Brakes a good once-over, made sure our Tiger Quickchange was unhurt, cleaned-out our Griffin Radiator, washed our Outerwear Filters, Shined up our Weld Wheels, made sure our JMS Chip/Daytona Sensors ignition was firing all cylinders and that our KRC Drive System and Meziere Cooling Products were in good working order.
With the car loaded up, we headed over to North Alabama Speedway for their big Holiday Weekend show. Though the night went much, much later than we thought it would, again we had a good qualifying effort placing us 3rd on the Grid. By the time our Feature races started (about 1am) the track had slicked-off and try as I might, I just couldn’t find enough grip to mount much of a challenge to the leaders. Coming home in 4th-place, it could have been much worse but I was not 100% happy with our results as I drove out of the track at 2:45am. This night showed that Cale still has a lot to teach me but I’m happy that we’re making steady improvements with our program.
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