BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Aug 19, 2022) – We were finally able to get some races in with our Torco Racing Lubricants / JCM Motorsports Dirt Late Model. It has been the rainiest summer I can remember and while it’s “nice and green” here in The South, all this water is really cramping our racing-style.
After being rained-out for a few weekends, we got to run our car at the famed Talladega Short Track that sits just across the road from the even-more-famous Talladega Super Speedway here in Alabama. This race happened on August 13th as the upgraded “Bull Ring” hosted a full-card a racing classes on a finally-clear Saturday night.
Having been to this track many times as both a spectator and a crewman, it was my first time on “the other side of the fence”. We had a pretty good Hot Lap session and thanks to a good blind-draw, we lined up on Pole for our Heat Race. I spun the tires pretty hard going to the Green Flag so I slotted into 2nd position exiting Turn-1, where I ran for 4-5 laps. A Red-Flag ground the field to a halt as a couple of cars got together pretty-hard in Turn-1.
During the pause in the action, car owner Colten Miller motioned me (from the fence) to “protect the bottom” of the race track at all cost. On the single-file Restart, we carried on and I ran as hard as I could while I made sure not to let anyone drive up the inside of me. Naturally, this left two-lanes of races track around the outside for anyone to use. I could tell another car was close to me as I occasionally had to gather-up my car after being rammed from behind as another driver tried to move me up out of my lane. At one point he even hit my left-rear so hard as to move me up a few feet but as he then tried to run up the inside, I blocked his path and held my ground, holding my car to the Bottom and keeping him at bay. I mean after all, I was giving him the entire outside two-lanes of the track if he wanted to drive where I wasn’t.
This situation apparently didn’t suit him as I suppose he wasn’t skilled enough to make a pass around the outside. Hard to say really but he and his crew were very upset after the race, for me not simply getting out of his way… lol… Maybe he didn’t realize the point of a race is to “hold your line as best you can” and while giving up the upper 2/3’s of the track for any competitor to race on, as the leading car, I am under no obligation to move out of anyone’s way and simply let them pass without a fight… Maybe he’s just new to this racing stuff???
Anyway, I ended up finishing 2nd in my Heat Race #2 and that meant I would start The Feature from outside the 2nd Row. During the Heat, we felt that our car was just a bit to “tight” in the mid-corner areas of the track so we decided to “free the car up” a bit to help me steer the car through the center of the corner and thereby allowing me to pick up the gas a little sooner. I still think we were right in this decision however we went a bit too far. Come Feature time, our Torco USA 19m car just didn’t have enough grip and all we could do was spin the tires all around the race track.
That being said, I spent the majority of the 30-lap Feature in a state of “damage control”. I’d carry in as much entry-speed as the car could stand, roll the center and smoothly as possible and then drive off the corners like I had a half-cracked egg between my foot and the gas-pedal, trying my very best not to just haze the tires down the entire straight away. In the end, we finished up 7th and while clearly not what we had hoped for we ran hard, still left the track with a top-10 finish and our car “mostly” in one-piece. So as the saying goes, “On to the next one”.
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