INSIDE 97 RACING WEEK TWO
After an excellent second place finish on opening day, we arrived back to the shop to unload the car and celebrate a little while watching videotape of the race that my wife brought along. It sure felt good to be in victory lane on opening day after six long months of anticipation. Our sincerest thanks were extended to by brother Chris who let us use his car for the day. He was more then happy because he now had a really fast car and the second place money to go along with it.
Attention soon turned to the new car. Sitting on the floor was the new power plant fresh from hi-torque racing engines. Obviously that would be the first order of business. Over the next few nights we diligently worked on several areas of the car. We installed the motor and tranny first and once that was complete we put in the drive shaft so we could drop the car down from the lift and work under the hood. There were several things to do here. We built a radiator bracket, changed over the pulleys on the motor and fabricated a lightweight power steering setup. We also had to fabricate the sway bar mounts, which proved a little difficult. In fact all of these tasks sound fairly easy, and they should be, but as often happens in racing a half hour job turns into two hours. All I can say is the local Napa should know us pretty well by now.
Before we knew it, it was Friday and we really hadnít fired the motor yet. Although we knew it was fine because it was run on the dyno before we got it back. When we did fire, it turned out the timing was way off because the dyno at hi torque is wired for an 8 cylinder car and of course our car is wired for a 4 cylinder. Once that was straightened out we headed home and still had Saturday to tidy up the car. Saturday morning arrived and we set about doing routine checks and final preparation. This is when we discovered we had a problem with the brakes. We could get excellent rear brake, but no front brake at all. In typical fashion that was something we had to mess with for the better part of three hours before we decided the front master cylinder was junk. Gotta love that, it had never been used. At the conclusion of the night we only had caster camber and toe to set in the morning, throw and air cleaner on and head to the track.
Sunday arrived early, and we hit the shop at 7 am sharp. Everyone was real excited and we set about finishing up the car. Chris arrived at the shop with his car and we realized we still needed to install 90 lbs of lead in his car. Ours took a little longer then expected to finish up (surprise) and then we put the lead in his car and took off for the track. Unfortunately, we had already missed the first practice and had 20 minutes before our second. I set tire pressure for both cars and off they went.
Chris went right out and started right in turning hot laps. Jeff, on the other hand was riding slow around the top. For some reason, he couldnít get the temperature past 120 degrees and the motor would not run right. He came in twice quickly and we added duct tape. Finally the car came up to temp and he was off. He blistered off 7 or 8 hot laps before the end of practice and the times were pretty good at 18.7ís and 8ís. We were happy.
Off to the scales we went, where our happiness soon turned to worry. Seems we were a little over weight, but more importantly we were 55% left side. Our rules allow 54%. So we had no choice but to add lead to the right side. In the next practice, this loosened the car considerably. To prepare for the heat race we cut the right rear spring a little and even though that normally looses a car more, it actually lowered the ride height there and helped a lot. Jeff went out in the first heat on the rear.
As the field exited off turn two, all heck broke loose and it looked as though the 97 car would be in the middle of it all. At the last second, Jeff crammed the brakes and darted to the low side to miss it all. Unfortunately for us, there was no yellow to catch us up to the field so we were a quarter lap behind in a 7 lap race. This, however is where Jeff excels and he took off from his 10th position in pursuit of the leaders. The 7 laps went by quickly but he managed to steal the fourth spot from brother Chris on the last lap and gain two points!!
He was still a little unhappy with the car as it was just a little loose for his liking. So before the feature we cut a little more of the RR spring and made a few air pressure adjustments. Before we knew it our feature was lining up. Jeff had the privilege of starting in the 25th position on a 28 car field. At the drop of the green he took off for the front.
His progress was stalled quickly as traffic was bottling up any groove to use. Jeffcautiously picked his way though and by the lap 10 caution was riding in the 12th position. This was ok, but the point leader was riding eighth and Jeff really wanted to beat him. The return to green saw two cars slam head on in the back stretch bringing out another caution. Once the green finally dropped Jeff used his excellent traffic skills to make a couple of holes and put himself in eighth on the rear bumper of the point leader. By this point there was only four to go and while first and second were long gone, third through eighth were two by two, with Jeff at the end looking for a place to go. Finally, with a lap and a half remaining he got his hole as the point leader drifted wide and Jeff filled the hole.
We were a little concerned as to his inside was the brother of the point leader on his outside. During that last lap, there was a little paint swapping as the three raced hard into turn three. Coming to the line Jeff squeaked in for seventh, just missing sixth but less then 6 inches. To his outside, the point leader just missed beating Jeff by a few inches, so it was very exciting.
Returning to the shop, I tallied the points it turns out we were the point leader by a single point!! We were very excited at the prospect of leading the points as a rookie in the class.
Thatís it for this week, if you want to see any pics you can take a look at our website @ www.97racing.net.