Banquet Time

October 25th was a day the team will not forget anytime soon. We headed to the Springport VFW hall for the Springport Motor Speedway banquet.

As always, all of the track employees were so courteous and friendly to us. I personally enjoy it, because it gives all of us a chance to put on our finest threads. We got to sit near the front – a reserved table even – and partake in a nice dinner, and perhaps a libation or three.

The speeches were good, even when some of us forget to thank key people (ugh), and the hardware was … huge. The trophy barely fit in the car; it is the interior width of the Fusion. And, I also managed to score an embroidered Hoosier jacket. It is very nice, and I look forward to accessorizing against Hoosier purple.

The banquet was later in the year last season. This year it was earlier, which means the off-season is even longer. As usual, I can add the “we are working on some things” – because, well, that’s true.

Next update will be after Turkey Derby (running a TQ midget again), and will have the season in review.

-Michael

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Michigan Cup Weekend

It was a long day, but the last Top Speed race of the year at the Speedway was a decent one for the team. We time trialed adequately (10th/28). They invert 8, 10, 12 based on a “pull a number out of a bag.” We had a 66% chance of it being good for us, and naturally we got the 33% one. The top 8 got inverted, so we started heads-up in 10th.

It rained as soon as qualifying finished, and there was over a 2 hour rain delay. It was nearly 11pm by the time we took to the track. And we behaved like a bunch of pent up savages. There was a lot of carnage, and we could barely string any green flag laps together. We moved backwards for a bit, but then started proceeding forward. We had enough bite to keep up, but not enough to make any real passes. Got to watch a lot of good battles ahead of me, but ended up in 7th place – and a car that rolled into the trailer (always a positive.)

We will take it – if not for a love tap in the first race we would have had top 10’s in each of the Top Speed races at the speedway. It bodes well for 2015 – let us just say our current intent is to race with the group more.

-Michael

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The Regular Season Comes to a Close

It would be easy to say that I was going to race the last night of the season “just like any other night.” But with the points title hanging in the balance, well I would be lying to you if I said that was the case. Let’s face it, I had worked through all the permutations. I knew where I had to finish compared to the other 2 tough competitors (Earl Miles and Walt Obrinske Jr.), and it certainly got in my head as I could not stop thinking about it.

We came prepared, and loaded for bear. We did not want for rubber selection, and we had done some testing during the prior week. If I learn one thing from my car owner, it is “you can never be content with how the car was previously.”

Well, we struggled a bit in practice. We could not find speed near where we were the previous week. The thought was that the new shoes would correct it. Time trials did not bear that out as we were sliding a tad, and the results showed that. We barely made the invert of 9, which was the lowest we had timed in any of the regular races. This started us 2nd in the heat. If we could hold our position it would give us nearly the maximum number of points, making up for the time trial issues. But the car was worse, as our adjustments made it nearly undrivable. I plummeted to next to last in the heat. This was not acceptable, and I was choking away the championship.

Just before the feature a sage fellow driver came up and said “just drive as you have done all season and you will be fine.” At that point I was finally able to shake the cobwebs from my head, and I was able to visualize what I needed to do (a top 5 would lock it up).

Stayed patient during the feature, managing to avoid the wrecks ahead of me, which pretty much always went up the track to the wall (thankfully). Soon I was in the front 2 rows on a restart, and the top 3 of us took off. It turned out it was the 3 points contenders. I held with them for a while, but we were a tick slower. They started to pull a gap and I held my position knowing that 3rd was more than enough. The problem was that I was holding up the train! Tap, tap, tap, there was plenty of notice that the line wanted to be moving. I had no intentions of giving it up, and we held on to 3rd, and with it got the team’s first points championship! It was the way the season should have ended, with the 3 of us on the podium.

We then got to go back for some more Winner’s Circle photos – this time as the champion. It was a great feeling (I am not going to lie), and yeah I really was tongue-tied when handed the microphone. Sorry to the fans that I am bored while speaking!

From there, it was only appropriate to have a halfbakedschemes celebration at Applebee’s! ½ price appetizers made it delectable and frugal (hey, we still needed team funding for the last Top Speed race). And besides, take out the slash from ½ – and it is 12, our car number. And yes, that was almost as cheesy as my frontstretch speech.

Still glowing, -Michael

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Another Season, Another Trip to the Best Spot on the Track

The next to the last regular season race was held on August 16th at Springport. The team was feeling confident after a Top 5 in the previously held Top Speed race. Not only that, but the points race was tightening up. The car was fast off the trailer, and showed it in time trials, registering a 2nd place time behind Bobby Heyink (winner of the last race at the Speedway). The heat race was a precursor to the feature, as we were able to quickly move up into 2nd place. Despite being faster, there was no point in pushing the envelope in a heat race, so I tried a few different lanes to see how the car would behave. The fact was it was planted wherever I set it on the racetrack.

The invert for the feature was small – just being a 6, which meant we started the feature in 5th. In front of us were some tough competitors (including the 5th place car from the previous race), but we were confident in our chances. The race started uneventfully, and we patiently worked our way forward – taking a car every few laps. By the time got up to 2nd the leader, Gord Alblas, was trying to check out on the field. We were able to systematically reel him in over the course of 10 laps or so. He was very quick, and there was not much to be had in the form of passing opportunities. Eventually we caught up to the back of the back. A lapped car held the middle lane coming off of turn 2, and Alblas went to the high side. I pitched the car to the bottom, and it just plain stuck. We got great drive off the corner and completed the 3-wide pass. From there we took off. There was the typical late race cautions to make things nerve-wracking, but we were able to hang on.

The whole team was present, and we were able to get some great Victory Lane shots. With the win, it marked my 2nd straight season managing to find the way to Victory Lane. It also pushed us into the point lead with a single race to go.

-Michael

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Banquet Time

October 25th was a day the team will not forget anytime soon. We headed to the Springport VFW hall for the Springport Motor Speedway banquet. As always, all of the track employees were so courteous and friendly to us. I personally enjoy it, because it gives all of us a chance to put on our finest threads. We got to sit near the front – a reserved table even – and partake in a nice dinner, and perhaps a libation or three. The speeches were good, even when some of us forget to thank key people (ugh), and the hardware was … huge. The trophy barely fit in the car; it is the interior width of the Fusion. And, I also managed to score an embroidered Hoosier jacket. It is very nice, and I look forward to accessorizing against Hoosier purple. The banquet was later in the year last season. This year it was earlier, which means the off-season is even longer. As usual, I can add the “we are working on some things” – because, well, that’s true. Next update will be after Turkey Derby (running a TQ midget again), and will have the season in review. -Michael

Read More

Michigan Cup Weekend

It was a long day, but the last Top Speed race of the year at the Speedway was a decent one for the team. We time trialed adequately (10th/28). They invert 8, 10, 12 based on a “pull a number out of a bag.” We had a 66% chance of it being good for us, and naturally we got the 33% one. The top 8 got inverted, so we started heads-up in 10th. It rained as soon as qualifying finished, and there was over a 2 hour rain delay. It was nearly 11pm by the time we took to the track. And we behaved like a bunch of pent up savages. There was a lot of carnage, and we could barely string any green flag laps together. We moved backwards for a bit, but then started proceeding forward. We had enough bite to keep up, but not enough to make any real passes. Got to watch a lot of good battles ahead of me, but ended up in 7th place – and a car that rolled into the trailer (always a positive.) We will take it – if not for a love tap in the first race we would have had top 10’s in each of the Top Speed races at the speedway. It bodes well for 2015 – let us just say our current intent is to race with the group more. -Michael

Read More

The Regular Season Comes to a Close

It would be easy to say that I was going to race the last night of the season “just like any other night.” But with the points title hanging in the balance, well I would be lying to you if I said that was the case. Let’s face it, I had worked through all the permutations. I knew where I had to finish compared to the other 2 tough competitors (Earl Miles and Walt Obrinske Jr.), and it certainly got in my head as I could not stop thinking about it. We came prepared, and loaded for bear. We did not want for rubber selection, and we had done some testing during the prior week. If I learn one thing from my car owner, it is “you can never be content with how the car was previously.” Well, we struggled a bit in practice. We could not find speed near where we were the previous week. The thought was that the new shoes would correct it. Time trials did not bear that out as we were sliding a tad, and the results showed that. We barely made the invert of 9, which was the lowest we had timed in any of the regular races. This started us 2nd in the heat. If we could hold our position it would give us nearly the maximum number of points, making up for the time trial issues. But the car was worse, as our adjustments made it nearly undrivable. I plummeted to next to last in the heat. This was not acceptable, and I was choking away the championship. Just before the feature a sage fellow driver came up and said “just drive as you have done all season and you will be fine.” At that point I was finally able to shake the cobwebs from my head, and I was able to visualize what I needed to do (a top 5 would lock it up). Stayed patient during the feature, managing to avoid the wrecks ahead of me, which pretty much always went up the track to the wall (thankfully). Soon I was in the front 2 rows on a restart, and the top 3 of us took off. It turned out it was the 3 points contenders. I held with them for a while, but we were a tick slower. They started to pull a gap and I held my position knowing that 3rd was more than enough. The problem was that I was holding up the train! Tap, tap, tap, there was plenty of notice that the line wanted to be moving. I had no intentions of giving it up, and we held on to 3rd, and with it got the team’s first points championship! It was the way the season should have ended, with the 3 of us on the podium. We then got to go back for some more Winner’s Circle photos – this time as the champion. It was a great feeling (I am not going to lie), and yeah I really was tongue-tied when handed the microphone. Sorry to the fans that I am bored while speaking! From there, it was only appropriate to have a halfbakedschemes celebration at Applebee’s! ½ price appetizers made it delectable and frugal (hey, we still needed team funding for the last Top Speed race). And besides, take out the slash from ½ – and it is 12, our car number. And yes, that was almost as cheesy as my frontstretch speech. Still glowing, -Michael

Read More