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|HUGE WIN AT VIR!||Wednesday, April 17, 2019|
|You would not believe how much work went into the car over the winter and what it took to get it ready for this race. That is why we took the opportunity to run the car last weekend at Mid Ohio with the Grid Life group. We did four sessions and fixed and learned something on every session. After that we had a list as long as your arm to complete in just three days before we loaded her up and drove to VIR. On this weekend at VIR we again had many gremlins to find, fix or adjust.
Kev & I met early Thursday morning to load up the trailer and start off driving. We got on the road at 9am so we didn’t have to contend with Columbus rush hour traffic but we would still get into the track around 5:30pm. It was a nice drive but it is always unnerving to take the RV pulling a 10,000lb trailer over the mountains on US58 East. Coming down the East side of the mountain is especially fun with 9% grades. Fortunately the Discovery has engine braking to help out a lot.
We arrived at the track and expected a long line of rigs waiting to get in to a paddock due to over 500 entries for this “pre-Runoffs” event. To our surprise we drove right in and were taken to a great grassy spot near the track, just across from the Hotel. It was a bit of a drive to grid but it was a great place to watch the race. We were glad to see it was on top of the hill as we knew there was lots of rain coming. Because of the impending rain we decided to put up the big 10’X20’ canopy to have someplace to work on the car out of the rain. We were glad we did! After we got set up we got out the grill and made some sausages for dinner.
Early in the morning at 2am the Inverter stopped and we discovered the house batteries which were now 7 years old were ready for replacement. We also had a problem with the RV water system which was not working. Since we were in Group 1 we had to be on track at 8am. We put on the used tires from the last weekend at MO and went out on a dry setup and got three laps before it started raining. Driving up to the paddock with wet grass wasn’t too bad….yet.
The sensors were still not working correctly so after studying at the AEM wiring diagram we decided to divide the chassis ground and sensor grounds on the AEM EMS4. That seemed to make the sensors much happier so we took it down to grid for the 1:30pm qualifying session. When we got there we realized that we needed to remove all of the changes we made to the sensor calibrations to get back to a normal setup so we took the car back to paddock and loaded an older safe program. When Kevin returned to the grid the cars were gone so they would not let him enter the track there. After he went down to pit out they held him for a while and then a black flag came out. After the track was cleared and everybody else was let back out Kevin finally got on the track. His third lap put him 6th but they did not allow is as it was too late. His second lap put him in 20th position (2:43.636).
It continued to rain and lighting popped a few times so the cancelled the last four sessions of the day.
Friday night we went to the socializer at the barn which was quite nice. They had great appetizers and beer and we got to talk with all of our race friends. The paddock access roads on the grass were now getting pretty muddy.
Saturday morning they had to make up a couple qualifying sessions from the day before (shortened), and they cancelled some run groups sessions as well. Our 8:00am qualifying session went out at 11:00am and we got only got 4 laps before it poured rain but our time of (2:32.556) put us in 3rd for the session and 4th combined with the first session behind Charlie Campbell, Ryan Kristoff in GTL, and Eric Prill with Ken Kannard right behind us.
The race started at 1:40 and it was raining steady so everyone when out with rain setups. The car was running well after several more changes and installing the .095” rear sway bar. Unfortunately we had a severe vibration in the front right wheel which forced us to come in after the first lap. Charlie and Ken swapped the lead several times but Ken took the checker for a great win. Both of those guys run well in the wet and know this track very well.
Sunday morning we both up very early and were not feeling very good about the weekend. We had gotten a total of 12 laps so far and were pretty much swimming in mud. The car was covered with mud and there was no point in cleaning it. We started 5th for the race at 9:00 am and it was finally not raining so we used a set of tempered Hoosiers. However the track was still damp even after two practice groups went out before us. Kevin kept going faster and faster after his tires warmed and the track dried up. Charlie got way out in front by 12 seconds while Kevin and Ken were dealing with gaggles of slow B-Spec, HP and FP cars. Then, due to 3 separate cars off track, they had a full course yellow which allowed Kev & Ken to get up behind Charlie. It was Charlie, a lapper, Ken, Kevin, 7 lappers, and Eric Prill at the restart. From that point on it was a three way battle for the lead. Because of the double yellow Kevin’s tires cooled off some but came back in by the last lap. Going up the esses Ken passed Charlie but spun in Oak Tree corner. Charlie had to lift just for a second to avoid Ken which gave Kevin the opening he needed. Kevin motored past Charlie and led all the way down to the checker flag, turning in the fastest lap of the race (2:10.797).
It was a great win but one that was very much a team win. We both fought hard to get the electrical systems, the new transmission, the car setup and suspension, and the fantastic Hoosier tires to a point where a great driver could win that race. And it was a win against the best FP cars in the country. We really missed Diane, Carrie and the kids who hopefully will be there in October for the Runoffs race.