Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aztec, NM

Friday on the way to the track, Justin’s parent’s Yukon/team push vehicle broke down outside of Aztec. They had it towed to a shop so we picked them up to go with us to the track. Luckily the shop was able to fix the minor transmission problems before the drive home on Sunday.
We arrived in Aztec along with 36 other cars to contend for Friday’s race. It was a packed pit area and we were excited to be there after a few weeks of no racing. We started second row outside in the second heat. When the race started, the car felt good for the first lap and then the car quickly went away. We butchered the setup which made the car very difficult to handle. It felt like a boxing match inside a metal cage. It took all Justin had to keep the car on the track. We’ll be uploading the video of the heat soon.
With the poor finish in the heat race, we started in the second B, second to last place. This race was better than our heat after some improvements but we finished 9th. They were only taking the top 2 of each B into the A so we were done for the night.
We have been amazed and thankful for the input and wisdom of follow drivers and teams. Many have been willing to share their knowledge and give us some important information about what we have been doing wrong and how to improve our setups.
Some friends from our Bible study group came out for the Saturday race to hang with us in the pits. They were amazed at Justin’s improvements from the past season. They helped us out and were treated to a crazy night of racing. April also got to meet up with an internet friend that she has known online for years now. It was great to meet her family and let them check out the racecar. She took many of the amazing photos in this week’s blog post!
The heats before Justin's heat involved some pretty outrageous wrecks. It all started with a pit official on an ATV getting hit by a tow-truck. Then we witnessed one of the craziest wrecks we’ve seen. Two cars collides and one of them became completely airborne, sending his front wing flying OVER the fence, landing just a few yards from where our crew and friends were standing. Thankfully the safety fence did its job and kept the car from going over so he ended up hanging off the ground, caught in the fence. There were several other wrecks before the night finished but thankfully we managed to avoid them.

Our friends were sitting in the stands and got these tumbling action shots. You can actually see the car flying through the air. Amazing!!

You can see just how close our Yukon was sitting next to the wreck in this photo. Our pit stall was just down the hill so we saw all the live action right there. Crazy!

Justin was in the 4th heat, third inside row. Justin finished fifth and started second row outside in the first B event. He had a bad start due to a slow car in front of him but after a red flag wreck they started again. He restarted 7th and this time Justin took off and finished in 4th place. The car was amazing and he thinks he could have gained more positions if he had a few more laps. It was a great end to the Rocky Mountain season.
A special thanks to those out there who made this weekend possible. You know who you are!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wyoming Race Weekend

We knew it was going to be a dry weekend just by the fact that our allergies were acting up. April couldn’t stop sneezing thanks to the fine dirt in the air. We arrived at Casper Speedway and set up the rig. It was so great to be racing with the Rocky Mountain region again. The last time was back in June so it was nice to see familiar faces and race cars.

Justin took 3rd in his heat after some crazy placements. By the time the sprints took the track for the A, it was so dry and dusty out there. Everyone was sliding everywhere, cars backfiring, drivers spinning out and pure chaos. While we were watching, we couldn’t see any of the cars on the back side of the track due to the major dust cloud. J said it was like driving with your eyes closed but we knew his angels were flying along side his car in that mess. All we cared about was J finishing safely so many prayers were said and protection received. We took 14th out of 26 cars.

Our friends Karla and Brandon were in the stands in Casper that night and they followed us to Rock Springs the next day. These are true friends to brave the road trips, hot weather, dirt and late nights with us. Their little girl is a true race fan and loved playing in the dirt with Tazzer.
It ended up being a super late night at Sweetwater because of the other divisions having wrecks and upsets. Justin took 4th in his heat but didn’t get any passing points so he had to run the B feature. He did incredible and took 3rd place which put him at the back of the pack for the A feature.

He started at the very back of the pack in the A feature with 28 other cars. It soon became obvious that his car was hooked up and he was driving it like we had never seen. In one corner, a pack of five cars could not stick so all of them slid to the outside while in a matter of seconds, Justin sped inside and passed them all. He was on fire, passing many other cars like they were sitting still! He was gaining on 9th place when all of the sudden his car got all squirrely and he slid up almost slamming the wall. He was able to get things under control but was loosing ground quickly.

Little did we know, he had blown his right rear tire! Thankfully he was able to get off the track without running into someone else or the wall. When he got back to the rig, we were shocked at the size of the hole in the tire. Turns out he had run over a piece of metal debris from an earlier wreck. God was definitely watching out for him that night! Justin was a little bummed knowing that we might have finished in the top 5 but he was high on adrenaline and completely thrilled from how well the car handled and how great he did out there.
Come to find out, when Justin and his dad were working on the car the following Monday, they found out that 7 of the 16 rocker arms inside the engine…were cracked!! If he would have stayed out on the track for the last 10 laps, the engine could have been destroyed. After the amazement sunk in, I told Justin…”God totally popped your tire!” :o)