Sunday, August 2, 2015

Valentine Speedway 1st 360 Race - Loving the Underdog

We headed to Glenrock Wyoming for our first 360 race of the year. It was great to meet up with many of our 360 friends that we hadn't seen since last summer, including Jeremy McCune, who puts on a fun show and always makes sure the fans get to see a good race. There were also some 305 Colorado guys there so we would have a fun weekend.

We really enjoy racing at Valentine Speedway because the owners really know how to take care of a dirt track and put a lot of time and effort into making the track the best it can be.

The first night had 23 cars, which was a lot for this small track. All of the cars side by side, they filled the entire front stretch. Justin had his work cut out for him, pulling the last row of the first qualifying heat. He was happy to be back in the 360 and quickly adapted to the power but we missed the set up, so the car was too loose and he took a 5th place finish in his heat.
We were then pulled for the dash for cash but once on the track the car made a horrible screaming noise so Justin pulled off and we soon discovered that the gear set was bad. We missed the dash but still got to run the main event.

This made passing extremely difficult as many of the cars at the back were tough to navigate around. Justin aggressively drove from 23rd place to 10th when disaster struck. A driver who Justin passed clean, decided to plow through him in the straightaway which caused Justin to flip and land upside down. It was incredibly scary for everyone, including Justin who was hanging upside down until the safety crew was able to pull him out. April tried to run out onto the track to see if her husband was ok, but was held back and had to wait (for what felt like an eternity) to know if he was ok. It was obvious that he was ok when the crowd roared their happiness to see him emerge and walk across the track, back to the pits.
This was an incredibly frustrating end to the night, not only for the high expense of broken parts but also the lack of judgment by the driver who hit Justin which cost us a good finish. Justin was/is still in a lot of pain but he was very thankful for his safety equipment which did it's job. It also required a super late night and early morning of assessing the damage, figuring parts loss and replacement and then putting everything back together again.
Thankfully we were able to rebuild the car in the hotel parking lot with help from fellow drivers/teams. Special thanks to the Valentine track gypsy, JJ who helped dissemble the wreckage and after we fed him, he disappeared.

Saturday, we got the track late and scrambled to make sure that the engine was still alive, which thankfully roared to life...first start. Justin pulled another bad position as last row of 3rd heat. He used his heat race mostly to make sure that the car was ok after the wreck. He felt good about the car but continued to use the cash dash to shake down the car. We ended up flying an old wing which has the old race colors so the car looked pretty retro.

For the main feature we decided to tighten the heck out of the car due to the dry slick track and knowing that we were starting at the back of the pack. Good decision as Justin began to pick off cars one by one. He avoided two major wrecks including a guy that tried to slide job Justin but missed and ended up in the catch fence.

He claimed 8th place from the very back and had a blast doing it! Justin as also awarded hard luck award and received a new front axle which replaced the one destroyed the night before.

All in all, an expensive weekend but much knowledge was gained along with new fans and friends in the pits. People always love the underdog!