This last weekend’s race marked the half way point in the Lucas Oil Regional Series season. As far as the championship goes the weekend was a success. I was looking forward to the race because we had made a few changes to the Maverick and I was anxious to see what the difference was. From this round to the last, I had Bob Bell from Precision Concepts fine tune my new Elka shocks to get them a little stiffer and get the ride height of the car a little bit lower. He worked with PY at Elka to make this happen and it was definitely a step in the right direction. The other thing we made changes on was the addition of the Alba Racing exhaust. I was definitely happy with the way it turned out. They were able to use the stock head pipe which was good because it is double walled for heat and is also a pain to get off. The new exhaust sounds cool and added just over 5hp at the rear wheels.
After I went through tech, it was time to see how the car worked out on the track and I was not disappointed at all. We spent the majority of practice dialing in the new shocks and hitting the track. As the shocks started working better, we started to find other weak points on the car. With the shocks getting better I started to charge harder into the rollers on the track and found out that the stock tie rods did not like that at all. Half way through my second practice session I charged into the rollers hard and half way through the car started to turn to the right. I pulled back into the pits and sure enough I had bent the right tie rod. So Bob and I got to work swapping it out with a spare my buddy Steve Beilman had. We got the new one on just in time to head out for my third and final practice. Out on the track the car was working good and my lap times were better. I had a good battle with Nick Grunlandthat reminded me of our quad racing days. When practice was over I came back into the pits and noticed that the car was pulling to the right again. As I pulled up to my pit my suspicions were confirmed by Bob looking at the front end and shaking his head.
With the shocks getting better giving me the ability to charge into stuff harder, I was running out of tie rods. I called Derek Murray who has a Can‐AM racing team and has offered to help me in the past. As it turns out his mechanic only lives 15 minutes from Glenn Helen and had tie rods at his house. What was even better is he had one heavy duty tie rod. So I went and got that from him, put it on the right side of my car, and crossed my fingers.
On race day, Saturday morning, we made some changes to the QSC clutch and I headed to staging to get ready for qualifying. Out on the track I took it easy for a couple of laps to get used to the shock changes that Bob made just before I went out. After a couple of laps I picked it up a little and then I got comfortable with the car and tried my best to lay down a good lap time without hurting the car. When I pulled off the track I felt really good about my last two laps and after looking at the results, I was right. I qualified first in the Unlimited UTV class.
Now all there was left to do was race. We waited around for what seemed to be forever until it was time to head over to staging. Once out on the track it was all of the SR1s then the Unlimited UTVs. When the green flag flew I got the jump on a couple of SR1s and was looking good. I lead the first lap and was starting to feel good until one of the SR1s got out of control and cut across the course forcing me to hit the brakes coming onto the front straight‐a‐way and allowing someone to get by me on the outside. I tried to get him back but I had lost too much momentum and now found myself in a heated battle with third place Steve Beilman. I was able to hold him off but was also trying to get first back and all the while trying to dodge SR1s that couldn’t seem to hold a line. As I came into one of the turns I had to check up and was hit from behind by Beilman and it freaked me out because I am used to racing in the desert on a quad and there is no bumping because it will hurt you. So now I had my hands full with first place and third place and squirrely SR1s only to come into a turn and out of the corner of my eye I see Dave Nagy flipping through the air as he tried to pass everyone on the outside, so I checked up again and one guess who did not check up, Steve Beilman. I then realized that I needed to get more aggressive and stop pussy footing this thing like a quad at a desert race afraid to trade a little paint. Shorty after that we had a full course yellow because of Dave Nagy’s RZR freestyle moves. Just before the green flag came out they black flagged Steve but he was unaware because his spotter lost contact with the tower. After the yellow it was on with Steve and I. He managed to come up and show me a wheel and after a little rubbing he got by. I was starting to think I had the hang of this bumping thing. Steve and I were flat out pinned coming into the first set of rollers and there is a 180 degree turn right after the last one. As he approached the turn I noticed he was forced to go wide and I was going to try and take him on the inside. Just about that time he came inside and shut the door on me. Well I figured it was a good time to try out this bumping thing and opened that door back up. Well I got him alright, probably a little too hard and that forced my bumper down under his and locked us together. He got on the gas and his car hooked an immediate right looking like I pushed him off the track. When he went over the berm we became unhooked and I took off. Unfortunately when we were hooked up fourth place got by forcing
me back to third. Even worse my little stunt caused them to black flag me, forcing me to pull in through the hot pits ending my run for a first place finish.
All in all it was a good weekend because I was racing with my family there and I am now in the points lead for the Unlimited UTV class. Even though the race could have turned out better, it could have been worse.