2010 – Race #9: All for Show

Derek Eldridge
We got a nice early start on Sunday heading to the track with time to spare. Scattered T-Storms were in the forecast for Big Daddy’s Speed bowl, but only at a 30% chance. We ran into that 30% about 15min away from arriving at the track. Thankfully, within 5min of the track, the weather completely cleared up.
After Mother Nature watered the track for us, it didn’t take much for the water truck to finish it off the job and get us out for practice. I have to say, it’s nice to get a few hot laps in at the beginning of the day to see where the car’s going to settle in. Very often we don’t get to practice, or if we do, we only get 2-3 laps worth.
Drew and I started out the heat, I was on the outside pole, drew started inside second row. The green dropped and we took off. Worried about a bad clicking sound, I let off early into turn 1 and Terry Riel in the # 11 car immediately got under me to take the lead. Turned out, the chain had stretched a little from when I first put it on and the clicking sound was my chain rapping against my nerf bar.
The first few laps where a little rough until I could find where the car wanted to run. Starting off a bit too tight, a quick adjustment to the top wing position solved the problem. The next issue arrived as I ran out of gear by the end of the back stretch and ran the engine off the rev limiter for about a full second or more before the turns. It’s been the same gear I’ve been running all year, but with a few changes I made to the car this past week, it was accelerating much faster than before, and running out of gear. This posed a new challenge as I couldn’t quite keep up with the top running cars. In the end, I finished one spot in front of Drew.
I didn’t have the sprocket needed to change my gear ratio at the track, so I would be forced to run the feature the same way. Starting 7th (4th row inside) and Drew 6th (3rd row outside) we started the feature. The first few laps were shear pandemonium. With the fast cars at the rear, they made their presence known immediately. Everyone shuffled for track position. At the first caution for a spun car, I found myself back 2 places in 9th on the restart. A few laps later, I found myself turned around after hitting a huge hole between turn 1 and 2. After that, I pushed my wing all the way back to avoid the loose situation again.
Now at the back of the pack, I had to work back to my original position. From 12th back to 8th, I found myself 2 spots back from Drew with the 73 of Jacob Williams between us. Still running out of gear before the end of the track, I couldn’t quite get enough of a run on Williams to get by. He was running the track pretty low and I tried a few times to go high, but came up short. I just didn’t have the power to run that high. I had to keep digging for the inside. Finally, in turn 1, Williams got a little too high on the track and I was able to get up beside him. We ran wheel to wheel for about a lap until Drew’s engine locked up in front of us and we were forced to avoid him. Williams went around on the high side, as I locked up my breakes and turned the car around to avoid Drew.

Sitting sideways on the track, I panicked to start the car and get out of the way as I saw other cars heading into the corner. I fired the car, dropped the clutch, and I shot into the infield to safety. As I made my way to the right to head back to the track I caught one of the mud puddles in the infield. I hammered the gas to try to power through it…. Yea, not a good idea…. The stagger in the car allowed the puddle to turn me left and suck me in like quick sand. Now covered in mud, you couldn’t tell that my car used to be blue. 8o) I ripped tear offs from my helmet to find a clear view. After pulling my last tear off, I was left with mud streaks down the inside of my shield. Man that’s annoying. Luckily, I could still see. It was more annoying than anything.  

Drew went to the pits with a blown engine. Terry Riel (#11), behind me when I spun to avoid the wreck, was placed back in front of me for the restart. I let it go. With around 5 laps left, I finished 7th behind the #11. Not bad out of 13 cars and the challenges handed to us. Drew finished out 11th.
After this race, I gained 5 points on Drew in the Rookie Championship. Now only 5 points out, Drew’s feeling the heat with a cooked engine. Not the way I want to gain ground. Luckily, Drew has a spare engine that he started the season with and he will be able to get that back in the car before the next race. The next race will be in 3 weeks. It will be nice to get two weekends off. With 3 races to go, it’s coming down to the wire. Good Luck Drew! You better give me a good run! 8o)
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Eldridge Racing

Derek Eldridge #8
600cc Mini Sprint

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