Round One WERA National-Race Report
|The exit of Turn 6 at Roebling Road Raceway|
My weekend didn't quite go as planned and was as much about divinity as it was racing. First there was a death in the family that caused a late start to my 16 plus hour drive. We planned on missing the first practice session, but found some oil on the front tire that caused us to miss the second practice. I was focused and knew that adversity is part of it, so I shook it off and tried to get some laps in. Then I noticed fork oil on my caliper and after cleaning it off and running one more session, I took the forks off and spoke to Lenny at Race Tech. Lenny agreed to change the dust seal and put some cross hatches on the forks to help secure a full seal. Lenny got my forks back in record time, but practice was over. We talked about some things with the bike and he wanted me to try a different spring on the rear as well.
With lack of sleep from the long travel, I opted to get to the track in the morning take the shock off have him install the new spring and then get some practice in to see if I liked it. Like I said, this was a weekend that the higher powers to be would be in full control of. All I could do was go along for the ride and see what was in this blessing for me. So off comes the shock, and then another round of bad news. The rear shock needed to be re-valved. Lenny didn't have any Penske parts, but he worked some paddock magic and we came away with something utterly amazing. I was at TWS last October when Lenny came down to work with John Keene and seen how fast he made John go that weekend, so I was totally pumped to have the opportunity to work with him. Sunday come not come quick enough and Saturday I would not see the track from the seat of a bike, but everyone cheered me up anyway repeating something I said last year at the GNF. "Superstars don't need practice."
In the midst of all this, a late entry to the endurance line up was the Run 1/Mousebox Racing Yamaha R6 that would be ridden by AMA Supersport Daytona winner Miles Thorton and Tim Hunt. So it looked like I would be doing some pit stop duties. Tim rode the wheels off that thing with 3 laps of practice. He took the green flag and immediately battled for first place while dropping some 1:13xx's until a loose clip-on caused him to back it off and ride more cautiously. The team finished 1st in class and second overall. It was my first exeperience in the pits with a team of this caliper and I was blessed to have the chance to help them. Thanks for the invite!
Sunday brought cloudy skies, a chilly wind and the threat of rain. Everyone kept telling me I could do it, and I was trying to remain optimisitic and just do what I could do. Lenny found me early Sunday and we set the bike up for stability. He came to me and told me what he wanted me to do the first four laps and then waited for me on pit wall. I came in and told him the bike felt really stabile, but it needed to turn quicker. He got down underneath the bike and lifted the rear ride height. Practice session was over so we came back in. He immediately found me again, explaining what he did and why and how the bike would feel different next time out. I again put in a few laps to feel the different in handling and then tried to lay some laps down. We started on Friday doing 27's. In the first practice we did some 25's with the change to the rear we dropped to 23's. Lenny said he would get me into the teens which was my goal the whole time. Third practice came and the confidence and stability of the bike brought me a 19.5xx. Lenny came to me and said now change the tire pressures. So, again, I made a bold move swapped tires and pressures and it was time to go racing. I immediately notice the front absorbed some of the bumps better and felt extremely stable. With all the things that surrounded me on this race weekend I lost focus and forgot to lower my shield. As the 1 board went sidewayz I took my hand off the throttle and slammed it shut, but going back to throttle and whacking it open only caused me to wheelie down the front straightaway. I think I made it to turn 1 in 6th or 7th. Disappointing because I knew I couldn't pass easy on this track with as little practice time I had, and if I didn't get out front and follow, it would be the kind of race it was. I was faster than the guys in front of me but I struggled to get around them. I finished 5th and was able to get into the 18xx's. This would be my best starting position of the day and I botched it.
Race 2-B Superstock
I once again had some confidence in the bike and myself after dropping some time and felt like I had a chance here. I was on the third row and hoped to get a good start this time. I came out of turn 1 in third and felt like I had the speed to finally get on the podium, if not the race win. I rode hard and I rode fast, maybe too fast. After getting out motored on the straighaways, I began working on getting in deeper in turn one. I figured that was my only chance. I got into second and was having trouble getting around the guy in front of me who was a slower, more erractic rider with a super fast bike. Lap 3 brought 4 or 5 bikes by me coming down the long front straightaway. I remember Tim telling me that turn 1 is so wide and grips all the way to the edge, so I went deep, grabbed three gears at the 4,3,2 boards , light brake pressure and got out of there in second again. This time the leader checked out. he was noticably quicker in certain sections and plus had Abe Stacey's old bike which is super fast. It was only when the erractic rider came back around me that I knew I needed to find some time in turn 9 leading us onto the front straightaway. So, I started pushing harder and it seems I just lost the front some how and ended up dirt tracking the bike as I headed for some trees. The Texas Tornado Boot Camp skills I learned on March 6th came into play here. I controlled the bikes speed with the front and rear brakes and got it slowed down enough to not have to lay it down or jump off and watch it get demolished in the trees. I even had time to attempt to get it sliding sidewayz and back in the direction of the track. Only problem was I on DOT's not knobby's. LOL I hit a patch of softer earth and we hit the ground. I was able to get it back up make another lap get re-teched and salvage points in the race. Finished 13th.
Race 3 C superstock
Well, this is the meat grinder class and I had a wave two start. After getting the bike cleaned off and ready to race again, I didn't have any confidence woes. I got a decent start and was able to catch up to the first wave. The only problem is that my right clip on came loose and started moving as I put input into the bars. Divinity!!! Again, this weekend was just different. It really wasn't in my control, none of them are, but this time I realized that. Again, I relied on my training from the boot camp, and the fact that the endurance team had the same problem on Saturday. I focused on what I could do to still be in control of the bike and didn't panic. My times were still in the 19's and I used this race as a drill to help me in the future. Mid corner I would release pressure on the bars and try to feel what it was tellling me. Something I learned from the one hand drills at the bootcamp. Finished 12th
|Turn 5 Roebling Road Raceway|
|Stalking my next victim!|
All in all it was a sucessful weekend and we learned what it takes to ride up front during a national, how to overcome adversity during a race weekend (no matter what part LOL) and most of all, how if he brings you to it, he can bring you through it. The bike is working great but we are down on power and the budget we have doesn't allow for any upgrades so we will have to hope that my talent alone can continue to evolve and keep up with the front pack. This year racing the WERA Nationals and being in the paddock with the likes of Jake Lewis, Tim Hunt, and KWS Motorsports really is a big deal. Learning a new track everytime I race while trying to be competitive is exciting but can be difficult. I have learned that before, but didn't have the pressure of doing well. This year I want to win races, and I am pretty confident that I will, but that only makes it tougher. Please enjoy the video. The last lap is my fastest lap of 1:17.9 and I felt we were getting faster. As you can see, I am still new to this.