Sometimes you’re the bug — and sometimes the windshield. So far this year, I’ve been the bug.
We put on a spare and heading to a truck stop to fix the tire. It was found that the wheel actually had the leak — and so we’d be without a spare until we got back home. On the road an hour late, we finally arrived at the racer staging area at about 6PM — the 17th in line. Thursday we entered the pits at about 11AM, unloaded the cars, set up the pit, established credentials, and teched in the cars. When we returned we noticed the air bags on the street side of the trailer was flat. A look underneath found that the control valve was broke off. Fortunately I carry a spare so an hour later that problem was resolved. Dallas needed a new set of slicks on the Big Red Ram — and so we spent about four hours dealing with that as Mickey Thompson’s generator and air compressor was broken.
Friday we were given two Time Trials in the morning and then two qualifying in the evening. The third qualifying was scheduled for Saturday, as was the 1st round of Eliminations. Dallas’ car ran dead nuts on his 9.50 index all week end long. My car had a new bullet with 4 passes on it. It ran 9.65 off the trailer without weight on the first pass – which was what I was expecting.
For the second Qualifying my Weather Station & Crew Chief Software said that based on the last run I’d run a 9.75 (my Index) if I bolted on 100 pounds. When I picked up the slip I was a 1/2 a 1/10 faster than expected and my 60′ was off 2 numbers. I guess I attributed that inconsistency to my rings starting to seat.
For the first round of qualifying, I like to run a number slower (9.76) to get into the show — then I press it on the remaining qualifying runs. The computer said I needed to add 68 pounds to the empty weight box to hit that number. I was both disappointed and confused when the time slip said I ran a 9.78 — but that was only 2 numbers off and had me as the #7 of 21 racers in NSS. Later in the evening, the computer said that based on the 9.78 pass, I’d run a 9.752 with the same weight. I was shocked when the slip said 9.888 with a horrible 60′.
The car felt good, wasn’t making any noises, and I good oil pressure — but the inconsistency was indicating a bad thing. In the morning we warmed up the car and ran the valves — and there wasn’t any issues there, so we checked the timing — dead on at 34 degrees. I guess I felt that I must have spun worst than I’d thought the night before. On the third qualifying run the car was lazy off the line affecting my RT and 60′ but was going down the track well. I had an opportunity to glance at the oil pressure at about the 1000′ and it was on the right area (too fast to look at exact number) of the gauge. Then between the MPH cone and the Finish line there was an explosion that about lifted the hood off the car and it felt like I had a front flat (the starter beating against the tire and control arm). When I saw that I still had control I flicked off the ignition and looked in my mirror to see a big cloud of smoke. I moved over to the wall and applied brakes when I was down to about 50mph (as my slicks were oiled up). I hopped out of the car and opened the hood (as I thought I had a fire) while a track member jumped the wall to slide a tray under the motor. Back at the line, many thought I’d wrecked because all they saw was flashing lights through the smoke, and my car against the wall when it started to clear. Track guys started bring me pieces on my aluminum block. I was put on a flat bed and taken to the pits.
Dallas qualified well and was matched up with Mike Sanders in the first round of eliminations. We had the car set up to run a 9.50 on the money — but Dallas broke out 2/1000 second too fast with a 9.498.
We loaded up that night and got to bed at about 1AM. We were up at 5AM — but were blocked in until about 7AM. 1100 miles and 17 hours later and we pulled into the shop. Unloaded the cars and yanked the motor out.
The bottom line is that there was a rod bolt or bearing failure and the engine is now a $25,000 paperweight, as is the transmission case. I’ll be in the Vitamin C for the next couple of races.
A couple of the track photos: