June 5th, 2010 – Wall Township, NJ
Formula Drift Round 3 was at the beautiful Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. My drift weekend officially began on Thursday at the County Line Body Shop run by Gary Gardella’s brother, Richie. The car had collected a broken windshield the weekend before at East Coast Bash and Gary offered to help me replace it before Round 3 FormulaD. I left Wednesday after work and drove all night to get out to New Jersey to pick up my car. It was really a pleasure to meet Gary’s dad and believe me when I say that he is a trip. After speaking with him, you could really understand how proud he was of his sons’ accomplishments.
After loading up the car, we headed out the venue. Our first agenda for the day was to raise the suspension on the car a bit due to the roughness of the track surface and the transition from the banking to the infield. I have heard horror stories and losing my car to a rough track was not an option. After playing with alignment settings, I set the tire pressures and went out to practice. The car felt amazing with strong grip and great tire wear. We were putting out a lot of tire smoke and the Kenda tires really put down traction. This course was not an easy course to learn. A lot of people have said that the course is not that great but I am thinking the opposite as I had a ton of fun driving there.
Here’s a quick run-down of the course:
You start out on the bank, having the throttle pinned in 3rd gear and carrying it out all around the banking. The banking tightens up a bit at the end so you have to remember to stay off the wall as you shoot down off the bank and into the first transition. Coming off the banking and into the infield is very harsh if you don’t hit it just right. After you get off the bank, you slip past the first clipping point and transition hard to the opposite direction into the start of the figure-eight, a right hand turn. Coming out of the right hander, you have to commit the throttle, stretching it out, to get to the left hander. This brings us to one of the harder parts of the track; it is so bumpy the car actually gets airborne during the transition. While you’re in the air, it can be tricky to figure out where you are going to end up. The course concludes itself with a left hander and that is the run.
I felt good about the Friday practice and qualifying. My strategy was to do a somewhat conservative first run to get some points and then really go hard on the second run. I took off for my first run and it was pretty good, decent height on the bank and I was hitting my clipping points. I went into the last left hand turn a bit too fast and hit one of the outside clipping zone cones. I was deducted points for this but I had to get focused on the second run. I went out for my second run and worked to really make it count. I rode high on the bank and the transition off the bank was awesome. I really nailed the clipping point and setup a quick transition into the right hander. I went flying into the corner a bit too fast and slid up the bank to earn a zero on my second qualifying run. Man, what a let down! I like to say that I take pride in my consistency, even if I am not the best guy out there. Once again with a qualifying position of 31, I picked the 2nd qualifier of the day, Darren McNamara, in his Falken/ASD prepared Saturn Sky.
Darren had won this event the year before so I knew that my chances were slim. However, I was going to throw everything I had into it. Running him was a lot of fun and he continued into the Top 16.
All in all, I have got to say that this weekend was a blast! Once again we did well and had a great showing for Team Kenda / Mertzanis.
Thanks to Kenda Tire, Strack Inc, Konig Wheels, Extreme Dimensions, Competition Clutch and M&R Products for the support this year.
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