Saturday:

After our lovely two hour nap, we head over to the track to setup.  It’s overcast, and we can feel the rain coming.  The rain held out until after the first practice session.  The first session was open, no run groups, so we only got three runs.  The track was wet and very slick, no way to keep up your speed on this very fast track.  The track was four turns, flat-out, no lifting.  The speeds were normal, but this was one of the few times where your speed stays constant through the whole lap.  No, initiate, brake, gas, transition, gas,brake, brake, hand brake, gas, like last year’s NOPI parking lots.  This was initiate, gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssss, run is over. haha.  After my first three laps, I was struggling with the very wet conditions.  We pull the car in, and some kid comes up, says he’s seen my car on the internet, and asks to see under the hood.  We oblige, and open the hood.  As soon as the hood opens, we see that the timing belt is splitting and about to snap!  Perfect timing.  Yancey is out dropping off the Subbie to get fixed, so we call him to go on the hunt for a new timing belt, while I start taking apart the front of the motor.  Thankfully, Blake Fuller lent us an EZup to keep us out of the rain.  Changing the timing belt made us lose one practice session.  We roll out for the next session, and on my 2nd lap, as I’m coming around the last sweeper full-throttle in 3rd gear, I feel my legs and feet start to burn.  Then it gets REAL hot!  I’m thinking, “great my car is on fire”, and as I reach to pull my fire system, I see that it’s coolant.  My heater core had broken and let out all the coolant onto my legs and feet!  I limp the car back to the grid, and Yancey loops the heater line and fills the car back up in less than 10 minutes.  I swear to God this guy could fix anything.  I was telling people I could be out there driving, and the motor could just disappear, and Yancey would somehow fix it for me to continue running. hahaha.  The session continues, and I got some good practice in, even though I only had 12 runs total for the day.  Night falls, and we pack up for the night, tired, and frazzled at the same time.

Sunday:

The weather is perfect!  Sunny and 70 degrees.  This is good, but it’s also the 4th different track condition we’ve all experienced for the weekend.  After the driver’s meeting, we line up for qualifying.  We get one practice lap, then our two qualifying laps.  That’s it, crazy I know.  I struggled with some grip and wheelspeed, but I think I still managed to make it to the show.  It was weird.  The judges know I don’t make the horsepower of the 240′s and 350′s, but they wouldn’t take it into consideration.  But that’s a whole other story.  Anyway, I didn’t qualify.  Everyone has their bad days I guess.

The event did go really well.  My only complaint (besides not qualifying) was there was no spectator seating.  Everyone had to stand along a fence, at ground level and couldn’t really see.  Other than that, NOPI definitely stepped up their game.  I can’t wait for Columbus, and I WILL be on the podium for sure!

I’d like to thanks everyone this past weekend for all their help and support: Yancey, RayRay, Marsh, James, Struka, Patrick, my lovely wife Sonja, Joey Redmond for the ride back home, and especially NOS Energy Drink for their support this season.

And now the pics!

In the pits:

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Struka’s ride:

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I hate when Joey uses a flash during the day!

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Juan Henao’s car caught fire during tandem.  He was killing it!

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Best Tandem runs of the day:

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Action shots:

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