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Drive For Diversity Program

Drive For Diversity Program News
Our First Win!
Jul 4, 2007 - updated Jul 4th, 2007 11:19am
Web posted by Paulie Harraka

California --

Well, we finally pulled it off in the Briggs and Stratton NASCAR Late Model. This weekend, at All-American Speedway, we won! After a 2nd place qualifying run, we had 3 races (Twin 50's and a Dash). In those three races, we finished 1st, 2nd, and 2nd. This further solidified in 2nd place in points and gave us a huge lead in Rookie of the Year standings.

Arriving in California on Thursday afternoon, this weekend started out like most of our other weekends. After spending Thursday afternoon and all day Friday working on the car in Bill McAnally Racing's shop, we were ready for the race. Unfortunately, we were short one man: Austin. Earlier in the week, Austin was driving a truck when a vehicle going the opposite direction crossed the centerline and hit him. Although he now has 2 broken legs, Austin's life was not lost, and he has no injuries that are not expected to heal completely. God must have had a guardian angel over him, because he isn't injured nearly as badly as he could have been considering the accident.

Last Sunday at All-American Speedway there was an "Enduro" race, where the track is watered and soaped for street-stock like cars to run a 200 lap event. This really makes the track tough to set-up for the following week, as the surface is totally different than last week. After unloading the car at the track, I was pretty unhappy with the "push" (Understeer; Car does not turn as much as I want it to) in the center of the corner. We worked a little bit on it during that session, but didn't really make much progress. In the break between sessions, we made some bigger changes in an attempt to help the car turn better. Although these changes helped, we still weren't handling as well as we had the weekend before.

Apparently, everyone else was having problems that were even worse than ours, because we still qualifed 2nd out of 14 cars. With every time on the track, te car was a little better, but we still had a lot to be gained in our chassis setup. For the first race, I tried a change that I had been wanting to do all day, but didn't have time for. After a lot of measuring and turning, we were ready to race. Due to a top 4 invert, I was starting this race in 3rd. As soon as the green flag fell, I noticed the huge difference in the racecar: this was the best it had been all day. I was able to jump into 2nd place before the first lap was over and set my eyes on the leader, Harold Reiker. Following Harold, I noticed that I was able to drive much lower on the racetrack coming off of turn 2. I knew that if I could get him to slip up just a little more, I would be able to drive underneath of him. I was able to pressure him enough on the entry to turn 1 that he finally did exactly what I wanted: he drifted up coming out of turn 2. I drove underneath of him and we drag raced down the backstretch and into turn 3. After running side-by side through 3, I started to clear him in turn 4. By the time we got back to turn 1, the lead was mine, and I wasn't going to give it up. We took the checkered flag for our first win of the year and my first win in NASCAR Late Models. I couldn't have been any happier. This win is also the first for the season for the Drive for Diversity program.

For the next race, they inverted the top 5 (from qualifying). Starting 4th, I was able to get into the bottom grove after a few laps, but I had fallen back to 6th place. Working one car at a time, I was able to get to 2nd with about 30 laps to go. Unfortunately, Eric Schmidt had already built up a huge lead. Even though I was running him down by about one tenth of a second per lap, the race ended before I was able to catch him, so we finished 2nd. In the second race, we started 2nd. Once again, we fell back a few spots before getting to the bottom grove: this time, I was 4th. Once again, passing one car at a time, I was able to work up to second. However, Eric was about a half of a tenth faster than I was each lap this time, so I wasn't able to get around him and we finished 2nd.

On the whole, it was an absolutely awesome raceday. To get my first NASCAR win was spectacular and it is definately due to the hard work of many, many people, including my parents, Briggs and Stratton, Bill McAnally, and the entire crew. We are now very solidly in 2nd place in points and hold a whopping 56 points. I fully expect to win many more races at All-American Speedway before the year is over. Our next race is Saturday, July 14th.


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