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Our Second Win!!
May 6, 2008 - updated May 6th, 2008 2:21pm
Web posted by Paulie Harraka

California --


Harraka Wins at All American Speedway 5-3-08

This weekend was an extremely busy, but also extremely successful, weekend for our # 16 Infineon Raceway / Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Toyota Camry. Because of two academic examinations that I had to take, I wasn't able to fly out to California until Friday afternoon, meaning that our team missed All-American Speedway's Open Practice on Thursday. However, everyone at Bill McAnally Racing worked extremely hard on our racecar and we were able to win our second race of the season on Saturday night! This race was particularly special because it was the first of five "Toyota / TRD 100 Lap Events" at All-American Speedway this season.
            In an effort to spread out my college course load as much as possible, I decided to take two courses, Chemistry and Calculus II, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Both of these courses will transfer to Duke University and, coupled with my high school AP courses, I will have completed almost a full semester of study before I ever begin my academic work at Duke this fall! The final examinations for both of the UNCC classes were this past Thursday, and neither of them could be rescheduled, meaning that I couldn't fly to California until Friday morning and our team missed Thursday's Open Practice.
            When I finally did arrive at BMR's shop on Friday afternoon, the team had the car almost ready for competition. Thanks to Scott Ickes from Timken and David Holden, we were able to solve our bearing problem on Friday afternoon. At the end of the day, the entire team headed to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse! We all had a great time, as the food was awesome and it's always fun to spend time with the race team away from the racecars. It's a great team building exercise.
            We headed to the shop on Saturday morning to put the finishing touches on the racecar, loaded up, and headed to the racetrack. We got done early enough that I was able to watch our youngest crewmember, Alex McAnally, play a few innings of his baseball game before the rest of the team headed to the racetrack. Alex was a bit late to the track because of his game, but none of us minded, as his team brought home the win.
            All-American Speedway gave us two rounds of practice, which our team made full use of. We made a number of small changes and found a little more speed in our endless quest for the perfect lap. At the end of practice, we were #1 on the speed charts. Unfortunately, I drew a low number in the qualifying draw. The qualifying draw is used to decide the order by which cars qualify, meaning that I would be one of the first cars. This was a big disadvantage and resulted in a 5th place qualifying run for our team.
            For the 100 lap main event, I knew that it would be all about pacing myself and being around for the end. Starting in the 5th position, I planned to run the first 70 laps at a moderate pace, keeping myself within striking distance of the leaders. When the green flag dropped, I kept my car glued to the bottom and was able to move up to third place by the time everyone got into single-file order.  The two lead cars had about a four car length lead on me and I had about a 3 car length lead on the fourth place car. To me, this was the perfect place to spend the next 50 laps.
            Bill McAnally, who was spotting for me, was constantly reminding me of the length of the race, "Save your tires and save your brakes. We've got a lot of laps left here. Let's make sure we're around for the end." I moved into the second position after a restart around the halfway mark and settled in there for a while. The leader, Jason Romero, was visibly running his car very hard. I was running at about 75% and was staying with him, so I decided to step it up to 80% and try and force a mistake out of Romero. When I did that, he began pushing his car that much harder, so I held the pressure on him. The few times that I did stick the nose of my Toyota underneath him, he chopped me on the entrance to the next corner, so I just let him hold the lead and run his car on the ragged edge. There were plenty of laps left. The caution flew with 23 laps to go, forcing me to restart next to third place car Gary Glenn, with the leader starting in a row all by himself, according at All-American Speedway rules. This created a very interesting restart, as Romero held me up enough for Glenn to get a good jump on me. After a few laps of side-by-side battling with Glenn, I decided to let Romero and Glenn race one another hard for a few laps before I got back into the mix. Sure enough, they raced each other extremely hard, enough for both of them to burn off whatever might have been left of their tires.
            With 16 laps to go, I made my move underneath Glenn coming off of turn two to take the second position. By the time we made it back around to the start/finish line, I had cleared him and set my sights on the leader. I had no trouble running Romero down, as I had conserved my racecar much more than he had. I set him up as we entered turn three and got under him coming off of four. We went down into turn one side-by-side with 12 laps to go, and by the time we exited turn two, the lead was all mine. I ran the car at 100% for the next four laps, stretching out a lead. Once Bill McAnally let me know the size of my lead, "Okay. We've got about a 5 car length lead. Just bring it home," I ran a little easier, just enough to maintain the lead.
            Coming across the start finish line for our second win of the season for Infineon Raceway and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse was awesome, especially since it was the first of 5 in the Toyota/TRD 100 Lap Event Series! We certainly didn't lead the most laps, but we led the most important ones. Everyone on the crew, Alex, Herman, Travis, and Crew Chief Ryan, worked extremely hard on the car, and they were all just as excited as I was. I was extremely fortunate to have Bill McAnally, who has probably participated in more races than I have been alive for, on the other end of the radio.
            Our next race is May 18 at Roseville, CA's All-American Speedway. We hope to bring home another win!

 

  


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