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A Quick Weekend
Jun 11, 2008 - updated Jun 11th, 2008 8:32pm
Web posted by Paulie Harraka

CA --

It seems as though every race weekend that our Ruth's Chris Steakhouse # 16 Toyota Camry team has had this year has been anything but mundane, and this weekend brought yet another new set of circumstances. I was not able to arrive in California until Saturday afternoon, right as the team was loading up the racecar to head to the racetrack. That didn't hold us back: we still led the most laps in the main event, posted the fastest race lap (in order to live up to the support that Quick Time products gives us, we need to have the fastest time every once in a while :-D ), and ended up with a second place finish.

My entire crew, Ryan, Travis, Herman, and Alex, did a fantastic job of having everything ready to go for the race this weekend. When I landed in Sacramento on Saturday afternoon and drove to the BMR shop, the guys already had the car loaded up. I went through some of our tires to decide which tires we would race on (the practice tires were already on the car) and we headed to the racetrack. After unloading and doing some final preparations, we headed onto the track.

During the first practice session, we had an unmistakable ignition miss. Despite the miss, we were still the fastest car in the session. Thankfully, we had all of the necessary spare parts available to us. The entire crew worked hard between the first and second practice sessions to change all of the ignition components on the car: the distributor, the spark plug wires, the MSD (Multiple Spark Discharge) box, and the coil. This fixed the problem, as the engine ran much better in the second round of practice.

We started on the pole for the 50 lap main event this week with Jason Romero on the outside. Although I was the official leader of the first three laps, Romero put up a hard fight on the outside; harder than I wanted to run so early in the race. I eased off and let Romero take the lead, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before his car began to fade. Sure enough, Romero stretched out a small lead and then immediately began getting looser and looser. While running behind him, I noticed that he would bobble about every other lap when entering turn one. Once Romero had burned his tires off enough that I caught him, I took advantage of that bobble and got underneath him coming off of turn two on lap 10. I stretched out a lead of about four car lengths before I eased up a bit, saving my equipment for later in the race. A few cautions flew, but I was able to stretch my lead back out as soon as we went back to green.

Late in the race, John Moore, who has more 2nd place finishes this season than anyone, was behind me on a restart. Knowing that I was faster than him, he overstepped the boundaries of clean driving to make a challenge for the lead. I don't have any problem with the typical short track car-to-car contact. I do, however, have a problem when someone not only hits you square in the rear bumper, but hits you hard and then does not let you gather it back in, which is exactly what Moore did. Turning me sideways coming off of turn two after a lap 35 restart, he drove into my side door as we got to the backstretch, enabling him to take the lead. I used some of the car control skills that I learned back in my karting days, racing Briggs and Strattons in the rain, to keep the car from going around. By the time I got the car gathered back in, he had a one car length lead and I was forced to battle the cars behind me for a few laps.

There was one final restart, but I was forced to battle side-by-side with Gary Glenn to hold onto second, which I was able to do, and the only way that I would have been able to get back to the lead was to do to Moore exactly what he did to me, and I really don't see any sense in that. I do believe in fair play and I won't purposely wreck anyone. Maybe that's because I've worked on a lot of my own equipment throughout my racing career, so I respect my racecars more than some others do. That said, I do believe that you need to give it back to anyone who gives it to you, meaning I'll be walking a fine line next week of not wrecking my own equipment while still reminding Moore why he shouldn't try and wreck me to pass me.

In the end, I finished second, which made Saturday a great points night for our team. We'll be back in action this coming weekend!


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