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Another Top 3!
Jun 17, 2008 - updated Jun 18th, 2008 10:26am
Web posted by Paulie Harraka

--

This weekend brought another great top-3 run for myself and the whole Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Bill McAnally Racing team. A poor qualifying run, which put us 8th in the 21 car field, made it a difficult night. However, our team fought hard and ended up with a 3rd place finish!

After a three hour delay in Charlotte, I finally landed in Sacramento, California at 2:00 AM on Thursday morning. A big thanks to Paris, a member of the BMR office staff, for being willing to pick me up at the airport at such an hour. After catching a few hours of sleep, I headed to BMR's shop to prepare for a Thursday evening test. At the test, we were able to gather a large amount of crucial data with our Aim Sports MXL Data Acquisition System. We used that data to make a few changes to our Penske Shocks, with help from the Penske team in Reading, PA, as well as a few engine adjustments, thanks to help from Willy Krupp at Willy's Carb and Dyno Shop.

With no at-track plans for Friday, I was able to go over our racecar with a fine-toothed comb. BMR has an awesome complete racing facility, so I was able to re-rate the springs in our car, re-check the bump steer (that is, the amount that the front wheels turn as the suspension travels) in our car, and re-check all four wheels for "squareness" (basically, making sure all four wheels are pointing in the same direction when the steering wheel is straight). I also purchased our tires for the weekend from the tire supplier.

Saturday was excruciatingly hot. I believe that the high ended up to be around 102 degrees without a cloud in the sky. That's extremely hard on the crew guys, as well as the driver. I'm extremely lucky to have a seat mold by BSCI. The foam between my body and the aluminum seat is firm, but it conforms perfectly to my body, making me much more comfortable and making it easier to deal with the heat. Our PRC (Performance Rod and Custom) Radiator did an excellent job of keeping the engine cool all night. We never needed to use the radiator fan.

I made a wrong decision before qualifying thus week and we ended up qualifying in the 8th position. With only the top four being inverted, that meant that we would be forced to start 8th. During the pre-race hot laps, I knew that we had a great car. Starting 8th meant that we had to start on the outside, so as soon as the green flag dropped, I began to work on getting to the bottom. With help from spotter Bill McAnally, we got down in the 9th position. From there I worked on each car, one at a time, to get to the front. We moved into 8th on lap 5, 7th on lap 12, 6th on lap 17, broke into the top 5 on lap 21, passed for 4th on lap 25, and jumped into 3rd on lap 28 of the 50 lap main event. Unfortunately, right after I jumped into 3rd, the caution flag waived. Our car took about 2 laps to come in after the cautions, but would last for 15 laps without slowing down at all. Most of the other cars in the field would come in in a lap, but would start to fade after about 7 laps. Because of this, I hoped the rest of the race would go green. I didn't get my wish, however, as cautions repeatedly fell in the final 20 laps, and we were forced to settle for 3rd.

All-in-all, it was a great weekend. I owe my team a huge thank you for working as hard as they did, despite the intense heat. The third place finish, although not the win we had hoped for, still made for a great night.

We're back in action this Saturday night, August 21. All American Speedway is hosting twin 75 lap NASCAR Whelen All American Series Races. For anyone that will be at Infineon raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Event, All American Speedway is a 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Infineon. If you're interested in coming to All American, e-mail me and I'll provide you with directions and race tickets.


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