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Win #5 for the Ruth's Chris Toyota - Paulie Harraka.
Jul 16, 2008 - updated Jul 16th, 2008 8:10pm
Web posted by Paulie Harraka

--

 This past weekend was one of the most bittersweet of my life. The sweetness came on Saturday night, where after working tirelessly on Friday (staying at the BMR SHop until 1 in the morning) and Saturday, our Ruth's Chris Toyota Camry picked up its fifth win. Unfortunately, calls to close friends and NASCAR Technical Director Steve Peterson to inform him of the good news were never returned. Steve went to his eternal rest at his home on Sunday. A piece that I wrote about Steve can be found on NASCAR.com at this link. http://www.nascar.com/2008/news/headlines/official/07/16/pharraka.speterson.perspective/index.html.

I need to rewind a few weeks before I describe this weekends events, as I have fallen a but behind in my blogs. Two weeks ago, we led half of the Toyota / TRD 100 at All - American Speedway. Unfortunately, a tight (or understeering) handling condition left us with a still respectable third place finish for the night. I was able to use a lot of the patience tecniques that I learned from racing Briggs and Stratton powered go-karts to come away with the top three. Last week, while moving up through the field, one of the cars in front of my spun out. Left with nowhere to go and not enough time to stop, II hit the spun car, severely damaging the left front suspension of our Toyota and ending our night. For this weekend's race, I arrived at Bill McAnally Racing's shop on Thursday afternoon. After working on the car for the remainder of Thursday (Until about 9 PM) and all day on Friday (Until 1 AM), we were almost ready for teh race. A huge thanks to my Crew Chief, Ryan Precher, as well as Billy Shawl and RZ Essary for staying late with us to work on the car. I arrived at BMR's shop bright and early on Saturday morning and rolled the car onto the set-up plate. After re-doing the bump steer (the amount the front wheels turn as the suspension travels) and doing some final set-up, we were finally ready to head to the racetrack. We began practice with some changes suggested by Ronnie Crooks after looking at some of the data from our Aim Sportsystems MXL Data Acquisition System. RC couldn't have been more right with his recommendations, as our car turned better in teh center of the corner than it ever had. While debating some changes for the second round of practice, I called Wally Brown to ask him a question. Wally came up with a great idea, but his suggested change required a great deal of work. Our at track crew, Ryan, Billy, and Jacob, worked their butts off to make the necessary changes and we had the car ready for the second round of practice. This change worked out extremely well, too, and I tried a few other small changes during the session. By the end of practice, although we weren't # 1 on the speed charts, we had the most consistent racecar at the track. Unfortunately, because of the thrash to get ready for the second round of practice, we weren't able to get ready for qualifying, which follows the second practice almost immediately. Thus, we ended up being late to the grid for qualifying and were only given one lap, while all other cars had two. We ended up qualifying fifth, which I was extremely happy about considering that it was just a single lap. Starting on the outside pole for the first of two Toyota / TRD, we immediately jumped into the lead. We led all but a few laps of the race, bringing home our fifth win of 2008! Our margin of vistory was 1.139 seconds! Due to the inversion, we were forced to start eight in the second race. We had just as good of a car in the second as we did in the first. Patiently passing cars, one by one, we worked our way up to third by lap 28. At that point, I noticed that the front brakes seemed to be fading at an unusually quick rate. While passing for teh second position, the front brakes completely gave out. Using only rear brakes, a racecar will dramaitcally oversteer (try and spin out). It was all I could do to not wreck the car and finish the race. We fell back to the seventh position before the end of the race, but considered ourselves lucky for not wrecking the racecar. Overall, it was a great weekend. To bring the 5th win home for our Ruth's Chris Toyota Camry was awesome! Our next race is July 26 at All American Speedway. A victory lane picture from this past weekend is attached.


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