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2011 News and Results

4 Main Event Wins

8 Heat Race Wins

2 Trophy Dash Win

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Petaluma Speedway

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S&S Automotive

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E3 Designs

April 9th 2011

Were we excited about the new season starting? Yes. Did we want to write this story? No. This is not the way we wanted our first run at Petaluma to go. Am I going to write a whining story about it? No. Am I going to just attach the politically correct version that Petaluma Speedway reporter, Harlan Osborne wrote up? Absolutely not. That is not the way it went down. Let’s clear a few things up.

For the first race of the season 13 late models were in the pits. Nice. There were a few regulars missing, so this season Petaluma may see an average of 15-17 late models racing on the scheduled dates. That is awesome! Congratulations to Petaluma for sticking with the late models and seeing growth in that division. That is definitely what the racers and the fans want to see!

This was the maiden voyage of our brand new late model. Jeff had kicked butt and worked all winter to have this beautiful car ready to go. We could not wait to get this car on the track. In our hot lap session, the car looked a little tight and small changes were made. In group qualifying, the car definitely responded to those changes and looked a little better, but still had a ways to go. We qualified 2nd quick out of our group and this would put us in the outside front row starting spot of our heat race. A few more changes were made and Jeff headed out for the heat race.

The heat race was 10 laps long and was a good tester for the main event. It took Jeff about 2 laps to settle into the car and find his groove, and boy did he find it! He won the heat race by a mile. The car was good. No, to be honest, it was great! Also, by winning the heat race, this had us starting on the outside front row of the main event! The night was getting better and better!

We started the main event with high hopes. Track conditions looked pretty bad, with the ruts in turns 1 and 2 looking like empty gravesites. Jeff knew where they were and was able to drive around them pretty easily as he jumped to an early lead with the 4R of Anthony Restadt in hot pursuit. Once again the car looked great and bad fast! Jeff and Restadt easily caught lap traffic and that is where the “fun” started. No “hold your line” flags were thrown to the lappers, and no announcement of “the leaders are coming” was broadcast over the “required” Raceivers, so lapped traffic continued to block the track and cause unnecessary angst and damage to the leader’s cars as they tried to get around them. Lapped traffic caused Jeff to be stuck behind one of them high in turn 2 and Restadt was able to drive down low and pass for the lead. Then when a lapped car ultimately spun out, the restart is what caused our ultimate demise.

With Petaluma deciding this year that all restarts would be “Delaware style” restarts (the leader starting by himself in the front row, and 2nd and 3rd place lining up double file behind the leader), Jeff started inside, second row next to Rod Arnold. At the drop of the green flag they took off and in the middle of turns 1 and 2, the leader hit the largest rut and wheelied up. Arnold , being Arnold , never lifted and tagged Restadt as his car came down on the track, which caused Arnold to spin, taking out Jeff. Arnold never lifted his foot from the throttle and continued to push Jeff and seriously damage our car, making it completely inoperable. Our car was towed from the track and our night was done. The video attached below shows the crash but does not show how devastating the damage to the car was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EqOPUwGqvY

Next Race Plans

We’ve worked on the car this week and think it might be able to make the trip to Antioch Speedway on Saturday the 16th to run the Western All Stars late model show. It won’t be as pretty as it was, but we are definitely hoping it will be just as fast! Come out to see this show!

April 16th, 2011

There’s a saying that is used a lot in racing – “From the Highest of the Highs, to the Lowest of the Lows,” and boy is this an accurate statement when it comes to this sport.  However, in our case this week it is reversed.  From the lowest of the lows (Petaluma last week), to the highest of the highs!  A hat trick at Antioch Speedway racing with the Western All Stars!  Jeff won everything!  His heat, the trophy dash and most importantly, the main event!  Let’s catch up.

First off, Jeff absolutely loves the track at Antioch Speedway.  In 2007, he won a large $5K to win race there, and just feels very comfortable and at home on that track, so we were excited when the Western All Stars had a couple of Antioch races on their schedule.  Jeff and John had worked all week repairing the car from the carnage at Petaluma, and we hoped that the car would be as responsive and fast as it had been the prior weekend. 

The weather was about 77 degrees and windy.  We hit the track for mud packing and hot laps, and the track was definitely tricky.  Dry and slick at one end and wet and rutty on the other.  How to set up the car?  Well everyone had that question, and I’m sure the answer was different for each too!  Jeff made the right decision and when he went out for qualifying in his group, he qualified 2nd quick.  This would put him starting outside, front row for the heat race!

Starting in the heat right next to Bobby Hogge, we knew this would be a good race.  Bobby and Jeff have raced together for years and have a lot of mutual respect for each other, however neither one gives the other an inch!  At the drop of the green, Jeff and Bobby were side by side.  This continued for a couple of laps with Jeff inching forward until he had cleared Bobby, was out front, and never looked back.  He led every lap until the checkered flag with Bobby hot on his heels. 

Winning the heat race meant that we were in the trophy dash.  Since the Western All Stars have a re-draw for all of the participants in the dash, we crossed our fingers that we would get a good number, and we did!  Drew a #2, which put us outside front row once again.  I told Jeff not to win the thing.  I thought he should try and finish 2nd, so that he would start outside front row of the main event, but does he listen to me?  Heck no, he goes out and dominates the dash from start to finish.  Oh well, I had to believe he knew what he was doing.

We were the last main event of the night to run, so Jeff and the crew watched the track carefully to see what it did throughout the night.  Surprisingly, the track never completely dried out and actually started becoming more hooked up as the night went on.  Jeff, Ed and John made some minor changes to the car, but basically, left it alone as it had been so good, so far.  Didn't want to mess with success too much!

We were a little worried about Jeff starting on the inside, even if it was on the pole, as the inside line just hadn't seemed like the place to be all night.  But Jeff made that inside work and jumped to the lead, and he was never really closely challenged all night.  The closest contender was Hogge, who tried everything he could to catch him, but was never able to.  Hogge finally broke a tie rod which unfortunately ended his night.

Breaking it down, Jeff led every lap of every race he was in all night.  Led all 10 laps of the heat race, all 6 laps of the trophy dash, and all 30 laps of the main event, for his first hat trick of the season!  What an accomplishment!  The car is truly back in fine form and we are very excited about the 2011 racing season!

Catch ya at the next race!  I wouldn't miss it!   

Click links below to watch video from Antioch Speedway...

Late Model Heat Race 4-16-2011

Late Model Trophy Dash 4-16-2011

Late Model Main Event 4-16-2011

 

Petaluma

May 21st, 2011

Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway was the kick off to 5 straight weekends of racing for us.  This 5 week stint will also include a two-day show over Memorial Day weekend at Santa Maria!  Because of these back-to-back racing events, Jeff decided to break out the ’07 Victory Circle and save the new car for Santa Maria, as the new car has definitely proven itself to be a contender after it’s (and Jeff’s) awesome performance at Antioch Speedway a few weekends ago!
The pits were packed on Saturday night with sprint cars, modifieds, dwarf cars and 15 late models were in attendance.  The number of late models is steadily growing and we believe soon there will be an average of 18 on race nights.  For a weekly show this is fantastic! 
In the driver’s meeting, it had been announced that “Mother Nature” had watered the race track all week, and the track, “is what it is,” so basically, be prepared for the worst.  As always, the format at Petaluma was group qualifying, with heat races lined up according to how you qualify in your group.  Well in our first hot lap session, on the less than stellar race track, the car was about as far from perfect as you could get.  However, Jeff wasn’t quite sure if it was the race track or the car!  They made a couple of small adjustments, and Jeff went out for the official group qualifying, and fortunately qualified 2nd quick, which placed him on the outside front row for the heat race.
Preparing for the heat race was again, a tricky proposition.  The track prep, or lack thereof, had left the surface with four completely different corners.  Jeff felt the car needed something, but could not figure out whether to add, or take away traction to the car.  In the end, he again just made small, minor adjustments and went out for the heat race, hoping for the best.  He got it.  He had a great initial start, and basically ran away with it – leading all laps of the heat race and taking the win with relative ease.
Coming in after the heat race we found out that Jeff was still not happy with the car.  He said it was a handful, and there was no way he could win with the car set up like it was.  After several trips out to see how the track conditions were overall, Jeff settled on a set up plan.  Jeff, Ed and John made the changes, and Jeff headed out.
Starting on the pole of the main event, when you’re not sure if your car is where it should be, can NOT be a great feeling, but Jeff is a pro, and did what he had to do, even though at the start it was clear the car was once again, not perfect.  The car was fast, but initially, not fast enough to avoid Anthony Restad from taking the lead.  Jeff doggedly pursued the leader and when Restad got into lapped traffic, Jeff was on his bumper, and attempting the pass, when Richard Papenhausen suddenly was in the mix.  It was a 3-car race for the lead.  It was a nail-biter.  Papenhausen got by Jeff and we were in 3rd place, but still in contention, and the car seemed to be performing better.  Anything could happen and we were hopeful.  On about lap 22, Restad spun in the middle of turns 3 and 4.  On the restart Jeff made a serious play to win, but came up just a hair short, with Papenhausen taking the win, and us taking second place.  Below is a link to see some of the action from Saturday night.
Petaluma 5-21-11

Calistoga

June 11th, 2011


Short and sweet:  Not the best racing night we’ve ever had. 
We were excited to run at Calistoga Speedway.  Late models had not run on this track in more than 30 years; not since the Outlaw Posse cars.  If nothing else, it was going to be a fast track and the speed alone would be worth the drive. 
32 late models checked in for this show.  Lots of competition.  We went out for qualifying against an extremely stacked group of cars.  Jeff turned a 21.470.  Third fast out of the entire group of 32 cars!  Only 0.227 of a second between him and fast time.  Maybe we had a hot rod tonight…
We were quickly dispelled of this notion in the heat race, when Jeff, starting 3rd, fell back to 4th place immediately, and then had a hard fought battle trying to maintain 4th place, and ultimately, finished 5th.  This put us into the A-main, but barely, and Jeff let us know that we would have to make some major changes to the car to get it to move forward in the A-main.
Starting 13th in the field, on a ½ mile “follow the leader” racetrack, is not something that is very fun.  We knew the car would have to be perfect, and Jeff, Eddy and John threw the kitchen sink (and the refrigerator) at the car in the hopes it would improve the handling of it.  He headed out for the main, and all we could do was cross our fingers and pray.
Although Jeff held his own during this looooong, 30-lap main event, our luck didn’t.  Jeff was never able to move up through the field, and the car was skatey through the corners.  The speed we saw earlier in the night was no where to be found.  Although most times you don’t want them, Saturday night we prayed for a yellow flag and never got one.  Once the field checked out, we pretty much stayed in the position we started in.  Only moving up 2 positions to finish 11th. 
When Jeff came back into the pits after the main, he told us that during the main there was a loud clanking coming from underneath the car and that the car never really “hooked up” to the track.  As it was late and we had a long drive home, we decided to load up and look at the car in the morning.
Sunday morning the source of the loud clanking noise was revealed to be the pinyon yoke of the rear end banging against the pan hard bar, and the left rear shock was completely blown out, which is why the car never “hooked up.”  Two races in that many weeks with equipment malfunction… Something’s gonna change!  I think it’s the equipment!  LOL

 

Antioch

June 25th, 2011

Optimism is an essential part of racing.  You have to be optimistic that the luck will roll your way.  You have to be optimistic that your car will run well.  You have to be optimistic that the track conditions will be good and you’ll be able to set your car up to those conditions.  I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point.  However, optimism is hard to keep up or find when you’ve had a run of bad luck. 
It was a $2K to win/$500 to start show with the Western All Stars at Antioch Speedway on Saturday.  We had won this show the previous time we ran there in May and our hopes (and optimism), were somewhat high.  Jeff had put a lot of time and effort into the car the past two weeks.  We not only wanted to do well at this show, but because of how poorly the car had performed at the last two races we had run, we wanted the car to be great as well!
In hot laps the track was still pretty greasy, so it was hard to tell if the car was good or not.  As far as the crew was concerned, the car looked awesome, but we needed to hear from Jeff.  He came in and was cautiously optimistic (are you sensing a theme here?) Shortly thereafter he headed out for qualifying and we held our breath… Would the car fall on its face, or would we get a good qualifying time?  Jeff ripped off two really consistent laps and ended up being 3rd quick overall.  Unfortunately, the three fastest cars were in OUR heat, so that would put us starting in the 3rd position.
The heat race was pretty much without incident and we finished where we started.  3rd.  On this night, however, that finish put us in the dash, so Jeff, Eddy and John made a few minor changes and Jeff headed out for the dash.  It was all “luck of the draw” now.  Fortunately, the kid that picked our number for the position in the dash pulled us a 3, so we started in the front!  Wow, was this an exciting race!  Another 5 feet (or one more lap), and we would have been on the pole of the main event!  The car was a hot rod and we were now VERY optimistic that we would do well in the 30 lap main.
A few adjustments were once again made to the car to keep up with the changing track conditions and Jeff took his place in the main event line up.  The green flag dropped and it was ON!  The car was a bullet off the corners and Jeff looked smooth as silk.  But before we even had a chance to start cheering, Jeff and Richard Papenhausen got together in the middle of turns 3 and 4.  It must have been a perfect hit because as Jeff came out of the infield we could see the car was not steering correctly.  The right front tie rod was bent!!.  Though the guys were prepared when Jeff returned to the pits, there just wasn’t enough time to make the change and get him back out on the track without losing a lap or two.  ARRRGHHHHHHHH!!  WHY??!!  Racing can be the most frustrating sport sometimes. 
Our goal next week?  Not to get snake bit.

 

Hot Holiday Weekend

July 2nd, 2011


Headed off to Petaluma Speedway last Saturday with a couple of hopes.  First being that it wouldn’t be as hot in Petaluma as it was in Morgan Hill.  Second being that as we were taking the 2010 Victory Circle as opposed to the 2007 that we usually run at Petaluma, that the car would do well and we would not get involved in any stupid on-track incident that would cause us to fall out of the race.  Not to much to ask for, right?
Our first wish came true right away!  It was only 93 degrees with a nice breeze blowing when we pulled into the pits.  Now that may sound hot to some, but coming from 107° in Morgan Hill, it felt downright refreshing!  Now on to our second wish…
There were 15 late models in attendance on Saturday.  This is pretty much becoming the average number of cars that run this bi-weekly show at Petaluma and we couldn’t be happier.  Not only is the car count increasing, but the competition is getting tougher!  Jeff asked me not long ago if he was getting slower or was everyone just getting faster?  It definitely is the latter, and it makes for a great show for the fans.
Our qualifying group had some fast guys in it, and Jeff missed fast time this night by 4/1000ths of a second - 14.945 was fast time and Jeff turned a 14.949!  Jeff’s time was fast enough to take second quick, which would line us up on the outside front row of our heat.  We’d take it!
When Jeff came in he told us the track had dried out significantly, and the car needed some minor adjustments.  He also wanted to change gears, but there was no time, so the small changes were made and Jeff headed out.  Jeff jumped out to an early lead and the car looked good, overall.  It was a smidge tight in turns 1 and 2, but Jeff won the race by a comfortable margin, so we were happy. 
They were running a 6-car dash this night and due to the heat race win, we were in it.  We would once again start on the outside front row.  Depending on where we finished in this dash would determine where we started in the main event, so we wanted to do well.  The gear change was made this time around and again, Jeff headed out to take his position in the dash.  As the green flag flew, Jeff and Rick Schafer were side by side down the front stretch.  Entering turn 1 Jeff took the car in deeper than Schafer and then he was gone.  6 laps flew by and once again, Jeff took the checkered flag first.  We had a hot rod tonight.
Winning the dash put us on the pole of the main event.  More changes were made to the car, but nothing major.  Jeff felt the car was good and the track was holding moisture in spots, but overall the track was ROUGH.  It was going to be a long 25 laps!  Starting on the pole gave us a definite advantage, but honestly, the car was so good on Saturday, we didn’t necessarily need it.  Jeff jumped out to the early lead and was never challenged.  Even though there were several yellows flown throughout the main in which Jeff would lose his significant lead, he always got it back, and at the end of the 25 laps, took the checkers with almost a half a track lead over 2nd place.  Now THAT, my friends, is a good car!  Hallelujah!  The monkey is officially dead!
Here’s the official press story written by Harlan Osborne:
http://www.latemodelracer.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1309750161

 

Petaluma

July 23rd, 2011


Back to Petaluma Speedway on Saturday night.  At the beginning of the season, we had on our schedule that this was a three-day weekend of racing (Friday, Chico; Saturday, Petaluma, Sunday, Merced), but unfortunately one of the touring groups that we race for didn’t really have their shit together and the Friday and Sunday shows were cancelled at the last minute.  We weren’t too happy about this.  So we were determined to do well at the one venue at which we were racing.
The pits were packed as the Sprint 360 Civil War series was running as well and we were lucky just to get a parking spot!  With the action on high all around us, we checked out the track and adjusted the car a tad.  Headed out for hot laps and group qualifying and the car was good!  Got fastest time in our group which meant we would start on the pole for the heat.  We could only see this night getting better!
Won the heat race by a mile.  This meant that we would again start on the pole of the main event.  Jeff still felt the car was a bit tight in the turns, so a few adjustments were made and Jeff headed out for the 25 lap main event.  At the drop of the green, we could tell that Jeff was the class of the field and the car was great, as he basically ran away from his pursuers.  However, the track was really rough and chunking out in turns 3 and 4, and Jeff had to cautiously pick his way through that section.  But nothing really could get in his way, as he lapped car after car, and once again, won the main event by a mile!  2 in a row at Petaluma! 
As a side note, it was Jeff’s Mom’s birthday on Saturday and she had asked Jeff to win a race for her.  Well, Jeff always does his best to give people what they want.  It was great to be able to come home and tell her she got her wish.

 

Heartbreak at the Line

August 20th, 2011


I’m not sure to a racer if there can be much more heartbreak than losing the race on the last lap.  Maybe it’s losing the race on the last lap, after leading every single lap, by only 1/10th of a second?  Yeah, I think that’s a little more heartbreaking.  Unfortunately, that’s what happened to us on Saturday.
We’d been parked for the last 3 weeks, with no scheduled races and were jonesing to get out there and race.  The car was ready to go and so were we! 
We were glad to see more late models in the pits than the prior week.  We drew our number and went out to hot lap and qualify.  We were surprised to find that the track was not “normal” Petaluma hooked up, but much more of a dry-slick surface.  However, from the minute Jeff got on the gas, we could tell the car was working great and was really fast!  Jeff timed in quick time for the night.
Starting in the pole position for the heat race had Jeff jumping out to a huge lead and winning the heat race by a very large margin.  However, we could tell the weather was changing and the fog was rolling in.  For those who are not familiar with Petaluma Speedway, when the fog comes in, the track usually starts getting more and more hooked up.  Jeff counted on this and revised the set up on the car for what we assumed the track surface would be during the main event.
We lined up, outside front row for the main event and were pumped!  Jeff knew if he could get a good jump from the outset that he could lead the race and possibly take the win.  At the drop of the green Jeff was immediately in the lead.  However, the track was not as expected!  It stayed slick and DRY!  Jeff knew the car was loose and worked extremely hard to stay on top of the wheel and continue to lead.  As the laps clicked down and the yellows came out fast and furious, Jeff continued to hold on to the lead, hitting his marks and making the car look smooth and fast.  The crew tried to alert him to the fact that Richard Papenhausen was catching up to him due to lap traffic, but we weren’t sure if he was able to see our signals. 
As the last laps clicked off, Jeff was still leading the race and we were all getting ready to celebrate.  However, the celebration would have to be for another day, as on lap 24 of the 25 lap race, Jeff went low into turns 3 and 4, preparing to take the checkered flag.  Unfortunately, lap traffic decided to take the same line as Jeff and blocked and slowed him down so much that Papenhausen was able to go high in these same turns and get around Jeff.  Jeff saw that he was about to lose this race, and put his car into the infield in order to get around the lap traffic, but unfortunately, could not get enough traction off the turn and lost the race by 1/10th of a second.  It was a close one, and I bet the fans loved the race, but we still lost.  This will just fuel Jeff’s fire for the next one.  You have NO idea!

Petaluma and Santa Maria

Petaluma – 8/27/11
This was to be the last points race for the late models at Petaluma this season.  We were leading the points race and basically all we had to do was start the A-main to clinch the 2011 Late Model track championship, but anything can happen, so we wanted to make sure we were prepared.  However, when assessing our motor situation, we realized that the car we had been running at Petaluma was definitely down on power, and the motor needed freshening.  Should we take it out one more time?  Would we get lucky?  We decided to go for it.
Nice group of late models showed up for this race.  We wound up in the fast group of late models and qualified fourth quick.  Went out for the heat race starting 4th and finished 3rd.   We would be starting further back in the A-main than we would prefer, but sometimes that can be fun!  Whatever the outcome, Jeff would give it all he had that night. 
 The fog rolled in and the track came alive.  It was very clear that this was going to be a fast track.  The times were almost 2 seconds quicker during the main event than they had been during qualifying.  Jeff quickly came forward and ran towards the front of the pack, but the top 4 positions didn't change.  This is where we realized that bringing the motor that was down on power might not have been the best decision.  So when the checkered flag flew, Jeff had to be satisfied with finishing 4th in the main, but winning the championship.  Considering that from the very first race at Petaluma this season we were knocked 35 points out of contention with the crash in that main event, Jeff had come a long way in making up the needed points and finishing consistently up front.  Congratulations Jeff!  You did a great job! 

Santa Maria Speedway – 9/4/11
 As this weekend was Labor Day, and we had the extra day off, we decided to make the long 3-1/2 hour tow down to Santa Maria Speedway.  I guess a lot of people had that same idea!  Over 154 cars checked into the pits on Sunday!  Amazing turnout for a regular paying show. 
 24 late models were in attendance this night.  Most of them with a lot more experience on this track then us.  We had decided to bring our older Victory Circle out as the motor had a lot less laps than our newer car.  However, the older Victory Circle has a lot less room for adjustment than the newer car.  Once again, we were in a catch 22.  We had been expecting and prepared the car for a hooked up, tacky track, which is the normal surface for Santa Maria.  Unfortunately, that is not what we got.  With all the cars, and an open practice the night before, the track was dry and SLICK.  Our qualifying effort was horrible.  We qualified 6th quick in our group, which had us starting farther back in the heat race than we would have liked.  They were taking 5 cars from each heat race to the main, so we would have to pass at least one car to make it.
 For the heat race, Jeff, Ed and John made what they believed were the appropriate adjustments to the car for the track conditions.  Granted, the car was better, but it still wasn't where it needed to be.  Jeff was able to pass enough cars to make it into the main event, but again, we would be starting toward the back of the pack.  We had a lot of work to do.
 Again, the guys went to work.  They changed shocks and springs and bar angles.  I'm not sure much wasn't changed.  We watched the track through all the main events and made even more changes.  It got later and later and later in the night.  It was midnight, we still hadn't run our main event, and after that, we STILL had a 3-1/2 hour ride home!  Wow, we sure hadn't prepared for this!  We wouldn't be getting home until sometime around 4:30 AM!
Jeff hit the track at 12:21 AM, starting 14th in a stacked A-main.  We were all tired, but Jeff was pumped and hoping the car would respond to all the changes they had made.  From the drop of the green flag it was clear they had gone in the right direction.  The car was fast and Jeff was passing cars with confidence.  When the car hit this huge rut in turn 1 and went up on 2 wheels, it scared the hell out of us, but Jeff quickly learned to avoid that section of the track!   The 30 lap main passed quickly with only a couple of yellow flags, and before we knew it, Jeff had moved up to the 7th position.  We were so excited and hoping that he would improve his position even more, but all of a sudden, the white flag came out!  What the heck?  Could the race already be almost over?  We had been so absorbed in Jeff's driving that we hadn't paid any attention to the laps clicking down.  So we finished 7th, but we were very happy.  Not having driven on very many slick surfaces this year had not allowed us to find a slick set up for the car.  We had one now!   Bring on the dry slick race tracks.  We are ready! 

The Maselli XXXII

September 17th, 2011


We were pumped to attend this special event at Petaluma Speedway - the 32nd Annual running of the Maselli.  Jeff has won this event twice in his racing career (the 29th Annual and the 30th Annual), and last year he finished 2nd in the event.  Needless to say, we wanted to make sure that we performed well at this race!
We had had the previous week off and Jeff spent the majority of the time making sure the car was perfect.  Buttoning up any loose ends, but also taking a stab at set up on the car as well.  This was purely guesswork however, because you never know what kind of track you’re going to get at Petaluma.  That is part of the pure fun of running there!  We were as ready as we were ever going to be.
We could not believe our eyes when we pulled into the pits.  30 late models had checked in and we were told that two more were on the way!  We had known we needed to be on our game, but we had not thought that this many late models would show up! 
We pulled a pill that put us in a qualifying group that was not to be believed!  It had, among others, John Silva, Mike Johnson, Mike Kirby and Bobby Hogge in it!  And WE had to get fast time or 2nd fast time out of THIS group?  My heart went into my stomach when I was writing down the names.  Jeff on the other hand, was much more philosophical and calm about the whole thing, saying, “It is what it is and we’ll do what we can do.”  Wow, kinda “zen” sounding, isn’t it?  LOL.
Jeff was scheduled to qualify 2nd out of the entire group of late models, following John Silva out on the track.  Once again my heart sank when Silva got out there and qualified with a new track record of 14.212!  Unheard of!  Could we get close to that?  The first lap Jeff clicked off was a 15.039.  Not bad, but pretty far away from John’s time.  Jeff looked much better the second lap and qualified with a 14.739!  Much better, but would it hold up with all these fast guys in his group?  I shouldn’t have worried.  Jeff’s time held up for 2nd quick in his group, and actually 2nd quick overall out of the entire group of late models!  We had a fast car on our hands tonight. 
The guys made a few adjustments as we could see the track was changing rapidly.  Jeff headed out for the heat race, lining up outside front row.  We knew Silva was fast, but hoped that we could stay with him and possibly finish in the 2nd position.  Jeff and Silva took off at the drop of the green flag and Jeff was actually staying with John!  We watched the car closely and it did look a tick tight in turns 1 and 2, but it was still really good and no one was really challenging Jeff for his position.  Unfortunately, a few laps later, Jeff was actually attempting the high side of turns 1 and 2 to challenge Silva for the lead, and popped the cushion, throwing his car out of shape.  The 3rd place runner was able to get by Jeff and we ended up finishing 3rd in the heat race.  This would have us starting 9th in the main event.  We had some work to do.
Jeff was pretty sure all the car needed was a few adjustments to make it better.  They got to work changing bar angles and adjusting springs and shocks.  The fog never really rolled into Petaluma Saturday night, so we weren’t sure if the track was going to get more hooked up, or less.  It was a crap shoot.  Also, starting back that far in the pack would have us dodging wrecks and potential flat tires in our attempt to get to the front.  I said a quick prayer and Jeff headed out.
With 20 late models lined up on Petaluma’s black clay surface, the track looked pretty crowded to me.  Especially with Jeff smack dab in the middle of all that horsepower!  I was very nervous and shaky.  Don’t know why, but sometimes watching Jeff race affects me that way.  I could barely watch when the yellow light went out and the green flag flew.  When I finally did look up I saw that Jeff was flying!  Cars were bunched up and jockeying for position, but Jeff was using his knowledge of Petaluma’s tricky surface to get around cars and move up in the pack! 
With no scoreboard (due to an earlier in the month theft), it was hard to keep track of the laps ticking down.  We did our best, but the tension we felt could not be alleviated as Jeff dodged spinning and out of control cars on his charge toward the front.  At one point an accident occurred directly in front of him in turn 2 and it was so close that we just weren’t sure if Jeff’s car was actually damaged or not!  Scary stuff. 
Jeff was passing on average about 1 car every 3 laps.  These cars that he was passing were no slouches either!  Mike Kirby, John Silva, Nick Bartels and Bobby Hogge, just to name a few!  When he clinched the 2nd place position, I almost couldn’t contain myself!  Next thing I knew the leader (Clay Daly), was in lap traffic and Jeff was challenging him for the lead!  I screamed so loud and so hard I lost my voice the next day!  Unfortunately, the yellow flag flew as Jeff was setting Clay up for the pass, and on the ensuing restart he never really got the chance to make that kind of move again, and had to settle for finishing 2nd.  However, in the grand scheme of things, 2nd is pretty darn awesome when you think about the fact that the guy that won (Clay Daly), started on the pole of the race, and Jeff came from 9th to finish in 2nd place!  So you gotta wonder, if we had started up closer to the front… Well, I’m not gonna go there, but I AM gonna think that!!

 

Double Decker Racing

October 2nd


Back to back days of racing this past weekend - Saturday at Antioch Speedway and Sunday at Merced Speedway; both races were paying $3,000 to win.  Jeff had worked on the car for days and we were as ready as we’d ever be!
 
Antioch – Saturday, October 1st
 
20 late models checked in for this big Western All Stars show.  We were actually quite surprised at the lower car count.  $3000 to win and $400 to start is great money.  I guess some drivers would rather race for a lot less money at a track closer to their home.  Oh well.  Each to their own.

As usual with the Western All Stars, you qualify in “group qualifying” format, meaning that you really only need to worry about timing in fastest in “your” group.  Well I guess Jeff wanted to do better than that, as he not only timed in fastest in his group, but his time came in 2nd quick overall, second only to Richard Papenhausen.
Jeff said the car was really good and the track seemed to be holding moisture, so not many changes were made on the car prior to the heat race.  He had some heavy hitters in his heat, including Clay Daly and Bobby Hogge, but when the green flag dropped, Jeff had a clear lead on the pack and dominantly won the heat. 
 
Heading back out to track for the dash, we crossed our fingers and hoped that the pill draw would go our way, but nope.  Not this time.  Starting in the back of the trophy dash would be difficult, but we really had no idea HOW difficult as an out of control driver had plans to keep us in the back of the dash, slamming into our car extremely hard coming out of turn 2.  This had us limping to the checkers with a 5th place finish.  We would start 5th in the main event and we had some repairs to do on the car. 
 
After replacing what was broken on the right front suspension, and making some adjustments to the car for the main event, Jeff headed out to the track.  We had high hopes that we would have a good finish as the car had been amazing all night long until the dash incident.  However, another altercation with the SAME out of control driver on lap five, in the SAME turn, put us out for the night.  Needless to say, Jeff was NOT happy and expressed his displeasure to this driver.  We headed home to fix what was broken.  Jeff and John ended up having to work until 3:30 in the morning to get the car right and running again. 
 
Merced – Sunday, October 2nd
 
Tired but determined, we headed out to Merced Speedway on Sunday afternoon.  Never having run on this track in its new configuration, we had no idea what to expect, no idea what gear to run, and Jeff had no idea how to drive or pass on this track either!  We had also heard that the track was quite small (smaller than any other track we had ever raced on), and it was extremely hard to pass and also to avoid accidents.
 
Once again, in group qualifying, Jeff timed in fastest out of his group and that time would have held up as quick time overall, but Bobby Hogge edged him out slightly and took that prize.  This sounds pretty familiar to the Antioch deal doesn’t it?
 
Even though Jeff had never ran at Merced in its current configuration, he found that he really liked the track and in his heat race, it was clear that he had the car set up appropriately for it as he won the heat race in relatively easy fashion over Clay Daly.
 
Once again pulling a number that placed him starting in the back of the trophy dash was a little disheartening, but Jeff used the track time to figure out the line he liked on the track and what changes the car needed.  Finishing fourth in the trophy dash which would have us starting fourth in the main event.  The guys made the changes Jeff felt the car needed as he thought the car was a little tight.
At the drop of the green flag for the main event, we could tell immediately that we had gone the wrong way with the changes for the car.  Jeff was way too loose.  He was fast, but clearly had his hands full with a loose race car.  As the laps shook down, Jeff was running in fourth, right behind Clay Daly, while Hogge and Papenhausen were battling for the lead.  The four cars in the front (Jeff, Daly, Hogge and Papenhausen), were clearly the class of the field, and quickly came into lap traffic which was hairy in itself to watch on that small of a track!  I think everyone watching was holding their collective breath to see the leaders come through lapped traffic!  With about 15 laps to go, the yellow came out for Clay Daly as something on his car had broke.
This moved us into 3rd position, and when racing resumed, Jeff’s car, while still loose, seemed better.  He continued tracking Hogge and Papenhausen who were currently running 1 and 2, but again, did not have the ability to pass them with such a loose race car.  As the laps ticked down, Jeff had definitely caught Papenhausen, but we had all kind of resigned ourselves to Jeff finishing 3rd in this race as the positions had not changed in quite a while, when all of a sudden we saw Hogge slow on the track!  Papenhausen was right on Hogge’s tail and Jeff was right on Papenhausen's, and it became clear that Hogge had a flat!  With three laps to go, Hogge was of course trying to hold Papenhausen off and win, but Jeff saw the opportunity and grabbed it!  He dived down to the bottom of the track in turn 4 and passed both Papenhausen AND Hogge.  WHAT???  HE WAS IN THE LEAD??!  The scoreboard was showing 3 laps to go and Jeff was leading!!  We were completely stunned for about an entire minute and then we started screaming!  This was unbelievable!  It wasn’t until the checkered flag flew and Jeff was the first one underneath it that it actually sunk in.  We had WON!  Just goes to show, you never give up and if you put yourself in the position to take advantage of anything and everything, you can come out on top.  Another win for Decker Racing!
 
Here’s the link to the official story on Late Model Racer:  http://www.latemodelracer.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1317607772/0#0

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