I went down to Virginia, seeking shelter from the storm…

Ahh Bristol.  Such a cool track, but you never know whats going to happen.  We finished 29th on Sunday, by far our worst finish of the season.  And yet, we made up points on everyone else in the top 5 going in…hmmmmmm

I was really excited all last week to go to Bristol, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go to watch a race.  Bristol is basically a high banked half mile track in the middle of a football stadium.  That makes for an exciting race to watch, though that means its one of the places you hope to get through without disaster, and we didn’t.

We struggled a bit in practice with Q trim, thought seemed decent on a longer run.  I’m finding it  interesting to watch lap times on a single lap and over a longer run, to see how different cars seems stronger over different periods of time.  And I’m beginning to notice trends about how particular cars tend to be better on long runs or whatever, week after week.

Anyways we ended up qualifying 16th, which based on practice seemed like a win to me.  Practice went alright on Saturday, again I felt like we had a good car on longer runs, if not great on the first lap of a run.  You tend to get a lot of cautions at Bristol so being good on a short run is important.  But if you do get a longer run and your car isn’t good for more than a lap or 3, you find yourself a lap down very quickly.  We did our customary night before the race team dinner at a cool pizza place close to the hotel.  There didn’t seem to be a whole lot to do in and around Bristol or our hotel (which I think was in Johnson City?).

And then race day.  All week the forecast looked terrible, and it didn’t disappoint if that’s what you were hoping for.  It started raining early, and delayed the start of the race.  It made the rhythm really odd, and I almost missed the start when they finally got it going, it all happened so quickly.  We ran 20 or so laps, before the 2nd and 4th place cars in points (22 and 2) crashed which was awesome for us.  And then while under caution it started to rain.  So back to the hauler, to hang out.  For anyone that wonders what happens during a rain delay, we watch racing.  I saw most of the F1 race and about half of the Indy car race that day.  And finally the race got restarted, though our car wasn’t as good as it was the first 20ish laps (we resumed in 10th place).  And then it went downhill.  On our second run (after the first pit stop) we developed a loose RF wheel.  That’s something that happens at Bristol, being concrete and high banked it generates a lot of force through the wheels and tires.  And we had to make a green flag stop to replace all 4 tires, which costs you 2 laps at Bristol.  And then it all get a little hazy to me.  We were just about to go 3 laps down at the end of a long run, and were praying for a caution.  Like I said, long runs don’t really happen at Bristol so the bad luck was piling already.  And we finally got the caution, but it was literally 5 seconds after the leader had passed us.  So we were stuck 3 laps down.  Rubbish.

So we took a wave around on the next caution to get back to 2 laps down and it seemed promising all of a sudden.  Until the restart when the 11 ran us into the wall, and we had to make another green flag pit stop to change all 4 tires because the LF was going down and we weren’t sure about the RF.  So now 5 laps down.  And that’s about where we ran the rest of the night, couldn’t get any laps back due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances.  As the 4 and the 5 crashed it seemed more and  more promising for us, and we could have ended up 25th (which would have moved us to second in points) except we got caught up in one last accident.  Several pit stops later to fix the toe, and we were down another lap.  And mercifully that was it, although they tried ridiculously hard to dry the track after it started raining again, given that there was only a green-white-checkered left.
So 29th.  And I love Bristol, but maybe only for being a spectator.

And I finally signed an apartment lease this week!  I will move when we get back from Talladega, which will be the first week of May.

On to Richmond…

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