In the interest of this post not being expletive filled, it needed to be delayed a few days. I was off work today, had a good protein coffee and a good workout, so I’m feeling like I can handle this now.
We were in Kansas last weekend, a 2 day weekend and Saturday night race. I didn’t have much of any expectations for KC, either as a city or for our car. Nothing jumped out at me while putting together the Pre-race report (PRR). I learned once we got there that Martin likes that track. And as it turned out, our car was pretty good too.
We did a Thursday night team dinner, I think that’s going to become standard for the 2 day shows. We ate at a place called Qaff’s, which is nothing more than your average sports bar. Except they had shuffleboard, football, pool and one of those little basketball shooting machines. And somehow, Cole and I (the Canadians) ended up playing Blake and Nick (the Americans) in a bar Olympics. IT was pretty entertaining, and we obviously won. I hadn’t played foosball in years, it was nice to know that while my timing was a little off, I haven’t completely lost the skills.
Friday was a standard long day at the track, 2 practices before qualifying. Practice went well, the car seemed to be good, top 5 in both Q and race trim. And then it got better for qualifying. We ended up P1 in the second round of qualifying, and had a really good shot at pole, but ended up 4th. Which was good, we thought starting (and restarting) on the outside would be preferred.
The forecast for Saturday was bad, though it got better every day last week. By that day, it wasn’t supposed to rain until 7 or so. Which was great, except that the race was scheduled for 6:30. We rolled off 4th, and the outside line went! We were second a couple laps in, and ran that way for the first run I think. Then we got the car a little better, were able to pass Harvick for the lead (which was awesome, we had been on the bubble of leading the last couple weeks and couldn’t get there) and drove away. We built about a 5 second gap on everyone, the car rolled through the corner exceptionally well. That’s usually where Harvick is really good, getting back to the throttle sooner, but we had him covered this time. I was really hoping we could get to halfway before the rain came, then if it poured and they called the race we would win it. At one point we were about 2 laps from lapping the 24/48/88 when the caution came out. Eventually it rained, around lap 100-110 as I recall. We were still leading at that point. I really wondered what all would change after, whether our car would be as good, whether someone else would come alive? A little more than 2 hours later we restarted, and our car was just as good, we were gone again. We ended up leading 90 some laps I think, we lead more than anyone.
Kansas often comes down to fuel mileage, so we were paying a lot of attention to our pit windows. There were a couple cautions we could have pitted on, but they didn’t get us in the window. New tires didn’t seem to affect speed much, so we stayed out for track position. Eventually there was a caution about 10 laps before our window, and we decided to put and hope there would be enough cautions that we could stretch it. That run began with us chasing the 4, and that’s pretty much how it went. Some teams were reporting they could make it the rest of the way, which seemed impossible to us. Towards the end of the run it got interesting, us and the 4 playing cat and mouse. I believe we could have caught him, but another caution came out which mooted the fuel mileage concern. We both pitted, and this was the turning point. The Hendrick cars apparently were making better mileage and were able to stay out and make it to the end. Given how the last run, and the whole night had gone, I wasn’t concerned about getting tires, as our car was at worst 2nd fastest. But the way the pit stops played out, we ended up 5th. Restarting on the bottom. And that killed us. The 41 was bad on the restart and there wasn’t anywhere for us to go. We ended up falling back to 9th, our lowest position of the night, and that’s where we finished. It was extremely disappointing, there aren’t going to be a lot of times where we have everyone covered like that.
And to make matters worse, we couldn’t fly back to Denver that night because there was a snow storm. So we got back to the hotel about 12:30, and headed back to Qaff’s. Everyone was in the mood for a drink (or 2) at that point…
So we flew back Sunday morning, I went to Ikea on the way home from the airport to finish furnishing my apartment. And then had a pretty lazy sunday. We are off to Charlotte tomorrow for the Showdown on Friday, and hopefully the All Star Race on Saturday night.
Lastly, the place that cut my hair includes a beer with their service…I love Denver