February 2008

Now that it has been a couple of weeks since we got back from Daytona, it is time to report on what happened at the big race.

First of all, we all arrived at different times and places, but for the most part we all had good traveling conditions. We all stood in line at the new registration building for most of the morning on Tuesday. At noon, they finally let us in and we started the long process of getting tech'd. We were only allowed to get our fuel cell inspected on tuesday. We used the rest of the afternoon to do some other last minute details that didn't get done at the shop.

Wednesday was one of those "hurry up and wait" days. In the morning, they checked engines starting at the highest points and working down to us. They finally got to us about 11 am. They passed the engine cube/compress test, but we had to also weld end caps on the lead boxes (everyone else did too) and replace the rear spring cup with steel ones (everyone else did too) and replace the window net with a SFI sticker. Finally about 1 pm, we were ready to get in line for body templates. About 5:30 we got to the first station and since the garage usually closes at 6pm, we were nervous that we wouldn't get through in time, but they cut it off about 3 cars after us. In the "room of doom" they found about three little issues that we needed to work on. Fortunately, nothing that was going to require bondo.

Bright and early on Thursday, Chuck had most everything fixed and we got back in line to get re-checked. Unfortunately, the line was even longer than wednesday. Practice started about 1 pm and we got through tech about the same time. After some last minute preparations, we hit the track about 2 pm. As soon as I get on the track, Duane radios that there is a spinner in the third turn and the red flag is out. So I brought it back down pit road and got right back in line. When we went out the next time, I hustled it up to speed and planted my foot into the carb and never lifted until we came back in a few laps later. Duane gave us the first report that it was going to be a long week, the first laps came in at around 54 seconds. WOW, that was 2.5 seconds off from our test speeds. We also had some fender rubs so we went to work on getting those taken care of before we went back out. This time we got it down into the mid 53's, but didn't seem like it was going to get much better. After a gear change and a few more adjustments, we got down into the low 53's, but that was all she had. Practice was over and we headed back to the hotels scratching our heads.

Friday, Chuck made some more fine tuning adjustments and we lined up for pre-qualifying tech line. About 2 pm we rolled off pit road for the last 2 laps that we would get for the week. It was better (almost 53 flat) but nowhere near good enough. As we were standing in the garage waiting for qualifying to end, we found more and more top teams loading up just like us. Even though we didn't find the speed that we needed, we couldn't feel too bad when teams like Kimmel, Clements, Rusty Wallace's team, and Greg Sacks didn't get the job done either.

I want to thank everyone who helped out for their time and efforts:

Chuck and Lisa Miller
Mom and Dad Cross
Duane and Dee Canfield
Todd and Jim Caufield
John Traphagen
Eric Bomboy
Rex Helwig
Rick and Rich Petrucco and Brandon
Clara Ortalano

Special Thanks to Bobby Thurston Jr.

Thanks for the help at the garage too,
Aaron Cross
Bob Cincotta

We are still not sure what happened to make us slow down so much, when we thought that we had made improvements from testing. But you can bet that we won't rest until we figure it out.

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