June 9th, 2009

The Team LaCross Motorsports crew took a big step forward recently when held our first ever pit practice in the parking lot of the industrial park where the team garage is located. Not only did we get valuable pit practice, but we discovered a big problem in the rear suspension of the car. Fortunately, we had enough time to fix it before we left for the track.

With Crew Chief Chuck Miller celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary (congratulations), the team arrived at the track on Thursday afternoon to meet up with Wayne Hixson's team to load our car into his trailer. This is done to make our car an official entry eligible for Hixson's points. Once in the garage area, we unloaded and headed to the hotel for an early night's rest.

Friday turned out to be a long day of waiting for the rain, which never stopped and washed out all of the on track activities for the day. As disappointing as it was not to get on the track, the team used the time wisely to get the car through tech inspection and work on miscellaneous final adjustments. This was time well spent as we found a number of issues that need attention. As Car Chief for the weekend, Aaron did a good job of getting the car through inspection with only a couple issues that ARCA picked on.

Since I haven't turned any laps in a race car since last August, I was anxious to get a few laps in before the start of the race. I just kept say, "I only need 5 laps, just 5 laps" of practice to make sure that the car would stop and turn for me, before taking the green flag in Hixson's 21st owner position.

On Saturday, NASCAR was nice enough to let us get in a 9 am practice session. We were ready to roll and got on the track early in the session for a quick "warm-up" to check for leaks. I was pleasantly shocked to hear Duane call out a 57.9 second lap. That was our best time ever and I wasn't even driving hard yet. After a quick check for leaks, we ran a couple more sessions to check our tires and then we parked the car early to get ready for final tech. Turns out that ARCA let the teams line up the cars without going through tech line again. That was a bonus, because it let us fine tune a couple of front end adjustments to make the car more comfortable and get better tire wear.

At driver introductions, I got to shake hands with Ms. Motorsports and I told her that she was very pretty, and then I shook hands with Orange County Chopper's Paul Tuetal, and I told him that I could say the same for him. He laughed and said that it was alright if I did.

When the green flag dropped, there was a scramble in front of me when someone slowed on the start, but after dodging a few cars, I was able to pass the two cars in front of me and we immediately started moving up through the pack. There was a caution on the first lap and then another one shortly after that. On the next restart, I was able to move up a few more spots and found myself battling with the likes of Bobby Gerhart and Frank Kimmel who both had to come from the back. It was surprising how much trouble these guys had getting by us. During this long green flag run, I was able to settling into about 16th-18th position.

When the caution finally flew, it was time for the guys to get into the action. We came in for right side tires and a can of gas. When the car came to a stop in the pit stall, we had Aaron on jack, Ed on front tire gun, Trapper on front tire carrier, Todd on rear tire gun, Eric on rear tire carrier, Rex on gas can and Bob Cincotta on catch can. With a only a few glitches, some of the guys had just done their first ever "hot" pit stop.

On the restart, I settled into about 18th position and ran there for another long green flag run. Shortly after the restart, it became apparent that the car didn't have the speed that it had early in the race and we began to trouble shoot the problem over the radio. The engine didn't seem to be skipping but it definitely wasn't running up to full RPM. We tried switching ignition boxes, but that didn't help. Since the oil pressure was steady and the water/oil temps were good, we figured that there was nothing wrong with the bottom end. On the next caution we pitted for left side tires and another can of gas. The crew also went under the hood to check for a spark plug wire. Unfortunately, they found a broken spark plug. So we closed hood and went back out to catch up to the field.

The final caution came out at about 7 laps to go, so we came back in the pits to see if the guys could get the plug out of the head, but Ed found it to be too tight and couldn't get it to break loose. So with only about 4 laps of green flag racing left, we knew we wouldn't get lapped again, so I just rode it out until the checkered flag flew. We ended up 23rd, three laps down to the leaders. Speculation about what "could have been" would put us about 12th-15th maybe one lap down to the leaders.

We had to be happy with the finish and I was extremely happy with how well the whole team worked together all weekend. Things went smoothly and it seemed like everyone had fun doing it. I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in another "nearly" great weekend at Pocono:

If it weren't for Eric Bomboy and John Traphagen, we would have never made it to the track.

Aaron, Dad, Bob Cincotta, Murray, Grant and Chuck were also very instrumental in getting the car prepared. Duane and Todd also helped out with last minute preparations. Thanks to Rex, Ed and Bob Thurston for being at the track to fill out the "over the wall" crew. We also had behind the wall help from Dad, Murray, Grant, and Jim Caufield. We had some extra help this time from Paul Stevens and Billy Ballow. Mom, Clara and Kelly Brennan were there all weekend to make sure we had good food and warm clothes.

I would also like to give special thanks to the boys at Cummings Auto Machine for saving the engine for us, and Daryl at D2K Graphics for supplying the new numbers (now we have two cars with number 28).

Special thanks to Jeff and the gang at Odyssey Networks our Site Host ..::.. Special thanks to VFW Post 7686, Alamogordo, NM - The Best in the West!

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