Good Clean Fun Part 8 - "Whirlwind"
By Text: Josh Hurley
Nov 7, 2008 - 2:11:00 PM
Hello everybody, I know it’s been a long while since you have heard from me. Having four races in fourteen days makes for a busy end of the season, so I hope you will forgive me for my tardiness.
First up in our whirlwind half of the championship was Iowa Speedway. This track is rather unique to the TDI Cup schedule as it is our only roval (that is a roadcourse which uses part of an oval). It is also a unique roval, because it is significantly smaller than most rovals. This race was also special for me because it was my first race with support from Unlimited Electrical Contractors. With my great partners Gunther Volkswagen and Easykart, all ready on board I knew I had great support behind for the coming storm.
This event would really signify the final half of our championship, as much like the end to our season, it would be a whirlwind. All of our on track activities would be taking place on a single very long day! However, some of the other drivers, and myself were there early to participate in a commercial for the VW Jetta TDI race car. This just goes to show, there really is more to the sport than just the on track action. In fact, this year I’ve truly learned what it means to be on camera all the time, and thanks to our great media crew, I’ve become really comfortable with the cameras. A fact I know will help me in my future motorsport endeavors. After filming for the commercial, (which was rather hard with the USAR Hooters Pro Cup cars practicing in the background). It was time to wait for our golf cart demolition…I mean track walk. Due to the aforementioned Hooters Cup, our track walk would take place in the dark. This made it rather difficult to pick up on reference points, which meant that the morning practice would be a tick more interesting as we had to learn without much prior knowledge of the circuit.
So another early morning rise, this time for an exceptionally long day, I headed to the track. There was very little time to get dressed and in the cars as we were out for practice first thing. As I prepared to climb in, I noticed that the track was rather damp, and the air cool. This meant it would be a tick slippery out there and I made a mental note of it. As we pulled on to the track for the first time, my car got extremely loose, on the corner to join the track! It was time to change that mental note to extremely slippery. I took the next few laps easy working up to speed. The infield was very slow, I thought the autocrosses might be in their element here, as the speeds were much lower than what I was used to. The oval section proved to be much more interesting that what I am accustomed to though. This was due to the dampness, and an enormous bump in the middle of the turn that caused the car to jump sideways as well over 100 MPH! AS the track dried, the oval became easier and it lost that bit of pucker factor.
After ending practice 6th (which is perfect because as the rules require somebody in the top 5 to share their data, all of it, with the rest of the field) it was time to think about qualifying. Due to the short lap times (52 seconds or so) and the low speeds the field should be extremely close here. Qualifying would be crucial as well, since there were very few passing zones, so I prepared knowing that qualifying would be even more important here than normal.
So with this knowledge in hand I went out. Time to push! I got in a decent lap but it was not quite what I wanted. I then noticed that I could see the score board, so I knew what spot I was in. 5th, not good enough. I found a draft though the oval it was huge, however he did not let me by after the oval and I had to stuff the car under him going into the first portion of the roadcourse. I pushed the rest of the lap and saw myself pop up to 2nd! Good enough I thought, I dived into the pit lane and had one of the mechanics adjust my mirror so I could see the scoreboard in the mirror. I made a deal with myself. I would not pull back out unless I fell to 5th or worse. By the end of the session I had fell back to 4th. A fine starting spot, especially when some of my championship rivals were struggling.
So after a little break it was race time. Like Lime Rock, this race was all about points for me. I needed to have a solid run and most importantly, I must finish the race. We lined up on the grid, the now familiar 5 second board went up. Then I heard a strange noise, the car inside of me was revving up! I had no idea why, the lights went on and he took off (we’re supposed to go when the lights go off). I felt bad for him, as this was Juan Pablo Sierra Lendle’s best qualifying effort thus far and his nerves most of go t to him. He checked up, then the lights went out and I took off. I was able to get around Juan and moved into 3rd place straight away. I began to stalk the leaders, as the three of us slowly edged away from the pack. I noticed that the 2nd place car of Chris Castangna was wearing his tires heavily. I knew all I had to do was wait and I would be able to get by him. However, a multicar accident occurred behind me and this brought out the double yellow, as well as let Mark Pombo move up a ton of spots. As much as I hate the double yellows for packing up the field, I knew this would give me a good opportunity to take 2nd place.
As we came onto the front straight, I laid back, to attempt to get a run at Chris. I thought I had it timed perfectly, then the leader hit his breaks just a split second before I anticipated, and the flag went green. This killed my run, and allowed the car following me to get under me going into the oval. I tried to fall in line behind him, but no luck, there was another car pushing him. In fact it was a train of cars pushing each other. I fell all the way back to 7th. This meant it was time to forget a good podium finish, it was time to survive. A few laps later as I turned into the first turn on the roadcourse I was slammed in the door! I gathered it back up but the car was no longer handling correctly, and I was now in 8th. Despite this I was able to make a pass and move up to 7th. In fact I was able to get under 6th place a few times, but there was nowhere to make a pass without taking a huge risk. I had to take a finish, the risk was just not worth it. So I brought the Easykart, Gunther Volkswagen, car home in 7th.
While I was disappointed in the result this event was one of the more crucial in my championship run. Sometimes the recovery drives, the drives where you stop the bleeding of positions; are more important than the podiums. Days like these produce results in the championship. This was a race where I really remembered my lessons learned in VIR.
After the event it was time to take a short 2 days home, then leave for New Jersey Motorsports Park, and our only double event for the year. So stayed tuned, New Jersey had a bit of everything, controversy, rain, and a whole lot of action!
2002 Speed Arena