2022 MORE Mackenzie’s 250 recap

tapeworm

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So this was the first race back in a 9 car for me since 2018. I got the car 5 weeks before the drop of the green flag dropped, not getting the motor and trans back until the Tuesday before the race. I was stressing and rushing to get the car together just to make it out there Friday. I ended getting about 5-6 test miles in on this car before Saturday morning, so to walk away with a third is respectable and a good starting point to move forward from.

Saturdays race started off good. I took a rear start and knew I only had one car behind me I had to worry about, so every car I caught I knew I had on time. Within the first 3 miles I passed 3 cars (with problems) and was following two in front of me so I knew I was off to a decent start. My game plan was just to drive around and try to finish all 4 laps, but that quickly changed by mile 3 and it then became pass as many cars as possible because I then controlled the pace. I had prerun on Tuesday and knew generally what the course would be like, but a lot changed from the prerunning the day prior. At mile 3 I fell in behind the 975 two seat car and followed them up until about mile 8. I took an inside line in a corner and tried lugging through the rough section in section gear but was jetted too tight and flooded the car out. While restarting it they got back around me and I didn’t know the passing lines well enough to try to make a pass until mile 12. After mile 12 I finally got around the 975 and got to run my own pace focusing on just chugging along.

I knew the upcoming wash was pretty fast with only a few places I needed to slow down and ran it as hard as I could see. Coming into the sweeping right handed before the road crossing after mile 19 braking bumps had built up that weren’t there Tuesday and I came into the corner wide open in 3rd ricocheting off every single bump there. The Malloy pit guys were set up right and must have thought the car was going to go over because I was hitting everything so hard I couldn’t hold onto the steering wheel. Somehow the car managed to stay upright but I managed to injure my right hand in the process. I do have a professional background in medical training and my immediate thought was a broken hand, and it felt like it. I was only able to hold onto the steering wheel with my thumb, index, and middle finger from that point forward so I slowed it down into survival mode instead of pushing the pace from that point forward. The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful other than a poor line choice at mile 34 where the 975 car once again passed me. I was able to choose a better line At mile 36 and passed them back before the start finish. I set out on lap 2 just trying to keep myself calm and run my own race with the goal of just getting it to the finish. Lap 2 was a clean lap up until about the mile 25 mark where I saw the 932 car poke through and try to pass me. Immediately I made the rookie mistake of driving his race instead of my own and overdrovr the car and myself. I was able to sketchily hold him off until mile 31 then he finally made the pass on me stick. It was in a rougher section of the course and because of the hand injury I just couldn’t hold onto the wheel enough to keep pace through the rough sections so I slowed it down to just make it to the finish. I quickly felt two more bumps after the 932 passed and saw Malloy go by, after that I was waiting for nerfs knowing the lead 1600’s were catching me.

I had planned on stopping at the end of lap 2 for fuel. I saw 932 coming out as I was going in so I knew I didn’t lose too much time on him, and also saw Tim Craig pulling in on his 3rd lap and knew I had one less 1600 car to worry about passing me. I did a 5 gallon splash, told the Checkers pit I’m staying in the car until my hand quits working, and took off to finish the race. At the start of the 3rd lap I could hear a small ticking noise and knew immediately it was a loose exhaust. I ran out of time to double check the exhaust nuts from the previous owner and just hoped they would stay tight enough for me to make it back to main for them to check. Lap 3 was uneventful and I pulled in to the pit at the end of the lap for the Checkers to check the exhaust. Sure enough the 2 and 4 headers were loose and the collector lost both support clamps. They went to work on that and told me I was 3rd on the road at that point and the other two cars went through only a few minutes before myself. I started getting anxious while they burnt their hands working on the exhaust, and watched the 975 car drive by while I was in the pits. I do t know how much longer I waited, but I knew lap 4 was all about making up as much time as possible on that 975 car.

Lap 4 was the roughest lap I’ve ever been in a car for. Everything was square edged, all the rocks were now uncovered, the shock oil was boiled enough that the shocks were now damping well at all, and I knew I had to push to make up time. I kind of through caution out the window and started driving harder than I should have, especially with the hand injury. At mile 2 I passed the 932 car off to the side of the course with his helmet off so I knew I didn’t have to worry about him coming up behind me for the pass. I kept looking forward for a dust trail to get an idea of where the 975 car was at but never saw it. By lap 4 the car was rocking side to side horribly from the square edges and stutter bumps. I had put a hard shell halo seat in the car for this race to try it out, and every time I hit the stutter bumps and the car was rocking my helmet just slammed side to side inside the containment halo of the seat so violently it started affecting my vision. For those of you wondering, containment halo’s don’t work in a 9 car. Other than that, lap 4 was uneventful and I ran as hard as I could to the finish but came up just over a minute short of 2nd place.

Ultimately 3rd place is a great starting point in this new to me car and it’s nice to start with a finish. It was a scramble just to make it to the race and I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my wife, father, Checkers off road, and Mohr performance. Now I have a little more time to prep for the next one.
 

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