Madison, WI (August 17, 2011) – Last week while Keith Steele was prepping his #29 Race Team Gear PRO-2WD race truck for the upcoming Labor Day weekend event in Crandon , Ken Kincaid, the team manager from Jenkins Brothers Racing called looking for Keith to get behind the wheel of the #21 MOPAR Ram race truck. The regular pilot of the JBR PRO-2WD truck, Rob MacCachern, was injured due to a racing incident the previous weekend on the West Coast. After checking with the sponsors for his own PRO-2WD program, Keith arrived in Bark River to help Jenkins Brothers Racing in their quest for a PRO-2WD championship.
Once Keith arrived at Bark River, the team still didn’t know the team driver dynamic works under the guidelines created by the sanctioning body. After extensive Friday morning discussions, Keith was designated a team driver for the Jenkins Brothers #21 MOPAR Ram PRO-2WD race truck.
While the formalities were discussed, Keith spent the morning working with Rob MacCachern and the entire #21 race team learning as much as possible about the race truck.
When the afternoon practice session arrived, Keith used the three laps to learn more about the truck and less about finding the fast way around the 1.5 mile long Bark River International Off-Road Raceway.
Later in the day, the PRO-2WD qualifying session saw Keith use the time on the track to continue his education process on the #21 Mopar RAM. The team emphasis was to minimize the loss of championship points while Rob was unable to drive due to his injuries. With that said, Keith qualified seventh fastest.
Saturday – Round 7
According to the TORC rule book, Rob MacCachern had to start Saturday’s race in order to receive championship points for the weekend of racing. The starting grid had Rob behind the wheel of the MOPAR Ram with Keith in the “hot pits” anxiously waiting for a driver change.
The start of the race had Rob running at the tail end of the field when the blue and gray RAM truck came in during the competition yellow allowing Keith to finish the second half of the race. Keith ran a conservative pace crossing the finish in seventh place.
Sunday – Round 8
At the Sunday morning driver’s meeting, TORC officials and PRO drivers were concerned about the safety issues involved with making a driver change during the race.
The drivers voted to allow Keith Steele to start the day’s race from the final position on the starting grid.
The first few laps saw Keith under team orders to run conservatively and stay out of any trouble. Everything was going to plan when an incident just before the midpoint of the race collected several race trucks, creating a red flag situation. Keith avoided all the carnage and suddenly found himself in second place. After several minutes, the incident was cleared; a couple trucks were out of the race, while a couple more were in the hot pits getting some quick work done to get back into the race.
When the field went back to racing, Keith got the call to run with the leader. For almost two laps, Keith kept close pace with the eventual leader before his crew chief had him slow down the pace. At the finish, the #21 MOPAR Ram crossed the line in second place.
The well informed crowd went wild as Keith Steele talked about his weekend during the podium celebration.
“I have to thank team manager Ken Kincaid,” remarked Keith Steele. “He pushed hard to get me this opportunity and I’m glad I could help Jenkins Brother Racing with their run at the 2011 PRO-2WD championship. ”
Then Keith commented on Sunday’s race; “I really didn’t like to see all those guys wreck in front of me, and I was fortunate to avoid all of it. Landing on the podium never crossed my mind this weekend. Bringing back the race truck to the hauler without any damage was the plan and that was accomplished.”
After Round 8, Rob MacCachern has a six-point lead over second place Bryce Menzies, in the 2011 TORC PRO-2WD Championship.
The next stop on the TORC Championship trail is in Crandon, Wisconsin over the Labor Day Weekend.
Look for Keith Steele to be behind the wheel of his #29 Race Team Gear PRO-2WD race truck as Rob MacCachern is expected to resume his driving duties with the #21 MOPAR Ram as the teams take on the track known as “The Big House.”
– Mike Reusche, race report