Richmond International Raceway, one of my home tracks being from southern Maryland. It’s always a great feeling when you get the chance to perform so close to home with your family and friends there for your support. The race weekend had a lot of ups and downs so let me tell you all about it.
Thanks to car owners Carl Long & Derek White, I was given the opportunity to run my 3rd race of the season. It put a smile on my face because that race was Richmond. I’ve already told you how cool it is to race in front of a home town crowd but that’s not the only reason I like this place. If you have ever watched a race at Richmond, you know how great the racing is. Typical short track racing at its finest. So lets just say I was stoked going into this weekend.
Practice, Qualifying, and the race would all be in the same day this weekend setting up a long day. So lets start at the beginning. Practice started right at the sunrise. When I fired the engine and hit the track I already knew we were going to have a great weekend. The car drove really good right off the hauler putting us 20th on the speed charts for the beginning of practice. We continued throughout our only 2.5 hour practice making the car better and man did I have a great feeling about the race. We eventually fell back to 32nd in practice due to not making a qualifying run but that didn’t worry us.
As focus shifted into qualifying, we slapped tape on the grill, put 4 tires on, and we were ready to lay a lap down. The new qualifying format is really neat in the fact that there is 3 rounds of qualifying. We put down a speed of 121.163 which we thought would bump us to the next round. Unfortunately we just missed the cut my a tenth of a second which would have us roll off in the 27th starting position.
The race! The green flag dropped for the ToyotaCare 250 and we started making moves early. Within the first 5 laps of the race, we had already picked up a few spots moving us into the top 25. I radioed in to the pit crew and was extremely happy with the race car. I set my sights in on the cars ahead of me as I looked to continue bettering our night. However troubles would strike us early… as on lap 25 of the race it appeared we were losing power and apparent we dropped a cylinder. Sometimes you can ride these issues out as a plug wire may have come off(which is an easy fix on pit road). However that was not the case as just 6 laps later the engine expired on us ending our night very early.
The night was very disappointing for me. It hurts to know that we could have very easily earned a great finish but something out of our control took us out. But all in all, I was very happy to be behind the wheel at Richmond in front of my friends and family. My drive wont stop as there is always the next race. I would like to give a big thanks to Braille Battery and GRAFOID for being on the car this weekend and supporting the #13 race team. Thanks everyone, will have my next race to announce soon!
Bristol Motor Speedway… The last great colosseum. Bristol is a track that is filled with excitement each time you walk into that place. This past weekend I had the privilege to be one of he gladiators to battle for 300 laps! Thanks to car owners Derek White & Carl Long, I was given the opportunity to once again race the #13 Toyota and represent Braille Battery and GRAFOID.
Bristol has been a race track where I have had great results and finishes. In last years race I was able to bring home a solid 21st place finish. Each time you have success at a racetrack you always want to go back and try to better yourself to the next level. So going into the weekend, that was where my mind was at and we looked to come out of Saturday night’s race with a top 20.
Friday was our first day at the track, NASCAR has given us two rounds of practice to prepare our cars for the 300 lap race on Saturday. We had our own schedule that we wanted to follow to try two separate setups for the car and decide which would be best for the race. We get through the first practice on setup #1 and decide that setup #1 doesn’t look to be the route that we need to take for the race.
As the second practice session is about to begin, we realize that we were having issues with the oil pump. This was a serious matter that we had to fix. However the issue was going to cost us our second practice session. We were left with a lot of decisions. We had to decide if it was still worth throwing a completely new setup at the car to run qualifying and the race was worth it or not.
After careful thinking we decided as a group that setup #1 was not going to work so we had to give setup #2 a try even with having no laps on it. Qualifying was next for us and knowing this would be our only chance at figuring out how our car would drive, we decided to keep the car in race trim for this session to attempt to better our car for the race. In result we would roll off 37th for the race.
Knowing how treacherous Bristol is, we knew we would get chances to continue to work on our #13 Toyota through out the race to get it faster. So as the green flag dropped we fell in line and raced as hard as we could. Not getting the chance to perfect our car in practice, left us struggling to start the race. However cautions did fly and we made changes throughout the race to get our car better and it was working! However trouble struck us again right around the 200 lap mark. The engine started to cut out and ultimately shut off all together causing us to not finish the race.
Its disappointing for myself and everyone on the team. We all know that Bristol would be a great track for all of us to try to show what we are fully capable of. However I can’t be to bummed out because I had a great time once again racing around one of the best tracks in the world! I will be back next week to run Richmond in the #13 Braille Battery/GRAFOID Toyota and we will have to rebound there. Thanks everyone for the support and tune in next week to see how our weekend goes at Richmond!