Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SWRC Rounds 3&4 at NTK Recap

About to load my kart last Thursday night

This past weekend, Ali and I traveled to Dallas for Rounds 3 and 4 of the Southwest Regional Cup. Entries were slightly down overall from Round 1 in Norman, but we still had 10 drivers in S2, 4 in S4, and 1 in S5 making for 15 shifter karts on track for each of our sessions. On Friday, I ran 5 practice sessions and 3G's shifter kart tuner Dallas Patterson did one session in my kart to confirm it's handling and give me some different data to compare with. Prior to this weekend, my personal best at NTK was a 37.52. With newer tires, some chassis tuning, and driving improvements, I dropped this to a 37.22 on Friday and was able to run this pace very consistently.

New Radiator Hose Layout - big ergo improvement

Practice started at 8:30 Saturday and I ran all four sessions to get accustomed to and test a new gearing setup. This new final drive worked very well and it improved my pace and consistency. The qualifying session was 8 minutes and I was able to improve my personal best to a 36.63 which is a huge improvement for me and put me 6th on the grid for the heat race. Also, during this lap I pulled my highest lateral G level ever in a kart at a rib-breaking 3.18 g's in Turn 2.

Starting 6th on the grid for the heat race, I got a terrible start and dropped to the rear of the field. For the first time since I started racing shifters, I dumped the clutch when the green flag waved and bogged for several seconds as the whole field rocketed by me. Unfortunately, Matt Stephenson did not have quite enough room to get around me and hit me pretty hard in the right rear damaging his kart pretty badly. I felt pretty bad about that and apologized afterwards, but these things happen in wheel to wheel racing. During the heat, I was able to claw my way back to 8th place. For the final, I lined up 8th on the grid. I moved into P7 at the start and then gained one position during the race to come home in 6th place. I am about 0.5 to 1s off the pace of the top 5 karts who are all national level shifter kart racers so this is about where I expected to finish. Despite only finishing in 6th place, I was pleased with the way the kart ran and with my lap time improvements. My only other mistake during the day was running too many laps in practice....I know this sounds backwards. I ran 84 laps on Saturday and after 50 or so on Friday, I was pretty wiped at the start of the final. Next time, I need to conserve myself a little better over the 3-day race weekends.

View from Turn 1 during my 7AM Sunday track walk

On Sunday, I ran one practice session in the morning to check the balance and pace again before qualifying. As the track rubbered in and tires wore over the weekend, my kart got tighter and tighter and I struggled with hopping in Sunday's qualifying session. I was only able to run a 36.9 in quali which was disappointing. However, a quick axle change before the heat race allowed me to drop right back down to mid 36s in the heat where I finished a disappointing 8th again. Starting 8th for the final, I moved up to 7th at the start and stayed their for the whole race. I should have gone to an even softer axle as I started to get bad hopping on exit again about halfway through the race which slowed my pace down from the heat race.

The next SWRC race is at Gulf Coast Kartway in Katy, TX in three weeks. I am going to run one practice day in Midland before the Katy race with my two friends in San Angelo who just bought Birel shifter karts. I'll post some in-kart videos from this past weekend once I edit them this week.

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