Thursday, May 19, 2011

Atlanta National Tour Recap

It's been almost 2 weeks since the Atlanta National Tour.  Wow, where has the time gone?   Well, for this event,  there were no other cars entered in FP, so we switched classes to E-Modified.  Since we had a pretty easy 3hr drive, we left a little before 9am on Friday (5/6).      Back in March, for the Dixie National Tour, we managed to snag the tongue jack for the trailer on Garrett's driveway and bend it.  Well, our trailer misfortune continued for this event.   At some point between home and Georgia, Garrett noticed that the trailer brakes seemed to not be working, and when we arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway, we discovered why.  The battery that operates the breakaway system was gone, the whole box had come off somewhere along the way.   To top it off, about halfway to Atlanta, I started feeling sick: fever and sinus crud.     After course walks, we headed to Cracker Barrel, where I hoped the chicken & dumplings would work some magic and kick whatever I'd come down with.    You know I'm feeling rough when I go to bed at 8pm.

photo courtesy of www.perrybennett.com
Surprisingly, I got up Saturday morning fever-free, and feeling better, but not 100%.   I distinctly remember dreaming about the course that night.   We ran in the first heat, so after a quick breakfast at the hotel, it was off to the site for a final course walk.     After first runs,  I was sitting in 1st  place with a 40.903, and Garrett 2nd with a 41.490. Andy Hohl ran a 40.768, but picked up a cone.  We knew he would be tough to beat if he got the car figured out, as it was his first event in Dave Whitworth's awesome Mustang.   Garrett and I both coned our second runs -- both 39.6's and Andy had a spin and a DNF.  Steve Brueck put together a good second run, in an awesome v8 powered Porsche 914, and moved into first with a 40.275.    Going into 3rd runs the order was:  Brueck, Me, Garrett, Andy Hohl.    Garrett went out and cleaned up his run, turning in a 39.630, and moved him in to 1st.  Andy Hohl ran a 38.339, but picked up a cone.   Even with the cone, though, that put him in 3rd and bumped me down to 4th.   I went out for my 3rd run thinking 'clean up that 39.6'.   Out on course, I felt like things were moving in slow motion.   Nearing the turn for the slalom at the finish, I thought to myself, "I haven't done it.  This is a slow run."   I was shocked when the timeslip had 39.242 written on it, moving me into first place.      Steve Brueck crossed the line a couple of cars later with a 40.151 and a cone, so day one competition for us ended with me in first, Garrett 0.388 seconds back in 2nd, followed by Steve Brueck, and Andy Hohl.   We got lucky that Andy picked up a cone on that last run, otherwise he would have been in the lead by a second going into day two.

photo courtesy of www.perrybennett.com
Sunday's course was a bit faster.    I didn't dream about it, though, and woke up feeling more-or-less human, but with an enormous amount of sinus crud.   Though Sunday started an hour earlier, it was noticeably warmer, so we didn't bother with the tire blankets.   First runs pretty much summed up Sunday.   Garrett ran a 38.368, moving him into 1st.   Andy Hohl ran a 38.036, moving him into 2nd, and I ran a slow 39.381 to take 3rd.   Second runs, came and Garrett improved by a second, with a 37.316.   Hohl  turned in a 37.269, and struggled to get a 38.207, but picked up 2 cones.    I was sitting in 3rd going into 3rd runs.   I needed to go clean up my 38.207 in order to move into second place, and I needed to go find another half-second on top of that in order to jump into first, assuming nobody else improved.    Garrett went out on his third run and went a tenth slower at 37.449, so he would stand on his second run.   Andy Hohl came across the line with a 36.715 and my heart sank, then I heard the announcer say "plus two".   Ok.   Nobody ahead of me had improved their times.  All I needed to do was clean up my 38.2 and Frankenstook would take the top two spots.   Cool.   I left the line and all the way through the slalom, I realized I was going too slow,  across the back walloms, I didn't even get close to the rev limiter in second gear.  The previous run, I'd bounced off the limiter before braking for the 180-degree turn.  I knew at that point, that I was in trouble, and the rest of the course just sort of happened without any real effort.   I crossed the line with a clean run, but only managed a 38.556, which left me in 3rd place, 0.19 seconds behind Hohl, and 0.85 seconds behind Garrett.   For whatever reason, Sunday's course felt like everything was moving at 2x normal speed, whereas on Saturday, I felt like things were moving in slow motion.     I was disappointed, not because I finished 3rd, but because I know I drove like poo on Sunday.


photo courtesy of www.perrybennett.com
We came away from Atlanta with two trophies, though, and that's two more than the car had before Atlanta, so I'm not going to complain one bit.   Congrats to Garrett for a great drive on Sunday to take a National Tour victory!!!  The car is awesome, and if the drivers can put together good drives at the same event, we'll get that 1-2 finish in Blytheville, Arkansas at the Blytheville National Tour; Southern States Championship.  

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