This past weekend was the ROAR nationals in balmy Porter, TX just outside of Houston. With temps soaring into the mid 90′s and humidity levels in the 60′s it was a climate adjustment for many people! Also on top of the climate issues for us humans it also played a role in the tuning of our engines as many flameouts were happening throughout the weekend. The week kicked off a little earlier than most expected as it was decided pretty late in the game to allow another day of practice on Wednesday. I had already booked my flight prior to this knowledge and so I missed out on the first free and controlled practice rounds. The track at that time was still very slick but getting familiar with the layout would have been nice. Anyways I feel this put me behind just a bit as qualifications were set to start. In truggy it was standard procedure with qualifying seating you into the A-B-C main format. In buggy however IFMAR format was used and thus top 20 were happy to see themselves put into the Semi-Finals.
Truggy – My DNX408T was on point pretty well all weekend long. I did some set-up changes when I arrived and ran on the slicker than expected track. In qualifying during the 4 rounds I was able to take a 10th, 5th, 4th, and 3rd. So solid results, nothing stelar but kept below the radar knowing full well though that I would be able to be competitive during the main. I was already running my main tire choice in my final qualifiers and was still pretty much on pace. In the end of quals taking best 2 of 4 qual points I was able to qualify 5th for the A-main. On this tight track passing is extremely hard and so I knew at the start of the main I would need to keep it clean and try to take advantage of any opportunities. At the tone I had a clean start but quickly got caught behind Drake who seemed off pace with his truck. After a lap or two of running on his bumper I finally made a mistake and got under his wing and took him out. I wanted to wait but he was upside down and the freight train was coming and so I continued on knowing a stop-and-go was coming. Next lap it did and I served it and luckily only fell back one place because of it. Then I set out on getting my pace back. I would battle for a while in the top 4-5 positions and all the while Tessman was just getting away. I was put a lap down about 20 minutes in just do to minor thing like running with others while Tessman had clear track and just kept it clean. As a couple contenders bowed out I inherited 3rd and set my sights on Truhe. At the time I was running behind Tessman still just that lap down and I tried to pace him and use him to take me to Truhe. With about 10 minutes left Truhe crashed through the whoops section and I just got by and then pulled away as I set my sights on trying to get my lap back. I followed Tessman for the rest of the race getting very close to getting my lap back but with 2 minutes to go deciding to step back a bit and make sure I didn’t run out of fuel or do something stupid. So I was able to take 2nd place which was a great result for me and my Durango DNX408T! I ran Soft Impacts and they just got better as the race went on. I set my car up to get better as it got hotter and that’s what it did as I turned my best laps at the end of the race. Maybe not the best strategy but it worked pretty well.
Buggy – In buggy I was having an up and down week to start. Gerd was over from Germany and he had been staying with Carson for a week testing some new parts. I used those parts that they were liking to start my week at Nats but it just didn’t fit my driving style. After the lackluster first qualifier Wes mentioned to go back to what we ran last time we were at this track in November. So that is what we did putting on as close of a set-up as we could remember. For Q2 I went out with a car with some 15 set-up changes and it took a bit to get comfortable but my pace was there and I got a 6th for the round. In Q3 I had a mechanical issue making Q4 very important to make the Semi-Final. I would go out and the bite had come up a ton. My car was very edgy as I had to soft a suspension set-up on as the high bite took me by surprise. I would hold onto it though and put in my best run taking 5th. This qualified me 8th overall and thus 4th in the Even Semi.
In the Semi Final I had a decent start. I would end up battling with Cav for the first handful of minutes and I felt way faster and thus was getting antsy as Tessman and Drake were pulling away. Eventually during a pitstop I was able to get ahead of him and put in a fast remainder of the run to take 3rd. No one in the second semi final was faster than my time and thus I was set to start 3rd on the grid for the A-main! I was excited because I felt the only two people with my pace were Tessman and Drake and that starting right behind them was going to give me a good chance to keep pace and see where the chips fell. At the start for the first 3 or 4 laps I was pushing Drake. I again felt faster than him but this track doesn’t lend to passing. Then my luck struck. I started to fall off pace. I lost my bottom end and then I began to get a run on. I knew I had developed an air leak. During my first pitstop I had Wes richen the bottom. It was a little better for a few laps and then went back to no bottom and run on. During second pitstop I had him richen the top. Same situation ensued. It got worse and worse until it took me out of the race. It was unfortunate because my car felt great. I guess it will have to wait for the next time yet again!
All in all it was a pretty successful weekend. I qualified for the Worlds in Italy in 2014 and got a 2nd in Truggy. Looking forward to AMS in a week and a half!