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2003 Gasoline Alley Nationals

9/7/2010
2003 Gasoline Alley Nationals

The JSCA’s (Junior Sprint Car Assoc.) Gasoline Alley Nationals was a parking lot race in the infield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2003 we spent most of the summer racing around the Indianapolis/Ohio area thanks to the Fanelli Family who was living near Cincinnati then. After some great runs with the toughest Quarter Midget competition in the country we carried some great confidence into the race.
After practice day our confidence was pretty well gone. I was struggling in both classes that I was running. In the last practice sessions we were close but still not quite where we wanted to be. The next day the heat races went even worse. A broken throttle cable gave me a DNF in Heavy Honda, and a decent run in Heavy 160 put me in the D-main.
In Heavy Honda we started a charge from the very back of the field. Starting dead last in the E-main I made the transfer to the D. We gained some confidence and made some changes to the car before the D-main. I once again managed to make the transfer to the Heavy Honda C-main. Since we were also in the Heavy 160 D-main, where I went through 2 front axles and didn’t transfer, we didn’t have very much time to make changes. We couldn’t get a gear off the motor, and ended up having to go to the tech area to pull the motor out, change the gear box and finish changing the gear. With our race already in the staging lane I was already in the car, and carried into staging as the C-main pushed off.
In the C-main I was in the transfer for most of the race, but with just a few laps to go I was knocked all the way to the back. With a lot of luck and a yellow flag I was able to make my way into the last transfer spot to the B-main on the last lap. With even more changes to the car after the C-main, the car was getting faster every race and I was getting more and more confident. Starting 12th in the B-main, I had to make it to 6th place, with 12 of the fastest Heavy Honda cars in the country that wasn’t an easy task. Our car was definitely the best handling and close to the fastest car on the track. I made it all the way to the lead, and ended up running 2nd to make my goal of having at least one car in the A-main.
A-main day we went over the entire car and made just some small final changes. We decided that after how our week had turned around we were already happy with the A-main start, so anything else would be a plus. Rolling onto the track in the 8th starting spot I was expecting to go forward, but on the start I went straight into 5th place. I was running right with the leaders, but a car spun right in front of me in turn two. I T-boned it square with the front bumper, and the car almost died, chugging all the way down the back stretch before finally taking off under yellow. At this race it wasn’t like quarter midget racing, and more like real racing where you get 2 spins and you are done, so it was a huge deal to keep the car going and not get charged with a spin. I also got to keep my position on the track. After being shuffled to the back on the restart I made my way back through the field into the top 5 without a yellow. On a late restart I made the pass for 2nd. Corey Stokel from Tampa, Fl was leading and I got to his bumper but just couldn’t pass him. I made one last attempt coming to the checkered and fell a half a car length short of the win, but the 2nd place run was more than we expected at the start of the week.

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