CAMRY CORNER: Starting on the Right Foot
Coming off Turn Two, five laps to go, we slide up in front of the 48 and get pushed down the back straightaway sideways. There isn’t even a millimeter between the cars, we’re going 125 mph sideways into Turn Three on rev limiter.
TCM Note: Speedway 660 Pro Stock driver Brent Roy offers up his take on the first two races of the year at his home track, including a spirited battle last Sunday for the win in the feature. Photos by Michelle Roy.
Every year, we plan to “start on the right foot” and get lots of preseason testing done. Being ready for the first event of the year shouldn’t involve four 2:30am nights in a row to get there, but it does. After all this is the sport of stock car racing and we’re racers (procrastinators).
This year was no different, with a brand new baby boy into my life, I found myself spending more time on the things that mattered most, family.
A few of those 2:30am nights later, we’re at the track for event #1 of the year at Speedway 660 – with a bent right rear shock we didn’t catch in the winter, front end geometry that isn’t set and a completely new setup package.
Survive… come out in one piece and just survive. That was our goal for round #1.
We survived. We did not have a great car and we survived a race some other teams did not. Finishing 5th in the heat race meant we were starting 11th in the feature. From this position, it was really tough to work our way through traffic, only getting running room and then the caution would fly putting us back behind some slower cars. Eventually though, we worked our way up and after a late race restart were able to steal away a couple positions we really didn’t deserve to have. The car was a 9th or 10th place machine, and we finished 6th. We survived.
I always liked it when Chad Knaus would tell Jimmie Johnson “Max Points.” “Lets go out and get max points today guys.” What a brilliant theory. Max points means nobody beat you. That’s easier to write down on a sheet of paper then to go out and do it though, right?!
We did our homework this week, took our notes from the first round and modified our program. This week we were prepared. Through practice the entire team did not stop once, we wrenched and wrenched and wrenched getting all the adjustments right, retrieving data and taking notes. Everyone was on their game. We didn’t start the season on the right foot, but we were on it now.
The third heat race of the afternoon comes up and we park it in victory lane. Max points.
This sets us starting 3rd in the feature behind the front row of Dave O’Blenis in the 48 and Dylan Gosbee in the 91, who was using this race as a “tune up” for the PASS 150 in one week time. From the drop of the green it was evident this was a three horse race. I tried to let Dave and Dylan wear each other out early. Dylan with fresher tires then me and Dave was able to hound the rear bumper of the 48 car, I loved it.
The race has multiple cautions in it, which kept the lead pack bunched up and on occasion me and Dylan would swap the 2nd starting spot, giving our own go at Dave on the restarts. In the hot New Brunswick sun, the outside groove just wasn’t working. You could hang tough for a couple of laps, but once the tires got hot, you couldn’t put the power down. Back to 3rd place.
The final restart came with 15 to go, with the 48 leading and 91 beside, much the same as the last two. Coming down the back stretch each fella seemed to be testing out the others interior door bars. The green flew and they took off, I now have Kevin Moore to my outside who’s always a threat. This three horse race just got another player.
On the exit of Turn Two, Gosbee makes a move from the top of the track, to the bottom, sliding the headlights of his Ford Fusion right underneath the rear bumper of Dave’s Chevrolet and takes the bottom groove. The door is open, and I’m not letting Dave close it. All four of us fly into Turn One, Dave is trying his best to shut the door on us, but a quick reminder with the right front of our Camry tells him we’re here and not going anywhere. The 48 slides up the track opening the door back up. The next few laps we go toe to toe, door handle to door handle with the five time champ for second spot and watch the 91 drive away.
Steve comes on the radio, “outside door, door, corner, corner, clear high.” Coming off Turn Two, five laps to go, we slide up in front of the 48 and get pushed down the back straightaway sideways. There isn’t even a millimeter between the cars, we’re going 125 mph sideways into Turn Three on rev limiter. This is the point where you say to yourself, dig a little bit deeper, find that extra tenth, or as my good buddy John Miller would say “Give it 11 tenths.”
We come around and get the signal for two to go. The 48 is still there hunting the bottom looking for a way around. Going into Turn Three he returns the favor I shortly before lent to him. Unfortunately for him our car had good drive off the corner, we pull back in front. And slice down in Turn One after receiving the signal for one to go. Down the back stretch the final time, all three cars now battling for 2nd spot with the 91 checked out.
Beep Beep. There it is, the bump and run, the chrome horn, whatever you want to call it. We’re in the second groove. No time for thoughts though, time to feed the fuel to the carburetor and get this thing over the line, and we did, ahead of Dave.
With Gosbee winning the race, he claims 1st place points but of all the regular event guys, we got the maximum available. Mission accomplished. We did it, and we did it having fun, racing extremely hard with a couple of the best in the business. Best of all, we all got out after the race with big smiles on everyone’s faces, shook hands and congratulated each other on a battle well fought. That’s what it was, a battle to the very end.
As soon as it ends, its time to shift our focus to this coming Saturday night. The Pro All Stars Series is in town for 150 laps, and the top three Canadian drivers earn provisional starts to the Oxford 250. A dream for some will be on the way to coming true when the checkered flies Saturday night. You wont want to miss it.