Go Fast, Turn Left - By Bruce St. James - April 19, 2004
It's guess it's kinda like golf. That one good shot every 18 holes keeps you coming back for more abuse...
4/17/04 ASCA Series - 28 cars Canyon Raceway - Phoenix (1/3 mile)
No qualifying with this series, we draw pills for the heat race lineups. Unbelievably, I drew pill #6, guaranteeing a front row starting position.
Heat Race #1 (8 laps, top 4 to main)
As predicted, I started on the outside of row 1. The pole sitter jumped me on the first start and I was running second. Good thing we had a spin in the back which led to a complete restart. They warned the pole sitter about jumping the start again ... just what I needed. I knew he would be extra cautious and I knew I had a chance to get him. Sure enough, he brought us down real slow and I jumped on the gas before he did, beating him into turn 1. I led for a few laps then slipped high in the corner. By the time I gathered it up, I was running 3rd, still good enough to make the main. Luckily, the front two guys got together and only one could continue which moved me into second. We ran the last few laps nose to tail and my 2nd place finish transferred me into the Main Event!
Main Event (25 laps)
This series (ASCA) uses a unique system to line up the main event. The top 2 from each of the 4 heats go into a pool. They look at your average finishing position, and invert the cars accordingly. Since this was my 1st Main Event of the year, I started on the pole! This was really good news since by this time, the track had really dried out and was very slick. We set the car up to run the very bottom, using what little moisture was left. I got a great start and led the first 7 laps, never even hearing another car close to me (they told me I was 10 car lengths ahead).
We had a yellow flag which bunched everyone up and I focused on getting back into my rhythm. The toughest thing about running the bottom on a dry, slick track is to NOT use the throttle too much. If you carry too much speed into the corner, you slide up and give everyone the "good line" to drive right past. On the restart, I saw a car on the high groove and we ran side by side for a bit. I knew someone would run the top, and I knew it wouldn't be me. In all honesty, the skill required to run the top groove on that track is a bit beyond me. I figured to stay with what I was comfortable with, and let the chips fall where they may.
I stayed on the bottom, running second as the leader ran around the top. Another guy used the top line to go around me, but after that I didn't see or hear anyone else for quite a few laps. We don't have mirrors, so I can't tell you the name or number of the guys who bumped me a bit in the corners. Good news is, they never hit me too hard, and I never slipped off the bottom. With 2 laps to go, running 3rd, a lapped car really squeezed me into the corner and kept me from getting on the gas soon enough. It's all the guy running 4th behind me needed. He slipped by on top and I recovered for a 4th place finish. Not bad, not bad at all.
Once again, I'm either very lucky or a little good. This was my 2nd Top 5 finish with an organization known for great, fast racers. I have friends who have been racing for years with ASCA that don't have a Top 5 yet. I'll take lucky over good any day. Ryan, Mickey and Ben did a great job all night giving me a car that was consistent, comfortable and fast. Thanks guys.
Last week, I really took stock in my racing. I thought a lot about my mindset, expectations and approach. I decided that I was going to the races to have fun and enjoy racing. 1st or 21st didn't matter, I would accept what I got, knowing I tried my best. I know that sounds corny, but when I place a ton of pressure on myself, I'm disappointed regardless of the outcome. I hope to keep this attitude alive and use this year to get consistent, try new things and develop a rapport with my crew guys so we can continue to improve. Since NOBODY is making any money doing this, we damn well better have some fun with it!
Next Race 4/24 - Manzanita Speedway - Phoenix (1/3 mile)
Go fast, turn left
Bruce St. James #7k