Texas officially kicked off its race season with the NASA Season Opener at MSR Houston. The field was 31 deep with 28 SM and 3 SSM. NASA Texas has some really fast guys that don't tend to travel outside of Texas much so you might not hear their names often and would not be familiar with their skills. Others travel to the Nationals on a regular basis and do very well on a the big stage. NASA is always bringing in new blood and there were several newcomers at the event this weekend. The ones I personally met were Chad Evans, Harry Gottsacker, Ben Rail and Sally Landon. Chad has some offroad experience and X-Factor put together a very nice new car for him that he placed well with at a technical track P18 both races on Saturday. Harry Gottsacker is young gun that competes in karting and is wandering into the darkside of sports car racing with his first event in a Miata. Harry finished the weekend with P15, P10 and P9 in the three races turning a best lap of 1:49.781 during Sat's race 2. Ben Rail, the young man who posted last summer about wanting to get into racing even though he had zero previous experience earned his license and competed in Sat race 2 starting last and finishing P23. Sunday he qualled P22 and raced up to P18. What a great start to his young efforts!! Go team X-Factor Rookie! Sally Landon was introduced to my front bumper on test day. She had really nice lines through the tight parts and at the exit of the bus stop she held a great line just not much speed. I thought it must be some young rookie that was building up pace but being very tidy so I pushed her out of the exit around the corner and she never flinched. Afterwards I thought I should go introduce myself and explain that I wasn't a mad man a felt comfortable with her skill to giver her some practical experience on bump drafting through a sweeper. Walked up to a couple that were about my age and asked where is the driver of the #20, Sally pipes up that is me! I was a bit surprised but excited to see someone like myself that got into racing past their 20s. I explained is was the maniac that was pushing her around and she was very pleasant and exited to have received the push. Her husband was on the radio with her at the time and she was asking him, "Who is the 22 he just bump drafted me!" Sally has many hours of DE experience and is ready to put those to use in racing SM.
I rarely venture around the paddock to talk to others that I don't hang out with on a regular basis. This weekend was so relaxing and the weather, once it warmed up a bit on Saturday, was incredible. I had a blast meeting the new folks and sharing what I could with them to help them. Very eye opening experience for me, it was much more relaxing than sitting next to the car worrying about a million different things that don't matter.
On to the racing.
Cold air, bright sun track was rubbered in by the test day the times were going to be fast.
Chris was racing in SSM and Trevor McCallion was just breaking in a new motor so i was left by myself to qual. I had a few good laps and made some small mistakes but thought the 1:48.127 would put me P1-P3 so I drifted back to Chris and tried to push him. Boy was I wrong.
John Babot 1:47.572
Vaugne Duarte 1:47.634
Gale Corely 1:47.658
Alex Bachoura 1:48.044
Michael Ross 1:48.127
Not the start I wanted for the weekend but I knew I had a great handling car and was still making some improvements to my lines.
Race 1 was supposed to be 6 laps but the event was running behind and it looked like we would only get 5 laps. My hopes of getting P1 in the race were very dim as these guys are all very fast and tidy, passing was going to require aggression not mistakes.
Race started cleanly and I believe everyone made the first two turns without contact. I wasn't able to improve going into the launch but the front 4 were already racing hard and I took a very defensive line. Duarte had some big lock up in the brake zone which caused him to push very wide and allowed everyone but me to squeeze by as he brought his car back in line. I was able to get by Vaughn out of the bus stop as the TOYO RRs are very sensitive to overheating and he had his hands full with the front right tire. Around lap 3 I was able to get a run on Gale coming out of the carousel and was able take the inside line into 17. This left me back from Bachoura quite a bit and I spent the next lap and half chasing him down with Gale's help. I was able to pressure him from the keyhole around into diamonds edge but not get a good enough position to attack. I took an inside line into the brake zone and tried to get him to flinch, he missed the shift coming out and i was able to steal P2 by the carousel.
Time to work, more later.