Elkins, WV Half Mile Hotshoe National
Elkins, West Virginia had a great turnout of riders as it was the night before the Hagerstown National. There was 37 pro singles and 6 pro twins in my class only taking 12 for each. In the scratch heat on the 450 I got an ok start and chased the leader from start to finish. I just didn’t have the motor to get off of the turns to make a pass, but would gain everything I loss on him going into the turns, so it was really frustrating. I came off the track and we had fastest scratch heat, so I was feeling ok going into the heat. My team and I decided to make a gearing change to try and make the bike rev more off the turn to try and make the pass. Well when the heat came I had a miserable start and was getting held up by the riders in front of me. The track was the smallest half mile I’ve seen and it was sure hard to pass. We were all riding the same line the whole way around and right up against the edge of the track, which made making passes difficult. So with only a whole 6 laps is was not enough for me to make the appropriate passes to transfer to main. It was really a bad deal for me because I really took a hit in the championship standings as my main competitors in the series went on to get 3rd and 4th. As a team we decided that adding a tooth to the bike was not the right call as I was spinning more than catching someone coming off the turn. We also found out the kid I was gearing to catch who had fastest time and won the main event was actually illegal by using a softer tire then what we were allowed, so this made it even more difficult for me to swallow. In the scratch heat on the Harley I had a descent start and came off the line in 5th. I made the pass for 4th quickly as we only had 4 laps to make a pass and come across the finish line. Before the heat we added more teeth to the twin because with the restrictors in the bike it was dead off of the turns. When the heat came up I got one my better starts on the twin and worked my way up to 3rd by the end of the 6 lap heat. I was getting more excited as the twins Hotshoe championship was getting closer to the end for me. In the main I got a miserable start I was last coming into turn one. I put my head down and picked off one and closed a straightaway gap that 2nd and 3rd had on me. By the end of the main I was dead even going across the line with 2nd and 3rd. After post race inspection the same winner that won on the 450 that was illegal was also DQ from the twin’s race as he had the wrong restrictors in and a softer tire again. After a long day at the track with a lot of pros and cons I wrapped up the twins championship and fell back to 3rd in the singles championship.
Hagerstown, Maryland Half Mile Grand National
Almost every year right before practice, Hagerstown Speedway has rain in the forecast to deal with and yes this year was no difference. We ended up not getting on the track until almost 9 o’clock for timed practice. I was up and down in the charts as the track was super tacky and hard to even put your foot down led alone slide into the turn. I ended up 11th overall, which gave me a front row to start. In the heat I got off dead last and picked my way up 6th out of 18 by the time the checkered fell. I was happy I was going to be starting 11th in the main, but upset because my starts were killing me. Off the main event start I got pinched into turn one and was almost dead last again. I picked my way up to 11th again and was right on 9th and 10th as the laps ran down. I was getting frustrated because every time I would get a run on the outside of the 10th place rider he would run me in the front stretch wall. So, instead of getting hurt and smacking the wall with my hand guard I left off and went across the line in 11th. It was a solid finish for me since I was getting killed off the starts, but I was upset because my lap times were faster than some of the riders who still finished in front of me. At the Grand Nationals we only get 12 laps, which I feel is not enough because everyone just starts to calm down and run in some good clean laps, but it’s going to be the same for the rest of the year until they can make the change for ’10.
Sturgis Short Track Hotshoe National
Sturgis short track I was getting more excited for as the day went on. The track was starting to look real nice compared to years past and the rider count was average, which was a plus for being so far out west. The Jack Pine Gypsies decided to bring in the transponders and run the Hotshoe as close to a Grand National as possible. This was even more exciting as last weekend in Elkins we didn’t have the transponders and I think it hurt us. In practice and timed qualifying I ended the three sessions 2nd overall with Jeffrey Carver fastest. In the 2nd heat I was on pole and ready to go. I had an ok start and went into the turn in 4th. The middle starting positions had great starts all night as the track was the best for them. Coming to the checkered I ran it in harder than the 3rd place rider and made the clean pass for a front row start in the main. In the main I started on the outside with 5 riders below me. Going into the first turn we all were about dead even until I had to shift twice to get to third gear. After the main I found out everyone was running 2nd gear and not 3rd, so they only had to shift once, which honestly showed on the first lap. Everyone stayed right where they were pretty much when they came off turn 2 as it was slick and hard to pass. I ended the race in 4th place with Rispoli taking his first Hotshoe win of the year as the race was shorten by one lap due to a red flag incident.
Rapid City Half Mile Grand National
Rapid City half mile was smooth, but very dry and slick due to the heat and winds throughout the day. It was really hard to get times that would be similar for tonight’s program as the sun had not went down yet, but I ended the qualifying session in 9th overall. I started on the front row in the heat, but I think the whole second row passed me before I even got off the line from spinning. I went into the turn in last, but put my head down as I knew the rain storm was approaching. I was running a high line all day and immediately went up there. I picked off a bunch and was up to 4th by the time I was going into turn 3. I put my head down and made the pass for 3rd by the second lap. My times were even with the leaders, but I left them get a way too soon. I finished the heat in 3rd place with our heat being the faster of the two. Shortly after all the heats were ran in the Pro singles and Expert twins the rain, lighting, and wind came forcing the AMA to call the race and pay off by heats.
Sturgis Half Mile (outlaw race)
After the racing being cancelled the night before we decided to head back over to Sturgis to race the Amateur race as the pro classes had a nice purse going with them today. I started 2nd on the line in the heat and made my way up to first by the end of the race. I was given pole position for the main and decided to start on the groove. Being from PA, I usually can start in second gear off the line on groove tracks, but today that was not the greatest decision I could have made. The bike just bogged and my chances of winning slipped away. I put my head down worked my way up to 3rd and coming to turn 3 and 4 on lap 13 out of 15 I left Ripoli slip under me, but when I did so I went a little higher in the turn and hit a hole and lost not only 3rd, but 4th place as well. I was bummed as I could not regain my position back before the checkered. I was happy with my finish though because my mechanic had to fly home, so I was making all the calls on my own all day. The only thing I wish I could have figured out before the day was over is my gearing. I was the only bike on the track shifting between 4th and 5th everyone else was running one gear. Heats my gearing was working great, but the track got slower and my 5th gear would not pull me down the straightaway, but the track was still fast enough that 4th was too tight, so I was stuck in between. All-in-all I was happy with my performance during the week as I came home with three 5th place finishes. My next Grand National race is this weekend in Grove City, Ohio. I just want to thank all of my sponsors, family, friends, and fans for all of your support this year. I honestly couldn’t have done as much as I have this year without you, so thanks!