Pop & Pup's Milan Recap
We left the shop at 9am in Richmond, TX on Wednesday, and drove the 700+ miles to Jackson, TN for the night. On the road again at 8am Thursday morning we hooked up with Doug Duell in Louisville in the afternoon. After dinner in a truck stop north of Dayton, OH; and we made it to the track's staging area late Thursday night.
Recapping my season thus far, I started off running the Vitamin C, and ran great at Bradenton, FL — Qualifying #1, but getting pushed back in the Semis of Eliminations for 6 drops of clean water. Back home we pulled the motor and replaced a freeze plug in one of the heads that had a pin hole leak. In Atlanta I qualified well — but went -.002 red in the first round of Eliminations. I found out I had an E-Coli infection just before the Maryland race — and I only went there to qualify the car with one pass (to not lose bonus points) — but decided to run all of the Qualifying and Eliminations once there. The car ran well in Qualifying, but on Sunday morning it was strangely 1/10 off in the first round of Eliminations. Back home Dallas found the timing off a little and we attributed that to be the problem. Still hurting from E-Coli, we went to the race in Joliet. The car was running slow in the two Time Trials, and I had to unbolt every ounce of extra weight to get it to run the number in the second Time Trial. In the first round of Eliminations, the car ran the number — but the motor didn't sound right so I shut it down after I crossed the line. After towing it back to the pits, we found water coming out of the number 3 spark plug hole. Pulling the heads found water seeping in the #3 cylinder. Obviously this was the problem in Maryland, and this was my third first round loss. Back home we found the block was not repairable (for racing) and a search began for a good 426 Max-Wedge block. I had surgery 10 days before the Dave Duell Classic in Bowling Green, but I couldn't miss this race as it is my favorite. Dallas couldn't come to this race — so I ran his car, which I last ran in 2006 before making it a NSS car for Dallas to run. I won class for A/NSS on Saturday — but lost a close race in the 1st round of Eliminations against Donnie Wilson for the Big Show on Sunday. Since I was so far back in the points (10th of 81), I decided to start running the Texas Whale the rest of the year to work the bugs out of this completely new race car. So the Whale was in the trailer for Milan, along with the black Coronet that Dallas runs.
The track opened at 10AM, and we were pitted, had established credentials, and teched the cars in by 1PM. At 3PM I ran my first pass and the car was a little slow because of a bad burnout.
For the second (and last Time Trial) at 5PM, I made a adjustment to the shocks settings, launched lighter, and change my shift points a little. That got me a little closer to my 10.0 Index.
That put me to where I wanted to be. The first round of Qualifying was to be at 7PM. I put 60 pounds in the car to compensate for the .05 too fast and the anticipated weather change. We wound up sitting in the staging lanes for a lot longer than I had planned for as the temperature dropped — and was about 5 pounds too light to not break out.
Pulling onto the trailer — the car sounded like Hell. Fast forward an hour and we found all of the Torque Converter bolts loose. Further, the flexplate was hosed. So at 2AM — the transmission was finally out of the car, and the flexplate unbolted.
At 7AM I am running around the pits looking for a Flexplate. Never found one, so when Mancinni Racing opened at 10AM, I ordered a plate, the crank/converter bolts, and had a friend in Detroit (thanx Doc) bring them to the track. I missed the 2nd Qualifying at 10AM. By 2PM, we threw in the towel because the transmission side snout on the converter was chewed up (indicating I needed a transmission bushing/seal) and the crank side snout on my replacement converter wasn't milled properly for my crankshaft. So the car was put on the trailer.
Dallas qualified #13 of 21, and ran Barry Camp in the first round, and Barry bested him. Doug Duell had a better than 300 point lead — but was also knocked out in the first round. The 2nd in Points (Steve Wilson), 3rd (Kurt Neighbor), and 4th (Doug Poskevitch) all advanced through both the second round and into the Semis — where Kurt ran Steve, and Doug had the bye. Poskevitch and Neighbor met in the finals — with Neighbor winning the Wally. Now you can throw a blanket over 1st through 4th, with Neighbor now most likely in the lead. The double–points finals in Indy ought to be very interesting.
On the way home, we dropped the Whale off at Doug Duell's chassis guy in Evansville. He'll deal with the transmission/converter, change the gears from 4.86 to 4.57, fix the brakes, weld on some tie down loops, and align the front end — as he had an immediate opening and was on our way home, and then again back to Indy.
All in all, the Whale drove well and has far fewer wrinkles than most brand new race cars. While I'm disappointed in not making it to Eliminations — I'm not disappointed in the car. It feels very comfortable to drive and I think I'll be running it in the FX Indexes next year.
While I have no chance for the Championship in 2011 — I intend to be a spoiler at Indy with this car, and make a hard run for the ring with it in 2012.