Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Gary Elliott Racing – Season Opener at Sunset Speedway

May 3rd                                                          Race #1

Opening day was a cold one, but we got it in and the what a night for our granddaughter Lauren who picked up her first checker flag in only her 2nd race of her young stock car career.  I told her to start at the back of her races for the first few weeks to learn her own car, and then, once she could control her Honda, then she could race other cars and learn to pass them.  She started last in her first race and finished 9th of 12 cars.

Her next race she started pole and decided she was already to take that position. We were nervous, but she wasn’t and won the race by half a track over the other 10 cars in that last chance event.   She has become a favorite in one night.

In her feature event Lauren raced hard early but mechanical problems took her out of the race when the recently installed oil pan started leaking again.   It was disappointing but her win took our minds off the DNF.

The Late Model had some chassis changes over the winter and what a difference they made.  We were so happy to see the car handling already better than it had in all of 2013.

There were 30 Late Models trying for 26 qualifying spots in the season opener, a 100 lap Invitational.  The races rained out Saturday and Sunday things started early we were not able to get to the track until almost 2pm, preventing us from making warms.   By the time we were unloaded and ready to go on the track it was closed.  However, the manager allowed us to have 5 laps because we had not had one lap on the race car yet.  Once on the track the starter extended the test session to 10 laps, and that was very much appreciated.

Our qualifying round was not the best but I messed up because while we were on the track I only took one lap, mistaking the first green for one of my timed laps, but it was a courtesy warm up.  That lap was 15:544 and what I thought was our last lap was a 15:176.  My competitors and of course my crew were wondering why I pulled off before my final lap, and when I realized what I had done I felt foolish, because one more lap who have put us in the top 10.  The fastest lap was a 14:801 and we would have been in the 14:9’s running one more lap.  But we were happy with the time we had for our first qualifying effort with only 10 practice laps total on the car.

In the feature we ran hard, had two small incidents when cars cut down on me while I was inside.  I usually back out so our car doesn’t get damaged, plus I don’t like to hit or spin our other cars to pass.  However, after numerous attempts to get by, I stuck my nose in hard and my competitors spotter should have said I was inside but failed to do that and the result was him going around and me going around and me going to the back for spinning him.

On the restart I got inside the #55 again and this time passed without issue.  We went on to finish 17th after having some brake issues with our calipers leaking.  Had we made more warm ups we would have found that problem early.  It put us a lap down but we continued racing having a good run in spite of being one lap behind.

After the race I talked to Bruce Rankin #55.  I apologized and he just smiled and shook hands with me.    Our next race is May 10th at Sunset Speedway another 100 lap race, only this time with the Pro Late Models.

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