All three teams were in action with the Victoria Day long weekend marking the unofficial start of summer. Jake and Samantha headed north to Sunset Speedway on Saturday for the annual Spring Velocity event while Billy and the #86 team made their way to Flamboro Speedway on Sunday to join the pro late models for a regular night of racing and the Spring Fever Blues Shakedown as the team was looking to use the twin 30-lap features as practice sessions for the upcoming APC United Late Model Series event at the track on Saturday June 4th.
Flamboro Speedway: As the #86 is not a registered car at the track, the team would run their old practice tires throughout the day as the cost of a new set was not feasible based on the payout for the night and the goal was to set the car up to be competitive at the end of a 100-lap race when the tires would normally fall off and lose grip. During the first practice session Billy was pretty happy with the handling of the car despite having a slight push in the centre of the corner that turned into a loose condition on exit. The team made gains over the course of practice as they were using the lap times of the #89c of Shawn Chenoweth as a baseline as Shawn is a regular front runner at the track and a fellow APC Series competitor. During one practice session Shawn was behind Billy as they ran nose to tail with Billy keeping the seasoned veteran behind him, however towards the end of the session Billy came up on a car that was losing control going into turn 3 and as he lifted to avoid contact, the #89c drilled the rear end of the #86 getting the back end all squirrely. Thankfully the team had just installed another bar at the back of the car for just that reason and it did its job preventing the #89c from lifting the back end of the car and possibly sending the #86 into the outside wall as would surely have happened if the new bar was not in place.
With only minor damage to the new bar, Billy lined up 13th out of the 19 cars in attendance for the first feature of the night. After just three laps Billy made his way up to 11th and despite the old tires, he picked up a few more positions to finish 7th. Despite the continuing push in the centre of the corner, the team was pretty happy with how the car was able to maintain quick lap times with the old tires. Billy lined up in 11th for the second feature and it didn’t take long for Billy to come onto the radio to say that the tires were definitely well past their best before date as he was getting no grip at all and it felt like he was racing on hockey pucks. It was obvious that the team overstepped the life cycle of the tires that now had over 170 laps on them and the best that Billy could do was hold on and stay out of trouble which he did bringing home the #86 in 9th and another top-10 finish. The day turned out to be a great success as the team found a setup that should keep them very competitive at the end of a 100-lap race and Billy got some valuable experience trying to squeeze the most speed out of worn out tires.
Sunset Speedway: The Spring Velocity event was spread over two days with the heat races taking place on Saturday and the feature races on Sunday. Jake and Samantha were at different ends of the spectrum throughout practice on Saturday as Jake struggled with the #88 that was very tight while Samantha had her hands full with the #81 that was very loose. Samantha was out first in the second heat of the day starting 8th out of 10 cars. She improved one position into 7th at the halfway mark and was able to pick up one more position by the end to finish 6th. Jake started on the pole for his heat race and battled hard with the #17 and #49 for the last 5 laps to hang on to finish one position back in 2nd.
As Jake and Samantha returned to the track on Sunday for their 35-lap feature, it would prove to be an eventful feature for Samantha but not in the way that she would have liked. Samantha lined up in the 12th starting position and Jake lined up right behind her in the 14th out of 28 cars. On lap 7, contact with the #10 would send Samantha around in turn 1 & 2 causing her to restart at the tail-end of the field. Both Jake and Samantha would start to pick their way through the field as a few cautions would slow the pace with Samantha battling her way up to the 11th while Jake was forced to pit under caution around the halfway mark for a bad push condition adjustment that put him back to the back to restart in the 24th position. On lap 28 while the #06 and the #6 were battling hard for position the #06 made contact with Samantha sending her hard into the wall in turns 3 & 4. With the front end of the #81 badly damaged the race was red flagged as the car was towed back to the pits. The car was the least of everyone’s worries as Samantha was experiencing a lot of pain in her right wrist resulting in a visit from the track paramedics. With one more caution on lap 29 Jake would restart in 21st before bringing home the #88 in 14th while Samantha was officially scored in 25th. After the race, Samantha’s boyfriend Danny Benedict who drives the #54 limited late model at Sunset drove her back to Guelph where they stopped at the Guelph General Hospital to get some x-rays. Unfortunately for Samantha the results were not what she was hoping for as she was diagnosed with a fractured wrist which will put her out of action for a while. We wish Samantha all of the best with her recovery and hopefully we will see her back behind the wheel of the #81 sooner rather than later.
Jake returns to Sunset Speedway on Saturday May 28th for a regular night of racing with the front gates opening at 3:30 PM and racing getting underway at 5:30 PM. Carson makes his return to the #86 mini stock that same night at Flamboro Speedway also for a regular night of racing with the front gates opening at 5:00 PM and racing getting underway at 6:00 PM.