Samantha, who just had her cast removed and Jake who had the weekend off from racing at Sunset Speedway headed to Sauble Speedway to cheer on Billy in the third round of the APC United Late Model Series. The #86 team had a busy couple of weeks repairing some front end damage after the last race at Sunset Speedway including replacing the front bumper for the second time in as many races. The team also went over the entire car in fine detail as they would only have five days between the race at Sauble and the next round of the APC Series at Delaware Speedway on Canada Day.
With temperatures reaching the high 20s, Billy took to the track for the first of two 30-minute practice sessions where was very happy with the handling of the #86 St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market pro late model. The only issue that he had was being the choice of rear gears as the motor was not reaching the desired RPM that the team wanted. The gears were changed and Billy returned to the track for the second and final practice session where he said the car was better but still lacking RPM. Without a higher set of gears, the team hoped that with new tires, the car would pick up some additional speed that would ultimately help though they did not think that their gear selection would hurt the car as they were close to what they were looking for. If anything, Billy felt that the car was a little loose on throttle through the corner so he was instructed to come back to the pits so the team could put on a bigger left rear tire that would be closer to what they could have for qualifying and the feature. The practice tires from the last race at Sunset Speedway had 4” of stagger across the back and the biggest spare tire would put the stagger at 3½”; however, it looked like they would only get 3” of stagger on the new set. The staff from Grisdale Racing Products that select and mount the tires for the series were very helpful in trying to rectify the tire size problem at the track by un-mounting and mounting tires with Ken and Hags going through a number of tires from the tire truck trying to get the correct amount of stagger. Unfortunately there was a very limited amount of tires to choose from and the team would have to live with what they had. With their new tires mounted and the air pressures adjusted to hopefully help the stagger issue, Billy lined up 11th for time trials where he ran a 14.775 second lap that would put him deep in the field back in 17th out of 21 cars. Although the team were extremely disappointed with their qualifying run, they were more disappointed in the lack of tire selection as the lower stagger was creating a big push in the handling that was hindering the car from rotating and therefore not allowing Billy to get back into the throttle as quickly as he wanted. With the car now impounded, the only adjustments that could be made was to the air pressures and with the big lack of stagger the team was not confident that this was something they would be able to overcome. Last season the individual teams were allowed to go to Grisdale’s and pick out their own tires but some complained about an unfair advantage and a rule was put in place putting all teams at the mercy of the Grisdale staff and their tire selection.
As the field took the green flag it wasn’t long before Billy was on the radio complaining that the car had an even bigger push than in qualifying and that he could not get on the throttle through the corners dropping him back even deeper in the field. As the first caution came out on lap 25, Billy made his way to the pits for a quick adjustment that consisted of putting shims into the left front as well as taking more air pressure out of the left rear in the hopes of minimizing the push that Billy was experiencing. Upon returning to the track Billy was back on the radio complaining that push was still pretty bad and on top of that the carburetor started to act up with a big hesitation as he first got on the throttle. With a series rule in place that didn’t allow a car to come into the pits to change a tire unless it was flat, the team was not able to put on the smaller spare tire that would have corrected the stagger problem. With also not having a quick fix to correct the issue with the carburetor, Billy was told to do the best he could to stay out of trouble and bring the care home in one piece. David did a great job as his rookie season continues as Billy’s spotter to guide the driver through multiple cautions that happened right in front of the #86. Billy was able to bring the car home without a scratch although it would be with a disappointing 14th place finish.
Billy returns to Delaware Speedway for Canada Day on Friday July 1st for the fourth round of the APC United Late Model Series. The front gates open at 6:00 PM with racing getting underway at 7:30 PM. Jake returns to Sunset Speedway on Saturday July 2nd for a regular night of racing with the front gates opening at 4:30 PM and racing getting underway at 6:00 PM.
Jake was the only driver from the Spira Racing stable that would see the track this past weekend as he returned to Sunset Speedway for a rare Friday night event. With the NASCAR Pinty’s Series set to take over the track for the weekend the usual Saturday night showcase was moved to Friday night and with two consecutive top-5 finishes Jake was looking to continue his string of strong finishes heading into an off week. With their cooler packed full of ice courtesy of sponsor Northern Ice, Jake and his dad Wade loaded the #88 and headed north Friday afternoon.
With the sun high in the sky and the heat radiating off the pavement Jake took to the track for practice. The car continued to handle well right off the trailer as Jake was again happy with the handling only having to make minor adjustments through air pressures to keep up with the changing track conditions. With the temperature being very high, the track was very greasy resulting in the cars sliding all over the track looking for more grip wherever they could find it.
In the first heat race of the night Jake lined up in the 5th starting position out of 7 cars. By lap 2 Jake moved into the 4th while the last five laps were a battle with the #17 and the 76 for 2nd, 3rd and 4th , Jake would come out on the losing end of that battle finishing 4th. Due to time constraints there would be no ‘Dash for Cash’ so the team went to work prepping for the 25-lap feature.
With the sun setting in the distance, Jake lined up for the feature back in the 13th out of 18 cars and it didn’t take long for him to begin his march towards the front. As Jake cracked the top-10 just before the halfway point the caution came out on lap 12 as the #36 spun on the backstretch and the #6 and 76 came together on the front stretch simultaneously. Restarting in the 7th position, the caution would come back out once more on lap 22 before the rest of the feature would run caution free. Now starting 6th, Jake would pick up one more position before running out of laps to pick up his third consecutive top-5 finish. As the cars went through post-race inspection the 1st and 2nd place cars would be disqualified handing the win to the #17 for his first career victory while moving Jake onto the podium with a 3rd place finish. With two weeks off before their next race Jake and his dad Wade are looking to do their homework and see what they can do to finally put the #88 in victory lane.
Jake has a rare weekend off as Billy is back in the #86 pro late model at Sauble Speedway on Saturday June 25th for the third round of the APC United Late Model Series. The front gates open at 5:30 PM, qualifying is at 6:00 PM with racing getting underway at 6:30 PM.
Jake returned to Sunset Speedway for his second back-to-back feature and he was joined by Billy in the #86 pro late model for the rescheduled second round of the APC United Late Model Series. After a rough start to the Series, Billy and team were looking to build some momentum as the series started to pick up steam with four races in five weeks.
After almost picking up his first feature win the previous evening, Jake continued to be happy with the handling of his car with only minor air pressure adjustments required during practice. In his heat race Jake started in the pole position but he got caught up in the outside lane, ultimately dropping him back to 5th where he would finish. Due to time restraints the ‘Dash for Cash’ was cancelled and the cars lined up for their feature where Jake would start back in 8th. Jake had another great start and had moved his way up to 5th but that’s as far as he would get once again as he would finish there as the race ran caution free. With back-to-back top 5 finishes Jake continues his successful start to the season and finds himself 4th in the standings.
Billy and team struggled with the handling of the #86 throughout practice with Billy spinning out in turn 4 after drifting through much of turn 3 on the first lap due to a very loose handling car. Despite making numerous changes throughout practice, Billy felt like he was burning up the right rear coming off the corners as he wasn’t able to get on the throttle until almost halfway down the straightaway. At the conclusion of practice, the team threw a mixed bag of changes at the #86 hoping to tighten up the car before qualifying. Billy hit the track for time trials as the 15th car to qualify and laid down a lap of 14.330 seconds jumping up to 2nd on the board while also picking up almost three tenths of a second from his practice times. As the point leaders made their qualifying runs after Billy, he would ultimately end up in the 7th starting position picking up his second consecutive top-10 qualifying run.
As the field came to the green flag the #24 missed a shift causing the field to stack up behind him and for the second consecutive race, Billy would find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as when the field stacked up he looked to the inside of the #81 but launched the #86 off the left rear tire of the #81 as the two made contact sending Billy into the air before landing just past the start/finish line against the inside wall. The #86 was hooked up to the tow truck and brought down pit road so the crew could go to work. Unfortunately the field took the green flag before the crew was finished putting the #86 one lap down. A quick caution did come out shortly thereafter so after pulling off the hood, pulling back the front fenders and straightening out the front bumper thanks to a large pry bar borrowed from the #44 team of Steve Laking, Billy was sent back out to join the tail-end end of the field just as they were heading into turn 3 to take the green flag. The crew did a great job fixing the damage that including damage to the air box and with just the valence dragging on the track, Billy was able to get back to up to speed and was running lap times that were comparable to those of the lead lap cars. Despite being able to pass a few cars and avoid contact with others spinning in turn 4 late in the race, Billy would finish a disappointing 16th. As Billy brought the wounded #86 back to the trailer, the team was left to think about what could have been and what could they do to get a little bit of luck back on their side as this was the second straight race that they had suffered collateral damage after another car had trouble getting up to speed.
Both Billy and Carson are off this coming weekend as Jake returns to Sunset Speedway on Friday June 17th for a regular night of racing with the front gates opening at 5:30 PM and racing getting underway at 7:00 PM.
It was a busy week for the Spira Racing team as both the #86 mini stock, the #88 mini stock and the #86 St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market pro late model were all set to be in action over the weekend. Jake would be doing double duty as he would be racing the #88 mini stock at Sunset Speedway on both Saturday and Sunday while Billy would be with Carson running the #86 mini stock on Saturday night at Flamboro Speedway before joining Jake at Sunset Speedway on Sunday for the rescheduled second round of the APC United Late Model Series.
Flamboro Speedway: During the first practice session Carson thought that the car was handling fine; however, Billy thought differently after talking to Carson he determined that Carson was changing his driving style to suit the car instead of pushing the car to suit how he wanted to drive and then making changes to the car. After making air pressure adjustments to correct a loose in condition, Carson lined up on the outside pole for the first of two scheduled features. After clearing the pole sitter on the opening lap, Carson made his way into the lead pulling ahead of the field by more than six car lengths. The #97, 61 and 71 were gaining fast as they came through the field eventually moving past Carson by lap 7 dropping him back to 4th. The caution came out on lap 14 dropping the #91 and the 71 to the back of the field and moving Carson up to 2nd. Through the remaining laps Carson lost three positions while battling hard for position until he made contact with the #03 that caused him to lift off the gas resulting in losing two more positions bringing the #86 home in 7th. Prior to the second feature of the night the track hosted an on track autograph session for the large crowd on hand including approximately 80 children from the Help A Child Smile group that are currently receiving cancer treatment at McMaster Children’s Hospital. A big thank you goes out to Audrey Mast who supplied the team with more than enough teddy bears that were handed out by Carson to the kids in attendance as he signed hero cards for them courtesy of Dave Franks Photography. At the conclusion of the autograph session and before the second set of features could hit the track, the track itself was hit with a power outage that would eventually end the night early after a long wait for the power to return.
Sunset Speedway: Jake was very happy with the handling of the #88 during practice with the handling carrying over into his heat race where he starting 7th out of 9 cars. Jake was able to gain two positions to finish 5th as the race ran caution free. In the ‘Dash for Cash’ Jake started back in 11th of 13 cars again he was able to gain a couple of positions finishing 9th. Jake drew the pole position for the feature that saw 18 cars take the green flag. Jake would pull away from the field at the start and with a great handling car it looked like he was going to walk away from the field. On lap 18 the caution would come out for the #79 that had blown his motor. Jake continued to run strong at the front of the field until just four laps remaining when the #33 was able to make the pass and put Jake back to 2nd where he would finish while picking up his best ever feature finish and putting him ever closer to that elusive first feature win. Jake earned praise from veteran Warren Paxton who drives the #33 and stated “Shout out to that kid. He can drive and he ran me clean”.
Billy and Jake will be in action at Sunset Speedway on Sunday June 12th for the rescheduled second round of the APC United Late Model Series. The front gates open at 11:30 AM with racing getting underway at 1:00 PM.