So my intention this season was to find a pretty good pace and possibly run a CCS round or 2 at the end of the year. I wanted to get comfortable in a racing environment and familiarize myself with the way things are run. However, I could have never hoped my season would end with such a bang:
After a really fun day at one of my favorite courses, ACC north, I packed up and headed to Blackhawk. I figured that since I was flirting with the top step of the podium my last time out, I might as well give the top amateurs one last run for their money before they turn expert next year. Joe dropped in some 25mm GP cartridges on Tuesday night so I was able to test them the following Wednesday and set them up - so I was feeling pretty confident with the new front end. A huge thanks to Joe for staying up late to get those finished! By the way, that GP stuff rocks... but I'll save that for another thread, another time.
Sunday morning rolls around and Dustin suggests a 180 SC1 rear during the morning sessions although he can tell I'm pretty hesitant to make a tire change this late in the game... especially since I've been on 190s all year. He lends me a takeoff to use for the practice sessions and once again, Joe and Marshall come through and help me tweak the suspension and rear ride height to accommodate the new tire. I was driving outta corners way too wide so the extra height we put back into the rear worked like a gem to tighten up the steering. Also, the tire Dustin had me on was pretty worn but it still stuck like glue which did wonders for my confidence in his recommendation.
On to race 1... MW SS. Eric didn't show due to injury so the pressure was on! I felt like I had an obligation to everyone who sent me away from ACC with a good luck handshake to do really well now haha. Especially to Matt who decided to sit this round out, gotta rep NESBA midwest! I'm was gridded on the outside of the 2nd row when in the past, I've been towards the inside of the grid. Lucky for me (and obviously not the riders involved), I got a practice start due to a T2 incident behind me. We went back to our pits since it was taking pretty long to get the airfence back in place, and I completely loosened up. Butch showed me the riders involved and I was able to take over their grid position in the second row. The flag dropped for the second time and I had another great jump. Late on the brakes, I got myself the hole shot and lead comfortably for the first 5 or 6 laps. I saw Joe on the pit wall giving me the "cool it" hand signal and I took it a little too literally. The 5 or 6 second lead I built was almost diminished by the end of the race, but I was still able to take MY FIRST WIN by a couple seconds. I didn't even know there was anyone behind me haha.
Race 2... MW SB. Same grid position, but this was a 2 wave race - ex then am. It started to drizzle on and off a little bit, but nothing that would really affect the traction out there. I've never had this much speed coming into T1 with a packed grid before (because they started the amateurs about 6 rows back) but one of the experts crashed out and the race was reg flagged immediately. Another practice start
. We were sent back out for another warm up and when the green flag dropped, there was no way I was gonna let anyone else into T1 first. I broke as late as possible and coming from the middle of the track, I had a preferable line compared to the guys inside of me. I cut in front and was followed by Nick McCoy, the guy that started to catch me in race 1. I led him around for 6.5 laps until we came up on our first slower expert. I wanted to put this guy in between us as soon as possible so I made a desperate attempt on the inside of T6. Didn't work... he cut off my nose and as I checked up on the brakes, Nick took full advantage and came around the outside of us in 6b. Talk about a major backfire
:. Another failed attempt in T7, and I couldn't get past until the next lap before the bus stop. By this time, I only had a few turns to catch up to Nick but the race was basically over. 2nd place.
Thanks to everyone that gave me all those words of encouragement. I really appreciate all the support I've received from the NESBA family. And thanks to Fred for hookin' me up with those stickers... although they're green... and no one else wanted them anyway haha. It's a great feeling to know that there's a bunch of people out there rooting for you! Another thanks to Joe, Marshall, and Dustin for getting me set up in a matter of 2 practice sessions (or about 9 laps) on Sunday morning. Last, but certainly not least, thanks to all the CRs that have helped me get to where I am now, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
I can't wait until next year. Every time I've gridded up, I've dropped almost another second - It's so satisfying to see those types of results. Even if I didn't end up winning, you can't beat the pride in going faster and getting more comfortable out there. The 14s I was able to run this weekend felt effortless, and I was a little disappointed that Eric or Matt weren't around to help push me even harder. I don't know how many rounds I'll be able to put together next year, but I hope to do as much racing as the bank account will allow. Or just enough to beat Dave, Matt, and Andrei
Thanks for putting up with this ridiculously long post, too. It started out as a quick update and turned into a novel