This week, I laid a pass on Kyle Busch…and it wasn’t in NASCAR ’09. It was not in the Arby’s drive through near the Gibbs shop, and it was not in the aisles of Target either. Now that I think about it, I didn’t really lay a pass on him, so much as he wrecked, and I drove around the wreck. Then I wrecked and he drove back by me one corner later. Actually, it seems as though Kyle has caught the RC racing bug, and he was in my race at one of the local RC tracks in the Charlotte area. Even the 34th bast NASCAR drivers have insanely packed schedules, so it was pretty flattering to see one of the best drivers on the circuit to come out and race toy trucks with the rest of us dorks. And the coolest part was that he was 2s off the pace of the fastest guys. Just don’t mention that I was 3s off the pace.
I have been racing RC cars since I was a teenager, and it’s one of the influences that led me to a career in motorsports. My dad was intelligent enough to realize that we did not have the bucks to blow on a go-kart and a toter home to race “proper” cars. So, shortly after he quit smoking two packs of Winston’s a week, he decided that he wanted to be my crew chief. He placed a call to Sheldon’s Hobbies in California with my mom’s Sears credit card, and a week later, our RC10CE (gold chassis) came in the mail. It took us as while to get it together, but by the time the snow melted in Massachusetts, we were at the local RC dirt track in Hoag’s Corners, NY (wherever that is). Racing at any level is very difficult, and it took a few months to get the car tuned and for me to be comfortable driving. Eventually we won a few races and lost a bunch more. I guess the point of the exercise was that you can sit in front of the tube watching David Ragan zing around Texas Motor Speedway, but I guarantee you will feel way better about yourself if you go out and achieve your own glory, rather than relish in victories that you had no part in.
Enough preaching. On to the races. Chicago is not one of the crown jewels of the season, but I feel like it just might be in the next couple of years. Chicago was the last race that I did before I got 2 weeks of severance and 3 months to dominate Mario Kart Wii. We ran both a Nationwide and a Cup car for Robby, and with the tracks proximity to the big commercial center of Chicago, there were a bunch of Mapei and Beam big wigs in town for the race. There was a ton of pressure put on us by the boss to have an awesome race and impress the sponsors. So what did I do? I helped the Nationwide crew chief run that thing out of gas in the first stint, which was totally my fault, but we were running like ass anyway. I don’t remember the Cup race specifically, but we probably tripped on our dick. Then I came in to work on Monday really hung over, and I was packing my bags by the end of the week.
Chicago is tricky because of the banking. It looks like Charlotte if you look at it from the space station, but it is banked far less. What this means is that keeping momentum in the corner, and keeping your mid corner speed as high as possible is key. You are not going to dominate here with an awesome motor. A low center of gravity, and optimized tire camber will take you a lot further up the grid.
Predictions. Qualifying is over, and the Red Bulls seem to have something figured out. But for all their poles, they seem to fade into oblivion when the rag drops. Roush is a bit out to lunch at the moment, and I do not think they will rebound here. I will go for the 24 to get another win if they can figure out how to out fox the 48. I will pick the 17 for a top 5, as he seems to be wiley here. The 7 has never been good at Chicago, and I don’t know why this week would be different. About 28th to 35th is about as good as it will get.