Posted in  News, Project MadMaxx

Madd Maxx earns Top 5 finishes in Race 4 & 5 at Victorville

Our car and driver faired pretty well in the VAR’s 4th race of the Street Stock season.  After some early trouble with a loose car, the driver managed to find a decent racing line to get around the track in semi-control of the car.  This proves that even a blind chicken gets a kernel of corn once in a while.  Seriously though,  our driver found that the bottom of the track was working better for our setup and he found a way to stay on or near the bottom and finish in a career best third place.  In the process, our driver earned himself a new nickname; “Catfish” due to his bottom dwelling tactics on the track.

Our project car pilot,; James "Catfish" Lawrence.

June 12th’s race saw warmer temperatures for the first time this year in the high desert racetrack’s season.  Contributing to the heat was a westerly breeze that blew the hot air across the track.  The pit stands and a wall in turn 3 and 4 provide some protection for those corners but the opposing corners get blasted by both the sun and wind.  We warned our driver that the track might have multiple personalities and react different at one end of the track compared to the other.

Our fears of a Schizophrenic Manic-Depressive racing surface began to show up in the heat races when several cars looped on the track.  Fan favorite Ruben “the Rocket” Malaguarnero  spun his #84 silver and black camaro in turn four with no one around him in the heat race.  It was obvious that this night we were facing a “driver’s track”.

Back in the pits after the heat race, we continuously warned our driver to adapt to the different corners.  Our finish and points standings earned us the outside pole starting position with Ruben “the Rocket” on the inside pole.  Ruben’s car had been brutally loose earlier in the evening so our driver knew to give him space in the first set of turns.

When the green flag dropped, our driver dropped back a few positions with the experienced and steady drivers of Tim Foster and Chad Johnson getting by.  As the race progressed, our driver settled into third and held off several challenges from Ricky Lee and Mike Miller to finish in that spot and earn a trip to the tech pad.

View Race #4 Feature race here:

In the post race discussion on the way back home, towing our project down the Cajon pass, our driver wanted a couple of changes to the car.  First, he wanted the gear selector lever moved forward and higher so that he could see it with his helmet on.  Most of the time this would not be a big deal, but our driver is built like a T-Rex with a big head and short arms, so putting the shifter lever forward would be dicey because of his short arms.  Secondly, we had gotten flagged on the tech pad for having metal on metal front A-arm bushings.  So, we needed to change those before the next race.

Our third place finish was a career high for our team and made us feel like champions.  Like any Championship team, we needed better accommodations at the track.  We convinced the Car owner to buy us a 28 foot enclosed trailer to haul the car and tools to the track.  Our prep for the next race included the aforementioned upgrades, and some additional planning on what to bring with us in the new trailer.  A BBQ grill become the highest priority on the list.  For anyone that has tried the hot dogs sold at the pit shack, you’ll understand why the grill occupied the #2 spot on the packing list, just behind the race car.

28 foot enclosed trailer, EZ up pop ups and a BBQ Grill. Does it get any better than this?

When we got to the track for race number 5, we unloaded the car, the BBQ Grill and our EZ up pop ups to keep the sun off of the car.  Thinking ahead, we even brought the company’s premier chef, Lloyd Hunt, who ran his own BBQ catering service for some time.  It’s fair to say that we were well equipped to live like kings for the evening.

The track conditions were similar to the previous race with the sun beaming down more intensely with the onset of full-on desert summer conditions.  To make the track even more dicey for the evening, the VAR Sprint cars were on the evening program.  These high horse-powered, big tire machines will polish the racetrack corners to the point where the racing surface is smooth and they were schedule to take the track first.   Smooth and slick is what we were looking at for the evening.

We had a good read on the track and we had pit conditions that were enviable, until the realization that our Chef forgot to bring his grilling utensils and apron.  Sean Goude, our crew chief, head mechanic and all around good guy, adapted to the situation and gave up a greasy set of channel lock pliers to be used as a set of grilling tongs.

Improvising, adapting and overcoming a problem by using a greasy set of pliers as tongs.

Now we could get set for the heat race.  As luck would have it, we were slated to start on the outside pole again with Ruben “the Rocket” on the inside pole.  This was starting to get redundant.  When the green flag dropped, our driver gave Ruben some space in the first set of turns because Ruben’s car had been so loose the previous race.  Ruben’s car held the low line which opened a space that the blue and yellow #44 of Mopar Mike Miller shoe-horned through.  Midway through the race in turn 3, Moper Mike’s #44 made contact with our left rear tire.  The bead area of the rim was bent enough that our tire was loosing air with each lap.  The tire stayed on the bead and our driver managed to finish third in the race with an extremely loose handling car.

When the checkers fell, our tire pressure was down in the 5 psi range and we were all impressed that the rubber stayed on the rim.  If the track had been rutted and cut up, there would have been a different end to this story.  But this time, lady luck was on our side and we were happy to walk away with the third place finish.

Topping off the fuel cell with VP Racing Fuel's CHP racing fuel.

After the heat race, Sean, our crew chief/head mechanic (and all around good guy), began changing the tire while do-it-all crew member (and Great American) Tom Bobolts took on the duties of scraping mud off the car.  When the tire was changed and the mud scraped from the car, our crew filled the tank with VP Racing Crate Horsepower Racing fuel.  Then we rolled into the staging area for the feature race.

Our project car in the staging area, getting ready for the next race.

Our car started second row on the outside pole.  Not exactly where we wanted to be with a car that was set up for the inside line.  After the drag race to the first set of corners, our driver was behind the leader when the inside line got held up.  Midway through the race, Kenny Irwin’s #72 got by our car and the lead car of Ricky Lee.  Ricky Lee’s car seemed to be developing problems and he began to drop back.  Our driver decided to pass Ricky Lee by carrying a lot of speed in the corner which put the car sideways, followed by a quick trip through the infield and back on the track.  This unplanned route allowed a couple cars to get by.

You can see the Feature event here:

Our driver battled back to take the checkers in fourth place, and for the second race in a row, take a trip to the tech pad.  Once at the tech pad, the drivers were told that the top five cars would be checked for cam lift and valve train.  We noticed that last year’s track Champion, Curtis Dietzsch, crept closer to the cars to see what parts were in each car as the tech inspector went through his procedures.  We have a picture to prove that Curtis was doing some industrial espionage.

Curtis Dietzsch peers over our crew as we reassemble the car.

We drove away from the evening feeling good about the night’s effort but understanding that we needed to do some more work on set up.  Our driver was feeling better about his ability on the track having finished in the top four cars in the last two races on very difficult track conditions.  Our crew felt better about having premium pit conditions and grilled food during the day.

Just for fun: watch our in car footage of our driver “wheeling” the car on the track:

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