Silver state was a blast. The car was in the best condition it had ever been in, I felt great about it. Just from that, my confidence was very high. We got to the starting line and was 5th off the line for my class. We settled into the car as the other classes went off. It was finally our turn, and we took off.
From the start I had noticed that my clutching was a little off. The car did not want to go to high RPMs, so I knew the altitude was causing some issues. Found out after the race that a lot of the other racers were having the same issue with their clutching. We got to the first road crossing, and I felt amazing, I loved the course so far. About 15 miles later we made it to pit 1 and everything felt good. We were moving and had caught up to the car in front of us at the start. Once we caught that car, I knew that we made up a minute because the starts were 1 minute apart, and 1 car off at a time. At that point I was fired up and kept my pace for about 110 miles, sitting P1 overall.
And that is approximately when “we were winning until we weren’t” and we blew a belt. We quickly changed the belt and got back in the car and resumed our pace. About five to six miles later we had blown a tire (driver error.) We made it to pit 3 were we fueled, threw another belt and tire in the car and got back on track. I knew I still had time to get back on track, so I pushed hard. Unfortunately, it started to go downhill from there. I lost radio communications with my codriver, so we quickly had to learn our hand signals. My codriver Josh did a great job with what he could do.
I made it to pit 4 and had already caught up to the P3 car. We chased him down for 11 miles, as soon as we were going to make our pass, we blew another belt. We changed it and took off, but we noticed the belt was slipping. We made it to Pit 5 where we fueled, changed the belt, and cleaned the clutches out. While my pit crew was going over the car, they noticed I had bent a lower radius rod, so they changed that as well. It was such a bummer, the crew worked hard and fast, but by that time I had lost 20 minutes on the leader.
They got me back on track, by now I was (3) belts, (1) radius rod and (1) tire into my race with over 120 miles to go. I was frustrated knowing I lost that top spot, but I refocused my goal to finish top 10. About 30 miles after pit 6 we blew another belt that was restricting us to not go past 55 without the car revving out. We had another 60 miles till pit 7 which was the last pit. We limped it in and had our crew clean the clutches and throw a fresh belt on the car. By this point we were (6) belts in and only had one spare belt left so we did not take any chances and ran a safe pace that would allow us finish. After a long, boring last 45 miles we finally we made it to the finish.
It felt great to finish especially with all our issues. I was bummed knowing that we had a chance for an awesome finish, but I learned A LOT and have already made changes to the car to help prevent this issue as well as I learned that cleaning the clutches out on the track is just as important as doing a “fast” belt change. Looking back, I think if I would have cleaned the clutches out better after the first belt grenaded I would have not had some of these issues. On a better note, I figured out the pace I need to be running to be on the box and I’m excited! Thank you to everyone for your help, can’t tell you all how much I appreciate it!