Tuesday, August 10, 2004

MSOKC Race No. 9 – August 7, 2004

Originally sent: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 7:53 AM

Rebound. That’s a pretty good description of last Saturday night compared to two weeks prior to that. Henry earned his first feature race win and Conor overcame some adverse circumstances to finish second in his feature race.

We had made quite a few changes to Conor’s kart during the two-week layoff in an effort to get him back up to speed. During the practice sessions, it became apparent that we had made some progress, but his times were still off by about a second a lap. We began to suspect that his engine was getting a bit sour. He started the first heat race from the third position (of seven karts in his class). He was able to maintain his position at the start, but the two karts in front of him began to disappear into the distance. He was able to keep the rest of the field behind him, however, and finished third. Starting from third again in the second heat race, he followed the pole-sitter through to second by Turn 2. In Turn 3, the kart that had started outside on the front row clobbered Conor in the right rear and both went spinning into the grass. Both took some time to get going again - Conor actually had to get out and push while the corner worker helped the culprit! From the rear, he made up two spots and finished fifth. In the feature, he was lined up on the outside of Row 2 at the start. When the green flag flew, he hooked up with the kart that started on the outside of the front row and both were able to get by the pole-sitter. The kart in front of him again began to disappear into the distance, but Conor was able to keep in front of the remainder of the field. The two karts immediately behind him both had a bit more pace, but Conor made neither a single mistake nor left a door open and hung on to finish second. Not a bad result for a kart with a souring motor.

Henry practiced well and started the first heat from outside the from row. His class was joined by another national level guy who would eventually be disqualified for non-spec tires. He timed the start perfectly and led by Turn 3. With the remainder of the field bottled up behind the pole-sitter, Henry began to pull away. The pole-sitter managed to keep the field behind him and Henry won by a significant margin. He started the second heat race from the fifth position (of nine). On the formation lap, the kart in the fourth position dropped out with engine trouble, which left an open spot on the grid. At the green flag, Henry made the best of the open position and followed the outside row into Turn 1. By Turn 3, he found himself in third. The first three, including Henry, his main rival, and the national level guy, began to distance themselves from the field. Henry was close enough to attempt a pass on several occasions, but could not get by. A first and a third did earn him the pole position for the feature, however. The nice thing about pole position is that there is not much strategy to discuss on the grid. - I told Henry “You’re the Boss.” He timed the start perfectly and managed to pull away from the national level guy over the first few laps, with the remainder of the field in tow. By mid distance (Lap 4 of eight), Henry had a several second lead and the national level guy began to pull away from the field. The national level guy began to close the gap on Henry but the gap to the field stayed constant. By the final lap, the national level guy had caught Henry and passed, relatively uncontested, on the inside at the approach to Turn 7. Henry took the checkered flag second knowing that the national level guy would be disqualified, giving him his first feature race win of his short racing career. After the race, I confirmed with Henry that he had backed off in the last few laps and let the national level guy pass. I tell the boys to race with their heads and not with their hearts. Someone else might have raced the national level guy and risked having an incident. One part of me would like to have seen him take his first feature race win outright, particularly against such strong competition, but Henry is a young man with quite a head on his shoulders. What would you have done?

The next race is Sunday, August 15, but we will be in Kansas City for a family wedding. In the mean time, Conor’s engine is on its way back to our engine builder for a freshen-up. We will be back in action on Saturday, August 28.