Sunday, November 12, 2006

MSOKC Race Nos. 5 (make-up) and 12 - October 1 and 8, 2006

Originally sent: Sunday, November 12, 2006 10:16 PM

NEWS – The past month or so has been a blur (and the rest of the year doesn't look any better), so I find it necessary to report on the final two races of the Mid State of Ohio Kart Club season in one report. Race No. 5, which was a make-up race for a rain-out earlier in the season was October 1 and the final race of the season (Race No. 12) was October 8. With the make-up, the final three races were on consecutive weekends. We focused our attention primarily on Henry and Peter, since Conor's place in the championship had already been decided. Going into the last two races, Peter still had a chance to move up in the championship and Henry stood a chance of dropping several positions without strong finishes.

PRACTICE – Except for the usual gear change and tire pressure adjustments to suit track conditions, about the only significant change we made with our practice routine was to have Henry practice fewer laps. While the other boys, particularly Peter, work their way up to speed, Henry is always close to the fastest lap he'll run all day within the first few laps of the first practice session. We decided that all he was doing was using up his tires by going out for both sessions. So, he skipped the first practice session for Race No. 5 (the track was damp anyway) and went out for only a handful of laps in both sessions for Race No. 12. Conor also ran fewer practice laps than usual because of concern for the longevity of his Raptor engine, which still had a significant oil leak that we have determined to be beyond repair. Peter was his usual consistent self during practice.

ROOKIE BOX – The championship race in Peter's class became a three-horse affair early in the season. Peter could run laps that were as fast as the other two, but it wasn't until later in the season that he began to consistently win races. He was helped out to some extent by the other two taking each other out on occasion. His third position in the championship became a close third after three feature race wins late in the season, including two in a row at one point. He came into the last two races with a shot at moving up, particularly if the other two had trouble. He had a strong showing in the make-up race, finishing both heat races in second, which earned him the pole position for the feature. Each of the other two had had trouble in one of the heat races. In the feature, he dropped a position at the start and another on Lap 2. He applied pressure the whole way but finished third. In Race No. 12, Peter had trouble in the first heat race. He started third and followed one of the slower karts for the first few laps without being able to find a way to pass. Several other karts were bottled up behind Peter, and on Lap 3, one of them spun him around and T-boned him when he was sideways. Having fallen well behind, he pulled off the track on the next lap complaining of sore ribs. I think his ego was hurt more than anything, because he came back to finish second in the next heat. He started the feature from mid-pack and was applying plenty of pressure to the second place kart while the leader was getting away. I could tell that Peter was quite a bit faster and I could see the driver of the second place kart looking back at Peter at several places on the track. This driver has been known to block on occasion, and on Lap 6, was given a black flag for blocking. This promoted Peter to second which is where he finished. The black flag incident also promoted Peter to second in the championship. His final tally was 1402 points, just 8 points short of winning the championship.

JR. UNRESTRICTED – There was not a lot of drama for Conor in the last two races. It was pretty much like the rest of the season – few karts in his class, and no chance of winning with his equipment when a certain someone showed up, which was the case for the last two races. So, in the make-up race, Conor finished second, second, second, and in Race no. 12, he finished second, second, second. He really didn't even need to show up for these two races since his position in the championship had been decided. The fast guy in Conor's class did have to show up, however, as he had missed three races during the season because of schedule conflicts with regional and national races. The championship consists of the best nine finishes of the 12 race season. If he had recorded a DNS (did not start), which yields a goose egg for points, for any of the heats or features, this would have given the championship to Conor. Such was not the case and Conor finished second in the championship.

80cc SHIFTER – Drama? Yes, there was drama for Henry in the last two races. Quite a few karts in his class showed up, but all Henry had to do to maintain his fourth place position in the championship was finish in the vicinity of the karts behind him. He did just that in the heat races of the make-up race, finishing fifth and sixth. In the feature however, after getting one of his better starts of the season, he was pushed off the track on the first lap between Turns 1 and 2. He was able to get going again, but lost the nose off of his kart in the process. The loss of a major component is grounds for disqualification, so to add insult to injury, Henry was black flagged. I wasn't sure of the implications of this on the championship at first. I later learned that a disqualification for a technical infraction such as this results in points for the position you were running at the time (as opposed to a goose egg that cannot be dropped), so this wasn't an entire disaster. Race No. 12 wasn't a whole lot better for Henry. He drew the second starting position for the first heat, got away well, but was involved in a carbon-copy incident between Turns 1 and 2. He didn't loose his nose this time, but this did put him behind the eight ball for the rest of the day. He finished his heat races in eights and ninth, which resulted in a lowly starting position for the feature. During the intermission, I was busy crunching the numbers to figure out what Henry had to do to maintain his position in the championship. Because of some less than spectacular finishes by some of the others of concern, I figured that Henry only needed to finish one place ahead of one other kart, which was starting several places ahead of him. The start went well and Henry was directly behind the other kart by Lap 2. He made a clean pass going into Turn 2 and life was good. He pulled away over the next few laps but then caught up to another kart. Henry was clearly faster, but when Henry tried to pass in Turn 3, these two got together and Henry went into the grass. And the other kart got back by. Henry caught back up, but time was running out. In Turn 9 of the last lap, Henry made an aggressive move on the inside. There was a bit of contact, but Henry made it stick and finished where he needed to finish. The championship in Henry's class was a three horse affair between some serious competitors. It was nice to see Henry pull off the honors for 'best of the rest' in his first season in a shifter kart.

NEXT RACE – Well, that's it for the 2006 season. After the make-up race, Conor got to have a drive in a kart from one of the other junior classes – Yamaha Super Can. He was able to record competitive lap time within a handful of laps and enjoyed it immensely. After Race No. 12, Conor got to have a drive in Henry's kart. He had never driven anything that shifts gears before, so I was expecting him to putter around in the wrong gear most of the time. Within a handful of laps, he was running lap times that were only a second or two from Henry's race pace. For me, it was hard to believe. Henry's not willing to give up his ride for next year, and Conor is a bit young for a shifter kart class. So, with the help of a generous benefactor, we have purchased a very competitive Yamaha Super Can kart for Conor. After struggling with less than competitive equipment this year, Conor certainly deserves this. He will be fun to watch next year. Peter also proved that he is ready for a promotion from the Rookie Box class. We will upgrade his current chassis for the Junior Sportsman II class using Conor's championship winning engine from last year, which has been sitting patiently in the basement. The MSOKC banquet is Friday, November 17 – the day before the OSU vs. Michigan game. I'm going with the Buckeyes…