Thursday, September 25, 2008

MSOKC Race No. 11 – Sunday, September 21, 2008

NEWS – Bruce Brothers Racing had a successful day at the races last Sunday for Mid-State of Ohio Kart Club Race No. 11. Conor did well on a day that both of his closest competitors in the championship faltered, and Peter managed to extend his championship lead by the slimmest of margins. Laura missed her second race of the season (and her second ever) because she wanted to be with her dad in Kansas City as he recovered from kidney transplant surgery (he seems to be doing much better, thank you). Conor got a clutch rebuild and a new set of tires for Race No. 11, and Peter got some clutch maintenance and a set of tires cobbled together from Conor's old sets.

PRACTICE – Peter's practice sessions were once again uneventful. Conor practiced on his old tires during his first session, during which we noticed that one of his closest competitors was using a brand new chassis. When we came to the grid for Conor's second session, we noticed that he and two others in his class were on new tires, although one of these (the one with the new chassis) puts on new tires for every race weekend. On Conor's third lap, he was a full 0.6 seconds faster than he was in his first session. This was also close to the fastest lap time he has run on Bridgestone tires this season, which was a promising sign of things to come. As they say in racing, the answer to the question 'How fast do you want to go?' is always 'How much money do you want to spend?'.

BRIGGS SPORTSMAN – Peter's class once again consisted of four karts – the two other regulars in his class and one from another class who would otherwise have to run alone. They started these two groups (if you can call one kart a group) separately so as not to interfere with each another. Peter started his first heat race from the third position. He managed to make his way into second by Turn 3 at the start. He immediately was on the tail of the leader, and got a bit too close on Lap 3. Peter and the other kart take different lines through Turn 4, through which Peter made a good run on Lap 3. His momentum carried him into the rear wheel of the other kart, which momentarily lifted the front of Peter's kart front off of the ground. Both were able to continue, but Peter lost several seconds in the process. With clear track in front of him, he recorded the fastest lap of the heat, which was nearly a second faster than the lead kart had run on the lap before the incident. Peter caught up to the lead kart on the next lap but was not able to find a way past. Peter got an uncharacteristically poor start from the pole position in his second heat. The kart on the outside, which is the slowest of the three, made his way past and managed to stay there the entire race. After the checkered flag flew, he was demoted two positions for blocking. Unfortunately, the blocking allowed the other kart to get around Peter on Lap 3. A pair of seconds resulted in a second place starting position for Peter in the feature. He did his best to gain the lead at the start, but had to concede the position in Turn 3. He was on the tail of the leader for the first four laps while running lap times that were over a second slower than his only clear lap of the day up to that point. On Lap 5 (of 10) he went for an inside pass in Turn 4. He made the pass, but there was a bit of contact which put the other kart in the grass momentarily. Peter went on for the win, recording his personal best lap time on Bridgestone tires in this class in the process (51.54). Afterwards, Peter tried to apologize for the contact in Turn 4, but the other competitor and his dad (not necessarily in that order) were quite upset. I'm not sure why they expected Peter to soldier around behind when he was clearly much faster. I suppose that championship battles at the end of the season bring this out in people.

YAMAHA JR. SUPERCAN – There were 11 karts in Conor's class last Sunday. One was a 'sometime' competitor who has focused mainly on regional and national events in the latter part of the season and will not have raced in enough MSOKC events to qualify for the championship. From the fifth position in his first heat race, Conor gained a position at the start and ran in fourth for the first four laps (of eight). The leader got away while the next three ran nose-to tail. Conor was in the right place when the two in front of him battled a bit too hard and he was able to pass both of them between Turns 5 and 6. He pulled away and finished second. Conor's seventh starting position in his second heat turned into fifth when one of the karts ahead of him developed engine trouble on the formation lap. Conor's row made a much better start than the outside row, and Conor found himself in third on the first lap. He made a pass for second on the next lap. The leader was holding Conor up a bit, and while he was looking for a way to pass, the sometime competitor began to pressure Conor. He made an aggressive pass in Turn 3 that allowed two other karts to pass Conor. What looked like might be a heat race win (and pole position for the feature) ended up being fourth as the result. There was really only one development in the feature, but it was a big one. Conor started in third and held his position at the start. In Turn 6 on the first lap, the leader, who is one of Conor's closest competitors in the championship (new tires, too, but after both practice sessions), made a mistake and went into the grass. This promoted Conor to second and dropped the competitor to last. Conor pressured the new leader (the sometimes competitor) to the end but eventually finished second.

NEXT RACE – Peter extended his championship lead by a single point on Sunday, although there were some hard feelings about his feature race pass. I hope that these will have subsided by the time of the MSOKC season finale, which is a qualifying format event on Sunday, October 5, 2008, at CRP. Conor is back in the lead in his class as the result of an excellent performance on his part and some miscues on the part of his closest competitors. One made an unfortunately-timed mistake, and the other never came to grips with running a new chassis. It wasn't necessarily the chassis itself, which is a proven winner. It seemed to be switching so late in the season. There are always teething problems with a new package, and they certainly seemed to have their share on Sunday. Both Peter and Conor lead the championship in their classes, but only by slim margins, so the season finale should be an exciting one.


p.s., Lap times, lap charts, and results can be found at