NLS Racing Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta race report:
Now its 2020, new season, new aspirations. We're not giving up. Ordered a JDM engine in hopes of it being lower mileage. Cracked it open and inside looked great. Prepped, installed, and onto the dyno to verify we got a keeper. Dyno day went great. Brought her home for a quick oil change and final race prep only to find the oil full of metal again. Now less than 2 weeks until Rd. ATL, no spare, no good anything. What do we do now? Luckily, we found an engine 15 mins down the road that had just arrived 2 days prior. The engine was still in the car, so we had to wait 2 more days for them to get it out. Lets try this one more time. Out with the old and in with the new. Only this time we replaced the oil cooler which we suspect was the cause of all our problems. Yes, we cleaned it out very thoroughly but the passages are so small, there's no way we got it all out. Needless to say we found the culprit, as we actually finished the race. Sorry for the long intro, I just wanted to give a little back story on our trials and tribulations. Now onto to our actual race report.
Our weekend began much like the rest of the teams. Loading up and driving thru the rain storms. 10 mins into our voyage, the RV we were using decide to crap out. Luckily, right down the road from the house. Reloaded everything into another vehicle and headed out. Straight down I-85, down the middle of the RED part of that storm. We missed a tornado by what had to be minutes. Trees snapped off everywhere. Never was I so glad to see Road Atlanta. We made it in one piece.
Got to tech early and passed w/ no issues. Practice went flawlessly, engine ran great, everybody got 2 short stints, barely had to turn a wrench all day. Off to bed early for what was supposed to be a good day of racing. We began race day a man down. Our crew chief was feeling ill and had to retreat to the hotel room for the day. Started the race around 32nd and were inside the top 20 by lap 3 or 4. Clawed our way up to 6th before some of the leaders began pitting. Also about that time the snow began falling. This is where things got interesting. Drove around slowly under green and FCY conditions. Somewhere during this, the grill became packed with snow and engine temp spiked past 250* very quickly. Limped it to pit road to cut out the grill and top off the water. We estimate we lost 5-6 laps because of this. Back out for 15 mins and then the red flag. I had to stop at the bottom of the hill to get a run up hoping i'd make it. Just barely over the crest and now have to navigate super slick pit road w/ no ABS. Parked her and thought we were done for the day. No way were gonna get back out there. We applaud Champcar for not giving up and getting us back on track. They did what they could with the cards they were dealt. Our goal now was to just log laps until the end and keep it on the track. That's exactly what we did. Green flag at 3pm, we were 40th position, checkers at 8pm, 11th place. We flirted w/ the idea of a driver only change due to the reduced fuel consumption. Decided against at the last second due to another FCY. It would have worked too, if the race went until 10. But Champcar made the right call to stop it early.
After not finishing a single race last year, we're all pretty stoked with an 11th place finish. If not for the overheating in the snow, who'da thunk it, we'd probably be in impound. But we're not dwelling on the "what if", we're are counting our blessings to get out of there relatively unscathed. We say it every time but we really really mean it this time, THANK YOU to all the safety crew, corners workers, Champcar staff, volunteers, and our fellow racers for putting on a race we'll never forget. And a special thanks to all our wives, family members, and friends that make all this possible. Team NLS is shooting for a quick turnaround and making our way to VIR South 2020 in 4 weeks.