NLS Racing #977 Road Atlanta race report.
Holidays, New Years', family gatherings, etc. left us with a very short amount of time to sort out the engine woes that plagued us at VIR North. New engine built, ready to fire, annnnd...nothing. 2 weeks to go until we leave, what now? Somewhere along the line, we mixed up our cam caps causing the camshafts to bind. Ughh, tear it back apart, scrape tons more silicone...again. Finally, sorted and running great.
Packed up and made our way to the awesome Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Unloaded and made the mad dash to the tech line. 7th in line, not too bad. So I'm sitting there in line and see Doc nonchalantly walk up to the car in front of me, pause for a second, dig around in his pockets, then tag an unnamed car with the Brew Krewe Racing decal...had me laughing for sure. Tech went smoothly, with a few suggestions.
On to the test day. Our starter decided to sound weird first thing, pulled it, and adjusted some needed shims for our swap. Now the alternator isn't charging, some quick diagnosis, and we were on our way to the parts store for a replacement. A quick swap and the new one is putting out almost 17 volts, c'mon man. Back again for a 2nd new alternator. Meanwhile, we filled the car with fuel and noticed a leak, a 3rd trip to the parts house for a patch kit. I recommend everyone have this in your inventory. Finally charging correctly and no fuel leaks, we made it on track in the afternoon to get all our drivers some seat time. Good to go, ready for race day.
Overcast and chilly, we started the race around 27th if memory serves me correct. Quickly moved up into the top 5 before the red flag. All drivers got a good, stern talking-to from Dana. We all hate to lose track time, but it was needed, as everyone is surely aware of the shenanigans that transpired by now. Drivers back in and the racing resumed. Our first driver Corey Danley did an excellent job, moved us up to 3rd or 4th by the time we needed to pit. Driver change, full of fuel, and we're back out. Jeremy was in for his only stint of the race. He maintained our top 5 position, settled in, and got comfortable, right up until he was punted into the wall before turn 5. Hardest hit Jeremy had ever taken, rung his bell pretty good, but otherwise feeling good. Radioed in assuming we were done for the day. The tow truck arrives and says it looks ok, no tire rub. Pulled him to the pavement and sent us on our way. Back to the pits and assessed the damage. Good thing we built a tank of a car because we slapped a new tire/wheel on it, a fresh driver and away we went.
Car was no worse for the wear, but we were back in 40 something position. We pressed on knowing there was a lot of racing left. Let's salvage a good finish was our goal now. Carried on for while until Cory Brown reported fuel starvation and we had to pit way earlier than anticipated. Post-race inspection revealed our fuel tank had shifted and was cockeyed from the wreck, allowing all the fuel to fall away from the pickup. We also began to run hotter than normal during this stint, so we broke out the drill and started punching holes in the front bumper, much to the disbelief of our pit neighbors. Do what you gotta do to keep racing.
Back out still running hot, but fast. We kept clicking off laps and working our way up with our fastest driver, Dan Koehler in the car. He laid down some killer laps getting us back to 6th. He handed it over to the next man up. We now have been off sequence with the leaders on stops but rejoined the race in 9th. The engine now is running its hottest of the race. We babied it along thru the stint without incident. Engine still intact, we pitted, added water, and bled the coolant system. Always fun to remove a radiator cap when the temps are 240+. Send it. We did. Temps now under control but waiting for the rain to come. 1hr20min later we pitted again due to the fuel pickup issues and the rain beginning to fall. Slapped on our newly acquired rain tires and just like that, 10secs a lap faster. Then the rain turned to sleet and finally big ole' snowflakes. Fogged up windshield and all, we made our way to 7th and gaining. With a top 5 now in sight, the race was red-flagged due to the deteriorating conditions. Parked it on pit road and waited for the final call. Race over.
If there is one thing we don't do, it's give up. We made the most of the cards we were dealt. Final result was a 7th place finish, nothing to hang our heads about with such a big field. Thanks to Dana for dealing with the situations at hand. Thanks to all the corner workers and volunteers freezing their butts off. Thanks to our fellow competitors. And of course thanks to our family, friends, and teammates for all your hard work. A special thanks to Cliff Beisler, our crew chief, for all your hard work. Sorry, you couldn't attend this one. Congratulations to Cone Crushers on the win. A lot of work to be had before we show up to VIR South in less than 4 weeks. See ya soon.
Almost forgot, Thanks ChampCar Endurance Series for getting Bob Varsha to call our race. How cool was that?