NLS Racing Road Atlanta Race Report:
We had a lot of work ahead of us after our last race almost wrote off the #977 (240 sx) and claimed an engine in the #799 (300 zx). We divided and conquered. Firewall forward was almost completely replaced on the 240SX, and an engine rebuilt for the 300zx. We managed to get it all done just in time for the 2022 season opener at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The early rain on Friday's test day gave us some time to look over the cars. A few break-in laps for the 300ZX were needed to assess the engine condition. All our rental drivers hopped in and turned a few laps to get comfortable, as none had ever driven Rd. ATL. The 240 seemed as good as ever after all the repairs, other than a broken shift handle. Thank God for the test day. That could've ruined our chances for Saturday's race.
The morning started in the cold frigid air, but no snow in the forecast. We started the race around the middle of the pack. The sun was blinding going down the front straight as you made your entry into Turn 1. It was quite challenging for the first hour or so. Not much to report for the first 8 hours of the day. Just clicking off laps in both cars resulted in them being solidly in the top 10.
This is where things went awry. The #799 (300 zx) came in the pits over-heating, and white smoke coming out the tailpipe. Only one thing that can be and it’s not good. A blown head gasket later and the day was done for the 799. At least the 977 (240 sx) was still in the top 3.
Somewhere around 5pm our driver reported a big crash on the back straight, and we made the decisive move to pit in the hopes for a full course caution. We nailed it. The caution came out, and now it was a race to beat the pace car out. With the new driver in, he watched the pit marshall count him down as he sees the pace car drawing closer and closer in his mirror. As he's released, he could see the pace car directly next to him on the front straight. Now it's a drag race down pit out. He dips onto the track, beating the pace car by only a couple meters. This saved us a much needed lap as we were able to catch up to the back of the pack.
Day quickly turned to night, and we had our two best night drivers ready to go. We completed our final pitstop right at the "2hrs to go" mark. We were now settled into 2nd place after Freddie Mercury had issues as a result from contact with another car in Turn 3. With Visceral out in front with a 3 lap lead and no chance to catch them, we dialed it back a little to preserve fuel. We had a nice cushion to 3rd place, so it was time to log laps till the end of the race. One’s misfortune is another’s opportunity, with about 1.5 hours left, Visceral crashed into the inside wall of Turn 12, handing us the lead of the race. Sorry guys, you clearly dominated the race. Somewhere during that caution, our driver neglected to see a yellow flag. One black flag penalty later, our 3+ lap lead dwindled to just over 1 lap. We couldn’t afford any mistakes now. Low fuel light was flickering, and our nerves were on the edge. We told our driver to "just keep her between the ditches". No funny business.
As the race came to a close, we secured our position at the of the leader board.
We made it!! What a win!!! After almost scraping the car as a result of our crash at the last race, our hard work and tenacity paid off.
Thank you to the Deal Bros M.S.E. for the sponsorship. We proved we are winners.
A special shout out to our renters, Tyler James, Ryan Ackerman, and Kevin Hanrahan. You guys are great. You even hung out and helped after your days were done.
Thank you to Scott Autrey, who has been helping us on pitroad and fueling. You make our day easier to concentrate on the race. We really appreciate it.
And of course, the obligatory thanks to all the family and friends for the love and support to do what we love.
Finally, a big thanks to ChampCar Endurance Series, keep up the great work!!!
We shall return to VIR South in March......