Rounds 13, 14 & 15 took place at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UT this past weekend (Aug 21-22). I had raced at Miller last year in a Touring Car, but we would be running the outer loop as opposed to the east course, and I was looking forward to being able to race on the same track as the GT and GTS cars. We didn’t have great luck here last year with a blown engine and small fire, so I was hoping to turn that around, though we would unfortunately struggle here this weekend.
Thursday was the promoter test day, and I was looking forward to utilizing the decent amount of track time we were given to learn the track. Right away I liked the configuration of the outer loop much better, and used the session to learn the track. The final two sessions were in the afternoon, and we quickly learned that the Honda engines did not like combination of the altitude and heat as water temperatures were running a bit high for comfort.
We saw a similar pattern on Friday in that the engines ran well in the cool temperatures of the morning, but really struggled in the high heat of the afternoon. This was very apparent in race 1, which took place in the afternoon in 93-degree temperatures. The engine temperatures quickly rose to a level where we were losing significant power output, and then quickly rose to a dangerous level where the engine could actually be damaged, or destroyed. It was a long weekend and we needed to get through each race and score as many points as possible so unfortunately we had to really ease back, which kept us out of the race, but would preserve the engine. It was frustrating to have to sit back and watch my competition drive away, but when another Honda ended up losing their motor I knew we made the right decision.
With race 2 being in the morning on Saturday, I was determined to get a better finish, as engine temperatures would not be as much of a problem in the cooler air. I rolled to my grid spot in 6th position for the standing start, and found myself in 2nd position going into the first corner. As the race settled in I found myself in a great battle with Kris Wright and Tony Rivera. I was pushing hard racing these guys and didn’t have the tires to stay in front of them at the end. I finished race 2 in 5th position, and won the Best Standing Start award. Even running as high as 2nd, I was happy with race 2 as we still did not have great straight-line speed.
Race 3 took place late in the afternoon again, and mismanaging tires and engine temperatures left me with another frustrating race. As tough as the weekend was, we still came away with decent points, and I am even more determined to finish the season strong at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September.
Throughout the difficult weekend I had great support from Compass 360 Racing, their support on and off the track is always incredible. We had several families from the Children’s Tumor Foundation out at the track, and though we did not have the results we wanted, their excitement about the racing was really special to see. A big thanks to my partners, Chesapeake Electrical Systems, Inc and the Jacobs Company!
See you all at MRLS!