Yee enjoys his win
Round 9 of 13 of the Formula Dodge National Championship was held at Lime Rock Park, CT. running with the NASCAR Busch Grand National North Series. It made the amount of track time given to us, extremely limited. The National Championship group was given a total of four sessions on the track, which included one practice session, two qualifying sessions, and the main event.
After an early flight Thursday morning, we drove to Skip Barber headquarters in Lakeville, Connecticut for a mandatory drivers meeting. There, we pea-picked the cars that we would be using for the weekend and were de- briefed on how the weekend would commence since we were running with the NASCAR Busch Grand National North Series.
Friday A.M. had one practice session and one qualifying session four hours later. Practice session was in the early morning amidst heavy fog and dew. With the track and tires being so cold, it took half the session to get some decent times. Having not been at Lime Rock Park for a year, I slowly worked up to a comfortable speed. I began to bare down after the tires and track were up to temperature. My car felt very stable and didn't suffer from major understeer or oversteer, allowing me to push very hard without one end of the car washing out. Once the session was over, I was delighted to find that I was second quickest, just one tenth off the fastest time which meant I still had room for improvement.
During the long break in-between sessions, I gathered my thoughts and spoke to the test drivers and instructors about where I could pick up time and what changes to the car would be advantageous. The major consensus was to add tire pressure to try and get more grip out of the car. For the first qualifying session, I added one pound of tire pressure all the way around.
Once we rolled out onto the track, I immediately felt more grip in the car which meant I would be able to push harder, but as I continued to run, the car, and, especially the steering felt way too heavy. Although this setup may have been optimal for a short qualifying sprint, I didn't think it was the way to go, I immediately came into the pits to drop the tire pressures back down to what they were originally. Thereafter, I had an open track ahead and I worked on being smooth and consistent. On my last lap, everything came together and I was able to grab the provisional pole position by two tenths over second place. I was also the only driver to be in the 57 second bracket with everyone else being in the 58's and 59's.
I was delighted to have grabbed the provisional pole position, but was still a bit worried about the next day's final qualifying. I knew that many drivers would be a threat to my Friday time. All I could do was wait and try to improve my time on Saturday morning.
Saturday's weather was much warmer in the morning and I knew that the times would be very fast if not faster than Friday's qualifying session. For this reason, I opted to stay with my tire pressure settings and paced myself throughout the twenty-minute session. During the session, I was able to gauge myself off a few other drivers and seemed to be about the same speed as them.
I tried to go faster in some sections of the track but the car and conditions didn't seem adequate and my times were a bit slower than Friday's session. On the last lap, I pushed as hard as I could and tried to not make any mistakes and was able to improve my time and was sixth quickest in the second qualifying session at a 58.114. As we patiently waited for the official times, I heard over the radio that Dan Kraus had set a time of 57.891 and was just one one-hundredth slower than my qualifying time on Friday. I scored my second pole position of the year and was as ready as I could ever be for the race.
During the two-hour break, I thought about the race and how things would pan out. I knew if I was able to break away from second place, that it would be tough for him to stay with me because the draft is so strong at Lime Rock. Simple in theory but undoubtedly a difficult task to achieve at a track like this.
I was nervous as we rolled out onto the front straight away to grid up before the race. There were quite a number of fast drivers behind me and to be able to fend them off would be quite difficult. As luck would have it, I got a good jump on the field at the start and dropped down one extra gear going into the first turn to try and gap myself on the exit it worked! Into the Left-Hander, I tried not to rush and got a good run coming out of the next turn onto "No Name Straight". I worked up a three-car length advantage and second place was not able to suck up in my draft. Over the next few laps, I worked very hard to try and pull away and not make any mistakes that would allow him to close the gap.
With the laps winding down, I continued to pull away from second place but unfortunately made one mistake that cost a few tenths but not to worrywithin the next few laps, second place driver, Scott Presti, also made a mistake in turn 1 that allowed me to pull away and for third place to catch up to him. With second through fourth places battling, I motored away to a three second lead and cruised to my first victory in the Formula Dodge National Championship. This victory and pole position catapulted me to second place in the point standings, 26 behind leader Julio Campos.
During the beginning of the season, it felted like I would never win one of these races. To finally win one feels awesome! The monkey has been lifted off my back and things are beginning to fall in place. The series has four races to go starting with Laguna Seca and ending in Daytona Beach, which leaves the championship still up for grabs. Until then, I will be testing in my Trackmagic Rotax Max for the upcoming race in Las Vegas where the top four drivers will receive a fully paid for trip to the World Finals in Malaysia.
Thanks for reading and until next time speed on!
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