This past weekend we attended the Southern Nationals in West Monroe, Louisiana. It is a huge indoor facility with a track that is bigger than most out door tracks. I have always enjoyed the layout but this year had an exceptionally fun layout with lots of elevation changes and big jumps.
We had a great Xray turnout, not only did myself and Kurt Kellum attend but a lot of sportsman and open drivers were there running the Xray cars. Xray won the Sportsman Buggy A main and the Open Buggy A main.
There was 3 rounds of qualifying for Truggy and Buggy.
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The truggy was good from the start like always. I ran my stock setup with a little lighter shock oil because of cool weather. Qualifying went well, I was running fast lap times and felt good with the truck. The first qualifier I got tangled with some lap traffic and ended up third over all. The second qualifier was a little better, I ran a good race and battled ever lap with Ryan Lutz for the lead. Ryan ended up beating me out and I ended up 2nd for round 2. The 3rd qualifier was when I went a little lighter on the shock oil. This was a huge improvement for the cool weather and bumpy track. I started off strong and never made a mistake throughout the 3rd qualifier and was 1st overall. After the 3 rounds I was sitting 2nd overall behind Lutz, it was the staging for a good race.
The Main started off good and it was a follow the leader show with Lutz and myself for 15 min. I was doing my best to stay right with Lutz and pull a good lead before a battle started. We pulled about a 15 second lead when Lutz broke and I took the lead. Jason Branham was now in 2nd with the rest of the field behind him. I maintained a good lead until the 2nd to the last pit when a crash and corner marshal failure cost me 17 seconds on my pit stop. This gave Branham the lead and a battle until the end started. Jason and I would battle until the last lap when Jason crashed and gave me the lead and the win. Kurt Kellum also had a great performance in the truggy main and fought his way to 3rd at the end.
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The buggy was great and was probably the most confident I have ever been with the car. I did not change a whole lot from my stock setup, I put some more caster and camber and some lighter center diff oil for bumpy, loose track.
Qualifying went well, The 1st qualifier I finished about 2 seconds behind Lutz with a good run. I was very comfortable with the car and felt like I could run the pace forever. The 2nd qualifier I finished 1st with a comfortable lead and no crashes. The 3rd qualifier was the most exciting, Lutz and I battled out until the end until a bad crash by Lutz gave me a good lead. However on the last lap I thought the announcer said I was finished and pulled of the track for a few seconds. By the time I got back on the track I would finish 3rd overall. I won the tie breaker with Lutz and got the TQ overall in buggy.
The main was lined up and ready to start when Lutz broke a part he could not fix and was out from the start. This took some pressure off but I wanted to put together some good practice for the worlds. The buzzer went off and I raced a flawless race with lap times that were unmatched and no mistakes. I pulled a lap and a half lead with approximately 5 minutes left to go when my car came unplugged. I had a runaway car the took a while to get back to pit lane and figure out what happened. When I got the car plugged back in Jason Branham had took the lead and about a 15 second lead. I pulled within 8 seconds on the last 5 laps but could not get the win. My fastest lap was 1.2 seconds faster than anybody else.
Overall it was a great weekend. We were 5 laps from a clean Xray sweep for the weekend. The buggy is getting better and better each race. We are racing on all big tracks to prepare for the worlds.