February 18-22, 2015
I ended up leaving the Friday before, to get there a few days early to visit some family and setup so we could relax prior to the race. It was about a 15-16 hour drive from my home, definitely the longest I have been in a car. After a very long drive we arrived in Phoenix late Saturday afternoon, right away we were greeted by Kenny “Race Director”, Joey and Aaron “The Dirt Crew“. They were all very nice and gracious; we were also the first ones to arrive. After we finished setting up the fifth wheel, we went out to dinner and got some much needed sleep. After a few days of relaxing and checking out Arizona, I was definitely ready for practice day, the track looked awesome, but definitely something different compared to the last couple of track layouts for DNC. I made sure I knew the track as well as I could, walking it as much as possible!
It felt like Wednesday would never come yet it finally did! Due to a very late surge of entries in the morning, we ended up starting at 12pm instead of the planned 8am. Unfortunately we soon learned everyone would only get one 6-min. practice run per class, which was kinda disappointing at first. Nitro truck was first up for everyone, walking the track payed off for me as I would set pace in Expert Truck taking the #1 seed going into qualifying. E-Buggy was next; I was able to accomplish the same task, taking the #1 seed once again. On the other hand the Nitro Buggy didn’t feel nearly as good as my other cars to be honest. It was definitely difficult getting it around the track, but I was still able to take the 18th spot in seeding. At the end of the day I felt pretty confident with the cars and was looking forward to qualifying the next day!
E-Buggy and Truck:
It was the first day of Qualifying at the 16th annual Dirt Nitro Challenge! There would be 3 rounds of quals and Nitro Truck would start the day off. I wouldn’t do as well as I would have hoped for, making many mistakes but I was still qualified for the A-Main taking the 12th spot in the first round of Truck. In E-Buggy I had a pretty good run going but unfortunately my front dogbone popped out and I would suffer a DNF. In the second round I once again didn’t have the best run in Truck, tangling with lap traffic taking a 13th for the round. After a lot of bad luck in qualifying I knew I had the speed, but I had to make smarter decisions for the upcoming races. With that in mind I went out and put down a blazing fast run in E-Buggy and would end up 2nd for the entire round. With the 3rd round about to start, I made a few minor bump-steer changes to the truck to get more on power steering and did they pay off!!! I went out in truck and had a flawless run taking the TQ for the round and the fastest TQ run in expert of the day by over 8-seconds! Even with a run like that, I would still start 6th on the grid due to the earlier results. E-Buggy was the last qualifier of the night for me, I had a pretty decent run with a few minor mistakes. I would start 5th on the grid going into the Mains on Saturday.
I felt the least comfortable in the Nitro Buggy class, as the car really didn’t like the big jumps and high speed corners. I did the best I could in a pretty stacked field of competitors taking the 12th spot for the round but I knew I could go faster. After my run was over I went over to the Tekno RC tent and asked a few questions about setup, Matt Wolter and Daniel Lewis helped me out big time in making the correct changes. I can’t really express how grateful I was because it was a whole new car afterwords SERIOUSLY! In the next round I would battle back and forth for the lead in my heat, I lead pretty much the entire race but on the last lap there was a dead car on the back straight. Needless to say I drilled it and that would put me back a few positions taking 3rd for the round. I really could not possibly be any happier with the car and it was all on my shoulders now! In the next and last round of qualifying, I would once again be in the lead the entire race but I would make a last lap mistaking putting me back to 4th. I would ultimately start 4th on the grid entering Sundays main events.
Nitro Truck and E-Buggy:
I got some much needed sleep Saturday morning, around 11am I started preparing my cars, refreshing fluids, rebuilding clutches, etc. My Truck Main was first for me. I had a good clean start and was able to break away with the pack, at around the 11-minute mark. I started to feel my power fade and eventually had no rear wheel drive ending my chances. I was also currently in 3rd place at the time, I later found out I blew up my center differential stripping all of the interior spider gears. E-Buggy was last up for me, I felt very confident with the car. On the very first corner everyone decided to try and win the race on the first lap, I unfortunately got taken out and got the worse end of it coming out in dead last 6-seconds behind second to last place. After the very discouraging first lap, I put my head down and did the best I could getting all the way back up to 7th at the end out of 15 cars. I definitely didn’t plan my first set of mains to go like this but I had to get over it and now focus on nitro buggy!
After a rough Saturday, I prepped my Buggy the best I could going into the Main. I was really nervous for this main as this is the biggest accomplishment so far in my young RC life! My mind went completely blank at the sound of the tone. I had a good start getting up to 2nd on the second corner. I pretty much stayed in second for most of the race, but as the race went, on my brakes began to fade and also my motor richened up on me too. This made it pretty difficult to keep my lines on the track. 3rd and 4th place soon caught up to me after I shorted a few jumps. 3rd place would then pass me on the second to last lap of the race. I would end up 4th overall, while I was disappointed I didn’t podium, I had to realize just making the Main in all 3 of my classes this weekend was huge. And 4th wasn’t so bad after all!
Overall this was a great experience for me. I made a ton of new friends and met many of my awesome team managers and the rest of my team! I would love to thank Terry Cook for making this entire trip possible for me!!! Also Ryan Lutz for all the great advice and tuning help!!! And last but not least, Matt Wolter and Daniel Lewis for the part help as well as the amazing setup help, I definitely would not have done this well if it wasn’t for you two!!!
Lastly I would like to thank my awesome sponsors for all their help and continued support; Tekno RC, Pro-Line Racing, Tekin, DE Racing, Airtronics, Byrons Fuels, Schelle, Team Orion-Nitro, All Around RC, and Reds Airbrush Designs!!!!
See you guys at Silver State!!!!