One thing that we learned during practice was that the car was fastest with about 3 inches (or 5 gallons) of fuel in the tank. If it had more fuel in the tank, it would be a little tight in the center of the corner. We calculated that we'd burn about 10-12 gallons over the course of the race. With that information in hand, our strategy had us starting the race heavy on fuel and the car would be just a tick tight. As the laps wound down and we burned off our Sunoco 112, the car would loosen up and be perfect with about 10-15 to go. So, we gassed up to nine inches before the green flag.

Another thing we learned in practice was that we were running hot, about 240 degrees. We you're done reading this article turn to page 64 to learn how we solved that problem.

After hot laps, Bobby came in with the tires scuffed and we were ready to go, at least that's what we thought. We popped open some water bottles and sat down to take a break, that's about the time we noticed oil leaking out of the transmission at an alarming rate. The drain plug on the side of the trans had backed its way out and was lost somewhere on the track. Naturally it's pretty hard to race without fluid in your trans and we had a problem. Bobby's dad hopped on a borrowed four-wheeler and scanned the track for the missing plug, to no avail. The track's parts shop didn't have the right size either. Just when we thought we were going to be sidelined by a $2.00 part, George Pils and Johnny Collins appeared with a spare plug (see why we were glad they parked next door?).

With that problem fixed, another one cropped up. When crew member Anthony Griffith did his pressure check on the tires after hot laps he found that the right rear had 9 pounds in it. That's not an unheard of number when racing on dirt, but on asphalt and considering that we started with 26, totally different story. It took all of about 45 seconds to find the cut once we took the tire off the car. Now comes decision time.

We had just seven usable tires; three scuffs and a complete matched set with about 125 laps on them. The older set still had plenty of tread depth on them so we elected to qualify and race on the older set. This decision actually turned out to be easy since in all of our tests and practices the car got consistently faster the more laps we put on the tires. Bob's balanced setup and Bobby's driving style turned out to be really easy on the rubber.

We figured that with 22 Drit Late Models on a 3/8 mile track, there were bound to be some caution flags, especially since many of these guys had never driven on asphalt before, our own Bobby Clark included. So, for qualifying we wanted to either be right at the front of the pack (so that the impending pileup would be behind us) or toward the back (so that we could see the wreck happen and drive through it). Luck of the draw, we would end up going out second to last and knew we had our work cut out for us. Collins went out and laid down a 15.22 second lap, with Dusty Cone setting fast time a couple of hundreths quicker.

Unfortunately, our qualifying run didn't go so well. "I did what very few drivers could ever do," explained Bobby. "I missed every one of my marks." Kidding aside, Bobby's 15.54 second lap was pretty good despite the missed marks. In fact, all but two of the drivers cracked the 16 second barrier. Even though we were only three tenths off of Collins' time, we would start 13th, smack in the middle of the pack. Oh well we thought, if we can avoid the wreck, our strategy should put us in a good position.