Over the course of the race we were lucky that nothing drastic happened to the car. The transmission started showing signs of trouble, popping out of Fourth gear around the midpoint, but we ignored it as best we could and other than adding fuel every driver change and dumping in three quarts of oil about 3/4 of the way through, the Honda ran tirelessly. Tires, however, were a big problem.
We were running used Legends tires. The team we get them from only runs them two races and they are camber cut, which helps the handling on our car. But the lack of tread from cutting the camber into them means they aren't exactly the best options for endurance racing. Still it's hard to beat free, especially when you're trying to come up with three sets of tires.
When it became obvious that even if we left the tires on the back untouched, eight extra tires still wouldn't get us through the day we began to get desperate. Here we were with one of the fastest cars on the track but staring a DNF in the face because of poor planning.
Thankfully, we were able to call on the good nature of a friend and talk him into bringing us every last tire we had lying around at the shop. Two hours later Jason McClellan and girlfriend Ashley Pierce arrived with the tires that would save our race. We had ruined date night, but hey, it's racing!
For the first half of the race, the obvious car to beat was the No. 11 Volkswagen Jetta of Lab Rats Motorsports. When the right driver was in the car it was as much as three seconds faster than us per lap. But mechanical troubles sent the car to the garage for fixes and at one point The Pig Rig was 14 laps up on the Lab Rats.
Still, that wasn't enough as the No. 11 slowly whittled away our lead. With three-and-a-half hours left to go we had the lead but the No. 11 car was just three laps behind and steadily gaining. The next scheduled driver change was supposed to take place in one hour, but that would require two more pit stops. Instead, we pushed the driver to within the 2:15 window for the final shift before pitting for a driver change, two fresh tires, and fuel. We filled the 12-gallon ATL fuel cell to the very brim, and instructed our final driver, John Gibson, that he would have to manufacture 15 minutes out of a fuel load that had been running dry at the two-hour mark all day long.
To make matters worse, Gibson radioed shortly after getting into the car that Fourth gear had finally given up the ghost and he was having to shift from Third directly into Fifth-not your best strategy when trying to save gas and hold off a faster car.
Fortunately, the No. 11 team didn't have the same luck timing out its pit stops as we did and had to make a final driver change with 30 minutes remaining. At the time it was one lap down, and we managed to gain three laps during its pit stop. But after the final stop, the little Jetta turned on the afterburners and began reeling off some very fast laps while all we could do was limp along. But our luck-and the gas-held out and the checkered flag flew at 11 p.m. sharp with The Pig Rig holding a lap-and-a-half cushion over the Lab Rats race team.
Overall, our experience with ChumpCar's first East Coast race was excellent. At first we thought it was simply a clone of the LeMons series at different racetracks, but that's not the case. Lemons events have a feel that's more like a party. The judges made jokes because we washed our car before bringing it to the track, and lots of emphasis is placed on outlandish penalties.
This Ford LTD suffered an early wreck but after pulling off the sheetmetal, the team was a
We struggled with tire wear all day long. The Rockingham track is tough on tires, but if w
The obligatory team photo. From left to right are drivers John Gibson and Jason Gulledge,