I had a pretty good race weekend overall, though I feel I could've done better. I struggled with bike setup all day Friday and Saturday, and fatigue on Sunday. All things considered, I placed well, bringing home another trophy with a 3rd place finish in Novice GTU and finishing in the top 10 in all my races. I also broke my lap record from last year by over 3 seconds (1:20.264), but could not break 1:20 not matter how hard I tried.
Saturday, Novice GTU (finished 3rd)
My first race of the weekend (and my most competitive race) was NovU on Saturday morning. After struggling with bike setup all day Friday and during Saturday morning practice (mostly rear traction; I later discovered that my tire pressure gauge was inaccurate by 4psi!), I wasn't particularly confident in my bike. However, I did what I could with what I had, and performed fairly well.
I started in the second row and had a great start. I got out ahead but #614 Tyler Weaver took the holeshot into T1. I was right on his tail, though, and passed him on the back straight, taking 1st place.
I held 1st for the rest of the lap until #746 John Renk passed me on the brakes into T1. I kept within a second or two of him for the next couple laps, but between him consistently pushing 1-2 second faster laptimes and a couple of minor mistakes on my part, he was able to build a pretty big lead on me.
I maintained 2nd place for a while, until lap 5: trying to make up time, I braked a little later for T4 and ended up coming in way too hot. I kept it under control, but ran really wide and lost my drive out of T4. #808 Dan Spurlock took advantage and made an easy pass on the inside, creating a ~2 second gap while I recovered.
For the rest of the race, I did my best to close the gap, but Dan and John were able to put down laptimes just fast enough for me to not be able to catch up. Coming out of T15, I lost my drive onto the front straight after getting caught up in lapped traffic, letting Tyler pass me on the brakes into T1 for our last lap. However, I got a better drive out of T3 and passed him back on the main straight. I pushed hard and tried to ride defensive lines since I knew he would be right behind me.
I finished in third place, 14 seconds behind John and 9 seconds behind Dan, with Tyler and #457 Randy Hopper finishing less than 0.3s behind me.
Saturday, Novice GTO (finished 8th)
I was gridded in the 5th row, due to having missed so many NovO races (I was 15th in points). I got a decent start, ending up in 7th place by T2, right behind #807 Philip Takahashi. I was able to get past him on the back straight, taking 6th. On the next lap, I passed #121 Tommy Darmstedter on the brakes into T1, taking 6th, but only briefly. #353 Dylan Welch passed me coming out of T4, going on to later take 2nd place.
I ran a very consistent 1:21 laptime for the first 6 laps, holding 7th place every time we crossed the line, with some position exchange in between. However, at the end of lap 7, I got caught up in lapped traffic and #457 Randy Hopper passed me on the inside of T13. As I was able to clear the lapped traffic coming out of T15, #614 Tyler Weaver and I were neck and neck down the front straight. He outbraked me into T1 and T2, but I was able to pass him on the back straight, finishing in 8th place with a 2.9 second lead on Tyler.
Saturday, Ultra Lightweight Endurance (DNF)
After having SO MUCH FUN riding my wife Sophia's Ninja 250 for a session during Friday practice, I borrowed it for Ultra Lightweight Endurance on Saturday afternoon (with her permission of course).
This was my second time on this bike, and I was still getting used to the differences in riding style between a 600 supersport and a lightweight, underpowered, 250. However, I was having a blast.
Having never raced this class before, I was gridded dead last, in the 16th row. I had a decent start, passing #669 Cuiting Zhu by T1, ending up right on the tail of #314 Dan Parker. I got a good drive out of T3 and was able to pass Dan on the back straight, ending up behind #725 Parissa Azarvand. She ran wide in T11 and I got in front of her on the inside. However, she got around me on the front straight into T1, but I got back around her coming out of T2. For the next 5 laps, Parissa, Dan, and I exchanged many passes and a few rubbed elbows.
However, on lap 7, I was coming up the hill out of T11 and tucked the front end at T13. The bike and I slid out into the dirt at approximately 60mph. Both the bike and I were okay, with only minor injuries. The bike suffered a bent footpeg mount, which was easily bent back, and I suffered a crushed left heel, which didn't start hurting until Monday morning. We got the bike cleaned and repaired within an couple hours and Sophia raced it the following day in Ladies of the Rockies and 250 Production Cup.
Sunday, Amateur GTU (finished 7th)
My first race on Sunday morning saw me gridded on the inside of the third row. I had a crappy start; I lost my drive after popping a wheelie and backing off to get it back on the ground. I ended up in 7th place by T2, trying to regain my composure.
#807 Philip Takahashi passed me coming down the hill into T10, pushing me back to 8th place. I struggled to keep up, fighting fatigue and some good riding on Phil's part. I maintained 8th place for the next 3 laps, slowly managing to catch up and setting a new personal best laptime: 1:20.264. I passed Phil on the straight in lap 5, taking back 7th place.
With a huge gap ahead of me to the leading group, I put my head down and focused on just putting in consistent laps to keep my position. I held 7th place for the remaining 4 laps, finishing 10 seconds behind #614 Tyler Weaver and the rest of the leading group.
Sunday, Amateur GTO (finished 10th)
My last race of the weekend was Sunday afternoon: AmU. I was gridded on the inside of the third row. I had an okay start, falling in line in 6th place for T1, just behind #15 John McKown. I found myself in 8th by T2 after the starting traffic worked itself out. #242 Randy Throckmorton took a diving inside pass into T3 pushing me back to 9th.
I kept 9th for the rest of the lap, but #301 Joseph O'Donnell highsided coming out of T2 leaving his bike on the race line and exiting the track in an ambulance. He was conscious and walking, but hit the ground pretty hard. The race was red-flagged shortly after and we returned to the pits so the track could be cleaned up and Joe could be tended to.
We restarted the race in our original grid positions and this time I had a much better start. I pushed up to 4th entering T1, but McKown passed me on the outside, dropping me to 5th. I kept up as best I could with the lead group (mostly 1000cc bikes) while #152 Mark Helvig used his extra 80hp to pass me on the straight and join his fellow liter bikes.
At the end of lap 1, two more big bikes passed me on the brakes into T1, pushing me back to 8th place. Over the next 7 laps, I focused on putting down consistent laptimes to keep whatever positions I could against the bigger bikes while fighting fatigue. My riding was getting pretty sloppy, but I managed to run 1:21 laps for the rest of the races.
I finished in 10th place, less than 1 second behind #808 Dan Spurlock.