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2011 US Legends Asphalt Nationals - Las Vegas

posted Nov 27, 2011, 9:42 PM by Scotty Scott

We have been back from the US Legends Asphalt Nationals for a few weeks now and I am finally getting to send out an update to everyone.  Sorry it has taken so long.  I will just go through the whole weekend.

Rich Oliver and my brother Eric all drove out together in our RV pulling the race trailer.  We decided to leave on Tuesday night to try and beat the snow storm that was on the way.  Unfortunately, we didn’t beat it.  It was a pretty rough drive over the mountains in the snow and took almost an hour and a half to get down from the summit at Vail Pass.  After getting to Grand Junction though, the roads were dry and the trip went much smoother.  We arrived in Las Vegas around 2pm and went straight to the track to get our pit passes before the lines got long the next day.  Clay also flew out and met us at the hotel. 

We got to the track early on Thursday morning for a full day of practice.  We also had to go through pre-race tech which ended up taking quite a while.   The first on the track there was a little strange.  I had no idea what spots I was trying to hit or what the gas and brake pick up points where.  Our lap times this first session were terrible.  They were bad enough that Clay wouldn’t even tell me what they were.  At this point, I thought it would be a good idea to go watch some of the drivers from Las Vegas and see what spots they were hitting.  We missed a practice while we did this but it ended up helping a lot.  The car started off very loose and unstable on entry and we worked on fixing this most of the day with pretty good success and were comfortable enough by the end of the day that we started heat cycling new tires.  At this point though, we were still only middle of the pack on lap times.

We had to be at the track pretty early on Friday for a drivers’ meeting and then for practice before qualifying.  Practice went well and we were ready for qualifying.  It was a little different at this track.  They sent 8 cars or so out together and then timed everyone off of their transponders.  They goal is to spread the cars out and put the faster cars in front so everyone can run their fastest laps without being slowed down by a car in front of them.  This didn’t always work.  Each group got 3 laps to shoot for their best time.  We caught the car in front of us and our best lap ended up being the first lap.  Not a great qualifying run though.  Again, middle of the pack. 

Qualifying put us in the third heat.  Points awarded for qualifying position and heat race finishing position would determine first, if you got into the A-main and then your starting position in the main.  Not knowing how the points were weighted, I was still worried about not making the A-main.  The car was fast in this race.  Faster than it had been most of the weekend and I needed to pass a few cars to finish well.  Unfortunately, I was stuck behind a #90 from Canada who was driving with his mirrors.  If I tried to pass him low, he would drive me down into the infield.  If I went high, he would suddenly drive clear up to the wall.  After a few laps of this, I hit him with my bumper a few times but short of spinning him out, he was going to drive the race like that.  I ended up just saving the car and finished 5th.   After this was all over, we were listed as starting the main in 15th position on Saturday night (inside of row 8).  We had to wait quite awhile for our heat race to start because both heat races before ours had pretty big accidents.  Eric too some pretty good pictures of the biggest wreck where at least one car was upside down and on fire.  Pretty scary.

One of the reasons we were excited about going was that we won the masters points championship for Colorado this year.  This means we qualified for an extra race on Friday night called the Race of Champions.  We started on the outside of Row 1 for this race.  We were still middle of the road on lap times so I was a little nervous about starting up front.  No one was really able to get their cars to work on the outside so we weren’t going to be able to stay there long.  After getting the green flag and going into turn 1, the driver inside of row two went into the corner too hard and wash up into us, hitting the left rear and spinning us out in front of the whole field.  With a very big break, we didn’t get hit by anyone and the race was restarted with the original lineup.  The race was clean after this restart and after working on passing a couple of drivers to pass, we ended up finishing fifth out of twelve cars that started this race.  The most important thing about this race was that I got a lot more practice on how and where to pass other cars.  What worked for us is to enter the corner very high.  This allowed us to exit the corner very low and under the other car.  Once underneath the other car, they were not able to make their car run in the high groove and the pass was complete.  This info would really pay off well in the main.

All of the A-mains started a little late.  They ran them in the order of Young Lions, Semi-Pros, Masters and then Pros.  A 150 lap Late Model race was schedule after the mains were done.  Each main was scheduled for 40 laps to run in about 40 minutes.  The Young Lions and Semi-Pros had a rough time getting these races going.  A lot of wrecks and blown motors.  A lot of very aggressive driving in both mains and not giving other drivers a place to race so some big wreck followed.  The Masters drivers got strapped into the car and we were already to go when the Semi-Pro race was running.  Near the end of their race, officials announced over the radio that they were changing the schedule.  The Pros would run and then the late model race would run before the Masters main.  This was pretty frustrating.  We watched the Pro race, which also had a ton of wrecks, and then I went to lay down for awhile since the late model race would take a long time to run.

The Masters race was finally ready to start at around 11:30.  Definitely late and we were all pretty tired after being at the track for 3 days.  Starting in row 8 with the aggressiveness of the drivers and some super fast guys starting behind me, I was setting my goals at not dropping back from my starting position.  I was actually pretty nervous about the race at this point after watching so many cars get wrecked and also wanting to do well.  Jon Krizman walked by about that time and told me, “You are a lot faster than a lot of these guys starting in front of you so go get ‘em”.  That made an instant difference in how I felt about the start of the race and I was ready to go.

It took several restarts to get the race going, we ran almost half of the race before the first yellow.  We had worked up to 11th before this yellow, at around lap 20.  It was about this point in the race that I felt the car was getting better.  I could close in on cars pretty quickly and could generally pass them within a half lap or so.  Even the #90 that caused me so much trouble in the heat race was no trouble at this point.  With each caution, I would count the cars ahead of me and on the last caution with about 4 laps left, I counted only 3 cars in front of me.  I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe we were running that high and was suddenly more worried about messing it up.  I think in the end, this was a mistake.  Our car was fast but I started driving to not mess up instead of catch and pass more cars.  I was able to hold onto 4th pretty easily and also actually got inside of the car in 3rd place coming out of the last corner and raced him to the finish line.  He beat us for 3rd by less than a foot. 

At this point, everyone got to come down and meet me in victory circle along with the other drivers that finished in the top 5.  This was definitely a highlight of the weekend.  Having everyone that worked on the car and hang out be down there to share in the fun of the 4th place finish was amazing.  They gave us champagne, which mostly sprayed, and the biggest trophy I have ever won.  It was an amazing experience. 

The whole weekend was definitely my best memory of racing up to this point and will definitely go again when it is in this region.  Hopefully we get even more Colorado cars next time.