AMSOIL Eagle River Derby
T&N Racing has finally gotten on the podium! Not only once, but twice this last weekend we got the new sled within the top 3 after facing a grueling task of building a brand new sled in just 2 week’s time. What would normally take roughly a summers worth of work, our team accomplished in the time frame between the Ironwood race, and the Wednesday before Eagle River.
We headed to Eagle River after the long journey of building, and not an ounce of testing, hoping we made the right decision. We hit the track on Thursday for a test session, and then a heat race for the Friday night race. We made it through to Friday’s semifinals, and the sled felt great. Again, in the semifinal, we made it through to the Sweet Sixteen and got ready for the final. The night race is a little tricky, and the snow dust likes to hang in the air and impair the driver’s visibility. We knew we needed a hole shot, and with the new motor package, we have had great success with that this year. We headed out for the final, and went through the opening ceremonies. We headed to the line for the start of the Sweet Sixteen. The flag was thrown, and the snow dust flew. Down into corner 1, and out of corner 2. Just a little past half way, there was a red flag for a crash. We re lined up and got ready for the re start. We got a good run into turn 1, and made it through unscathed. We secured the third position, and maintained it to the finish. Our first podium of the year!
Saturday was filled with testing, and the qualifying rounds for the W.C. we hit the track every time and kept securing our transfer positions with every round. We were in the big show, and couldn’t be any happier with the results. The team has worked harder than ever to get me a sled that I could put back onto the podium. With the day done, we headed over to the top ten ring ceremony, where the top ten qualifiers get a special ring for making it into the world championships.
Sunday was the big day. We tested in the afternoon, and then had a chance to do a meet and greet and sign some autographs for the fans. The day was filled with some down time which gave us some time to spend walking around the facility, and enjoy the weekend for the first time. Even though Eagle River starts on Thursday, it’s always so hectic that we don’t get much time to enjoy the atmosphere. The afternoon seemed to fly by, and before we knew it, it was time to get ready for the opening ceremony. The sleds were lined up on the front stretch, and we had been introduced. Once the photos had been taken, and the helmets were strapped on, it was go time. We fired up the sled, and made a safety lap around the track. The flagman brought us down to the start line and we were set to go. We got a great start coming out of corner 2 in 4th place, and we rode there pushing for 3rd the entire 10 lap run. The checkered flew, but not before a sled went into the hay bales before everyone crossed the finish line. We had come to a stop on the front stretch, and were told we would have to run 1 more lap to make it an official 10 lap race, even though the leaders had already taken the checkered flag. Once the dust settled, the officials had agreed the first 10 laps were completed, and we could get to work on the sleds. With the 10 minute break finished up, we’re lined up for the last 20 laps. We got another great hole shot, and ran into corner 1 with our 4th place secured, and battling for 3rd right away. After 5 or so laps, we finally made a move into the 3rd position, and were gaining on 2nd until another caution came out. We regrouped and knew we’d have our chance since the leaders would be bunched back up for the restart. We lined up for the remaining laps, and were let loose. Down into corner 1 we gained the second position, but not before we dropped back into 3rd before the corner was through. We fought again to get the second position back, and with roughly 5 to go, we made the move and started to close the gap to 1st. With the laps winding down, the leader was just outside striking distance, and the track had turned into a 1 lane track, and it was about maintaining the sled to the checkered, and that’s what we did.
Second place is nothing to scuff at, but we knew we possibly had a winning sled. With the lowest amount of track time we’ve ever had on a sled going into that weekend, I think we woke a lot of people up, proving we are still a force to be reckoned with. A podium to us after the long dry spell is a win in my book. With the Wausau 525 coming up this weekend, were eager to get back into our winning ways, and prove that we still have our championship team on the ice. It feels great to walk away from Eagle River with a great finish, and already thinking about next year, and the hopes of another world championship title. But, we’ll just continue to take each day in stride. Until next time, keep the throttle wide open, and the handlebars to the left.