Dry, cool, and cloudy was the forecast and it held true. Yahoo! People had their dry tires mounted and their tire insulators installed. The design of the tire insulators vary from home made ones to professional ones. The point is to keep the heat on the tires from dissipating away due to the cold wind. Some designs went all the way around the car to use the heat from the exhaust and engine to keep the tires warm. However, you cannot keep the engine on with this design as it would constitute an active warming device which is illegal.
Having a second driver also serves to put additional heat into the tires which the insulators would be able to maintain. Hoosiers are a little bit more difficult to warm up when the weather is cold so the tire insulators are pretty important. I can tell you that my Hoosiers were still quite cold even immediately after my run and the subsequent wait to run again would cool the tires back down to ambient temperatures. I will definitely be looking at some sort of tire insulator for next year in case it is cold in the morning again.
Quite a few cars ran before me and they were pulling in some good times. I saw 53 seconds, then 52 seconds, and then 51 seconds. My first run, I thought I would be aggressive on a few of the easier corners and safe on the tighter corners. I stayed in 2nd gear on this one particularly tight turn and did feel like I was going slower than I would like. I also took the slalom at the end very hesitantly. I was promptly admonished by a fellow Spokes club member who said that he saw my first run and thought I was being too hesitant. I got a time of 51.579 which so far moved me up in the standings, but the top drivers haven't driven yet. Ian Stewart, who was second yesterday, got a 51.226 which meant that I wasn't too far behind the leaders.
On the second run, I took my friend's advice to heart and was a little more aggressive. I took a leap of faith and trusted in the stick of the Hoosiers. There was this little kink at the beginning which required most people to tap their brakes to negotiate. Compared to my first run, I very briefly tapped the brakes this time and quickly turned the steering wheel left and then right again. I was flying through this kink and the car's tail did drift out a couple of feet, but I think I more than made up for it in the amount of speed I was able to carry through there. Remarkably the car was very progressive and I was able to get the tail back in again and press hard for 10 more yards before I would have to be hard on the brakes again for a fast left hander.
I prepared better for the entrance into the slalom and was rewarded with a very fast entry. As for the tight turn, I heel toed into 1st gear and rocketed out of the turn. I then kept it in 1st gear all the way through a wide U-turn onto a straight. This was great because I was able to accelerate very quickly down this straight. Finally towards the end I was a little bit more aggressive on the ending slalom, but my fear of what happened to me yesterday prevented me from really pushing it here. I saw a time of 50.752 but before I could smile I was intently listening to whether a cone was called on me. I heard nothing. I then gave a huge sigh of relief. I was very happy with my improvement, but thought I could do even better.
The preliminary timing sheets showed me in 19th place which was still out of the trophies. I figured my 3rd run is make or break. I've already gotten a good time which moved me up many places. Since I wasn't in the trophies, it really didn't matter if I got 18th, 25th, or 30th. I really needed to get an incredible time on my last run in order to get into the trophy spots so I had to really go for it. Well short story is that I was a little too aggressive and almost spun out towards the beginning and so got a slower time. I would have to stand on my 2nd run's time which ended up being the 7th fastest time of the day.
So I finished up my first Nationals event at 19th place out of 59 drivers. I beat my goal of getting mid-pack so I was extremely pleased. My performance in the dry was also promising, but the top guys like Jason Saini and Andy McKee are the ones who perform well regardless of the conditions. Jason was able to pull off the victory from a hard charging Andy at the end. Andy's final run was faster than Jason's fastest time, but it wasn't enough to make up for the deficit Andy had in the rain on the first day. Congratulations to everyone who competed.
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