Race report by Barry Baker
XRAY TQâ€™s and Wins 2007 ROAR Nitro Nationals
The 2007 ROAR Nitro Nationals took place November 7-11 at the Gulf Coast Raceway in Porter, Texas.
We all arrived on Tuesday evening. Mark Blackketter, Paul Lemieux, and Bobby Flack all flew to Houston, while I flew to Dallas and met up with Ralph and we drove the 3? hours down there. We met everyone at the hotel and then went out together as a team for a good dinner.
Wednesday morning was the first day of practice. It was open practice so you could test your car at any time you wanted to. The first few runs were used to learn to track. The facility at Gulf Coast is great with a VIP area, snack bar, plenty of pit area, and not only a great on-road track but also a huge off-road covered facility. At first glance, the track looked easy to get around, but after taking a few laps it was more of a challenge than we thought. There were a few bumpy areas on the track that seemed to cause problems for the cars. The sweeper after the straight had the most bumps and it seemed that the slower you went through there the tighter line you could hold and it also seemed to be faster. The first day of practice went well for all of us until the end of the day when Bobby had a servo malfunction (broken wire) which resulted in a runaway car and an ensuing complete rebuild. During the day we found that the track was very abrasive on tires which meant that for a 60min final there were going to have to be tire changes.
Thursday was the final day of practice. This was the day to sort out your car and find a setup. Paulâ€™s car looked very good going around the track, and also Bobbyâ€™s new car was also going very well. Ralph and I seemed to have good pace, too. The fast laps by the end of the day were in the mid-15sec range. Ralph and Paul could string the lap times together, and Bobby and I could put down a few but not like them at that time.
Friday was the first day of Qualifying. We had 6 rounds in total (3 on Friday, 3 on Saturday) with 2 of 6 rounds counting (qualifying points). Since none of us were at last yearâ€™s Nationals we were all split up into different heats. They seeded the last heat of the day from last yearâ€™s results. This meant that they would do a resort for the next dayâ€™s racing from your best qualifying points run during the day. So we had to put in a good run today to be in that last heat for the last 3 rounds. Bobby was in heat 5 and won it, setting TQ at the time. I was in heat 7 and reset TQ. Ralph was in heat 8 and was on a very fast run when he had a malfunction and dropped out of the heat. Paul was in heat 10 and set a fast TQ for the round that no-one could beat in the last heat. So Paul was TQ for the first round, I finished up 5th for the round, and Bobby finished 6th.
Bobby ran well in the heat; Ralphâ€™s car for some reason had very little traction for this round and was sliding around a bit; my car was very good and I got 2nd for the round as Paul set TQ once again. So now Paul had 2 TQs and I had a 2nd and a 5th.
Bobby ran well once again; I also ran well this round; Ralph drove a smart round with 1 mistake at the end of the run that put him in 4th for the round but more importantly into the good resort heat; Paul made a few mistakes that kept him from TQ this round but was still was 2nd for it. So with qualifying points being used for the resort all 4 of us were in the last heat for the next dayâ€™s qualifying!
We all were now in the last heat of qualifying which meant that we had to have really good runs as this was the fastest heat. We all were making slight changes to our cars to try to make them even better than they were the round before. In the first round of the day we all were running well until Bobby got caught up with a slower car and that dropped him down a bit; Ralph had the same thing happen to him. Paul once again TQ’d the round and I was 4th overall in that round.
The track seemed to be getting faster each round and our cars were getting better and better. Paul just lit up the track this round, turning the only 20-lap run of the weekend pretty much securing the pole position for the main. Ralph had a good run, making 3rd for the round. Bobby and I did not improve.
This was the last round and many people could swap positions with a good run. Paul and I had mechanical issues this round; Bobby and Ralph had issues with slower traffic and none of us improved. Leaving Paul as TQ for the event, I was in 5th position for the final and Ralph was 6th. They qualified 7 directly into the final and being 10th overall qualifier Bobby had to run a semi-final.
We got to the track and there was a chance of rain. We all were preparing our cars for the final and it started to rain. After a long delay the races finally got underway, but after one main it started to rain â€“ off and on â€“ for most of the day. They would run races between the rain showers. After the ?-finals were completed it rained again, and this time the RMT decided to shorten the semis from 30 to 15min and the Final from 60 to 45min. With this change it meant that tire changes in the final were going to be different from one competitor to another.
In the Semi-Finals, Bobby bumped into the final very easily along with Scott Rister, another XRAY driver. He drove very well in the semis and deserved a spot in there. The cool thing about Scott is that he took a break for 5 years from racing and then in his first Nationals back he makes the final.. Great job!!!!!!!!!!!
The line-up for the Final:
TQ. Paul Lemieux XRAY NT1
2) Chris Tosolini
3) Scott Kimbrow
4) DJ Apolaro
5) Barry Baker XRAY NT1
6) Ralph Burch XRAY NT1
7) Ron Atomic
8) Josh Cryul
9) Bobby Flack XRAY NT1
10) Jimmy Duprez
11) Scott Rister XRAY NT1
After the horn went off there was some bumping in the first few laps but when things settled down it was Kimbrow leading with Paul, Ralph and myself right behind him. Paul made a slight mistake and Ralph and 1 went by for 2nd and 3rd. Ralph made his way by Scott, and then Paul and I did also, so now it was Ralph, myself, and Paul 1-2-3 and we were pulling away from the field. With 15min down in the final, the 3 of us had put a lap on 4th placeâ€¦ 3 XRAYs out front and still pulling away. It was looking to be a great day for the NT1. With 25min down people were expecting tire changes. The first 2 to do so were Ralph and Paul. Ralph came in and as they were changing tires his car stalled, so after a slightly long tire change they put his car on the starter box and it would not re-fire (vapour lock); it took them some time to get restarted but it finally did and he was now 7-8 laps down. Paul also had a problem in the pits which dropped him down a few laps but then back on the track his car flamed out and they had to restart him, putting him even farther back. I thought my car was still driving okay as I was driving to conserve tires. Well, what I thought was not true, as a few laps in a row I did some spin outs â€“ only turning right though, to the left I was okay â€“ so I yelled to my pitman to go get the left rear tire from my pit table and I only wanted to change that tire. I felt that that would save time and I would only go maybe 1 lap down to the leaders. So when I came in on the next stop we refuelled my car and changed the left rear only. As they turned my car it flamed out, and all I was thinking was “please restart right away”â€¦ and it did! My Max Power engine fired right up and I was on my way. Even after the flameout I was only 10sec back from the leader and in 3rd. With 15min to go I started driving harder to catch the leaders and I was making ground up each and every lap. With 7min to go I caught and passed the leader to take the lead once againâ€¦ and never looked back. At the finish I was over a lap in the lead. Ralph and Paul made great comebacks and just finished short of the podium in 4th and 5th respectively. Bobby finished 6th, and Scott finished 9th. So with 5 NT1’s in the final and taking TQ and the win it was a great weekend for RC America, XRAY and HUDY. I would like to thank RC America, XRAY, HUDY, Max Power, Jaco, Futaba, and O’Donnell for all the support and for making such great equipment to have such a great year!!!!!!!!!!
1) Barry Baker XRAY NT1
2) Josh Cyrul
3) Scott Kimbrow
4) Ralph Burch XRAY NT1
5) Paul Lemieux XRAY NT1
6) Bobby Flack XRAY NT1
7) DJ Apolaro
8) Scott Rister XRAY NT1
9) Chris Tosolini
10) Jimmy Duprez
11) Ron Atomic
Regards Barry Baker
Source : XRAY