On To Mid-Ohio after Rough Canadian Weekend
Jul. 18, 2012 - Gainesville, GA - The K-PAX Racing Volvos are coming off a couple of rather tough weekends. My teammate Alex Figge had a rather eventful June in Detroit and at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Pobst leading during the first race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Alex stuck his S60 on the podium both weekends, though he says the second race (don’t ask about the first one, Alex is just finishing up his turn-one tire-wall trauma therapy) was one of, if not the, toughest drive of his long and varied career; though I started autocrossing several years before he was born. Yikes. Time flies. It was something about understeer. I actually like a little understeer. Nice n stable. Alex, not so much. He’s young. And immortal. So what’s understeer, you may ask? That’s when your car will not turn as much as you would like. When you understeer, you hit the wall head-first. The opposite is oversteer. That’s when the car turns more than you would prefer, getting sideways. With oversteer, you hit the wall tail-first. Randy’s Can’t-Miss Racing Tip of the Day: Don’t hit the frappin’ wall. I didn’t. That wasn’t the issue.
Let’s travel back to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), though I’d really rather not, unless we could talk Pirelli World Challenge into a do-over. A mulligan. I love Mosport, with it’s daunting sweepers and frightening, drifting, blind corner entries. We qualified pretty well.
My Volvo was handling really well from the very first practice. K-PAX and my engineer Will Moody already had a great setup for the track, using data from years past when we’d been on pole and won it. We practiced and adjusted and ran and ran and ended up pretty much where we started. Even skipped the last session on test day just to save the car. Why wear it out when it’s so good? We qualified it second, but I was impressed at the speed of O’Connell in the Cadillac, seeing he was carrying something like 250 pounds of rewards lead ballast for the excellent season he has had so far, leading the points by a significant margin. I did in with my K-PAX Volvo in 2010. It’s nice to lead.
Starting from the front row, I had nothing but clean, fresh Canadian summer air in front of me. I knew my Volvo would blast into the lead and make me look like a hero on the start, but it’s all the car, folks. I cannot take the credit. And so we did, leading gloriously, but with a certain white Corvette threatening, even after just one lap.
A yellow flag for my unfortunate teammate led to a crazy restart, which went like this: Go! No, stop! No, go, go, go!!! Well, then. All of the sudden the CRP Racing Corvette of Mike Skeen blows by, and quickly disappears in to the warm summer tundra haze. I’m happy, figuring the very fast Vette probably had our number this time, and seeing the Caddy’s held at bay in my mirrors. So far, so good.
Then, just after grabbing sixth on the straight, flames suddenly erupted from the engine bay and licked the windshield, and smoke rolled into the cockpit. It’s hard to hold your breath when your heart is pounding, but the toxicity clamped my nostrils shut and I poked through the poisonous murk for the extinguisher and the kill switch. Oil was everywhere, leaving a burning trail like the time-traveling Delorean in Back To The Future, and lubricating my rear Pirellis, culminating in a blindfolded death-wiggle as we swerved to a slimy stop. The bright side? We didn’t hit the wall. What an insult to injury that would’ve been. The down side? Can I whine, please? It’s cathartic, you know, like singing the blues. We were running a fairly secure second, though it was admittedly early, hooked up. Sure could have used those points.
From now through the last three races, it’s about saving face and materializing the good finishes we keep threatening. There’s been a long break, and I’ve just seen some nice pics of a couple beautiful, concourse-clean K-PAX Volvos, so we’re gonna be back and ready for Mid-Ohio in early August. Alex tore ‘em up there last year, winning one and leading most of the weekend, and I got on the podium, so the potential is there for the Volvos on that weekend we’ll share with Indy Car and ALMS. Don’t miss it!