Heartland Park-Topeka April 27-29th
So the first weekend of my Expert CCS career was upon me. A three day National menu with some of the best "privateers" in the country. Weather was supposed to be pretty nice and Friday was a bit iffy on whether it would rain or not.
Got to the track Thursday night and got things setup and ready to go for the morning. Thanks to CCS they closed registration for the night so I had to register in the morning which took a couple hours after they lost my registration (thank God for an e-mail confirmation i printed out).
Anyhow the track was a bit damp for the first morning session from the rain the day before so things were a bit slow. My best time last year at the track was a 1:53.XX but all i could muster after the morning sessions with a damp track was a 1:56.1. Wasnt to disappointed but wanted to run a dry track and get up to speed. Team challenge was before us so I got to sit around and wait for 3 hours for my first race. The track looked like it was going to dry up but then it started to rain like crazy. It was on and off so the decision on what tires to run was getting a bit interesting as my race approached. Thankfully 20 minutes before my race we had a downpour that included quarter size hail. I looked in my trailer for hail tires but couldnt find them so i threw the rain ones on.
Race#1-GTO Friday April 27th
The track was drenched and I was on the fourth row in P14. The green flag dropped and I was off. I got a great start and pushed my way into 5th place into T1. I got by another on the inside into T2 and was into 4th after the first lap. The rain came down harder and I made a pass down the straight out braking into T1 for 3rd. P2 was in site but as the laps went on he steadily increased the gap little by little. I rode the rest of the race in a lonely 3rd with 4th place out of site and started pulling back P2 but ran out of laps and crossed the finish line with a nice 3rd place finish and my first podium in my very first Expert race. Sometimes you have to like the rain.
Track was still plenty wet so kept the rain tires on for yet another fun filled race. Thanks to CCS's grid procedures which grid you by when you register instead of points standings I was once again on the 4th row in P14. I was determined to get a great start and that I did. best start ever. I passed nearly everyone on the brakes into T1 and was in 2nd but not wanting the leader to get away i stayed off the brake a tad longer and stuck it in and stood him up and pretty much made him and everyone else behind him come to a stop. Nothing dangerous just a little risky on my part but with that move I was into P1 going into T2. Held first place and felt I could win this race for sure, but then it went all wrong. Coming around a fast left hand sweeper my rear tire gave. No biggie, I pulled a bit of a Rossi with my foot off the pegs and that's when it went bad. My left peg got stuck in my boot.
Not sure how or why but it did. I tugged on it and pulled trying to get it out but couldnt all the time trying to turn left which I couldnt since the foot was nearly under my lower fairing at this time. I was headed off the track when the front tucked and I went down on a nice lowside aventure into the mud fields.
The whole time mind you the bike was on top of my legs as my boot was still stuck int he peg. Found out later that my leg worked pretty well as a frame slider and saved the bike pretty well. So there I lay, in the mud with my bike on top of me and I couldnt move my legs as it was slick and I had 400 lbs attached to me.
The corner worker took his time getting over so in a rage i grabbed the rear tire and finally managed to flip the bike off of myself. by the time he came over he was telling me to push it off out of the impact zone. I said naw man, the bike still runs. After restarting it and rocking back in forth I got her out of the 2' deep mud hole and back onto the track and was able to run down one guy and finish 7th after a couple guys crashed out as well. Crazy race and I was really mad to crash but it felt good being in the lead and finishing the race even though I went down.
Saturday April 28th
Finally the weather was going to be great. Sun, sun and more sun. Track was dry and the race was on. Finally i got to see how I could run on a dry track. Well my start was sub par as I was nailed from the side trying to get around a slower rider. Starting in the 4th row again I worked my way into 8th into T1. Passed a number of guys and with 3 laps to go I was in 5th place. I made one more pass battling with Tommy Girard whom I always looked up to as he's a solid racer for sure. Good to pass him and pulled away from him to finish 4th place. Was pretty happy with the result and with a better start mayeb I could have had a podium finish. Checked my lap timer and I ran a 1:50.4 my best time by far with the rest of the laps in the 1:50's and lower 1:51's.
Another dry race with a field of guys that are nearly (or could be) all top 10 AMA dudes. Mike Smith, Robert Jensen and Jeff Wood for starters as well as Brian Hall (Expert CCS Champion) were gridded in front of me as well as the other normal top CCS riders. Gridded again in the 4th row I got a average start and got into T1 in 8th place. Made it by another guy to get 7th a lap later. Was battling with Tommy Girard again and finally made my way by him for 6th while pulling in Jason Temme who was in 5th. Was a few feet away on T3 a very fast left hand carousel he lowsided in front of me. I was in fifth now and running pretty well. Lap four I was coming out of T7 another very fast left hand corner when the fron just went on me. I was going around 120 mph at the time and started sliding and then hit the rumble strip and started rolling and then went into an end over end flip. Sky, earth, sky earth, sky earth, each time hoping I didnt feel or hear a snap, crackle or pop.
Came to a stop and jumped right up feeling great and incredibly mad that i had just crashed out of 5th place with 4 riders in front that are in another league at the time. Ran to the bike and picked it up. Bodywork was smashed in pretty bad, clipon was bent, clutch lever was gone, shift linkage snapped. Started pushing it over to the wall and had to slide the rear wheel as it was in gear and we couldnt get it into neutral. Sat on the wall and took my helmet off first thing and looked it over. Corner workers came running over and asked if I was ok cause it was a pretty crazy tumble I took so they said. I said yeah the helmet is fine.
Loaded it up and took the long crash truck ride of shame back to the pits. Ran in the low 1:50's every lap as well.
It was messed up pretty bad but I was ok and so was the frame, forks, swingarm, subframe and major parts. Washed it all down with a hose (again) and started to access the damage. Missed the next race since it was only 2 races after this one but found all the parts I needed and with safety wire, duct tape, and zip ties was able to get it fixed up good enough by after midnight.
Race#5-Unlim. Supersport#1 DNS
Sunday April 29th
Great weather again and a nice dry track. Gridded again in row #4. Bike was bruised and battered and so was my confidence a bit after the getoff. Got a pretty bad start to say the least. Went into T1 in 10th place and was able to work my way with a decent pace up to 7th where I would finish. Ran about a second slower for my fastest lap but made it out safely and without messing up the bike any further. Was hoping to brake into the 1:49's or maybe even the 1:48's and I think I would have had I not wrecked.
Came out in one piece and the bike in a few but all in all some promising times and finishes and hopefully next race I can try to stay out of the mud.
Would like to thank Indy Superbike
for their support and for all my racing buddies at the track who helped me find a way to fix the bike and get her back out there.
Next Race: May 12-13 CCS Round#2 Blackhawk Farms Raceway
Pics to follow....