Grid for the 2nd Sprint was based on fastest laps from the first race. Started P2 and was outdragged in the Start by a faster I Stock car, then was able to make the pass in the infield.
Focused on staying close to P1, Greg Pickeral in the Silver 3.6 996, while he ran away in the speedway and slowly reeled him under braking for T1 and in the infield, until in lap 4 he goes long braking for the Bus Stop under lockup. The cloud of smoke was so big and dense, that I had a brief "days of thunder" moment. I really wasn't able to see the BusStop or any part of the track nor know if Greg's car was somewhere in the middle, but since the smoke was moving forward I assumed he must be beyond the BusStop entry. Braked a bit earlier and stayed on the left and made it through (Can't figure out how scary it would be in Nascar to go through dense smoke at 200mph full throttle - The BusStop is a brake zone of 150+ down to 80mph only!).
Inherited the lead of the race and focused on moving efficiently through traffic. All my laps were 2:07-2:08s except for one in which I had to squeeze myself between a 944 battle coming out of T4 (see picture sequence). Won the race overall and it felt great having been able to outrun the faster I Stock cars. Probably on of my best wins of the season or very close to my battle with Scott Gerard in the Sprint2 at Mosport. Unfortunately, the video shows the first lap of that race only as the camera stopped recording.
More after the jump
The Sprint results prompted me to take Spencer's suggestion and try I Prepared. Big Mike replaced the ECU (with Mitchell's magic code) and the rear hatch for the one with the BIG Techart Wing. Since Top Speed is so critical at Daytona we ran the wing in the lowest angle and with no Gurney flap.
The changes were immediately felt in the WarmUp. The car felt SOOOO planted through the high speed kink and better grip through the BusStop while gear changes were happening a bit earlier too thanks to the the extra magic HP. It showed in the time sheets. A 2:05.3 was 1.7secs faster than my best time from Saturday in H Stock trim. Seems that I had newfound pace to challenge the I cars. Lack of participation prompted the organizers to combine the race groups.
They used the Qualifying times from the Sprints for the grid so I was starting P21 behind the 3 I Stock cars with some other GT cars and Cup cars in the mix. Watch the race start in the video and you will see how diverse the performance of that car mix is! Didn't have the best of starts but made some ground on every corner of the infield by passing cars through the tight inside line, until I had the silver 996 in sight going into the Speedway. Reeled in the gap on lap 2, that ended up being my fastest lap of the weekend with a 2:04,9 (I Stock record!), and stayed close through the infield until he went wide on T6 and I had the power to make the pass stick (from the video I think he also missed a shift too). Leading the class and with much faster cars ahead had the space to run some nice clean laps until in lap 5 a 997 Cup Car crashed on the speedway and we had a full course yellow for 2 laps.
It was a single file restart and apparently a few guys behind, including the silver 996, got a much better call on Green! I felt raped on that restart! Almost spun out of T6 trying to be on the 996's tail to make a quick pass. Screwed my head down and followed the 996 as close as I could but he did a great job moving through lapped traffic and I wasn't having the same luck as the day before, so was never that close in the infield to attempt another pass (plus he stopped going wide in T6) until the pitstops. He pitted first, then I did 2 laps later and missed slowing down enough for the start line of pit entry and apparently crossed it at 40mph instead of 30mph. Our pitstop took a bit longer as by making the math that after only 50mins of racing (including 2 slow pacecar laps) had no fuel left; that 5 gallons would not be enough to finish the 90mins race. Big Mike made a quick run for 3 more gallons! I came out of pits further behind the 996, but it seemed as a surmountable gap (100yds aprox), until I was black flagged for my pit speed infraction with a stop and go penalty. Game over, my race for the class lead was over!
Then again, one can always screw up more: I exceeded pitlane speed again on my stop and go! After 2 extra pitstops I had no clue where I was on the race so just decided to do some good laps and focused on efficiently going through lapped traffic. Made some passes and ended the race P2 in class and 13th overall. The video shows the first 4 laps until the full course yellow, and there's another vid of the crowded restart lap.
All in, another great weekend to wrap my first PCA racing season, and now with a proven option to be able to run I Prepared next year as an alternative (That would be my NASA GTS3 setup too). Daytona is a great place for racing and can't complain for the post race day chill at the pool and the beach with the family. My kids obviously loved the fact that it is only 50mi away form Orlando, so and extra day of tribute to the big mouse was in order the day after. Thanks to Spencer, BIg Mike and all the Farnbacher team for a solid race weekend!