Man... what a weekend for DamSon Racing. Prep did not start late, we nut and bolted the car in early March, but it ended late with the final touches being done Thursday night late and Friday morning causing us to leave town earlier than expected. Huge shoutout to Al with Champ for policing the garage area with assigned parking spots, being late didn’t cost us a parking spot.
We only brought 4 new tires and rummaged through the scrubs for the best 2 lefts and 1 right we could find for changes. I personally wasn’t aware we were in contention for anything and I certainly didn’t know this was the Championship race, work has been an absolute bear for the past month and I just hadn’t paid attention to anything car related. Late Thursday night I found a busted FCAB bushing and had to get a teammate to pick up the replacement parts on the way to the track Friday. Not the way we like to prepare for a race- overwhelmed.
Once we were on site, went through tech and got the FCAB bushings in/ things were pretty standard. We have worked for a year getting our program nailed down, people know what to do and why; we’ve added some new stuff but overall it was business as usual. Last year at Charlotte was out first full race as DSR, at VIR that year we took a splitter stanchion to the gas tank cutting our day short in the first session. At CMS we had fuel issues (that persisted almost all through 2018) and couldn’t make fuel to 2 hours because we could only get 12 gallons out of the tank. We had that fixed and felt good for this year. Well, With the different track config our fuel burn was off the charts, we were burning 15+ in 1:45ish. Once we realized we couldn’t make 2 hour stops we figured we were out of contention so we were just going hard and thinking about a swirl pot for next year. Our team was amazing and stops were super clean. We had to change a front left a stop earlier than expected and saw that right front was getting as much wear as left front, which made me sick to my stomach knowing I’d only brought 3 spares and scrubs to boot. We changed the right front the next stop to find it was through the cords. During that stint I was in the car and radiod in that the next guy would appreciate that right front more than the left front I had gotten because 3/4 were a little nerving knowing that tire was near its end.
Anyway, got the front right on and we went back to work. Those three stints before the final hour stint were the difference, we put down a metric ton on sub 1:30 laps and stayed in the lead, all the while thinking that we had to make an extra stop than everyone else and/or that f#ck!ng Saab was a rocket ship! 😉. We hadn’t given up when we realized we were short on mileage but we thought we were beat.
Our engineering types started adding it up and giving us some hope, if Simon stops, RBanks stops and/or a good yellow comes we could change our pit window down to... poop, YELLOW, BOX BOX BOX. We caught that last yellow, got the car in immediately and got our closer out on the track. The race came right to us. We were lucky, bottom line. Calculating our gap back to RVA Graphics for a podium turned into a P1. We ran a good race, hit our marks and executed our stops fantastically but the luck of the yellow gave us the win plain and simple.
We didn’t know we had won the National Championship until Bill said it during the interview. We were lucky to be there, to have the car truck and trailer there, I almost said I was too busy to get the car finished. Walking into the registration building I had seen the trophy but the thought of winning it never crossed my mind. I was just happy to be there with friends on the team and in the paddock.
That win was really a high point for all of us. It’s hard to win in this format as preparation has to be graced by fortune, that makes the wins sweeter. Oh and that trophy was the best thing I’ve ever seen! We are excited and look forward to proudly wearing the #1 this year. Thanks to all of our fellow racers.