Three races in 2009 wasn't enough for me to win the championship, but hey, at least my teammate won it!
Qualifying was a disaster with very few green laps, and those that were green were interrupted by passing slower cars, sometimes several. It took until the last few laps just to get a time below 2 minutes. But it was that way for most people, so I ended up on the pole with the slowest time I think I've ever qualified with.
Race time things were cleaner but I was having some issues with the 3 race old tires and several shifting problems. Ended up finishing 3rd. Shifting problems were a simple issue- the screw that holds the spring tension in the ratchet mechanism had somehow backed out significantly. Adjusting that back to its proper place restored the proper shift feel.
Thunderbolt is a new track in southern Jersey. Nice facilities, lots of garage space, and plenty of room in the level paddock, although it was pretty soggy due to the monsoon laden Spring we've had in the mid-Atlantic. Another good field of 5 FE cars, especially good since entries seem significantly down in many classes this year. We were scheduled for group 1, so the track conditions after Friday's rain were pretty sketchy for Q1. Paul Lecain oiled down the entrance to turn 1 early in the session when he ventilated ($$$$) his FA engine, and there was a big puddle right on line at the turn in point to add to the challenge. Everyone was slow in turn 1 that session. I tried to take turn 3 without lifting to make up for it and found about 4' less road than I needed- through the grass I went at ~100 MPH. Lots of smooth runoff there, plenty of time to get it back on track in one piece. I turned a 1:25.1, faster than the FC track record, and nearly 5 seconds ahead of the next FE Roger Feghali.
For Q2 I was confident, turns out a bit too confident. Came in early after turning a 1:22.4, figuring nobody else would do better than 1:25. Then Keith came in with a 1:23.6 showing on his data system- crap! I knew I had more time, but Keith normally isn't that close to me. Boy was I happy to see he was second on the grid! Roger was 3rd with a 1:25.0, Bill Valentine was 4th, and Bruce Allen was 5th.
Race time and Roger is late to grid and has to start from the back. I get a good start and in two laps clear both FC's that out qualified me and start lapping in the 1:21s. Keith spins and Bill passes him, and Roger is right on his tail. Keith gets back past Bill, then Roger gets by Bill on the next lap. My rear tires start to fade after several laps so I wave the FC's back around and slow a bit. I win the race by about 50 seconds, Keith beats Roger by about 8 seconds, and Bill is just 1/4 second behind Roger at the finish. I set a new track record at 1:21.488. It was an excellent weekend for me and Keith- qualified 1-2, finished 1-2, and a new track record. Keith showed some real speed too!
Keith's track record fell this year, but I didn't get it. Steve Zamborsky set the new track record at 1:12.258, but he finished last (5th) in FE after spinning out of the lead. Paul Schneider and I exchanged the lead a couple times after that, with Paul coming out on top by just under a second after 23 laps. I turned my best ever lap at Summit with a 1:12.562. I'll have to try harder next year.