Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Urewarded Success

The June 12 event was a success for sure. I ran faster than any previous event except one and I consider that one event to be a fluke, due to a conflicting national level competition drawing off top competitors. Last Sunday, I was in the top 50% of PAX standings, but even that is not really reflective of the improvement in my driving. It was a tough day weather-wise. The first 3 runs of the day were on wet pavement. The afternoon runs were dry, but there were only 3 of them, so in many ways the morning only helped with learning the layout of the course, the driving feel changed completely in the afternoon. I had to actively forget the way I drove it in the morning. The weather was also cold and in the 50's with a good breeze. In other words, stone cold tires at the start of every run.

Events with conditions like this have typically been bad for me, and previously I wound up 10-20% off my pace because I couldn't work out the kinks in my driving and figure out the course in only limited runs. Also days with cold tires have been generally bad for me. My car is light, and the tires just don't build up enough heat in cold weather to make the sticky rubber work like it should.

However, this past Sunday, I overcame these factors and put in my second best performance ever. I adjusted to the changing conditions reasonably, and each afternoon run was faster than the previous. As you may recall, I am also driving a car that is not on par with the kind of power and equipment allowed in my racing class, so I also track numbers relating to the stock class, into which my car almost, but doesn't quite fit. Certainly I don't have any significant advantages over a properly prepared stock class car, even if the rules won't let me in. Using the stock class adjustment, my time would have been in the top 40% of PAX standings.

But it gets better! My official best time for the day was 51.388 seconds. That was my second to last run, but my final run was much faster at 49.753 seconds. Unfortunately, I nicked a cone and got a 2 second penalty, so officially it only counts as 51.753. If I had missed the cone, it probably would have only slowed me by a tenth or so, and my PAX time would have been in the top 35%, or with the stock factor, the top 25%.

Me?!?! driving better than 75% of NER SCCA drivers? Unheard of!! But alas it didn't actually happen, so you won't hear of it just yet. Not for a couple more inches...

Also, this event marked the first time when I had a real chance to beat Russ, who drives the green Elise in stock class. That stat however must be taken with a grain of salt Russ hit one or more cones on all 3 afternoon runs. However, if you pit my +1 run against his best +1 run, I'm within a half second of his time. That's beginning to almost look competitive.

Here's my graphs, including a line for "what if I missed that $#!@& cone"...

So with all this success surely I gained some position in the season standings, right?

Nope. Even though I was only 3.6% slower than the fastest car in the class I was 4th of 5 drivers. First gets 9 points, second 6 points, third 4 points and fourth only gets me 3 points. It's a tough competitive class this year. That's actually a good thing. When I do find success I won't feel like it's a paper victory, and the competition is part of the fun. If I hadn't hit that cone I would have been less than .2 seconds behind first, and taken second. I'm certainly in the hunt.

Points standings look like this:

Don Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(3 events)24 points
Brian Kuehl (Blue Supercharged CRX)(1 events)9 points
Camron Bosnic (Flamed Turbo 240SX)(2 events)9 points
Bill Sallie(Blue Corvette with engine swap)(2 event)8 points
Gus Heck (Black N/A Lotus Elise)(2 events)7 points
Matt Neiman (Blue Turbo/Stroked Miata)(1 event)4 points

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