The ASRS Cup Series finished out it's season at Homestead Speedway. I started in the back, had some minor issues early, then began my battle with the track. Fuel strategy, something I'm not accustomed to, played a big part in this race and gave me a surprising result!
After qualifying 19th (of about 22) I let the field go by at the start. I just didn't feel comfortable yet and didn't want to push that hard so soon. It may have been too cautious, however, as the early laps were rather exciting.
The handling of the car in the Fixed setup configuration was odd. The car pushed like a dump truck in turn three, even worse between three and four. Coming off turns two and four was exciting as the push condition would switch quickly to a wrecking loose condition. I felt over the course of the race that I got a decent handle on the entry into turn one, okay coming off two and so so in three and four.
On lap 20 I was trying to track down Adam Blattel, whom had just passed me. I lost focus for just a moment, and pushed high, making contact with the outside wall. Sometimes you can get too focused on following someone, and loose your focus in the process. He pushed high, making contact, and so did I... right into the wall. The damage was light, but enough to cause a slow down that I'd have to live with the remainder of the race.
What followed was a long green flag run that saw green flag pit stops. In ASRS, the fuel caps are set to 50%, so the monotony of the long run was broken up into segments... which was nice.
With roughly 70 laps to go, I realized that this race had become and fuel milage affair. Running around 10th, I thought about it and decided I had nothing to loose by trying to gain some spots. The thought was that since I was one of the last cars to pit in the prior stops that perhaps I could steal a better position by not pitting.
I thought about Brad Keselowski shutting the car off in the corners at Kansas in 2011 enroute to a win. So, that's what I did. I'd coast as much as I could. I was being passed by everyone that pitted for a third time, and was beginning to think that even if I had made it to the end that the net result wasn't going to be worth the trouble.
The net gain turned out to be being in position to get the lucky dog. It was clear that I was going to run out of gas and be forced to pit with about a lap left, but then the caution flag flew. I took the lucky dog, came back around and pitted for fuel and tires.
Restarting in ninth with fresh tires, I was in position to challenge for a few more spots. There was some kind of contact ahead of me on the restart and the field bunched up. I spun into the inside wall, broke the car pretty hard, and was trailing smoke. I thought the yellow had flown, but in fact it had not... so it was a race to the checkered flag. Somehow, we finished in eighth place after all that.
In what I thought was going to be a failed attempt at stealing some extra spots, I managed to get the lucky dog, and come away two or three spots higher than if the race had completed without the last caution period.
That ends the ASRS Cup Series season for 2015. Congratulations to Nick Kohan on winning the Championship and to Gary Whitson on winning the race.
Note to self: practice shutting the car off, and maybe re-map some switches... that is a hard thing to do, but effective.