Hunt is Fast in Practice, but Struggles on Race Day
Chesterfield, VA(August 26, 2011) — STH Motorsports visited South Boston Speedway this weekend for the Nascar Whelen Twin 75′s program. After having a great test Thursday, in which Sam posted his fastest times of the season (15.71), the team was confident entering race day.
The car was fast as it rolled off the trailer for the first practice session. Sam posted the 3rd fastest time of the large field of drivers. In the second practice Sam and his team got aggressive with the set up to improve the car’s handling for qualifying but, the PASS Super Late Model series was also running this weekend and their softer tire compound created a greasy layer of rubber on the track’s hot surface. The car’s handling immediately went away with a 4 wheel slide up the track on corner entry and loose condition off the corners. The team made a critical decision to adjust the car (sway bar) to the conditions created by the PASS cars and their softer tire compound. Unfortunately, the decision would come back to haunt Sam and the team later in the night!
In qualifying, the track regained the grip that it had lost in the second practice. When the #42 hit the track, the car became extremely tight in the center of the corners. Sam posted a time of 15.87, and it resulted in a 16th place starting spot.
When the feature race started 26 cars headed for the first corner, Sam immediately jumped to the inside of the #2 car and slipped into the 15th position. After passing another car in turn three, Sam’s car pushed up the track, opening a hole for the #44 car to slip by retaking 15th position. At this point the # 42 was stuck on the outside line allowing two more cars to pass. Sam was fighting a tight condition in the center of the corners throughout the first half of the race. By lap 50 Sam was still running 16th and fighting to hold his position on the track. On lap 60 entering turn three, the #94 car and the # 27 car got together and slammed the outside wall hard. The caution flew and an altercation between the two drivers ensued, entertaining the crowd, while getting both drivers fined for their actions. On the restart, Sam was able to make a pass on the #49 as well as the #70 using the outside line. He brought the car home in the first race in 14th.
In the second feature event, Sam started 14th , his finishing position in the first race. At the start, Sam started on the outside of the seventh row and was overtaken on the inside by the #4 car through the first corner. As the #42 car fell in line, a first lap incident occurred at the front of the field causing damage to several cars. On the restart, Sam maintained his position and stayed single file through the next 20 laps. During the second half of the race, the #42 car became extremely loose on exit. Sam pushed the car but it was on the edge. The car’s rear end was very free on corner exit as Sam struggled for control. With 5 laps to go, Sam had reached the bumper of the #70 car and was battling for 11th place. After banging on the #70 cars for 4 laps, Sam was finally able to complete the pass on the races final lap. Sam ended up 11th in the second race. After the race crew chief Matt Dalton realized the left rear tire had a puncture and was down several pounds of air , adjusting the tires stagger and causing the loose condition.
Sam’s Post Race Comments:
“The team had a great test session on Thursday and we were really excited about racing tonight. We were looking forward to a good finish and after first practice everything looked promising. Unfortunately, we got caught up in the track changing with the PASS cars and ended up chasing our tails. My communication to Matt certainly could have been better during the first race. I should have worked on the loose corner entry before mentioning the tight center. Matt needs to adjust the car from entry, middle, then exit and my feedback wasn’t clear enough and he missed the corner entry adjustment which caused the middle corner adjustment to be useless if not worse. We learned allot on Thursday and today’s experience will also be valuable. I think we’re like 11th or 12th in points and if we’re to make the top 10 for the season we’ll need good results at the season’s final race on September 3rd.”