Sonoma Setup

Welcome back! I hate off weeks for my driver, especially when he is building momentum coming out of Michigan. With an 8th place finish Austin returns to the top 10 and some good cheer. If the off week served him well, I can only guess it did, we should see a driver hungrier than ever.

Sonoma, the first of 2 road courses will provide its own unique challenges as always. The setup is completely different than anything else, pit road is completely different and the style racing is totally different.

Austin enters Sonoma with a +3 momentum modifier. Realistically, he has a 17th place average, so projecting 14th place with the math, will be quite a feat to attain.

Positive, I watched Austin at Road America a few years ago in ARCA, he nearly had them licked. He has raw talent but on road courses he always seems to have some sort of transmission issues. If they can curb that trend and Austin can muscle the 3 car around, I am confident he can break into the top 10. Slugger may need to take a chance with some fuel mileage here, but he is an amazing leader. The crew has been on it, so we can’t fault them anything. To beat the 14th place projection every member of the crew, every person on the box, every spotter, and Austin will have to be at their absolute best.

I know they can do it! Til later, I’ll see you in the box!

Michigan Setup

What a week. The rain delay at Pocono left the 3 team damaged and disturbed. After a brake failure the team was relegated to a finish that hurt a lot of pride. The race itself didn’t have many highlights for the team, the 3 car ran between 20th and 25th all day. With Austin feeling “knock-back” in the brake pedal all day it is easy to see why he would be apprehensive entering corners especially after the 27 had brake failure.

So, what happened to the brakes? I honestly am not sure, I can only speculate. With the same thing happening in Dover and happening to the 27 but all having different brake packages every week, there seems no real reason. The nearest I can figure is that they got in a bad batch of rotors. I have worked in an iron foundry, there’s actually a lot of metallurgical science in it. The chemistry make up of the metal itself plus there’s the finishing process after the molding process. Too much carbon and it could be brittle, too much silica and it could be too soft. Not heated long enough could result in an inadequate mix of elements so you could develop little pockets of carbon. When superheated, this could cause a warping or even breakage. If RCR got in a batch of rotors that is bad, they may have to isolate date codes and pull them out of system to be analyzed or returned. Again, all speculation.

As for the weekly bet, Frank and I remain tied at 4 as I do not count part failures for or against either of us. In the end this is all about helping Pit Stops For Hope. Remember to check them out, an amazing charity founded by Ray Wright, currently RCR pit crew coach.

Onto the 2 mile SuperSpeedway that is in Michigan. This track defines NASCAR. Long, fast, wide, lots of passing. 18 degree banked turns, 12 degree banking on the front stretch and 5 degree banking on the backstretch, this may be a driver’s dream track. You have to keep up your speed, get through the corner, pick up the throttle fast and book it down the straights. It’s all about momentum, if you got it, you’re on it. If you don’t have momentum, you’re only watching the race.

Austin enters Michigan down to 5 positions above series average for momentum. With a combined career average around 16th position it is unlikely that this is the track that will provide the breakthrough we are looking for. That being said, I am projecting an 11th position finish for Austin this week.

Is this “Doom & Gloom” thinking? No, absolutely not. This is a realistic finish, an 11th place finish would provide a return to positive results that we really need. Sometimes you have to go back to basics, finish, find the top 10, run in the top 10 all day and give yourself an opportunity to win. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Escanaba in da Moonlight” you might recognize this quote…

“As old uncle Alphonse use to say, when you don’t know where to start, go back to the beginning.”

That may just be what the 3 team needs this week. The pit crew has been on it and the car has had speed, it’s getting it all to click together at the same time that makes winning happen, a return to the basics may be just that.

Good luck this week, stay safe, I’ll see you in the box.

Couch Sessions: Jason Larivee Jr.

Welcome to the newest edition of “Couch Sessions” your place for interviews big and small, hop on the couch for some race therapy! This week I welcome Jason Larivee to the couch.

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CCC: Welcome to “Couch Sessions” today I have Jason Larivee Jr with me. He is a young racer & has been around Motorsports for quite awhile. Jason, thank you for being here, can you give us some of your race background?

JL: I certainly can. Starting from the time I was three, sixteen now, I’ve had an extreme passion for Motorsports. I started off racing and riding dirt bikes in the New England Hillclimbers association, where I won a championship and numerous races. Yet, after a 7 year tenure with that, I wanted to go the stock car route, and eventually was given an opportunity to run social media and assist in marketing with the NASCAR Xfinity Series team Derrike Cope Racing. This soon led me to where I am now, racing in the Super-X division at the Waterford Speedbowl.

CCC: You had a very early start! So you are a natural born competitor then. What have you noticed about the competition so far in Super-X versus in Hillclimb?

JL: One thing I can attest to is the strength of the field in both series. New to Super-X, it’s tough to get inclined to the setup and various things with the chassis, but we are learning, just as we did early with hill climbing. But, ultimately both are pretty tough to win and be competitive.

CCC: Which has more regulations and restrictions, from your viewpoint?

JL: I feel like the Super-X cars have more strict rule book, because you are in control of a couple thousand pound car. While in hill climbing, you are by yourself with a much lighter machine.

CCC: You mentioned you became involved with Derrike Cope Racing, how did that come about?

JL: Actually that’s a funny story. I actually friended Elyshia, Derrike’s wife, on Facebook and pretty much asked if I could help the race team in any way, and fortunately they gave me an opportunity to do social media and marketing for them.

CCC: Awesome! Just shows the American Dream is alive and well, if you want it, go get it! How long have you been involved in their social media?

JL: For sure. I started back in Febuary of 2015.

CCC: What’s been your favorite part of that? What type of things do you do?

JL: I really enjoy the time I get to spend at the racetrack, and the things I’m able to do there. It’s an opportunity like no other to be able to go into the NASCAR garage and see it all.

CCC: I completely agree. How do your pit duties differ from your Super-X team to your duties with DCR?

JL: It’s different in many aspects, yet the same in other ways. We have to tune the car and spend the long nights in the shop, but there isn’t a stressful tech, Etc. the short track series is much more of a relaxed atmosphere.

CCC: Tell me about your Super-X car, make, model, number, sponsors?

JL: My car is the #70 1985 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Obviously, you, @CouchCrewChief, are one of my sponsors, and I have many people helping me including S.H. Concrete Works.

CCC: I was happy to help in a very small way, S.H. Concrete Works deserves a big hand from everyone for helping a young racer out. That number 70, I like it. Following in Derrike’s steps I see. Lots of hard work, hands-on, late nights. How many races have you been in?

JL: This last Thursday was my second race, unfortunately a DNF, but we will get them next week!

CCC: Those early races are hard, lots of learning curve. Have you been enjoying the seat time? How have the heats treated you? How are the other drivers with you?

JL: It’s a lot of fun. The other drivers are friendly, many helping with adjustments to the car. The heat races have gone well, with my best finish of 5th this Thursday. The features have been a different story, with mechanical failures in each of the events.

CCC: New cars tend to have those. How long did it take you, from idea to your first race, to get the team together with sponsors and car and testing and inspection?

JL: It was about a month of many long hours!

CCC: That’s a lot to shoehorn in a very short time. So this week you raced Thursday night and are now at Pocono with DCR?

JL: Yes I am.

CCC: Busy young man! How’s Nathalie, Elyshia, and Derrike doing this weekend? How’s the car? Got plenty of E-Hydrate on Ice-Aidâ„¢?

JL: Very good! Sure do!

CCC: Great to hear! Before we go, I have to know more about Hillclimb, how many races & championships did you win?

JL: Not sure about victory numbers, but I had one championship in the 85cc class.

CCC: So any sponsor who is looking for a champion should look you up is what you’re saying! If a company or individual wants to help sponsor you, should they look you up on Twitter?

JL: You can find me on all social media at @JasonLarivee

CCC: I hope we can help find you some more support! I’m happy I was able to be part of it and I believe you have a great future in stock cars. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish?

JL: Thanks for having me. Ready to race in Pocono!

Thank you all for joining us today, remember you can be featured on “Couch Sessions” anytime, drop me a line and come lay on the couch! I’d like to thank Jason, S.H. Concrete Works, DCR, Ice-Aid, E-Hydrate for their time and consideration. Have a good day and remember…

Keep your nuts tight, especially the one behind the wheel.

Pocono Setup

Quick note, I am combining the rollout with the setup for the time being. I need more fishing time haha.

 

Charlotte was an interesting race, starting 28th the team had a long way to go forward. With very few cautions the team did not have many  chances to make the car better. Austin dealt with a car that was tight on exit all day. The crew had good stops and managed to keep a 0 position loss evening. Several times Austin was the fastest car on track and drove from 28th up to 12th at the end. I know the team wanted more, we all did, but let me caution this… Do not expect too much. We want a win, it is coming but do not mourn success. Celebrate it. Be thankful for what you did get. Then, go improve! I hate to hear driver or spotter or crew chief sounding down at the end of a race, when you improve position 16 places all on track with brute force, be happy for it.

Now, onto Pocono! Welcome to Long Pond, Pennsylvania and the tricky triangle! 3 corners that do not work together connected by long straights!

To be successful you have to have great momentum and amazing horsepower. Get down the straights, through the turn and pick up the throttle early. It runs like a road course, many of the same principles. Also, this is a place where you can really benefit from pit strategy, pit early. Short pittin is normally a real gamble, here you have plenty of time to pit and get out before the leaders get around.

So where do we land for the week? Austin has an average finish just below 5th in the truck series and a win! In Cup series he averages 16. With a career 11th place average he looks to have a great week. Austin also maintains an average 6.78 positions above his Cup series average. Round that down to 6…. 11-6=5.

My projection for Austin this week is 5th. With Frank & I tied at 4 races a piece it looks to be a close year.

Some quick honorable mentions for this week, Austin averages a start of 8th. He has completed every lap at Pocono, led 5 laps last year. Austin is 16th among all active drivers at Pocono. This could be a breakthrough race for Austin and Slugger.

Thats it for this week, good luck and I’ll see you in the box!