Jody Lang Guest Editorial
I really want to thank Luke for giving me this opportunity to share with you one of my National Event wins. Last year was by far the best year of racing I’ve ever had. I raced at 6 Nationals with two cars and won six times! This success propelled me on to be “This Is Bracket Racing’s” BTE Power Rankings Champion! What a year indeed!
Heading into the 2011 Seattle National Event, I was coming off two straight wins at Sonoma, one at the Divisional and the other at the National Event the following weekend. This hot streak came in my 1981 Malibu Station Wagon Stock Eliminator car. It has a 305 and runs in the low to mid 12 second range.
I really had no expectations coming into Seattle. Riding the high of back to back wins, I just wanted to keep things going and minimize my mistakes.
My first concern on Friday morning for my first qualifying pass was to avoid getting an early heads up run in eliminations. The reason I say avoid getting an early heads up is that I am a half second slower on paper. The last thing I wanted was to have my win streak come to an end because I didn’t do my job in qualifying. Doing my job consists of hitting the brakes at half track or at 1000’. This way I have some options left on the last qualifying run.
First pass on Friday morning: .021 reaction time, 12.84 @ 69 mph on the brakes. I figured it out to be a 12.328 all out pass. With only one more qualifying pass left, I needed to do my homework. The problem was that 3 cars were disqualified (I assume for fuel). Instead of being on the qualifying sheet in different spots, all three were at the bottom.
For the second and last hit, I needed to watch the cars below me to see if they moved ahead of me in qualifying. Four cars did just that and my heads up headache stayed right where he was. In the #1 position!
With some quick figuring in the water box, I decided to stay right where I was at qualifying wise. The air was at 870’ now and there was a bit of a headwind. Second qualifying pass: .018 reaction time, and 12.92 @ 68 mph. I figured that run to be 12.372 - .045 slower than the first hit. Considering the air was a bit worse and there was a little head wind, this was not a bad run.
When the qualifying ladder came out, I learned that my homework paid off. My potential heads up opponent was on the opposite side! Also, on the opposite side was my brother Toby. We both put our heads up opponents first on our priority list and staying away from running each other second. All is good so far.
On Saturday morning, when eliminations were scheduled to start, there was a light drizzle. Therefore, we started about 2 hours behind schedule. My first round opponent was a local legend, Don “The Worm” Elgin. Don is a tough bracket racer and we go back about 25 years. About the only thing I like about this match up is that we are closely matched in ET and speed. The air was up to 1245’ for first round and there was no wind. After watching what the class was doing as a whole, I noticed Don dialed up .08 from the first pass. I chose a 12.40 dial it seemed a bit soft so I knew I needed to cut it close if I had room on the top end. I left the line with a .036 light-Don had a .056 light. It appeared I was going to get there first fairly early on so I decided to take the stripe. I did a decent job down there and took a .010 stripe for the win. Although I was not happy with a .036 light, I had him by .02 on the tree and it paid off. The trusty wagon was on a 12.33 pass! Nice Dial!
7.5 hours later it was finally time for second round. This round my opponent was Steve Cozakos, who has won this race in back to back years. The air was 1700’ this time around with just a bit of headwind. With quite a few breakouts in front of me, I chose a 12.38 dial. Steve was up .05 from his dial first round and I was up .05 from what I would have run first round. He had me by about 10 mph, so I was trying to not hold .07 this round!
I left and I felt like I cut a good light. I made my shifts and looked up to see the win light already on. Lucky Deal! He was -.001 right on his dial with a 3! I was .030 and would have been .006 under running it out. I chose to lift to save wear and tear. I dodged one there for sure!
Less than an hour later it’s time for third round. My opponent is Jim Boyce, a former Super Street racer who has cleaned my clock a few times in Stock.
Air is down to 1486’ and there is a 2-4 mph headwind. Figuring the weather and the wind offset each other I chose to keep the 12.38 dial. After the burnout, I noticed the smoke heading behind me fairly fast, so I decided to raise my shifts a bit to help. I thought he might be dialed hard so I wanted to get there first. I left with another so so .034 light and Jim left .004 too early. He also was on his dial with an 8 and I would have been .01 over. There is nothing like luck to get you into the Sunday show of a National Event.
Sunday afternoon brought the same weather we had in second round but the head wind was more at 3-5 MPH. In the other lane was Mick Alley, a guy that has shown me no mercy over the years. He runs a low 10 second Camaro that usually is close to 130 mph.
I was also still in competition with my 1981 Malibu Super Stock car. I had just made a run in it and determined conditions were slow out there.
I chose a 12.42 dial with help from my Super Stock car and also help from my girlfriend, Martha Thompson. I also chose to shift it higher like in the previous round. Having raised my stage RPM 100, I finally tagged the tree with a .015 light. I hit my shift points pretty close and it appeared I had room to lift. I pumped the gas a few times then tapped the brakes to a 12.50 e.t. on the 12.42 dial to take the .010 stripe to Mick’s .070 light and 10.35 on his 10.31 dial…not bad I thought until I saw I was going to be .035 over to the wood!
An hour and a half later brought along the semi-finals and former #1-Brad Burton. The air was down 60’ and the wind the same only it was a gusty wind. The wind was there and then it wasn’t. With my car, I have to dial like the wind is there. I can make up a few hundredths with shift points but not much more. The head wind was 3-6 so I dialed for the 6 mph and chose a 12.47 dial (up .02 from last round). Brad dialed a 10.86 and I thought for sure he could run it. I felt confident with my dial. The burnout smoke looked like the headwind was fairly strong so I wanted to get there first again. I kept my stage RPM the same and hit a .022 reaction time. I was wrong about the wind because I was on a 12.40 pace! I did a good job and scrubbed .08 and went .01 above to Brad’s .026 above with a .043 reaction time. I was not really pleased with a .037 finish line margin but the win light coming on makes me forget such sloppiness.
In the final I had Joe Sorenson in another fast Camaro. Joe and I go way back in the Brackets too. I chose a 12.42 dial not wanting to go up to the starting line with my pants down. The wind was close to the 12.40 run I had just made 30 minutes ago so I figured it would be ok. I left .023 but Joe left early with a .-009 reaction time. I lifted at half track but it appeared that I was holding .01…not bad with the wind. Who says winning the 2 previous weeks doesn’t help?
Luck was with me in Super Stock as well as I was able to pull off a double win!!! An unreal stretch of racing to say the least.