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September 27, 2011

Ryan Lutz & DEX408 – 2nd @ Thunder Alley Gas Champs

Filed under: News — Stuart @ 3:31 pm
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Ryan Lutz reports on the Thunder Alley Gas Championships 2011, that took place over the weekend of 24th & 25th September at the Thunder Alley R/C Raceway in Beaumont, California.

The format for this event was different from any that I had been to before. Saturday was day 1 and it began with our one and only round of practice. During this practice your top 3 consecutive laps were used to seat you into the qualifications. However it was seated differently. Say there was enough people in your class for 4 heats. The fastest person in practice would be in heat 1, second fastest in heat 2, 3rd in 3, 4th in 4, and then 5th fastest back in heat 1, 6th in heat 2, and so on. This created what could be considered pretty ‘even’ heats. Now for qualifications there was 3 rounds. Each round was heads up racing with 4 cars wide and 3 rows deep. At the countdown your pit guy put you down and at the tone all the angry buzzing bees went roaring for the mosh pit. (I say this because 20 ft from the start was a set of whoops that were hard enough to get through when you were alone let alone with 12 cars trying to do it all at the same time. Most starts resulted in over 1/2 the field on their lid at this section and the marshals scrambling to clear the wreckage.) Now in each qualifier you were only racing your own heat race. So if you finished 1st in your heat you got 1 point. 2nd you got 2 and so on. At the end of the 3 rounds they took your best 2 point totals and added them together and ranked you in your heat. If you take the example of your class having 4 heats then only 2 people bumped straight to the A from each heat. The rest were left to bump up, with 4 bump-ups through the lower mains. . Still with me?  Oh, and i forgot to mention. All racing was done by laps instead of time. So for each class there was a predetermined number of laps and once the leader crossed then everyone was done after finishing the lap they were on.

As for me I ran both Pro Nitro buggy and E-Buggy. In E-Buggy my qualifications went decent. I took 2nd in both my first two rounds behind the ‘Peanut’ Travis Amezcua. There was two heats of E-Buggy and I would end up qualifying 4th on the grid for the A-mains (double A’s) on Sunday. In Nitro Buggy I couldn’t of had a more unlucky, frustrating day. As you can possibly tell by my description of the whoops section above I really despised that section. I could never get it figured out in quals and it was basically more than just my demise. In the first round I crashed going into it, (one of the many times) and went cartwheeling into the brick wall on the outside of the track. I hit so hard on my passenger side that it dented and cut the side of my body and it popped off my throttle linkage! In round number two I again crashed in the whoops, (no surprises there right!  and someone came behind me and clobbered me in that same side of the car and again popped the link off! I’ve never had that happen to me let alone twice in two rounds! The damage to my body is proof enough how bad the hits were.

Now for the mains. They were doing double A-mains with both counting and taking your point totals from your finishes. Mains were also done by laps and not time. So the A-mains in Nitro were 35 laps or about 19 minutes and the E-Buggy main was 20 laps or about 11 minutes. In E-buggy in A1 I got out clean and moved up to 2nd. I stayed right behind Amezcua for the first 10 laps or so. Then I had some trouble in the whoops and fell back about 7 seconds. I cleaned it up though and ran clean the rest of the way and caught up and ended up just a half second back at the end to finish 2nd. In A2 I had a few mistakes near the beginning and got put into 3rd. Amezcua and Cavalieri were out not crashing and I had to settle for 3rd. After the tiebreaker with Cav I won it and took 2nd overall for the class.

In Nitro after my wonderful day of qualifiers I ended up in the last main which was the E-main. I was race number 1 of the day! It turned out to be a good thing as I began to bump up each main and made it all the way to the A-main. It was good because the track time is what I needed and it was invaluable to me. In A1 I had a good first half lap but got caught in traffic in the dip and came out last. I then battled with another driver and we proceeded to get into it for half a lap, much of it unnecessary roughness and it was a bit unfortunate. Anyways I had to work my way up from last but I knew my Durango DNX408 was up for the challenge. It felt the best it had all weekend and I began picking off driver after driver I eventually at the end of the main found myself in 3rd!
In A2 I had a good start and kept it clean I worked on a different pit strategy and was going to try to make it on 1 stop instead of two as it looked like I would have enough fuel to do it. Unfortunately on my pit lap I ran out of gas while running in 3rd. I thus fell back but was able to get back out and work my way into 6th even with probably loosing a full lap. Overall for the two mains I took 5th. Not bad coming from the E-main!

This race finished out my stretch of 7 straight weeks of either a 3, 4, or 5 day race. Glad to finally have a week off to recoup, get my cars back in shape, and spend some much needed time with the family! My little girl is learning new words every day so I look forward to being around for a few of them!

Next up I will be heading to South Carolina in 2 weeks for a Series Finals event at the Badlands! Looking forward to it as I’ve heard so much great stuff about the track!

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