Del Rey’s premiere racing team headed out of town last month and endured the long tow to Willows.
Situated an hour and a half north of our state’s capitol, the twisty and technical 3-mile course of Thunderhill Raceway would be our team’s next adventure. Our racing team, Double Nickel Nine Motorsports, has had great success in the National Auto Sport Association’s Honda Challenge series this season.
We have won races, set track records and are currently the reigning Western States Champions from last year’s big race. But that just means we need to work even harder to stay on top. For that reason we towed both of our team’s racecars, the No. 33 car and the No. 38 car, all the way to Thunderhill.
Race teams aren’t judged by the collection of dusty trophies in a cabinet. Instead, they are solely judged by their performance in their last race. So, for our team it is important to us that every race is a success.
Our strategy for going up to Thunderhill was to test or cars, adjust our setup and find speed. Not just to ensure our cars are as fast an efficient as possible, but to ensure they are as quick as possible for the track specifically at Thunderhill.
The reason for that is Thunderhill will be the scene for the 2017 Western States Championship race, a race we desperately want to win to defend our title as the best Honda Challenge team in the country. Our goal at Thunderhill was to learn as much as possible to be ready in a few weeks for the big show at the Championships.
Luckily for our little team in Del Rey, we are assisted by some great partners to ensure our cars are rocket fast. Companies like Sanger Tire, Olson Auto Body, Economy Stock Feed, J&B Farms, Tactical Ops Brewing, Synchrotech Transmissions, I/O Port Racing Supplies, HA Motorsports, Performance In-Frame Tuning, TEM Machine Shop, Smart Racing Products, Hasport motor mounts, Chandler Autosport, ProSpeed RS 683 brake fluid, Carbotech performance brakes, Insane Shafts, Autopower, the novel "Cadet Blues" and Sampson Racing Communications.
Our weekend at Thunderhill was comprised of a testing session each morning, a qualifying session to the set the grid, and a 30 minute sprint race each day.
Day one started out solid for our team. We qualified first and second for the field with both cars feeling strong. We were able to make some chassis adjustments to each car so we could reel in even more speed from the racecars.
During the race, it was my partner, Keith Kramer, earning the win in Honda Challenge driving the No. 33 Double Nickel Nine Motorsports Acura Integra. The team celebrated that Saturday night drinking some Double Nickel Nine IPA from Tactical Ops Brewing out of Fresno (a special double India pale ale named after our team).
Keith proudly wore his newest trophy, a medal around his neck, as we enjoyed our beers and watched the sun set at Thunderhill.
The crew used the down time to make a few more modifications to our No. 38 car, the car I was assigned to drive. Our pit crew, Brandon Lindlahr, Austin Fowler, AJ Gracy, Bryce Lindlahr, Simeon Gracy and Brian Sprague, all worked into the late night hours to ensure No. 38 was perfect for the race.
Their hard work clearly paid off because on that Sunday morning, using a new engine computer from HA Motorsports, I jumped in the car and set a blistering qualifying time to put the car on the pole, earning the right to start the race on the front row.
When the green flag dropped for the race, I smashed the gas pedal as if I was trying to push it through the floor pan. Keith tucked in behind me, and we headed into the first turn leading the entire field. I drove hard, kept my concentration up, and didn’t miss a shift or a braking point for 30 straight minutes: a perfect race.
The car was so good, thanks to the hard work of our crew, I was able lead flag to flag and bring home our second victory of the weekend.
When it was all said and done both cars and drivers picked up wins and both cars are ready for the Western States Championships on Oct. 6-8. Wish us luck!