Eric Bowling: June Blog

             Yup it’s that time of month again. Since I last talked to you guys there were a few highs and a few more lows. Well this month I’m glad to say is about the same but the other way around. A few lows and a few more highs. I also would like to encourage those of you that are readers of my column to suggest anything you would like for me to talk about or discuss in upcoming columns. You can post it up on the TIBR forum or feel free to shoot me an email at ericbowling@live.com and I’ll select a couple of your suggestions to touch on each month and give you a shout out. Ok, so on to the column.

                In my last column I ended with talking about my first win of the season and hoping for momentum rolling into the upcoming weeks with some good races coming up. The first weekend after my last column was one of those few downs I was talking about. I roll into Speeds New Hope Dragstrip on Friday night and things start rolling as I make my way to 6 cars I stage up and let go and I knew I was good on the tree and I get down to the stripe find my spot and drop as I look over the other lanes win light pops on I get the ticket and I am .012 on the tree to his .008, I’m dead on 5 he’s dead on 4 end of Friday night. Saturday night I roll into Lyons Raceway Park, again start rolling through the rounds get to round 5 with yet again 6 cars left, decide to go into the round as a driver which seems to be my style of choice this season and look over at the guy as we roll down the track find my spot hit the brakes and give it back .0001 end of Saturday Night. Finally Sunday rolls around and yet once again make it to 6 cars and roll into the burnout box, blip the tires start my burnout roll out and notice the car is idling really high, I jab the throttle once to see if it will settle down and it doesn’t then I look down at the oil pressure gauge and it’s reading 15psi, I go ahead and roll in to stage let go and it happened, car felt like it had no power at the 60’ mark I roll out of the throttle throw it in neutral and coast to the end of the track. Once I get to the return road I fire the car back up look down and we have 4 psi on the oil pressure gauge. Shut it down and get pulled back. Sunday in the books once again at 6 cars. Now with me being superstitious as all get out, you can only imagine what I’m thinking with three 6’s. Just sayin’.
                So after the bad weekend of racing we start the diagnostic process, my first assumption was pickup tube on the pump so my father in law and I drain the oil and start beating on the oil pan to see if we can hear anything, and sure enough yup he said “it’s the pickup tube”. We start unbolting the motor mounts and oil pan so we can take the pan off. We finally get the pan off and I hear “OH @?*@? It’s the whole pump” my heart sank, I’m thinking the motor is junk and I’ll be out for a while. So I give a buddy (Chris Walters) a call to let him know what happened and start asking him some questions and he said to start pulling main caps off and take a look at bearings. We did and SHOOOO, they all still had the coating on them and we reassemble and begin looking for a pump. Again I call up Chris Walters and he hooks me up with a pump. We get it installed and refired and we are carrying 65 psi and we are good to go. I’m ready to saddle up for a good little Box/No Box combo race down at Brown County Dragway.
               
 
                                      (Broken oil pump)                                                                                                      (Bearing)
 
                So, off to Brown County for Memorial Day Weekend for the Box/No Box Combo race. I decide to double enter and the car seems to be ok. Obviously, the first pass I let go of the button with one eye open and one eye closed scared to death something was going to be wrong, with the feeling in your stomach like you are on the top of a hill on a huge roller coaster. Then the pass goes well and we still have oil pressure. After that I had forgotten anything was wrong the week before. As the day progresses I find myself going rounds. It felt like I could do no wrong, with a string of 6 rounds in a row with .00 lights and no more than 1 over the dial I was feeling it. With the heat up around 90ish the car was running pretty warm but didn’t seem to hinder it a bit. When we get to the Quarters I find myself still doubled. Worst case scenario here for me is to get drawn to run myself. Well guess what happens next..Yup I get drawn to run myself so that puts me automatically into the semis along with 1 other no boxer and 2 Box cars. I draw a 5 second door car for my semifinal run here is where the controversy starts. As we are sitting in the lanes I’m in lane 1 and my opponent is sitting in lane 2. I notice a little paranoia setting in with my opponent as his crew start pulling fuses and I over hear one of them say “it’s hot” “the fuse for the water pump is popped”, so mind you I’m hearing and watching this whole thing, they get the fuse replaced just in time for us to get called up to the burnout box. So my question is what would you do? Well he rushes into the burnout box starts his burnout and is headed for the starting line before I even start my burnout. My question again is what would you do? As I take my time starting my burnout I roll out of the box look up and he is pre staged. So again what would you do? I roll out of the burnout box stop throw the car up in neutral give it a couple revs and start moving toward the starting line SLOWLY…Prestage then I hear him up on the 2 step..So I throw it up in neutral give it another rev then stage the car. He goes way red and I’m .001 on the tree and on to the finals we go. After the round there were some words said to some people about me being a cheater and dirty racer and well I’ll just leave that whole subject for another column it’s amazing what some people come up with on how I’m cheating. On to the finals against another Super Pro car. My buddy Mike Dourighty and we talk money and decide to split it up and go racing, I get the starting line advantage and back into him jab the brakes and he barely breaks out and I take the win, at that point it was the 14th consecutive round I had won that day. I’m feeling great and feel awesome going into the next weekend for the Ohio Crankshaft No Box Nationals.
                As I wake up early Friday morning to make the 3 hour pull to Muncie Dragway for the No Box Nationals, I’m actually feeling pretty confident going into the weekend. As I previously mentioned this is probably my favorite race of the racing season and I won this race the first year Triple O Promotions put it on at Bunker Hill Dragstrip. As I roll into the gates early Friday Morning I see the pits packed with what we here in Indiana like to call “HITTERS”, and man was there a lot of them there. I roll in and see the likes of Adam Davis, Jared Pennington, and Rick Baehr to name a few, then you have your local “HITTERS” to boot, the entire Walters Family, Joe Robertson, Evan Shoopman, Chase Batt, and as I’m rolling to my pit I’m thinking to myself “Toto we’re not in Kansas anymore”. 
                Round 1 time trials roll out and I have heard the myth that the finish line at Muncie Dragway was pretty deceiving due to a height difference in lanes. Let me tell you it’s not a Myth it’s a fact. I roll up to the starting line the tree drops and boom I crush it .004, car felt great I take a look over and wow I think to myself I’m not gonna be able to drive this finish line. Round 2 Rolls around BOOM .007 car feels good run another 7.389. Round 3 rolls around and it’s the VP Fuels Run for the Drum, a little package race and the best package wins a barrel of VP fuel, I throw a 7.39 on the car, roll up BOOM .001 dead on 5. With a .006 package I take the Barrel of fuel on Friday, and boy am I feeling good except for the fact I’m nervous about using any kind of finish line tactics. So for Friday I decide I’m gonna play dialer for a couple rounds to see how it goes, I’m doubled and go out for round 1, dial the car 7.39 let go BOOM a stellar .041 light and 1 over, sending me to the buyback booth, my second entry round 1 roll up stage BOOM a bit better .030 but not near good enough headed to the buyback booth again, now at this point the margins of both of these races combined was .010, I roll in for rd 2 first entry let go BOOM I knew I was good, get down look over and I’m getting driven at the stripe look up and his win light comes on get my ticket and I’m .012 to his .002 margin is .004, So I go back up for my second entry round 2 stage up BOOM once again feel like I killed it look over and hit the brakes let him back around .002, so I lost 4 straight rounds that totaled .016 margin. I thought the US open was a few hundred miles south of Muncie. That closed the book on Friday.
                Saturday was scheduled for a big day of racing, another 5k to win along with a 32 car shootout for 4k. After making a few adjustments to the launch RPM and tire pressure I decide to change up my strategy to holding a few numbers here and there to see if I do any better. As round 1 approached for some reason the butterflies in my gut got worse, I staged the car let go and it felt good then it happens..My win light actually comes on. 2nd entry round 1 it happens again another win light, then we start rolling a little bit. Round 4 rolls around with both entries and we break out in one entry and make it through in another. So round 5 rolls around and I get paired with Slick Rick Baehr, who always does well at this race and anywhere else he goes. We start joking around in the lanes about taking it easy on each other and all that jazz I check his dial out he has a 6.60 on it I take a look at mine and decide to go up 1 more. I strap in look back one more time and see that he went up 1 to a 6.61. We stage I let go and it felt like it was red but wasn’t (man I love that feeling) car felt perfect mid track I look back and he’s not there then I look again and there he is and let the games begin..I wait and wait and wait for him to make his move and I see the nose just start to drop and I crush the brake pedal BING win light comes on in my lane! I thought for sure it was my race to win after that. Sitting at 10 cars I roll up stage the car let go and the car decides to shake the tires lose .03 in 60’ and my day is done in the 5k. Then the skies start to darken and it starts raining a bit, we all start pulling up our radars and our radios to see and hear of Tornados and ping pong ball sized hail headed our way, this is the one time I wish I had an enclosed trailer but we make do with what we can in a situation like this.
With all the rain the remainder of the race would be ran first thing Sunday Morning and the 32 car shootout would be canceled. All in all a good day for me, and finally get some confidence back.
                Sunday rolls around and in time shots I start killing the tree again. I’m doubled once again and the day starts like it did on Friday with my 1st entry. I go .499 red dead on 0 take a look at the ticket and my opponent has a .112 light. So I head back up to the lanes kicking myself in the butt, I get a win light in that entry and buying back in the other. As the day goes on we get on a bit of a roll, 5 straight runs running dead on my dial I’m feeling good, as I’m still doubled going into round 5. Once again in round 5 the car shakes the tires giving up .03 in 60’ and .01 on the tree I was done with one entry, and made it through with the other entry. As I roll into round 6 I believe 7 cars are left and I get paired with the Bumsteer Maverick but this time its Joe Robertson’s son Joe Robertson Jr. at the wheel. I roll 2 in my pocket and head to the line, let go knew I missed it and he’s coming hard, look over hit my spot look up his win light comes on I’m 1 over so is he but get the ticket he’s .009 to my .020 he gets the stripe .008 I’m done for the weekend! All in all a decent showing but should have been better.
                This brings us to this past weekend. Friday night looked like rain so I decided to take the night off and head to Lyons Raceway Park where I am trying to chase points, after missing last weekend I was 10 points out of the lead going into Saturday. We run 2 time shots and then you guessed it the rains came, the staff decided to wait it out and dry the track as we didn’t run rd 1 of eliminations until about 10:30pm, as the night progressed I found myself sitting on the bye to the finals. I was paired with the current points leader and it’s about 2:30am. He’s considerably slower than me so I decide to throw .05 in my pocket stage up let go I’m .012 to his .041 get to the brakes just in time and go 1 over to take the win. Another good night and well worth the wait.
 
That brings us to present day and up to date with my racing season. Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much and I hope you enjoyed this column along with all my others. 
As always I’d like to end my column thanking all of my marketing partners. Without them I wouldn’t be able to do this on a weekly basis. Thanks to Mickey Thompson Tires, Spy Optics, Skaggs Transmission, Ohio Crankshaft, Prestolite Performance, RaceonE85.com, and Don Cain. I would also like to thank my wife Amy for letting me get out of the house every weekend, and my beautiful baby girl Bella for being Daddy’s #1 fan. Thanks again to Luke and TIBR for the opportunity and thank you all for reading.
 
-Eric Bowling

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