Eric Bowling: May Blog

                Hello again TIBR Community! Well since my last column I have at least been able to get out on the track to test the car and actually do a little bit of racing between the rain and storms here in the mid west. With that said the first portion of this column I’d like to call “HOW NOT TO BRACKET RACE”. 

                The first weekend out was short lived. As I told you in my last column, I have a brand new engine combo with the help from Ohio Crankshaft. I was excited to get out and see what the car was gonna do. I was hoping to slow the car about two tenths from last year. I feel much more comfortable being the slow car, and knowing that I will be chased.  
Week 1, I head to Lyons Raceway Park where I won the points championship last year to start the season. So the first pass I roll up and stage the car, let go of the button and on the score board reads .502, “Sweet” I thought to myself “this is gonna be a good day”. First round of time shots I always actually try to be around .495-.505 to see where I am on the tree so I can make any adjustments that need to be made for the next round of time shots. So back to the run, as I let go of the button I then start to pay attention to the run. Wheels up about 6 inches the wheels come down and the car seems a bit hard to drive. I get to mid track and can hardly keep the car on the track, the front end seems really loose, I run through the traps get back to the pits and look at the ticket, and I am pleased with the ET and MPH, 7.261 @ 93 which is about a tenth and a half slower than last year. My concern was then what was wrong with the car, with really strong cross winds I decided it was just the wind causing the car to act upset. After checking the car I couldn’t find anything wrong with it so decided to take the car back up for round 2 of time shots. Stage the car let go, score board flashes .512 the car comes down from the wheelie and I can’t control the car beyond the 60’ markers, I lift out of the throttle and head back to the pits. The guy in the other lane came to me and said “Don’t know if you know it or not but something looks funky with your front tire”. I take a look and it looks like the top of the tire is hanging out of the fender by about 3 inches. So I decide to roll up for round 1 of eliminations to at least hope for the other driver to go red to get at least a point. No such luck. I’m .518 to his .554 and I get to the 60’ marks and I have to lift once again. So I take the car to the pits load it up on the trailer and headed over to talk to Joe Robertson (Driver of the Bum steer Maverick) which works at a tire and alignment shop. He gets under it and he can’t find anything that looks broken and tells me to bring it in to take a look at the alignment the following week. I take it in and sure enough the alignment was way out of wack, problem solved so I’ll give Joe and Tire and Wheel out of Bloomington, Indiana a small plug for helping me out free of charge. Thanks Joe. Week 1 in the books.
                Week 2 was the following weekend at Lyons Raceway Park where as I stated I am trying to defend my points championship and plan to make it 3 championships in 3 seasons at this facility so I guess you could say that there is a bit of a target on my back. Round 1 of time shots I roll in stage the car let go, head down the track and the car feels perfect..”Thank God” I said to myself as I was going down the track. Finally now I can get focused and actually try to do some racing. So I roll into the lanes for 1st round of eliminations. I get called up take a look at my opponent which is usually a “dialer” and one of those guys that either is there or he isn’t. I decide to take the “driver” approach and throw 2 in my pocket. Well remember that target I was talking about? Ya, this time he was there, I’m a respectable .518 on the tree I am being chased by 2 tenths, I look back and there he is right next to me, my first thought is man he is going to fast big time, we get to the end I look and he doesn’t so I disappear on him, jab the brakes fed him a bunch of stripe look up and his win light pops on. He is .502 dead on 4. Needless to say I had nothing for him. So I make the dreaded walk to the buyback booth. I was able to get through the 2nd round with my opponent red lighting and me wasting a .501 light with me getting the opportunity to run the car out to see what it will run. The car goes 7.279. Round 3 I get called up against an opponent I have never raced against so didn’t know much about him other than watching his reaction times and ET’s during time shots.  He was decent on the tree both shots and his car was pretty good running a 6.619, and a 6.623 in his 2 runs. He dials 6.62, and I decide to dial a 7.29. We stage I look over and he takes a huge bump in, I’m thinking “he’s either gonna be red or late” I let go and feel like I’m decent but not stellar as I am headed down the track I see him charging hard we get to the MPH marker and there he is, I look over he is looking at me I start driving rip the throttle one time I see that I still have him, rip it once more and hit the brakes and as soon as I hit the brakes I remember at the last second that he has a stripe taker on the car, look up and yup you guessed it, I gave it back .002 at the stripe I’m 7.301 he’s dead on 0. Back to the house I go.
                Week 3 back at Lyons Raceway Park and things start to look up with a huge crown for a weekly event I actually start driving like I’ve been in a race car before. About a 65 car field and we are going rounds. Finally round 4 rolls around and here comes the rain. We were down to 12 cars and we split the money amongst the 12 of us left in the race. So finally I am starting to feel like I may be getting into a bit of rhythm. Boy was I wrong, on Sunday I decide to head to a local track only about 15 minutes from the house called Brown County Dragway. I love racing here only because it’s where I learned to drive with my dad so I have a lot of good memories at this little track. We start the day out pretty well with a string of .002, .003, and .008 lights. I get to round 5 (semi finals) and the car has been a bit all over the place so I decide to carry about .05 with me to the starting line. I am paired with a car dialed 6.67, and I am dialed 7.35. We roll up, stage and I let go, I knew it was good but couldn’t really judge his, I look back about mid track and he is nowhere to be found, I give the car a quick rip at the 330’ mark and he is still nowhere, get to the MPH cones and I rip it 3 more times and hit the brakes look over and YUP you guessed it, I was trying to be a hero and let him back around me. Listen to this, I’m .515 to his .567, me being a hero run 7.40 and the margin is .005. That ladies and gentlemen is how NOT TO BRACKET RACE!! I have no idea what I was doing know 2 rips was going to be plenty to kill what I needed to kill and still had to hit the brakes. Needless to say I didn’t sleep well for about 3 days after that STELLAR driving display.
                This brings us to present day Week 4. Friday night May 13th, yup FRIDAY THE 13TH!! I am very superstitious so I was about to just take Friday night off, but with the weather forecast  I decided to go ahead and go. I headed to Speeds New Hope Dragstrip in Freedom, Indiana. I am glad I did. The night started off a little rough as I was shown to the buyback booth after breaking out round 1 of eliminations in Pro Class. I buy back and refocus. Friday night I decide to double enter into Footbrake and Pro Class, just to get a few extra hits on the tree and more than anything some extra seat time in the car. Having to dial the car 7.50 in the Footbrake class it gave me an opportunity to play spot dropper. Worked pretty well until the semis when the car shook the tires a little on the starting line and the car went over just a bit too much. In Pro Class I was able to get the bye into the finals and FINALLY in the final round I did something right! I throw down a .515 light to my opponents .561 and I back into him just like I’m suppose to and tighten it up a bit close for comfort but a win is a win, margin was .003 at the stripe and we FINALLY get a win under our belt for the 2011 season. With Lyons cancelling for Saturday I headed out to Crossroads Dragway as they were having a $3,000 to win No Box Race. I leave the house at 9am this morning to start the 80 mile trip, only to show up at their gate to find out they had just canceled. There is nothing like wasting that liquid gold at $4.19 a gallon. So I turned around and headed back to the house for another 80 mile journey. This brings us up to date with the racing I have been able to do does far this season. 
                On another note I did receive my J&J Engine Diaper and K&N Oil Filters since I last spoke with you all. This brings me to the point in my column where I’d like to thank all the great Sponsors for making this whole thing happen! 
 
 
                The end of May and the month of June bring on some pretty good races. The first weekend of June I will be headed to Muncie Dragway for the Ohio Crankshaft No Box Nationals which Pays $5,000 to win on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in addition, will also have a 64 car shootout for $6,000. I was lucky enough to win the raffle held for this event earlier this winter to get free entries into all of these events which equals $750 worth of entry fees. I am looking really forward to this race which I won back in 2008. Also in June is the Ultimate 64 race held at Edgewater Sportspark in Cleves Ohio. Needless to say, I better get my head out of the gutter and start driving better.
                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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