Jax Hughes Finishes 2nd in the Main! No, 3rd. Wait - First! No, it is 2nd.
The Fourth of July is always a great time at Colorado National Speedway, and this year was no different. Two nights of great racing, fireworks, family, and friends. Saturday night saw a capacity crowd that had to overflow to the pit-side stands. Sunday's crowd was not quite as big, but every seat was accounted for nonetheless. There was a somber mood across the pits, as our community suffered the loss of two of our racers in the past weeks. The Figure 8s lost Michael Haywood in an off-track accident, and on Sunday, Super Stock driver Glen Poston passed at the hospital from a sudden illness. We want to pass along our thoughts and prayers to our friends and families.
Jax had a transmission let go in our previous race, leaving him with an 18th-place finish. We found a replacement and got everything up and ready for this Sunday's race. A big thanks to Will at A1 transmission for helping us out. We took the car to the track on Saturday to run hot laps with the Pure Stocks and make sure everything was good. That was the best idea of the weekend, because the tranny got hung up between gears and we had a heck of a time getting it unstuck. Another shout out is in order, as Jonathan Lindberg from the 60 Super Stock jumped right in and gave us a hand with the stuck gears and linkage adjustment. The Saturday races were great with double mains for the Pro Tucks and Late Models, and a spectacular fireworks display.
Sunday was hot, but overcast. We had some heavy wind mid-day, and the track was slower than usual. Practice went well, and Jax got the car into the Fast Dash with a 8th quick qualifying effort. It was another week of starting at the back of the Fast Dash, so he took it easy on the tires and the car and got ready for the Main.
The pill draw landed a 7, getting him on the inside of row 4 with Chris Cox right behind him. Some early action saw the 3 car of Mike Cox get sent to the back of the field. Jax was holding his own and had made a few passes on the inside to get to 4th. He ran side by side with the 32 of Cody Milan, and made the high side work for third. Yet another caution kept the field tight and he ran the next series of laps side by side with the #49 Ford of Chris Cox, this time on the inside and was able to hold him off for several laps.
The leader, Kody Vanderwal got tangled up with the 5 of Bubba Willox and wound up hitting the back stretch wall as Cox finally got around Jax. Willox was sent to the rear and Jax started second, on the outside of Cox.
A few laps later came a dramatic pile up in turn 1, and Darrell Smith found the 21 of Christopher Nelson on top of his car. The clean up was long, and the race officials called the race on time. Jax just got his best ever finish in the Main - 2nd place! But - the track promoter had enjoyed the action so much that he overruled the officials and said "let's run the last 5 laps." He worked hard on the outside, but with just a couple laps left, Jonathan Lindberg in the 60 car muscled his way by for second. But, hey - it was still Jax's best finish with a third.
We were excited to be in post-race tech inspection. I had run the memory card full on my camera and asked a couple of friends to take a few pictures for the blog. Later, as we were enjoying the moment back in our pit, one of the officials came by and told Jax that first and second place did not pass tech inspection, and that he had won the Main. Wow!
As expected, the first and second place cars appealed their penalties to the CNS Rules Committee. Colorado National Speedway changed their cover story to award Jax with the win. Social media was all over the place for the next couple of days, and I went from the proud crew chief on the third place car to the evil man that was colluding with the Russians! Oh, well, it is what it is. As it turns out, one ruling was upheld, and one was overturned, which gave the win to Jonathan Lindberg. Congrats to Jonathan and the whole team for getting that first win!
We're all back this Saturday night for the Whelen Engineering Lights it Up night at CNS. Along with the Super Stocks will be the Super Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, and the super trick, super fast, Super Modifieds. Racing starts at 6:30 sharp! As always, thanks to our families and friends, Colorado Axle and Gear, and Sundance Automotive Repair!