Big Race, Big Crashes
The July 29 races at Colorado National Speedway were slated to be one of the best nights of the entire season, with a combined Super Stock/Pure Stock main event, and a 100 lap Super Late Model main. The weather cooperated well, and the stands had lots of race fans in place, despite the rain earlier in the day.
The Veracity Racing Super Stock was fast yet again right off of the trailer, setting the 3rd quickest time in practice, and ultimately posting the 4th quickest time in qualifying. Jax Hughes knew it would be important to be as far up toward the front of the field as possible with a combined event with the Pure Stocks, as previous races have turned into wreck-fests. The way the cars were lined up in 2016 was a dramatic improvement over previous years, when the track saw it necessary to put the Super Stocks in front of the Pure Stocks for the main event rather than putting them behind them. This gave the field a chance to spread out just a bit before the faster, more experienced cars and drivers started negotiating the traffic of slower cars and beginner level drivers.
So far in 2017, the car counts in these divisions saw it impossible to try to combine them at all. As we head into the second half of the season, car counts have dropped with teams either sidelined for repairs or selecting only races to run that will fit into their budget. This week’s race saw a car count that made the combination possible.
It was explained that the main event line up would be heads up on qualifying time with both divisions included. What actually happened was the top 12 of qualifying from both divisions combined had to do a pill draw for the main event line up. This actually gave the look of previous years with too much disparity up front. The Super Stock division’s qualifying times saw the top 5 within hundredths of a second of each other, but the gap to the rest of the field, let alone the Pure Stocks was in tenths of a second and beyond.
With a combined main event coming up, the track put all cars in their respective divisions into one dash each, and then added 5 laps to it. With the great luck Jax has had in drawing up front positions in the mains, his luck at the dashes continued and put him deep in the field. He ran well and picked up a few positions, but saved the car and the tires for the main.
The luck of the pill draw for the mains came to an abrupt halt as well, with Jax drawing 10. At least he was a little better than Mike Cox, who got the 12. As the race started, we all held our breath for that dreaded first lap of mayhem.
We were all relieved when the field made it around. But that’s where it stopped, as three and four-wide racing had already begun. Mike Cox got turned around in turn one, but continued on at the tail end of the field. At the other end of the track, all of a sudden we had cars turned sideways and backward with the entire field plowing in to the mess. Unfortunately, Jax was one of the first to get turned and got hit several times. Cars that hit him got hit in turn by those coming up behind them. With nowhere to go, Darrell Smith gave Jax a big shot in the left side, right behind the door and solidly into the wheel and axle.
A lengthy clean up ensued.
The 51 came into the pits, being hauled backward by the tow truck. Jax was yelling excitedly to change his left rear tire and get him back out on the track. We did just that, and with a little help pulling mangled pieces of his front bumper, fenders, nose, and hood out of the way of the front wheels, we had him back out before the clean up was complete and on the same lap as the rest of the field.
Over the next 15 or so laps, he worked hard through traffic and was closing in on the top 10. With 5 laps to go, he got the luck of a caution. That’s where the night came to an end. The restart saw the middle of the field get all balled up in turn 2, Jax got turned sideways again, and took a few more shots to the driver door. It was not a fun night to be sitting sideways on the track with the field bearing down on your door – twice.
The final result for Jax was a 13 place finish in the Super Stocks, but a 27th place finish overall. Congrats to Chris Cox, Scott Miller, and Jonathan Lindberg in the top three positions. A big shout out to Natalie Phelps for the Pure Stock win and fourth overall! James Larsen had a good run and picked up another top 5.
We're working hard to get the 51 back in action Saturday, August 12 at CNS. Thanks to Joe Mares, Jr., Corey Fitzgibbons, Colorado Axle and Gear, and Witthar Racing for the help in getting the car back together, and thanks to Sundance Automotive, Colorado Axle and Gear, and all the friends and family for their support through the season.