This has honestly been one of the best weekends of racing
I have ever had. Sure, there was some drama along the way
(more on that later), but as I sit here and reflect on the
events of the past six days, I can't help but smile as the
whole experience has left me beaming. I feel truly fortunate
and blessed to have the support I do because none of this
would have happened without it. Dan Zlock and the team are,
in a word, "amazing" and despite the costs, Dan
personally made it possible for me to race this event. Also,
Pirelli's Jeff Johnson reinforced their commitment to our
race program by continuing to provide us with the best tires
available. Without this type of generous support from Pirelli,
the team of Zlock Racing, and my personal sponsors we would
simply not be racing and sharing our experiences with you.
I cannot possibly describe in words how grateful I am, as
thank you doesn't seem to be enough.
Notes on practice:
Laguna Seca, one of my life To-Do's, and here I was. But we
had work to do as the AMA had only scheduled one practice
session before we would have to qualify. That's one practice
session to learn one of the most technical tracks in North
America. Not much time at all - every lap had to count. Also,
we had a new crew chief for this round, Dave Lanigan. Although
I had not spent much time with Dave previously, it quickly
became obvious why he came so highly recommended. Simply put
he is a top guy that I feel fortunate to have worked with
over the past weekend. Again, some time spent with Mike Sullivan
also proved invaluable in terms of initial gearing settings
to try along with some hints about the track. So armed with
that information I set out to learn the track as quickly as
possible. By the end of the practice session, we were within
the qualifying bracket.
Notes on qualifying:
Our strategy for qualifying was to do five laps at a time,
come in and evaluate where we were on the grid, make any necessary
changes and get the best time possible. It worked. With new
Pirelli's mounted, the 600 felt like it was on rails and I
was comfortably sliding it through most of the faster turns.
I felt relaxed and things were working well.
Race 1 - 600 Supersport
I lined up for this one ready to rock. I got a great start,
took a risk in turn 2 by going to the outside and made up
several positions going into turn 3. Everything was looking
great for a good finish until on the exit of turn 10 the rider
in front of me suddenly slowed. I managed to avoid colliding
with him but apparently several other riders behind me were
not so lucky. The ensuing mayhem brought out the red flag
as the rider was apparently quite hurt and laying in the front
straight. (I hope he is all right!) The second start was equally
good, but instead of taking the risk and going to the outside,
I took a tight line through turn 2. BIG MISTAKE. Everyone
was parked and it felt like an eternity getting out of turn
2. For the next few laps I focused on running really clean
precise lines to make up some of the lost time. Things were
actually looking good until my shifter unfortunately fell
off on the approach to the corkscrew. There was nothing I
could do but coast into the pits and retire for the race.
I actually felt sorry for the crew. They were quite upset
with the situation and repeatedly kept apologizing despite
my reassurances that it wasn't a big deal. This is racing
and I fully understand that stuff happens. I believe that
when something like this occurs the rider needs to be composed
and professional. It's important to keep the team spirit up
and not dwell on anything negative. These guys work their
butts off just to get these bikes on the grid, so without
them I would not even be writing this report.
Race 2 - Formula Extreme
I got a great start and was well placed in turn 2. It quickly
became obvious that this was going to be an all out brawl
to the finish as riders were battling for positions. I worked
on getting in clean consistent laps to get a break on the
guys behind me. I was pushing the Zlock ZX9R as hard as I
knew how in a battle with Tom Montano and Jeff Bostrom. The
times kept dropping as the race went on until lap 10 where
I found the limits. On the exit of turn 5 the rear spun up
a little too much and the bike started to send me high side.
As it pushed me forward I went right through the windscreen
shattering it around me. Somehow I managed to say on the bike.
How I don't know, but by some fluke of gravity and timing
I came back aboard. It was the wildest ride I have ever had
and I was extremely fortunate to have stayed with the bike.
All this, however, was not without injury as I had now strained
my right hand in my quest for self-preservation. I simply
could not pull the brake lever hard enough to brake effectively.
All this combined with the now absent windscreen made the
remainder of the race challenging. The white flag could not
have come soon enough and I was glad it was over. Too bad
really as we were running 15th in that race - one of the best
AMA results we have had to date.
Now that it's over I can't believe I spent a week at Laguna
and got the opportunity to race there at an AMA National.
An experience I will truly never forget.
Please click on image to enlarge
Laguna Seca baby!
One fast dude
A nudie of DZ :o)