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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

2017 Southern Indoor Championship in Alabama

This past weekend we took to the South again and another crazy weather weekend was in store. Where two weeks ago we were dealing with ice in Mississippi, this weekend it was Tornados in Alabama! It’s a good thing these were indoor races. However a Tornado about 2 miles from the track on Saturday morning caused us a 4 hour delay and running in the dark for 2 more hours after that. 5 power lines were toppled just down the road and as the power company raced to fix them we ran through the electric program with available sunlight coming through the roof windows. This allowed us to get the program in after the power was restored and qualifying finished up around 1:00am Sunday morning.

The layout for this years SIC was a lot of fun with some big air and and some fast air sections as well. The surface was a little on the looser side and I was running primarily AKA Super Soft Gridirons and Impacts. Though I also tried some ultra soft Grids and even Super soft enduros in A3 of Ebuggy.

Qualifying day started with 2 rounds of Ebuggy where I was able to TQ the first round and take 3rd with a crash in the second round. Then we were able to play catch up with the Nitro program once lights returned. I was able to throw down one of those killer runs in truggy taking TQ by around 8 seconds. My truck felt amazing and I was getting 10:30 runtime to boot with my punched driving! In Nitro buggy I also took TQ of the round finishing out a perfect Q1. In Q2 I sealed up the Truggy overall TQ with another good run. In Nitro buggy Joe edged me out setting up a Q3 battle.

Q3 of Ebuggy saw Joe with a great run going until the last lap where he crashed allowing Drake to take the round. I would end up qualified 2nd with Joe in 3rd. In Truggy I had overall TQ with Joe starting 2nd. In Nitro buggy I was able to put in a clean enough run in my heat to take the TQ for the round by 2 seconds and thus the overall with Joe to start 2nd.

On main day Ebuggy A1 was up first but we had a new challenge to contend with. We would start our mains from a gate start which funneled through a right Joan’s dog leg and into the front stretch. You could tell some people hadn’t done this before as there were some epic crashes to be seen. I never had a great start in any of my runs but would always manage to pick my way through the pack and into a fighting position. In A1 it was Drake who got out front and Joe and I followed. Halfway through Joe made a killer pass to take the lead as I still languished in 3rd. But with 1 minute to go Joe dumped while leading handing Drake back the lead as I settled for 2nd.

In A2 Joe and I found our way to the front of the pack and proc ended to battle for most of the race remaining within 3 seconds of one another. In the end Joe edged me out by a second. A3 would determine the final order and at the start Drake got out front again while Joe was way back in the pack. This left it up to me to bring it home. I started to reel in Adam and was able to put in a pass and take the lead. I extended out a 3 second lead with just two laps to go when I came to the bowl where 4 cars were crashed or bouncing off one another. This was a blind jump face to me from my position on the drivers stand and I guess I hit one of them and got lost in the bowl not able to see my car. This cost me 10 seconds and thus the win and having to settle for 2nd overall with Joe in 3rd.

Nitro truggy mainI was hoping for a great battle with Joe but it never materialized. At the start Joe got a killer holeshot with a little help from his pit guy and he was gone. I took a bit to get through some traffic and then made a 5 second crash on my own. I was quickly 9 seconds back and just had to put in some clean laps. I knew I was doing one less pit stop than Joe in this 30 minute final but he was in a mission. I just made to many errors, stuffing the pipe after the straight twice and a couple other incidents with crashed traffic. I ended up putting in a slight late race charge but came up 4 seconds short with Joe taking a solid victory. Another Tekno 1-2 finish!

Nitro buggy was up last and it was an ugly start for me. I was going well until the end of the straight and just got caught up with others and knocked to around 10th. Ogden, Drake, and Joe were all top 3 and I had my work cut out for me. I quickly picked off the field and into 4th with my car feeling awesome on SS Impacts to start the race. I caught up to Joe and put an inside pass on him through the whoops and set my sights on the leaders. A few minutes later it was a 3 way battle for the lead and then we started swapping positions during the pit stops. Eventually Ogden and I were out front and extending the lead. I’ll be honest and say he had the pace over me at this race and I was doing all I could to stay with him. He made a couple mistakes and with about 5 minutes to go I had a 7 second lead. I knew he would be pushing hard and I’ll be honest that my mental game wasn’t on point and I was a bit nervous and thus a bit cautious. As we slithered through traffic he inched closer and closer until he was only 1.5 back with a lap to go. I calculated I just needed a clean lap and regardless of how close he got he wouldn’t have enough to make a move if I just ran my line. Well he went for a Hail Mary jump and stuffed it and flamed himself out. So I was able to come away with the victory in the hard fought race!

Overall another really good weekend with increased competition. I had two TQs in the nitro classes. A victory and two 2nds. I was also able to gain a lead over Joe in our Teammate Challenge. At this event I tallied 3 points while Joe got 8.

Next for me is the Dirt Nitro Challenge which is the first big big race of the year. Can’t wait!

Teammate Showdown (lower score better) Ryan – 6 Joe – 11

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