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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

AMS Alabama Manufacturer Shootout 10.0

Updated: Jun 13, 2019

This past weekend I attended the 10th annual AMS event in Cullman, Alabama. The track this year was more of a throwback to older layouts as it was more fast and racy vs. having the huge air. Though it was possible to do a triple single in the back in e-buggy vs. the standard double double. ;-) This years entry count was down a bit right at 400 entries which I mainly attribute to it being moved a little earlier in the year and thus around graduation time and also ROAR Nats being just over a week later. However the top drivers did show up in force as a last practice chance before the big race in just over a weeks time.

Qualifications started on Friday afternoon with round number one. They grouped the pro classes together so we were basically race marshal race marshal race marshal to finish out our segment of the round. For me it started with Nitro truggy and my A215 Agama felt great. I was battling near the front but my transponder missed two laps during the middle of the run. It would have been an easy fix but I was told they would only fix it if it was one lap. So thus my potential 2nd place run became a throwout. I was able to rebound well in my buggies though and take 2nd in both of my Q1 runs.

Saturday brought about 2 more qualifiers. I was opting to run AKA SLW Impact front and Grid rear on my truggy. In my buggies I was primarily running SLW Zips in front and Double Downs in the rear. The grip had come up reasonably well and this combination is just really nice and easy to drive on a grooved in type of track. We were also saucing with yellow liquid wrench and putting the tires in a bag for an hour or so and pulling them out before the run. In all 3 classes I put in top 5 runs all day. In truggy I would get in a bit of traffic in the B re-sort and get a 5th for Q2. But I rebounded well in our Q3 which we had to re-run due to a computer crash, and was able to take TQ. So overall I would qualify 4th in truggy. In E-buggy I had two good runs taking a 2nd and a TQ to seed 2nd overall. In my TQ run I tried AKA SLW Chainlinks cut down about 50% tread height and sauced and they were super fast. In Nitro buggy I would get two 3rds to seed 3rd overall heading into the A-finals.

So here we were on main day and we would be starting off with the Pro Nitro buggy 45 minute A-main. My car felt good from the onset. We had an A-main warmup in which I tried a 2.5 rear bar but it just felt like the rear was staying to high and not really rolling at all so I went back to the 2.4. I also added 1/2 a turn of toe out to the front to hopefully get a little better breaking stability into corners. It all seemed to work well as I was able to move into the lead by the 5th lap. I gave it up for three laps with a mistake on lap 8, but gained it back and put my head down. I only relinquished the lead for 2 laps after my first pit stop until they made a pit stop. I was able to really solidify my lead with 15 straight 26 second laptimes from lap 54-68. I had a nearly 20 second lead and would basically hold that margin for the remainder of the race. During that time a couple of drivers ran out of fuel with the high humidity possibly changing mileage a little but all my stuff was working great and I came away with a very nice victory! :-) It was a great debut for the new Agama A319 buggy. Couldn't have gone much better!

Next was A1 of E-buggy and I opted to run the chainlinks again in SLW. My buggy was super fast and starting from 2nd I got into the lead on lap 2 and held it through the end of lap 5. But I was tagged from behind and lost some positions getting knocked back to 6th but quickly moved back to 4th before making a mistake on my own and falling to 7th. I fought back hard and put in the fastest lap of the weekend with a 25.4 and made some really awesome clean passes on guys and with 2 laps to go I got into 3rd and set my sights on 2nd. But I was again taken out from behind and knocked back to 6th again which is where I would finish.

Our next race was the 45 minute Nitro truggy main event. I stayed on my SLW Impact front and Grid rear for this one and overall my truck was feeling pretty solid right from the start. I started 4th on the grid and it was basically a 3 car breakaway pretty quickly into the main as #2 took out #1 it sounded like. So for the first 28 laps I basically was staying in formation in 3rd place just trying to keep pace with the leader in Tessman. I believe I was the last one pitting each cycle doing 9+ minute pit stops. On lap 29 Rivkin made a mistake and I got into 2nd and it was looking like that was where I was destined to finish but on stop #2 Tessman flamed out in pit lane and I inherited the lead. He only fell to 3rd though and was driving really well. I was trying to just stay clean and maintain the gap lead that I had but by the time our last pitstops came around on lap 82 he was getting really close. But he flamed again in the pits loosing 5 seconds and after my final stop I had about a 6 second lead. I was running clean and consistent with 17 straight 26 second lap times or better, but he was still coming. With 2 laps to go he was 2 seconds back and we did the front straight which had a drop off jump with a uneven landing bumps and my truck took a bad bounce and nearly flipped over. The gap was now gone and he was on my bumper. As we came around for the washboard section I was maybe a little wider than my normal line but it left a little room underneath and as we hit the end of the corner he gave a quick burst of throttle and fortunately for him we contacted hard at the wheels which sent me to the outside pipe and away he went. Thus I had to settle for 2nd place in Nitro truggy. I wasn't upset at all though as I went and congratulated him right away and told him nice pass. In general you are always going to see a last lap or two effort by the #2 guy to get into the lead and he took it and got lucky to contact wheels in my estimation and that's racing. Hats off to him. I was just pleased to have been able to be in that position because had he not flamed out twice we wouldn't be talking about it and it wouldn't have been nearly as fun or talked about as it is now! All about the show! :-)

The final race was the E-buggy A2. They were taking your best finishing point from either main and the tie breaker was the faster time. Well I was feeling pretty good and racy and I was keeping with Phend until lap 11 when I went for the back triple but this time shorted it sending me skidding on my roof and loosing 4 seconds. I fell to 3rd and spent the rest of the race trying to make up ground again. I was right behind Cav, and on lap 18 I shorted the triple again loosing another 3 seconds. I fought back the final 5 laps with my fastest 2 laps of the race being the final two, but came up 3 tenths behind Cav in 3rd. So overall it would be a slightly disappointing 4th place finish in E-buggy.

Overall though it was a really awesome weekend. Sans my Transponder issue in Q1 of truggy I finished all top 5 runs in everything all weekend with a stacked field of competition. I was able to win the prestigious Nitro buggy class on the debut of the Agama A319 buggy. And I had a really good hard faught 2nd place in truggy. Overall it was a great warmup for the Nitro Nats next week and I can't wait to get that underway! :-) Oh yea, and I was also with the Nitro buggy victory able to get back into the top 10 in 8th on the Top 25 RC list!

I want to give a continued huge thanks to Gil Losi Jr for just all the set-up advice and tire selection and preparation help he has provided me this year. He just has such a wealth of knowledge and I am blessed to be able to work with him!

Next up is the ROAR Nationals at Thornhill! Can't wait! :-D

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