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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

LoneStar Challenge @ Thornhill

This past week I defended upon Thornhill Racing Circuit for my 3rd time this year. I would say this has become my favorite facility and track and I enjoy my time here every opportunity I get to attend. This layout would be the shortest lived at the facility as Joey "The Dirt" came in a built the track right before the event. Then we were allowed an extra day of testing a tuning for Nationals on Monday and the track will be redone and rebuilt for that race starting Tuesday. So the track existed for a whole 5 days and we made the most of our time on it!

We started with practice on Friday and the track came in relatively quickly with temperatures in the 80's. I was quickly on to SLW Catapults as my primary tire choice throughout much of the early part of qualifying. My Agama rides were feeling good right out of the gate and qualifying day couldn't come soon enough!

Saturday would bring a standard 3 qualifier format. At the onset I had a bit of bad fortune with truggy crashing on the 2nd corner of the first lap and loosing 4 seconds and coming in 4th about 3.7 seconds back. In E-buggy, again crashing on the opening lap and having the rear hinge pin come out because I forgot to put the D block screws in. Redemption was mine though in Nitro buggy as I managed not to crash on the first lap and took the TQ by a couple of seconds. Round 2 was much better and I ran some clean runs taking TQ in Nitro truggy and Nitro buggy and 2nd in E-buggy. In Q3 I was able to again TQ truggy and thus take the overall. In Nitro buggy I was already TQ but put my stamp on it with a Q3 TQ as well. In E-buggy another 2nd would have me start 2nd on the grid behind Tessman.

Saturday night we had a horseshoe tournament and a little bit of cornhole as well, so I had some fun with that. Also spent Saturday night and Sunday morning getting my tires ready to go for the mains as well. Come Sunday our first class up was A1 of E-buggy. I stayed on Tessman briefly but made a mistake or got hit or something and fell back to 4th or 5th. I fought back as much as I could and back into 3rd and set my sights on Rose. He was driving great but with 2 laps to go I caught up to him and we battled nose to tail for a couple of laps and put on a great show! I was able to put in a nice pass on him and come away with the 2nd place.

Nitro truggy had a 45 minute final next and I would be starting on pole. A couple laps in I landed the triple and the guy behind me jumped it a bit further and spun me out and then the car after that spun me back the other way and it just wasn't pretty. I fell back and the race was a fight from there. I would have another traffic incident later on during the run and a couple of crash mistakes on my own and just couldn't do more than I did with it. I would battle with Joe a while during the middle of the race for 2nd and eventually overtake him for the position. In the end I came home in 2nd to go with the TQ.

E-buggy A2 was next and this one I was able to keep closer. I would stay hot on Tessman's heels but make a small bobble. I would reel him back in and bobble again. That was the story of the race as he kept it smooth and clean and I just didn't manage to put the full package together. I tried SLW Zip downs and they were really good with the darker groove that had formed and I knew I would use them in Nitro buggy that was coming up. I would end up getting 2nd and finishing 2nd overall in E-buggy.

The Nitro buggy final was the last one of the day. My AKA SLW Zip-Down combo was mounted and I was feeling great in warmup! My Agama had been dialed all weekend and the Bullitt engine that I just broke in on the SMART Engine Break-in Machine was running like a top! At the start things were going well but as we went up the quick uphill section to the back straight I got tagged and spun from behind and knocked back to 9th. I had to try to fight back but about 4 laps in noticed my front right wheel laying over. I knew my lower knuckle/spindle screw had come out. So I told billy to go grab one and when he got back he took off the wheel to put the screw in but noticed the bushing was gone too. So we knew that screw would come out again. Sure enough within about 5 minutes the wheel started to lay over again and I had to come pit yet again. This time he replaced the screws and bushing and we were off to see what I could salvage out of the race. One reassuring part was when I came back on track a couple times I would have the leaders right behind me and have the announcer say "the leaders are coming up on Lutz next". I was thinking to myself, not going to happen as I would be able to pull away and not see them again. My car was so good and it was just unfortunate what happened. I assure you that come Nationals it's all going to be perfect and things are going to be good! In the end I was able to claw back to 8th having missed nearly 2 minutes on the track. If you look at everyones top 15 fastest laps and extrapolate the total time of those, I was 6 seconds faster than anyone else over those laps.

On Monday we ran the almost complete A319 for the first time. We had all the chassis components and spent the whole morning putting it together. During the main my fast lap was a 35.0 and during our testing I was able to get down to a 34.6. The buggy didn't feel all that different from the A215SV with performance packs, but that's not a bad thing at all as mine has felt amazing! I think some of the benefits of it are going to be seen on rougher track which Thornhill is not. So anyways I was very pleased with it and I believe it's going to be awesome and I can't wait until it can get into everyones hands! :-)

Next up is AMS 10.0 in Alabama!


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