North East Showdown/Nats warmup
This past weekend I made my second trip to LCRC this year in preparation for the ROAR Nitro Nationals in June. Our hopes for this weekend were warmer temperatures and nice weather and we had that delivered in spades. Hopefully we can receive similar weather for the Nationals and our preparations will be rewarded. We were greeted with a very fast high speed layout where connecting corners was critical to your speed. Since I already had a good baseline setup on my WRC SBX Nitro Buggy from my first time here last month I focused a bit more on my rent-a-ride X-ray truggy and on tire selection.
As we went through practice on Thursday and Friday I was trying a variety of SS and S compound tires. Scribbles, Zip front with Grid rear, Double Downs and even mixed compounds with SS zips up front and a Soft Grid in the rear. Here was my overall findings: Zip vs. Double down in the front came down to if you wanted more or less steering. Double downs gave a good amount more steering than the zips generally on this track surface. When it came to the rear a lot was up to how much dust was on certain sections of the track and the overall temperature. SS Zip front and DD rear was a good safe setup that was generally good pace and easy to drive. Mid day when temps were above 80* SS zip front and Soft Grid rear allowed to cut through dust a bit better and perhaps drive a little harder as the harder compound didn't overheat as much.
I was also dialing in my truggy but we were limited on tire selection. Early on it was SS Grids, but once a groove started to form SS scribbles were very good. As we began qualifying on Saturday the track really started to get a decent groove and so long as you weren't too close to a watering we were venturing into the Soft tires instead of the SS as temperatures were also up in the mid 80's. In truggy I would have a 5th in Q1 on the SS Grids but for Q2 threw on the scribbles in SS and had another top driver say "You're a brave man to run scribbles right now." Well I went out there and TQ'd the round! Then in Q3 under the lights I opted to run Soft Impacts (I would have chose soft scribbles if we had them) and they were good even with the cooling temps and no more sun, they were easy to drive and I got a 2nd to get the overall TQ in the class!
In nitro buggy a big thing for this track was to start with heavier diff fluids than normal. I came with 12-12-7 and never touched it over the 4 days. In the first qualifier I had some traffic trouble and got a 6th on SS zip downs. Pace was good though. In Q2 with the resort I ran SS Zip, Soft Grid rear and had a very consistent run with 99.3 consistency and a P2 overall just 0.4 tenths back. In Q3 under the lights when I usually struggle I strung together a 99.49 consistency to take the TQ of the round by 0.2 tenths to line up P2 for the A-main. I opted to run the Soft impacts and they were very easy to drive and cut through the nighttime dust especially on the right side of the track that was broken up a bit.
For the Buggy A-main which was up first we had a 25min final and I opted to stay on the Soft impacts in the heat of the day as we reached into the 90's. The start was great starting from P2 and gaining the lead when Tebo bounce crashed on the uphill going away on the first lap. I would then hold off a hard charging Phend the best I could over the next 12 minutes as I retained the lead with a few lead swaps mid lap around the 10 minute mark. I would eventually roll it over before the right side option allowing Phend by and falling to second. 4 laps later and another mistake would allow Tebo by and I would sit in 3rd for the remainder of the race. A good finish but my tires were pretty toast after the 25 minute final. It's going to be very interesting at Nationals to balance tire wear with performance for the 1 hour final. All lower mains being 20 I believe though should allow the use of any tire that you feel is best for you.
In the truggy final starting from pole was awesome. I ran the S Impacts again (Though I think Soft Scribbles would have been even better if I had any). I managed to hold off the 3 main players behind me for 12 laps as we freight trained around the track. I got about a 2 second lead and should have pit at the 6:30 mark with the others but through I could go the 7. But ran out at 6:50 mid lap. This knocked me down to 10th by the time I got back out there. I worked my way back to 4th until with 1 minute to go my idle screw broke and I died again. I got it re-fired and finished the lap to finish 6th but I had the truck to battle for the victory. I worked on my program some more after the event and I am really ready for Nationals at this point!
After racing we ran for the next 4 hours mainly trying different tire combinations. We have been under the impression that regular compound tires are better for us here than our long wear but with the very hot temps and a deeper groove than we usually see here at LCRC we found that SLW was actually working really well. We tried some SLW scribbles and they were really good. I also ran Soft Chainlinks and turned my best lap times with them. They were easy to drive like the impacts but also cut through the dust sections pretty well too and I think had more pace in the high speed sweepers compared to the impacts.
So knowing what I know now, for me personally here is my plan for tires for Nationals:
Practice - SS Grids or Impacts and if groove starts to form at all then SS Scribbles
Qualifying - Decent groove and not too much dust then SS or S Scribbles depending on temps, if track blowing out then SS or S Impacts depending on temps.
Mains - Same as qualifying
Practice - SS P1's or Grids or Impacts(if watered), If drying: SS Zip Downs or Impacts or Chainlinks
Qualifying - SS or S (depending on temps) Impacts or Chainlinks or Typo if I want a fast run and track has minimal dust.
Mains - S or SLW Chainlink or Impact or Scribble (Going to have to be a game time decision)
All in all a very successful weekend with good pace and lots of consistency give me the confidence heading into the ROAR Nationals in 3 weeks time!