This past weekend was the 12th annual running of the iconic Psycho Nitro Blast or PNB. This year they went back to the tried and true formula of a 3 day race jam packed with 24 hour round the clock racing action and I think it was a success. Entry counts moved up from last year to 753 entries and 357 unique drivers. Quite possibly the biggest R/C race on the planet! They brought back the great wall and lots of wood jumps and a huge track with lap times in the upper 40's for the pro's. On top of all that they added a new fun feature, the Joker lane, which added a new element into the equation.
Practice was for 24 hours starting at 6am Friday through 6am Saturday. I opted to practice throughout the day Friday from around 8am through 7pm. Then hopped in the trailer to get some rest before returning around 3am to finish out the morning practice.
I had to do a couple of set-up changes for this track. In the buggies I started with 7-7-5 but I needed the rear to follow the front a little better and thus dropped to 5k in the center. I also needed a bit quicker rotation in the corners and thus went to 3k in the rear. So I would run 7-5-3 the rest of the weekend. Shock wise I settled on the 5 hole 1.6mm vrp xv3 pistons to have something that would go through the rough 'man made' mogul section in the front right the best. They also make a bit more grip and roll than say the 5x1.5 or 8x1.3.
Qualifying started out strong and I was able to take a commanding TQ in Pro Truggy in Q1 by 6 seconds on my AKA SSLW Grids. I would run that same set of tires in all 3 qualifiers taking the TQ again in Q2 by 6 seconds and in Q3 by just half a second as the traction really came up as the track dried out and we all went faster. In Nitro buggy it also was a great start eeking out a Q1 TQ by .3 tenths over my buddy Joe on my AKA SSLW Catapults. In Q2 I cleaned it up a bit and got a 4 second TQ. In Q3 I let my tired brain get the best of me and didn't charge my battery so settled for a DNS, but I would still achieve the overall TQ in both Nitro classes! In Ebuggy Q1 I had a DNF and thus needed a good last two qualifiers. Fortunately my car was super fast on my AKA SSLW Double downs and I came back for a 2nd in Q2 and 5th in Q3 to qualify 5th overall. I also ran Billy's E-truggy and all I did to it was change batteries all weekend and was able to TQ all 3 runs for the overall TQ.
So it was now main day and our first race was to be the Nitro truggy 30 minute A-main. We were allowed to use the Joker lane 3 times throughout the run whenever we wanted except on the opening lap. The joker lane saved at least 7 seconds and maybe as much as 8. My strategy starting 1st was that so long as I was out front I was going to take it my first 3 opportunities at the start. This would keep me out front with clear track. I also knew that being the leader that lapped traffic would allow me to get by so I wasn't to worried about that. At the start Phend got into 2nd and he followed my strategy and was the only one of the top guys to do so. He pressured me for a good 5 minutes and as we came up to lapped traffic one guy messed up on the wall and I nailed him trying to go up it. This allowed Phend to be right on my bumper and he was getting racy. But a couple laps later he made a mistake and that was all I needed. I found my groove and hit some tighter lines and threw down 19, 46 second lap times which was more than double what anyone else had. I would cruise to a 16 second victory and complete a nice backflip on the final jump on my victory lap! I continued to run AKA SSLW Grids for this race and they were maybe 30% worn, in fact I gave them to a guy in sportsman truggy to run in his 30 minute main too!
Next was the 30 minute Nitro buggy A-main. I was again starting out front but I really had it in my mind that I wanted to do something different with the Joker lane. I couldn't see a scenario that was better than just taking it right away if I was in the lead but fortunately perhaps I made a mistake on the first lap and was 2nd and I took the joker with the top 5 or so. But the second lap around I noticed a big gap behind us as much of the middle of the field didn't take it, so as the other top guys took the joker again I opted to begin strategy time. It was going perfect too. I found myself in clear track and 3 laps in I was in 8th. But by the 14th lap I was up to 4th and I still had 2 jokers in my pocket. I heard the leaders Tebo, Phend, and Jones were all battling and in my mind I just knew this was what the Joker lane was for! This was going to make it interesting. I had everyone watching the battle for the lead and they had 12-14 second on me and I was hanging out in the shadows with 2 jokers worth 14-16 seconds in my pocket. In my mind I was in the lead, yet I was the only one aware of it. My plan as we neared the second pit stop was to use it on my final two pit stops on pit lane exit. This way I could just jump off pit lane and keep going straight instead of having to slow down and make that immediate corner. As I came around for that 2nd stop however I jumped the last double and ran out of gas. Heartbroken again. Billy got me fired back up but I had lost over a lap. I was able to get back by Drake and Denny near the end and unlap myself from Joe and with issues for Tebo and Phend I was able to get on the podium and finish 3rd less than a lap off the lead. I had 16 laps in the 46's which was nearly double what anyone else had. I had the car and strategy to win the race, it just wasn't meant to be this time. My AKA SSLW Catapults were on point for me all weekend. I want to give a huge congrats to Tyler Jones for taking the win though, his biggest to date! Great job buddy!
Next was E-truggy A-main and I did the hard work of outfitting it with a charged battery for the run. I got out to a good start and a nice lead but some careless mistakes would allow my buddy Patrick Rossiter into the picture as he was on it. He ended up getting within a second when we were dicing through backmarkers but he ended up making a couple mistakes more than I and thus I was able to get the victory for an Etruggy TQ+Win.
Ebuggy was our final race of the day. In the warmup laps I was feeling fast. I was starting 4th with the absence of Jones (who went home to make it to school). On lap one the top 4 of us freight trained around and Joe and Phend took the Joker while Tebo and I didn't. Tebo and I decided to both take it on the 3rd lap. As we went over the hip jump on the right side I launched it over him and into 2nd place behind Joe. We were about 2 seconds behind him but on lap 5 I made a mistake shorting the low fast double and needing a marshal. Tebo got into me and got stuck and we lost about 4 seconds and Joe was sitting pretty with a 6 second lead. I was able to throw down a couple heaters and get down to 4 seconds before making another mistake and falling back to 6 seconds back with 4 laps to go. I felt fast though and clicked off consecutive 45 second lap times including the fastest lap of the weekend a 45.451. I was gaining quick but the end of the mogul section bit me as I got tossed around loosing 2 seconds before making it all up on the last lap with another 45 but coming up a second and a half short and in 2nd.
All in all it was a great weekend for me. I was the guy to beat all weekend and left many scratching their heads at my pace. Just a couple small things from a perfect weekend. It's coming together and it's only going to get better. Just 3 months into this new venture! I'm excited!
I was also able to continue my streak of IRON MAN which is the best cumulative finishing positions in 4 or more classes!
Nitro Buggy and Truggy:
Agama A319 and A215T
Bullitt B-223 Engine
AKA SSLW Catapult (Buggy) and SSLW Gridiron (Truggy)
Futaba 7PX L.E. radio
Futaba S9373SV and CB700 servos
ProTekRC 2200 LiHV Rx battery
Electric Buggy and Truggy:
Agama A319E and A215TE
Tekin Redline Gen 3 1900 motor (Buggy) and 2000 (Truggy)
Tekin RX8 Gen 3 Speed Control
AKA SSLW Double Down (Buggy) and Gridiron (Truggy)
Futaba 7PX L.E. Radio
Futaba S9373SV Servo
ProTek RC LiHV 6500 battery
Next is the DXR race in England! Can't wait to meet the guys at Nemo Racing and see how I can do at one of my favorite tracks!