This past weekend I headed down south to the Southern Indoor Championships near Montgomery, Alabama. This year the event had over 500 entries and no chance of Tornados! Instead we had some uncharacteristically cold mornings and days for the south to contend with.
The track was a little drier this year than years past and on practice day a groove actually formed before they decided to water. The conditions were pretty slick and tire selection was a challenge for sure. Primarily I ended up on my go to tire and compound being super soft long wear impacts in buggy and super soft long wear grids in truggy.
Qualifying for started bright and early on Saturday morning and or if the gate my truggy was on point. The tires were dialed in and I took an 8 second margin TQ to start off my weekend. Nitro buggy was next and I ran a pretty solid race. I had a couple slow ups in traffic but overall clean. In the heat after me though Chandler was scorching and beat me out giving me a 2nd. In Ebuggy I had a good solid run for a TQ.
The final two qualifiers continued with success in truggy. Taking TQ in both and thus the overall TQ for the event. In buggy it was more of a struggle as the conditions were difficult. There was higher grip areas and lots of dust making an inconsistent surface. My cars were a bit twitchy on the steering and then loose in the rear because of it. My goals on setup became to desensitize the steering a bit by lowering my steering speed, going to heavier front diff and heavier front sway bar and spring. All this helped but but it was a process through my final runs. I didn’t have another great run in either buggy but still managed to qualify 2nd overall in Ebuggy and 3rd in Nitro buggy.
For the mains they decided to run the pro nitro program earlier in the event so there would be more spectators and people to watch. I thought this was a great idea though it did feel a bit weird. First up was Nitro truggy around noon and it was a 30 minute affair. I chose my AKA SSLW grids for the task and they were up for the challenge. I had a solid start and quickly started to work up a lead. My truggy doing what it does best. My truck still could have been better with slightly heavier front shock oil as it was blowing through the stroke a bit quickly on some jump landings and faces but it was still super fast. In the end I. Early was able to put a lap on the field and took a nice victory to start the day.
Next around 2pm we had the 30 minute Nitro buggy final. I opted to try SSLW double downs in the front and impacts in the rear. My goal being to mellow out the steering a little. They blew off the track before our run and my car felt pretty good in warmup. But the dust came up quickly and I just struggle mightily with the aggressiveness of the front end and the traction conditions. I did my best to adjust my driving lines and style. At one point mid run I was nearly 20 seconds out of the lead but had finally secured a solid hold on 2nd. I started to put in some faster laps really concentrating hard on my lines and steering points. I was able to make up ground and get within 8 seconds of the lead with 4 minutes to go but I got caught in traffic and lost my momentum. So in the end I settled for 2nd place in a hard fought race. What I would have changed would be to have run impacts all the way around and gone even higher on front bar to 2.5.
The triple E buggy mains would close out the long day. In A1 I quickly put myself in a hole as in the top left trying to avoid the huge hole I rolled on the pipe putting me back in last momentarily. I worked my way through the field and up to a 4th place finish. In A2 I had a much better run and battled with Ogden for half the race. We swapped the lead a couple times before he made a bigger mistake and I got a 4 second advantage and brought it home for the win. It was all down to A3 and my car was actually the best it had felt. I got into the lead and stretched out early as the pack was crashing. I quickly had about a 10 second cushion with 3 minutes to go when I started to feel like my battery was going soft. I yelled down for Matt and looked down pit lane but I could see him. I tried to start to conserve but within 2 laps while crossing the line with 2 minutes to go my battery died. I had forgotten to change my battery before the run. Rookie mistake right there. This thus cost me the win and overall victory and I had to settle for 3rd on the podium. I ran SSLW impacts in all 3 A’s and was pretty pleased with them.
Overall 3 more podium finishes to start the year and another Nitro truggy TQ and win. I’m looking forward to some redemption at the upcoming Nitro Challenge in truggy and hopefully can put it all together.