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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

Silver State Nitro Challenge

This past weekend the Tekno team descended upon Las Vegas once again for the Silver State Nitro Challenge. Coming in from Ohio where we were having snow so it was nice to enjoy a weekend of high 80’s dessert warmth and sunshine. The track would be ran like at the Worlds with water for most runs. About 80% of the layout was new with the other 20% remaining from the Worlds. The event would have a standard format of 3 qualifiers and ABC mains.

For most of the weekend the track was on the lower grip side of the equation. Meaningful bumps didn’t start to materialize until around the middle of qualifying. For this event we went in with a bit of a different strategy. We wanted to start with a rough track setup and just leave the settings as much as possible and just get comfortable with the cars. No big changes or even little ones were to be made going into the mains.

Qualifying started off really well taking 5th in Ebuggy, 2nd in truggy, and 4th in Nitro buggy. The track was still pretty easy going into Q2 and now the field really started to tighten up. Especially in truggy which just laid waste to the small bumps in the road. I was on a TQ run with a 1.5 second cushion with two laps to go and they said behind Ronnefalk. I was following him in the track so I figured if I paced him I would have TQ. But there were no more announcements until the race was over and suddenly Tessman leapfrogged me on the last lap to take the win by tenths. So I settled for another 2nd, which I also got in Ebuggy. Nitro buggy I made a mistake and got a 7.

For Q3 I still had a shot at TQ in truggy and I led for a few laps to start the race. But I got wide at the end of the straight and shorted the big jump landing in my lid with a 4 second crash. I fought back up to 4th about 3 behind the leader but it was not enough. I would start 3rd in the main. There was no improvement in Ebuggy so I would qualify 3rd there as well. Nitro buggy was a decent run with a top 5 seeding me 6th into the Amain.

Come main day Ebuggy was up first with a single 10 minute main. Starting from third I stayed in line through the start until Phend crashed promoting me to 2nd. I had a couple good laps and was right on Maifield until I made some small bobbles falling a little bit back. Then I crashed falling to 5th where I would have a 3 way battle with Ronnefalk and Tebo for the remainder of the main. We battled and swapped positions as we navigated the increasingly bumpy track. At the tone I would come home in 4th just off the podium.

Nitro truggy was up next and I was feeling pretty confident. At the start over the big jump on the left, Tessman jumped a little short as I went long landing on the side of him and overtaking the position into 2nd. The next 2 laps I was nipping at the heels of Maifield and felt racy. But I shorted the right double going away and fell back to 3rd. A short bit later I made another mistake falling back to 6th and soon over 10 seconds behind the leaders.

I had a momentary feeling of dismay as I thought my shot was over but thought my car is just too good. So I put my head down and fought back into a battle for 3rd with Tebo. For two stops we swapped positions during pit stops and I found myself 13 seconds behind the leaders 14 minutes in. As everything started to heat up my truck kept getting better. I was also starting to feel the flow of the track better and everything began to mesh. I gained full control of 3rd and set my sights on the leaders. I saw I was catching them on the track and Jimmy confirmed on the mic. I soon found myself about 5 seconds behind second when another round of pit stops was coming up. Maifield was first in and he flamed out loosing 15 or so seconds. This put me up to 2nd and everything kept feeling better. After my stop I was about 5 seconds behind Tessman and just started to real him in. Some laps I was a second faster still throwing down mid 31’s.

Soon I was within 2 seconds when Ty crashed and I got by. I would not relinquish as I got a couple second gap. I had a bobble lap letting Ty get back to my bumper but I cleaned it up and put in some of my best laps of the event. I started to pull out into the Vegas sunset as my lead grew to just under 10 seconds by the end of the main. I crossed the line with my first big victory in a while. This was my second Truggy title at Silver State but was possibly my biggest win ever as the competition was the highest this year.

Nitro buggy was the final race of the day and I was hoping to put in another good run. From the start I jumped up to 5th from my 6th starting position. There is where I would run for the first 7 laps before making a mistake and falling back to 7th. I would then begin to battle with quite a few others as we jockeyed for position. The lead 3 were gone and soon it was again a battle between Ronnefalk, Tebo, and I for 4th-6th. We all battled off and on for a good portion of the race. As we neared the last stops the leader had a part breakage promoting our battle to a battle for the podium spot. With 5 or so minutes to go it was me trailing behind Ronnefalk trying to chase him down but coming up around 3 seconds short as the race concluded. Thus another 4th place finish.

Overall I am very pleased with my results from the weekend. A win and two 4ths against a very talented crop of racers. I moved up to 7th overall on the TOP25RC Rankings and I’m feeling really good about the rest of the season!

In the Teammate Challenge I am starting to leave Joe in the dust this weekend. Taking a 17pt victory from Silver State and thus an 18pt lead in the season series. Anything can happen with many races to go but Joes already saying he thinks I will beat him by 30pts by the end. We shall see!

Next up is another back to back set of PNB followed by NeoBuggy In England. I know what I’ll be doing on that flight to England!

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