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  • Writer's pictureRyan Lutz

Southern Nationals 2020

Southern Nationals 2020 is in the books and it was a great event. With a sold out crowd of 428 entries and 199 individual drivers, the competition was fierce. This year also saw the deepest field ever for So-Nats with most of the top drivers in the USA in attendance. I ran my standard 3 classes and sought to reverse my fortunes from past years at this event where gremlins always seem to pop up for me in the mains. This year also marked 'new ownership' of the event as the Racetime Entertainment crew took over and from what I saw and heard from others they did a great job keeping the feel of the event and running a timely program as always!

During practice while the track still had moisture in it SS grids and P1's is where it was at for me. As practice day wound down though a groove started to form and SSLW became to go to compound for us AKA guys. I was beginning to go with the Zips up front and impacts or grids in the rear but Mr. Hooks suggested I give the good 'ol Enduro's a try in the rear. So the ZipDuro combo then became my go to for the weekend in my buggies. The Enduro gives a similar feel to the gridirons in the rear in that they have pretty good forward drive but they are less catchy in the corners than the grids and thus can be beneficial when the track gets rougher in the corners and can assist with not catching so many edges.

Truggy qualifying was ok though I never quite felt up to pace as I usually feel. I think it was my shock choice and I just never dialed in. I was running 6x1.5 pistons which I have had great success with at other rougher tracks but my struggle was the transition from the higher grip to lower dust grip and back again. When I would hit the dust and come back onto grip it would roll a bit too much and just not have the flatter feel that I prefer. I tried going up in shock oil but it negatively effected the bumps and then going back down it was better in the bumps but I just had to deal with the more inconsistent feel. I should have tried 8x1.2 and 8x1.3 but I dunno. I just was stubborn on what I was running. I was able to manage a 7th, 6th, and 4th in my 3 qualifying runs to seed me 6th overall for the A-main.

Ebuggy during qualifying was my greatest challenge. In Q1 I ran SSLW P1's and they were good but they were pretty much toast after the run, I managed a 7th for the round. In Q2 and 3 I went with the ZipDuro which felt nice and easy to drive but I was just making to many timing mistakes through either the rhythm section or just clipping a couple of the pipes. Overall I qualified a disappointing 10th but still in the A with results to shoot for.

Nitro Buggy quals started out tough as my battery died in Q1 and I didn't complete a lap, but my A319 had been feeling good so far so I wasn't too concerned. In Q2 and Q3 on my ZipDuro compound I was able to put in two solid runs finishing 4th in both to seed me 4th overall. I was running a solid 2nd in Q3 but made a mistake dropping me back. But I knew I had the pace to compete in the buggies come main day!

Nitro truggy was our first main of the day and I went with SSLW Impacts all the way around same as last year. Truck felt decent overall but I still just wasn't quite pleased with my dust to grip transitions. I would hold position in 6th early on before making a mistake on lap 4 moving me back to 8th. Truck ended up having some attrition through the field during the 30 minute final but this year I was determined to finish! I worked up to 4th on lap 41 and held it for 5 laps but with just 3 laps to go I made a couple silly mistakes on my own and fell back to 6th. So that was disappointing but no one to look at besides myself. Super happy for B-Rose though for getting on the podium with the Agama truggy!

Next was A1 of ebuggy and I completely copied my nitro set-up over and it was really good. However starting 10th was not kind to me and 15 seconds of crashes and tangles through the first 3 laps left me far behind and in 13th on lap 3. However my buggy was really feeling good and I picked off some of the field and moved into no mans land. The top 6 were gone a good 10 seconds up field and the bottom half was at least 5 seconds back. I moved past the one other driver in no mans land and fought hard to catch up to the pack. I got within striking distance of 4-6 but made a mistake and that was all there was. Had to settle for 7th. But knowing they were taking just your best one finish I knew my buggy was fast enough and I just needed to get a better start.

The 30 minute Nitro buggy main was our next contest and I was thinking I had a pretty good car for the final. It took me a couple of laps at the start to find my groove and I fell back to 6th on lap 3 but made some inroads and got up to 3rd on lap 11. But I would make a couple mistakes on back to back laps on the rough patch coming onto the front straight which would cost me a decent amount of time. I would fall back to 5th on lap 17 which is where I resided until making a move past Ogden on lap 33 and up to 4th. I raced the last 15 laps trying to catch Phend in 3rd but fell a few seconds short in the end and finished up 4th.

To finish up our main day was A2 of Ebuggy. I found an issue though as soon as I turned my car on and noticed my speed control fan cutting in and out. I couldn't decide if I should unplug it or not so just left it plugged in and hoped for the best. On the tone I pulled an immediate holeshot move past the #9 car and did my best to check up as the field tightened in front of me. On lap 1 I moved from 10th to 7th and on lap two I found myself in 4th. My car was feeling great and I got into 3rd on lap 5 and 2nd on lap 7. I felt comfortable and was battling with my teammate B-Rose as we were showing the prowess of the Agama A319E as we battled cleanly for 2nd place. But with about 3 minutes to go I started to loose punch. I knew due to that fan issue that I was starting to get things hot and I was hoping to finish the race. But on lap 15 not having that punch cost me and I didn't clear the triple part of my line through the rhythm and it set me back 5 seconds and into 4th. Then on the last corner I got tagged from behind as we crossed the line and finished a disappointing 5th. My car was so good and where I was running solidly in 2nd could have put me 3rd overall on the podium. Alas overall I would settle for 7th.

So while I left a good 6 positions on the table at the end of races I still was able to finish all my mains which was an accomplishment considering my past results here. I had good pace in the buggies and will continue to build on that for the next one. I learned that the Enduro is a good rear tire to use in situations where you would want to run a gridirion but perhaps you want a little more forgiving or you need something to last longer for a longer main.

Thanks for the support!


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Gage Coleman
Gage Coleman
Sep 23, 2020

Great job this past weekend Ryan!! It was awesome to get to watch you run at GRand prairie track before setting off for nats.

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