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  • Ryan Lutz

The Wicked Weekend 2019

This past weekend I took my only non-stop flight of the year to Atlanta, and an hour drive north to Gainesville, Georgia to attend The Wicked Weekend 2019. Another huge entry count for the Race Time Entertainment crew with 612 entries comprised of 302 drivers! This is one of my favorite venues to attend as I love the big open pavilion giving the feel of an outdoor event but no worry of the rain potential.



This year I ran my standard 3 classes of Nitro Buggy (A319), Electric Buggy (A215SVpp), and Nitro Truggy (A215T). They again did the split practice schedule in which I chose to partake in the second session. I think it works out really well and people seem to split pretty evenly between the two sessions giving more track time for all in my opinion.



Qualifying:

Nitro Truggy (Agama A215T) - Q1 of the class got our racing started and set the tone for how it was going to go throughout qualifying. My buddy Joe and I would duke it out and he would get the first punch in taking the TQ with me 2nd less than a second back. In Q2 the tables reversed and I was able to eek out the TQ by less than .2 tenths setting up a battle for overall TQ in Q3. I was hoping for another close battle in Q3 but instead I chose the wrong compound for the now dryer track and made mistakes and Joe was on it so I had to settle for P2 in Nitro truggy. Tire wise I ran SSLW Grids in all 3 rounds. The track this year was much drier and never developed the same high grip groove as in years past. However for Q3 on Saturday afternoon the track was driver giving grippier sections of the track and I should have went with SLW Grids and a stiffer oil package in my shocks to combat the higher grip condition.



Electric Buggy (Agama A215SV with Performance packs) - In Q1 my buggy was safe and I drove it that way as well which was fine for a clean run but did nothing for me on pace. I drove to conservatively and Joe capitalized and I would settle for 2nd. In Q2 things got closer though we both had our mistakes. In the end it was another round of being less than a second apart with Joe edging me by .7 tenths giving him the overall TQ. In Q3 the track was pretty dry as mentioned in truggy. I opted to run SLW Zips in front and Catapults in the rear and they were fairly decent. Again though Joe was able to get me by a second as I would settle to start P2 in this class as well. In the earlier qualifiers I was liking SSLW Gridirons and P1's were also good and I wish I had used them more earlier on.



Nitro Buggy (Agama A319) - In Q1 I was right there on a TQ pace until lap 7 of 9 where I made a mistake I believe through the tough moguls section on the left loosing me 5 seconds and knocking me back to 5th for the round with Rose edging out Joe for the TQ. In Q2 I came back strong and even with a mistake which I believe we all had at least one I was able to edge out the TQ with Rose and Joe just behind. It was going to be a 3 way battle for the overall in this class! As Q3 got underway it was Joe and I trading the top 2 spots throughout. Our times were so close and in the end he hot lapped the final lap and beat me by .158 but with me staying close it put us in a 3 way tie for the TQ. Overall my combined laps and times from my first and 2nd place would give me the overall TQ in the Pro Nitro buggy class. In that tricky Q3 I opted to try a set of tires I had been carrying around since Silver State. Regular soft Zips in front and Impacts in the rear. Overall I felt they worked well. And again, earlier in Q1 and Q2 when the track was way dustier (Q1) and wetter (Q2) a SSLW Gridiron or P1 was the go to tire. It was really important to stay ahead of the tire decisions on this track as it was a tricky condition this year.



Nitro Truggy A-main - This would be our first main of the day starting around 11AM. They put the Pro Nitro mains earlier in the program at the Race Time Entertainment events so there are still lots of spectators to watch. As we got underway there was a 3 truck break away with Joe, myself, and Ogden pulling from the field. Joe was strong at the beginning but I could tell something seemed off as he blew a few corners and allowed me to stay in sight. I had gone with a fresh set of AKA SSLW Grids as they had watered during the night and the track still had some moisture in it. They were getting better and better as we got going and I was finding my groove. On lap 10 Joe made a mistake and I got by for the lead and didn't look back. Outside of my 3 pitstops I only had 2 laps of 35 seconds (small mistakes), with all the remaining 48 laps of a 33 or 34 second lap. In the end I took about a 20 second victory over Ogden in 2nd.



Nitro Buggy A-main - This one I started out front and at 1:30pm decided to run that same set of AKA Soft Zips in front and Impacts in the rear. The reason is the Zips are a great front tire that doesn't catch ruts and the impacts I felt were my best option in the rear for potential tire wear and cutting through the dust. Well I held the lead for half a lap until the 180 after the front triple I tried to take the tight inside to avoid the holes and got into to much dust and the rear came around and I ended up inside the pipe and fell back to 6th. I had to work through some traffic but got to 3rd by lap 2 and into 2nd on lap 6. Now I set my sights on Joe and I was able to take the lead after the first pitstop on lap 14. I now had the lead and set out for some clean laps and I was able to extend out to a 6-8 second lead for the next 20 laps until lap 36 when an unfortunate thing happened. I landed the jump on jump off jump and upon landing the full uptravel of the landing caused my front driveshaft to slip out of the outdrive. I later learned that it was another of those foolish mistakes of mine. We have two types of arms (soft and hard) and the hard arms are longer. When using the hard arms you should only run middle or inside on the A and B blocks and I put my A block to full up and outside and the B block down and middle. This allowed this to happen at the most unfortunate time. After racing I put the A block to full up and middle and ran for an hour along with allowing others to run my car and it never happened again. So another learning mistake on my part, just unfortunate as to the timing of it. So anyways Billy was able to pop it back in with some force and I got back out but had lost 3 laps. 6 laps later it happened again and I lost another 2 laps. We got back out again to finish the race but I would have to settle for a 10th.



Electric Buggy A1 - This main would start off great for me. I pressured Joe from the tone and after the tough mogul section I would try to tuck under him and he ended up spinning out and I got the lead and was off. Unfortunately for me I just didn't quite have the pace. I lacked some steering in my ebuggy in this one and just didn't have my tight lines down. Joe was able to catch up and I fended him off for as long as I could but on lap 12 I shorted the triple and lost the lead. A couple laps later I made another mistake and that was all she wrote. I had to settle for 2nd in A1.



Electric Buggy A2 - The final result would be based on just 1 finishing position and tiebreaker being laps and times. I opted to run AKA SSLW Gridiron 2's in this one and even though the track was dry the sun had set and temps had come down a little and it was a bit more dusty again. I think they were the right decision and they just got better as the race went on. I followed Joe round and round for the first 6 laps until lap 7 when I made a mistake and lost 4 seconds having to get turned around. After that I knew it was all or nothing so I finally really pushed and tightened up my lines and began my comeback. The announcer made it fun giving us the times and on 3 of the last 5 laps I put in the fastest laps of the race. I was within a second I believe going onto the last lap but I didn't hit the line in the moguls and that cut the chase short. Joe would go on to win and I would get P2.



Overall it was a great event and I had a great time as always. There is so many families and young rising stars in the South East region and it's so cool to watch them improve and help where I can. I even had young Miss Bella come and tell me she looked up to me as a racer and her reasoning's were so mature stating ability to adapt to track conditions and such. It was truly just a blessed weekend and I hope everyone had a great time!


Next up I'm heading down under to Australia next week for the second round of the Australian National Series!

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