Zero Dollars Racing Does Summit Point The Good, The Bad, And a Wee Bit Of Ugly This past weekend at Summit Point was a tale of some good and some bad in many different ways. The weather was easy and mild – good. However, the sun wasn’t strong enough to warm the track and so it never fully warmed up – bad. Quentin Mise finally talked me into Bridgestones and the tires worked very well all weekend, even letting me save a cold tire front end slide with a mild nudge of the bar – good. Quentin showed up at the track with his face all stitched and taped up after running into a cable at face level while riding his trail bike and almost de-lipping himself – certainly bad. Scott McKee now has his fresh FZR 400+ superbike jetted and dialed in – good for him, bad for everyone else. Bastard. Ryan Chapin showed up at the track with his trusty Hawk after not racing since 2001 – great! And he was instantly liquid smooth and fast again, challenging me in every race – crap! And last but not least, the track had been recently repaved end to end – hoorah! And then, to keep cars from tearing up the track in high stress areas a special epoxy patch was applied in turns 3 and 10 (the fastest corners on the track) and in turns 6 and 7 in the carousel. Now, this could have just been bad, but sloppy application made it a bit ugly. The idea is to spread the epoxy and then uniformly broadcast abrasive grit across the epoxy where it would adhere and provide a high grip surface with a very hard epoxy layer over the underlying asphalt. Unfortunately, after spreading the epoxy the grit has casually hand tossed and so was more a series of stripes of abrasive with intervening slick, bright shiny epoxy. Not what you want to see throwing it into a high speed turn, shiny surfaces on the racing line – the wee bit ‘o ugly. It slowed times by over a second a lap; even as we got more confident with the surface as time went on, it was hard to really trust that shine. Now to the racing. First up was Vintage 6 lightweight. Yes, as a racer I am now both vintage and a lightweight. After getting the hole shot and having Scott come by into turn three, I stuck with him for a couple of laps before he checked out like the proverbial scalded cat to run away by ten seconds. Part of that was the sudden appearance of Ryan running around the outside of me in turn 6! Damn! For four or five laps we passed and re-passed each other at least twice a lap – Ryan often slipping by me in the carousel (where the epoxy patches were causing me to arf up my lines repeatedly) and my drafting him into T1. On lap 7 Ryan got ahead of me when I made a couple of big mistakes (losing a full second on the lap) and completed a full circuit in the lead, annoying me mightily. Of course, he had helped by slipping under me in T6 and pushing me way wide in T 7, completely blowing my drive out of the carousel! I put my head down on the last lap, clawed back my lost second plus an additional second, and crossed the line half a second ahead of Ryan in second place. That was harder work than I really cared for, and clearly the gauntlet had been thrown down. Next up was Clubman. I didn’t have Scott to worry about but lined up next to me was Todd Puckett on what he calls his ‘Dutax 570”. I don’t care what kind of frame you put a Rotax 570 single in it is going to be serious piece. We all got good launches. For the first couple of laps Todd was balking me into turns and then evaporating on the gas. Once he started to get the corners sorted he gapped me and I could no longer challenge him. Much like V6LW Ryan hounded me throughout the race, as we repeatedly exchanged the lead. At one point he got a 0.8 second gap on me. Part of this came from Turn 10. After watching other folks use an inside line, hard against the curb and under the sealer, I was trying to get it down, but the shiny sealer made it really hard to rail it. On lap 6 I started using the outside line around the sealer patches that Ryan was using, dropped 2 seconds per lap over the next two laps and took the checkers by a second to secure second place. I was beginning to think less cheery thoughts about Ryan’s return to racing. We next gridded up for D Superbike, the fearsome threesome of Scott, Ryan and I. We had both expert and novice SV classes ahead of us. On the launch we all caught the back of the novice pack, and Scott and Ryan got by a provisional novice whose ambitions were only bettered by his lack of bike control. He was so wild and unpredictable that I ended up following him for over a lap, afraid to pass lest he punt me, as my competitors built a comfortable cushion, with Ryan almost two seconds ahead and Scott long gone. By lap three I had gotten by back by Ryan and built a 1.5 second cushion. I must have relaxed a bit, because by lap 5 Ryan sneaked back by me into T1 with a very sneaky outbraking move (while side by side momentarily release the brakes to get a 6 foot leap). Dang that boy. We seesawed back and forth for the next couple of laps, and as his rear tire started to go off I managed to pull a 0.5 second gap at the line. Last race of the day was D Superstock. Ryan was gridded ahead of me in the LW Twins class. On the launch I managed to sneak into T 1 ahead of him and set sail. I thought that his tire would likely keep him from challenging and so was largely rolling around at a pretty casual pace when on lap 6 he suddenly appeared on my outside in T 10! Fortunately I had a better drive and beat him into turn 1. I think at that point he let discretion be the better part and backed it off as I cruised on home. All in all a fun weekend, despite the crappy track. Ryan coming out of retirement and hounding me at every turn certainly made me work harder than I had anticipated and I had more fun than I have in a while. Can’t wait for next year.