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Tom Fecteau


January 19th, 2011
Season Wrap-Up: Part 2 of 3 

Our next big event was the US Open at Dunn Tire Raceway Park (Lancaster NY) September 18tth & 19th. Our wagon train of 2 car haulers, two campers and assorted team vehicles descended upon DTRP for practice day. The #50 Mod was resting at the shop, ready for Oswego so the #18 modified was asked to perform for Terry and our sponsors. Practice day showed that we had a fast car but getting a balanced feel for long runs seemed elusive. On qualifying day we experimented some more resulting in more questions than answers and the possibility that we only had a fast “short run” car at a long run race.

Terry’s qualifying heat went well with a good starting spot and he hung on for a redraw position. The redraw went well with Terry drawing the #2 pill for an outside front row starting spot in the 100 lap main event. With that completed, we turned our attention to teammate Kris Hillegeer and his #18 Super Stock. Kris had run at DTRP previously showing a very good handling car. Kris and crewman James Steingraber knew that if a couple cars stumbled, he had a chance to battle for the win. The breaks did not give Kris that chance and with a poor starting position, Kris took most of the race to move up through the pack, battle side by side for several laps, and if you asked the fans, was the car that had everyone’s attention. In the end the big power won and Kris finished 6th knowing he had accomplished a lot.

Sunday was upon us and with the outside pole starting position, we were letting our hopes run high even though we’ve all been in this sport long enough to know the complexity of everything needed to win races. We all wanted badly for this race to be a turning point in our very difficult season. Unfortunately, today was not going to be that day. A the drop of the green Terry began to fade which is not that unusual running in the outside grove. Once Terry got an opening and dropped down low, rather than hold his pace, cars continued to pass as Terry radio’ed how the handling was deteriorating rapidly. We took advantage of several pit stops to make adjustments but nothing helped. Once it was evident that the car was not going to be competitive, the decision was made to park the #18 for a 21st place finish.

Most of our team has been involved with racing for a number of years and have felt the highs and lows. But this day, as we packed the car up, the air was thick with disappointment and the big question loomed: “what’s it going to take to get us back to being competitive again?” Right then, we had no answers, but we all had the desire to keep trying and next week would be the biggest race and biggest challenge of the year, the Sunoco Race of Champions 200 at Oswego Speedway.

For an exciting recap of the US Open Modified 100 click here for a great YouTube video.

Post script: once the season completed we examined the #18 at our shop and discovered a series of issues that were working against us. A part in the motor was failing and we were down some horsepower and were lucky to have avoided damaging the motor had we pushed on for more laps. We also discovered a tire had become slicker than normal, something we now know to watch out for and what causes that to happen. And we learned from our Oswego story how we can make the car even faster.

Sodus, NY  (315) 483-6519  

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