|Posted on April 30, 2014 at 9:15 AM|
'The Gang' was in full force this past Saturday, April 26th. With a small celebration for Jamie McMillen's birthday and cupcakes provided by Sam Snyder, we entered Big Dog R/C with a strong group of drivers including Riverside Raceway regulars Kevin and Garrett Allen who were making their first start on the dirt in several years.
Usually the recap is done in nearly the same order, commonly updating our drivers in the same fashion week in and week out, but this one is going to jump right in and right off the bat, start off with 'The Gang' Driver of the Week honors. After having a night full of battles and close races, Mark McMillen had a night of racing that he'll never forget. After running his first newly assembled battery pack in the first round of heats and almost holding off his son, Jamie McMillen, for the time ever, he was feeling really good about his truck. In the second round of heats, he was able to win a 2WD Spec heat, and his hooting and hollering was obvious that he was excited. What would happen later in the night however, was something that no one expected. Even though he won his heat, he was still shifted out of the 2WD Spec B-Main, placing him on the pole for the 2WD Spec C-Main. He started off the race very well with fellow member Sam Snyder hot on his tail, running a very good race. With about a minute left, Sam was able to squeak under Mark for the lead coming out of turn 4, and they drag raced down the front stretch. Entering turn 1, Mark incidentally got into Sam, sending both spinning. Mark was able to continue on quickly as Sam got stuck on the infield cone, essentially eliminating her chances. Mark would lead the rest of the race in route to his first ever main victory on the dirt. He decided to take the bump up and start tail of the field in the 2WD Spec B-Main, which was loaded with some very tough and talented competition. At the sound of the tone, Mark was quickly cutting his way up through the field. With less than a lap in, he was already 3rd, and within a few more laps, he was out in front, all on his own. Garrett Allen would eventually chase him down and take the lead away, but it was short lived as Garrett made contact with the inside of turns 3 and 4 and lost power to his truck. With Garrett's struggles, Mark re-captured the lead. He fought off charges by David Snyder, Rod McMillen, and David and Rod both at the same time, and with 5 trucks on the lead lap at the finish, Mark was able to complete the ultimate under dog story, and take 1st place in his second main of the night! His 2WD Mod races weren't nearly as exciting as he qualified 7th out of the heats and finished 7th in the A-Main as well.
David Snyder was able to qualify 4th for the 2WD Mod class, which is very respectable considering the type of competition that class has had the last few weeks. He was turning fast laps and had a great truck, he just couldn't seem to catch very many breaks throughout the night. Suffering a broken hub carrier after being hit solidly by two other members, Charlie Morris, and Jamie McMillen, it didn't seem like David's night was off to a good start, but he had hoped that by the time the mains came around, he could change that. In the Mod A-Main, he couldn't capitalize off of his 4th place starting position, and fell back to finish in 6th place, although he was only two laps out of 2nd. In the 2WD Spec class, he qualified for the B-Main, and was able to earn the bump up when Mark McMillen passed it up. David started at the tail of the field for the Spec A-Main, and again finished in 6th place, only 2 laps out of 2nd. He looks to get used to his newly bought LiPo battery and work on finding the consistency he had early in the season. If he can have a little more luck go his way, his top 3 finishes won't take long to land. He'll see what happens this weekend, May 3rd.
After what was almost a first heat win and almost a first main win for Sam Snyder in 2WD Spec, it's definitely safe to say that she is well on her way to becoming a driver to be reckon with. Her improvements on the track were very apparent this weekend at Big Dog R/C. She qualified 10th overall for the 2WD Sportsman class, placing her in the B-Main, starting in the 4th position. She ran a very good race and was able to improve on her starting spot by 1, coming across the stripe in 3rd place only 1 lap behind 2nd place. For her Spec class, she seemingly battled Mark McMillen all night for the win. In the Round 2 heat race, she was fighting for the lead throughout the race and was solidly in the top 3 the entire time. She fell short of a win when she crossed the line 3rd in the heat race, just 2 laps behind the winner. She was also placed in the C-Main for 2WD Spec after qualifying 15th overall. She started on the inside row behind Mark McMillen and the race was on the entire 4 minutes. Up until the previously mentioned contact going into turn 1, Sam was on the same lap as the leader, battling for the win. She was able to bounce back from the spin and still cross the line in the 2nd position, only 1 lap behind the winner. Knowing she was that close to capturing her first wins on the racetrack and they got away is discouraging, but at the same time, knowing that she was strong enough to run that well, and had a blast doing it is a sign of things to come. Look for Sam to try to improve on these runs next week!
Rod McMillen was in the house on the 26th running his Open Sprint and his Slash in the 2WD Spec class as usual. After setting a personal best in the first heat with his sprint car, he was riding a good feeling the rest of the night. Although his personal best was only able to qualify him for the B-Main, he managed to finish 2nd, and earned a bump up to the A. After starting last in the A due to the bump up, he was able to improve on his starting position, and come across the line in 5th, one of his best nights in recent memory with the open wheel portion of his race team. He failed to make the A-Main for 2WD Spec by 2 spots, which placed him on the outside of the front row for the B. He was part of the epic battle between many drivers and might have had a better finishing position if he didn't make contact with David Snyder during a three-wide drag race into turn 1 with Mark McMillen on the inside. He still managed to be one of the 5 trucks on the lead lap, finishing in the 5th position, and having a blast in the process. Be sure to check out his night recapped in his own words on the R/OC Forums underneath the "Live Updates" thread. Keep an eye out for updates on when Rod plans on returning to Big Dog R/C next.
The birthday boy, Jamie McMillen, was able to make the trip in hopes of just having a solid night and having fun, since he wasn't running for points. He fought an ill-handling truck through much of the first two rounds, until he was able to snag a heat win with an impressive 39 laps in round 2 of 2WD Spec class. He was able to run strong enough to make the A-Main in both classes right out of the heats, qualifying 3rd for 2WD Spec, only 1 lap behind the top qualifier, and 6th overall for 2WD Mod. He seemed like he was going to make the best of his 6th place starting spot in the Mod A as he was up to 2nd place and running there for much of the race. Towards the end, he made contact with David Snyder entering turn 3, losing control of his truck, and costing him 2 positions in the process. He came across the line in 4th, still spots better than he qualified. In a back to back set of races, he was now on the track with a fresh battery and a 3rd place starting position for the 2WD Spec A-Main. In probably his best race of the night, he was able to set sail right away, as he led early on for a little while. The eventual winner was just too fast as he got by Jamie about halfway through, and Jamie ended up in 2nd place, improving from his starting spot by one position. Jamie will make his next start of the season on May 17th.
'The Beakman' was again in the house on the 26th, hoping the previous handling issues didn't haunt him again this weekend. With a few minimal changes done to his truck by Jamie McMillen, Charlie was confident entering the night. He was good right off the bat as he was able to win a 2WD Spec heat in round 1 and everyone knew from that point on, he was gonna be tough the rest of the night. He was consistent in the sense that he qualifed 5th overall in both 2WD Spec and 2WD Mod, enjoying his newly purchased LiPo battery, and placing him in the A-Main in both classes. Up first was the 2WD Mod race, which he ran solidly in, and benefited from the contact made between Jamie and David, when Charlie went from 5th to 3rd, and was able to finish with a top 3. After switching batteries, he put his already warm truck back down on the track for the 2WD Spec race, again starting 5th place. And wouldn't you know it? Again he ran another solid race and finished in the 3rd place. A night full of consistency and solid points finishes were exactly what Charlie wanted going in and that's exactly what he left with. He makes his next start the 3rd of May before he will take off a weekend for prom activities.
Keisha Mack, who has won a B-Main on the dirt before, was in the house, and she just hasn't been able to find that first time magic that she found earlier in the year. She qualified for the B-Main in 2WD Sportsman 8th overall, putting her on the pole. However, she wasn't able to take advantage of that starting position as she dropped back to 5th place, and finished there.
With a fresh new paint scheme, Kegan Mack mounted up his new body, purchased some new tires, and was ready to show us all that with new tires, he's the man to beat. Although he wasn't the man to beat, he definitely improved, and his truck seemed a lot better. He qualifed 11th overall for the 2WD Spec class, placing him in the B-Main, starting just one spot behind David Snyder. He was unable to enjoy the race of the night very long as he suffered a mechanical failure early on, and finished in last place after only completing 10 laps.
Also with a fresh new paint scheme, Savannah Ingersoll was set to make her debut in a new chassis in a new class with several unknowns. With a sharp looking sprint car, she started the night just feeling the car out before contact with Rod McMillen forced her to retire early. She fought with the car all night long, fixing parts, and gaining as much experience as possible before she finished last again in the B-Main with another part failure. Frustrating to say the least, she looks to build off of that the next time she makes the trip. In the 2WD Spec class, she was able to finish 2nd twice in the heats with a respectable 37 laps, and was placed on the pole in the B-Main. She slipped up on the start and was unable to make up for it the rest of the race, even though she finished on the lead lap, and crossed the stripe in the 4th position, one spot behind her husband Josh.
Speaking of her husband Josh, he was there for the first time with his newly purchased 4WD truck. He was able to qualify for the B-Main with his new truck in the 4WD Sportsman class and captured the win in that race. He bumped up to the A-Main and was able to finish 6th, not bad for his first night out. With his 2WD Spec truck, he fought with rear grip most of the night, and found himself in the B-Main for that class as well. He was one of the five trucks on the lead lap at the end of the race as well, finishing 3rd overall, missing the possible bump up to the A by one spot.
Kevin and Garrett Allen, two highly successful drivers in the R/C world, and regular stand-outs at Riverside Raceway made the the trip to Big Dog R/C to join 'The Gang' for a night of fun. Garrett ran off-road and struggled with rear grip and too much power throughout the night, but got better with every round. He had a better truck in the 2WD Spec class, but cost himself a possible win in the B-Main when he made contact with the inside wall, and suffered an odd loss of power in his truck. Kevin Allen, who has a very impressive dirt track resume, decided to bring out a very old sprint car chassis just to see what he could do with it. He fought a terribly tight, but insanely fast car the whole night. His finishes didn't show how fast his car was because he was forced to make adjustments throughout every race which cost him several laps in the process. Hopefully they had enough fun to join 'The Gang' again sometime soon, we all thank them for joining us!