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DMCC Round 7 Recap and Championship Win!

Category : Events

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I went back up to Montreal this weekend for the last round of the DMCC season at ICAR. I had high hopes for this round since I won at this track at Round 2. But that was in the wet, and this would be the first time for me drifting at ICAR in the dry. I drove up on Friday and hung out with the guys that have been helping me out in DMCC all year. Thanks Kevin, Cedric, and JF for the awesome season! We got to the track on Saturday and waited for Pro practice in the afternoon. The track was changed a little from Round 2 so that we wouldn’t have to avoid a water drain on initiation, basically the same layout but with the walls moved further out. I watched all of the Pro-Am practice to see if I could learn some things and biked the track before going out in the car.

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I took it easy on the first few runs. DMCC was nice enough to put up plastic barriers and tires in front of the high-risk portions of concrete to help save cars throughout the weekend. People really took advantage of it. It was the most crashes I’ve seen in a single event all year. Unfortunately, cleaning up the plastic barriers and tires after each crash took away a lot of practice time. This track was all about the entry and the first turn. I got more comfortable as the practice went on and was able to scrape the wall on the entry a few times without messing up my line. It was a lot of fun.

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I noticed at some point in practice that the fuel pressure was reading high on the fuel rail gauge. It was at around 70psi most of the time and was even up to 80psi at one point. The gauge attached to the regulator at the rear of the car was reading fine at 58psi. It had me a bit worried, but I left it alone since the car seemed to be running fine and didn’t smell like it was running rich. I gave Kevin a ride-along at one point to get his opinion on whether the car seemed down on power. He said it was fast.

On Sunday, we had a short practice in the morning. I noticed the track seemed to have more grip than the previous day, but I adjusted to it after a few runs. My best friend, Carl, gave me a bump down the straightaway at one point because I was too slow, so thanks for that. It definitely gave everyone something to talk about in the pits… haha.

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We didn’t touch anything on the car and waited for qualifying. In my first run, I wanted to put up a score but still needed to be on the aggressive side because there were a lot of drivers doing well this weekend. Also, with the track being so short, there wasn’t much opportunity to distinguish yourself from the competition besides the first turn. My first qualifying run was a safe and solid run, but the track definitely had more grip than it did in the morning session, so I wasn’t able to drift out to the wall like the judges wanted. I thought I was just entering too safely and decided to drive it harder in the second run instead of loosening up the car. I went for my second run, accelerated as hard as I could, and entered later than usual, but I still had too much grip and couldn’t make it out to the wall. I also went wide on the first inner clip after the wall trying to drive the car too hard, so that was a bad run. I got 11th place and was pretty disappointed in that, but judging from the good practice sessions, I felt I could still do well in tandem.

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I was matched up with Tanner in top 16 like many other times this year. I would be following first. The sun had come out before the top 16 and it was noticeably hotter. We added some pressure in the tires to loosen it up and with the track heating up, I thought it would take away some more grip and make the car easier to drive. I gave Tanner a little space on the entry because I wasn’t sure if he’d go deep into the first turn or take a shallow line. He was running shallow most of practice, but it was probably just to avoid ending up in the wall. I had a decent follow run but could never get on his door because I didn’t have enough grip. I thought he was going to be on me pretty good following, so I had to do an awesome lead run to get the win or a OMT. I initied hard into the first turn and scraped all the way down the wall with the left rear. It felt awesome! I rode the wall and finished off the run clean. Tanner followed me well too but wasn’t on my door. We got a OMT.

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When we came back to the start line, I told Kevin to lower the pressures a lot, and we went out for our next set of runs. This time, I initiated right on Tanner’s bumper and followed him perfectly through the first turn. It was looking great, but when he slowed down for the inner clip after the wall ride, I wasn’t able to slow down as fast and had to straighten to keep from hitting him. I thought I was at a big disadvantage and had to get crazy for my lead run. In reality, the judges had reviewed the replay and decided that Tanner slowed down excessively, and they gave me the advantage for that run. Of course, I didn’t know that, so off I went on my crazy lead run attempt. I entered probably the fastest and latest I had all weekend and scraped my way down the wall again. My bumper came off and bash bar got bent into a pretzel, but it didn’t affect my line at all! At some point, I realized I was going way too fast and was heading right into the barriers. I tried to floor it and turn the car to the right to pull it away from the wall, but I ended up spinning out. I kept it floored and spun away from the wall and Tanner. Our wheels touched slightly, but there was no damage. We waited forever to get the decision. I was sure I had lost, but they gave us another OMT! The rationale was that I had the advantage on the first run, and Tanner won the second run.

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I was pretty stoked at this point to have another shot and was thinking that Tanner must be pissed! lol. We lined up again, and I followed him well this time with no mistakes. I guess I could have been closer, but I remember thinking at the end of the run that it was a really good follow and would be hard for him to beat. Tanner’s follow run was great too, and I went a little wide on the first inner clip, which let him close in more. It seemed pretty even between us, but the judges can’t call a third OMT, so they would have to make a decision. We waited forever again, and then Tanner was announced as the winner. I’m not sure if he just followed me closer or if there’s something I did that the judges didn’t like, but I wasn’t too upset about it. Those runs were definitely the best of my weekend, and people were going nuts when I scraped down that wall twice in a row. I had a pretty big lead in the championship and managed to win it even though Briggs went on to finish third in this event. So overall, it was a good season, and I feel like I can drive way better now than when I started. I do need to concentrate more on my qualifying though as that would definitely give me better chances to get on the podium and will be super important in FD.

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Street Life Tour Recap

Category : Events

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With the last event of the DMCC championship coming up this weekend and me leading the points, I probably should have chilled out and not driven anywhere this past weekend to not break/crash the car. But I would be bored, so I decided to go to Ohio for Street Life Tour at the same track where I almost killed myself the last two years… haha. We got a lot of practice Friday night, which was really helpful. I drove as much as I could to get comfortable and felt pretty confident after the session. Banked tracks are way easier with 400 hp. Here are a couple of runs from early in the practice session:

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By Saturday, there were close to 40 drivers entered in the competition. This would be a tough event. With the number of drivers that signed up, it was impossible to get much practice on Saturday. I got about five practice runs total before qualifying. In qualifying, I put down a solid first run for the first time in a while. I’ve been screwing up my first qualifying runs in the last few competitions I’ve done, so it was nice to have a score on the board going into the second run! There were a lot of good drivers at this event, so everyone was pretty even and not making many mistakes throughout the course. The qualifying order would basically be decided by who got higher on the bank. I went 100% for my second run and tried to throw it up high on the bank. I got higher than the first run but still had too much grip to get right up to the wall. I also went too wide coming off the bank. I qualified 7th.

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I would be going up against Juan Marquez in top 16. I’ve never seen him drive previous to this weekend but watched him for a few runs on Friday night, and he pretty much nailed the course right off the bat. He was running small tires though, so I would have to be careful to not get screwed up following him at slower speed. I led first and put down a clean run. I gave Juan some room on the bank when following and closed up on him in the infield but didn’t want to get too close since I’ve never tandemed with him before. I think I followed him closer, but he had a higher line on the bank, so we got a OMT. I did another clean lead run, and he tapped the wall behind me, which messed up his run. On my follow run, I got closer to him in the infield to make sure we didn’t go OMT again. Just as I was closing in on his door, he spun out, and we both managed to stop with no contact. I got the win.

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In top 8, I’d be going against James Evans. He was driving really well, and he has one of the fastest cars in a straight line and in drift. I thought I would have to go 100% to beat him. I lowered the air pressure to try to get some more grip mostly for the drag race part. Just as we were lining up to go, Dan Savage broke his oil cooler and sprayed oil all over the track in the previous battle. It took almost 45 minutes to clean up “Oil Apocalypse 2011″, as Jarod referred to it. It went from day to night during the wait, and it got significantly colder. After the cleanup, I got back in my car and went to do some donuts to warm up the tires. I kicked the clutch in second gear to spin it around, and the car just understeered. WTF. I weaved back and forth to try to get the front tires to warm up, but there’s not much you can do at 10mph to heat up front tires.

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Anyway, we lined up to go. I followed first and accelerated as hard as I could. James still got about a one car gap on me by the time we initiated into the bank. I initiated, and the car understeered! I e-braked hard again and got the car sideways. James had a decent gap on me already, so I went as fast as I could knowing I had to put together a ridiculous chase run to have a shot at winning. We came off the bank, and I was catching up to him really fast. I tried to time my braking so I would be right on him as we transitioned for the next turn. But I misjudged and crashed into his right rear with my left front corner. It wasn’t that hard of a hit. It only broke my bumper, but I guess it was enough to mess up his transition because he straightened out. I was pretty much done at this point. I finished the course just to make sure nothing broke in the left front suspension, and we lined up for my lead run.

I tried to drive crazy for my lead run to get James to make a mistake. I threw the car high into the bank but went too high and smashed the left rear hard on the wall right as I initiated. I managed to steer down the bank before the front of the car got sucked into the wall, got it back sideways and finished the run. James held it together and got the win. The car still has four wheels, and they are pointing in the correct direction, I think. So it’s good to go for next weekend! Overall, it was a fun event, and I’m glad I came. Some little kid ran up to me afterwards and yelled, “Nice try!” That basically sums it up.

Freedom Moves / HTL Pro-Am Round 3 Recap

Category : Events

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This will be a quick update for once! I went to Freedom Moves over the September 11th weekend. I got a bunch of track time on Saturday. It was nice driving relaxed and tossing the car around on a familiar track again. I would have loved to get in on the 10-car tandem swarms with the DA guys, but I wanted to drive Street Life Tour the next weekend and had no desire to replace my front end during the week. I got in on one of those trains against my best judgment and decided to bail on the second turn after we nearly crashed five times in the first turn… haha. There was an early entry contest later on in the day, which I won. Big thanks to JR/Monster for putting up some cash for the contest and to Kenda for supplying a pair of tires to the winner. And thanks to Tim and Matt for setting it up!

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On Saturday, we had the HTL ProAm Round 3 competition. It was on the back course like last time. I got a few practice runs and put down two decent qualifying runs to qualify 8th. In top 16, I went against B-rad. I led first and was on a clean run. Coming out of the last turn, as I got back on throttle he tapped my right rear just hard enough to spin me out. His power steering cooler broke because it was mounted on the left front where he hit me. I waited until he bypassed the cooler, and we went out for my chase run. I chased him decently well with no mistakes but didn’t do anything spectacular since I had the advantage from him spinning me out on the first run. We came back, and B-rad was declared the winner. The judges didn’t see him hit me or the damage to his car and thought I spun out by myself, so I lost! I was really pissed for about 32 seconds. Then I got over it. Congrats to Tanner on the win!

4

DMCC Round 6 Win!

Category : Events

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After Round 5 of DMCC at Mosport, there wasn’t much going on for the next couple of weekends, so I cleaned up the car, changed all the fluids, and made sure everything was good for the final few events of the season. I also took out the engine so I could check on the clutch and fix the bent engine/trans mounts to put the engine in the right place again. I was looking forward to driving again and hopefully getting a good result after a weak showing at round 5. The upcoming event was a combination of DMCC Round 6 and the XDC prize round at St. Eustache, which meant a much bigger purse and some more American drivers competing. DMCC came up with a different track layout compared to what they normally use. Check out the videos to see the layout.

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I drove up on Saturday to Kevin’s house near the track. Cedric from Widened clothing/graphics wanted to vinyl wrap the car for the last two DMCC rounds, so I said… go for it. I had some burgers while Cedric applied the vinyl. He did an awesome job on the design and application. He’s a true professional! We got to the track early on Saturday, had a way-too-long driver meeting, and then got out for practice in the wet. This track is always sketchy in the wet because the front straightaway on the oval is also used as a drag strip and gets super slick when it rains. With a lot of spinouts, some crashes, 40 Pro/Pro-Am drivers, and the long track configuration, practice went really slowly. By the end of the first session, I had 3 practice runs in the wet, which were basically waste because I didn’t want to crash, and 2 practice runs in the dry. In the dry, I was getting too much speed for third gear, but I was bogging and having to clutch kick hard to get in the powerband in fourth gear coming out of the infield onto the front straight. I decided to stop struggling with clutch kicking or trying to upshift/downshift just for that one corner, and I doubled the tire pressure putting it up to 70psi so I could stay in fourth gear. I got 3 runs in the second practice session. I was looking much better but still struggling getting up to the outside clipping point in the last turn.

So after a total of five dry practice runs, it was time for qualifying. On my first run, I came through the first turn way too hot, and there was no way I was staying on track through the second turn. I hit full lock and was in the process of spinning out when I dirt dropped with my left rear wheel, which hooked into the dirt and jerked the car in the other direction, so I didn’t spin. But I picked up a couple pounds of dirt/rock in the spokes of my wheel, and it started vibrating the whole car like crazy. I wasn’t sure if I had broken/bent the wheel at that point, but I kept drifting. I stayed away from the walls for the rest of the run in case the wheel exploded and just tried to finish the course so I can get a score. Thankfully, I didn’t get a zero, but it was one of the lowest scores.

OK, no problem. I still had a second run to get a decent score, and at least I knew I was in the show with the first run. We changed to a different set of wheels and made sure nothing was broken in the rear suspension. We qualify in reverse championship order in DMCC like FD, so Briggs qualifies before me, and I am the last to qualify since I’m leading the points. Just as Briggs lined up to go on his second run, it started pouring rain like crazy. Qualifying was cancelled for the day, and we were told that Briggs and I will qualify the next morning. Check out this sweet rain storm GoPro footage from Dave’s car.

I got to the track Monday morning, and the track was wet. We were not allowed any practice runs and had to qualify in the wet on our first run out. There was a long line of cones back by the staging/burnout area, so I tried to get used to the wet by drifting the longest continuous slalom ever. That was fun, and I think I set some kind of a record. So I went back to the start line after warming up just as Briggs was launching for his qualifying run. He initiated, slid off the track, and crashed into a light pole in the infield. So now I knew to lower my entry speed a bit! I went for my run, got through the infield pretty well, tranitioned on the front straightaway, the car rotated way faster than I expected, went to full lock and was basically facing the wall head on, got it transitioned the other way somehow, and I’m thinking, “Holy crap! This is going to be a good run!” Then I spin in the last turn and get a zero. You’d think I would be disappointed, but I was laughing in the car because of how ridiculous the angle was on the straight and how close I was to eating the wall. That was probably the first time I had a smile on my face all weekend!

So my first qualifying run would have to count, which put me in 19th place out of 20 people that got scores! DMCC/XDC originally decided to do top 32 format for this round, but only 20 people managed to get scores out of about 30 entrants, so the highest 12 qualifiers would automatically advance to the top 16 round. We had another way-too-long driver meeting, and then we got a short practice in the wet where I managed to get 3 runs. I would be going against Cody Loughhead in top 32. I got one run behind him in practice, but he spun out, so I didn’t learn much from that, and it was in the wet.

By the time we got around to the actual competition, the track had completely dried out. I had no idea how Cody was going to drive in the dry, so I decided to give him a car length on the entry and try to close in from there. We initiated, he slowed down a bit, then sped up. I tried to get on the throttle hard to catch up to him, but I gave it too much throttle over the big bump right after the first clipping point, and I spun out! At this point, I didn’t give a crap and was thinking I would be packing up and going home shortly. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Cody drove straight the majority of the run, and there was no advantage for either driver. To his credit, I believe his clutch was slipping. I put down a solid lead run with him straightening behind me, and I got the win.

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In top 16, I was paired with Tanner. I know I can go 100% with him, so I was relaxed going into the battle. I followed first and entered right behind him. He straightened after the first clip and got wobbly. I gave him some room in case he spun out, but he got back in drift. We came out of the infield with him pulling a gap on me, but he straightened again doing the manji on the front straight, so now I just tried to finish the run clean, and I should have had the advantage. He followed me pretty close on the next run but went low on both banks, which the judges specifically did not want. I won again.

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The next battle was with Nick Bro’Alessio in the top 8. I was told that he was driving well, but his line was inconsistent, and he was sometimes going low on the banks. I gave him some room on the entry and closed up through the infield. His angle was shallow coming out of the infield, and he straightened doing the manji on the front straight similar to what Tanner did, so I just finished the run clean and didn’t try to go crazy getting in his door. I knew he’d be gunning for it on the chase run to try to get a OMT, so I tried to ignore him, and just do a mistake-free run. I entered a bit early though and killed my speed too much, which screwed up Nick behind me. The rest of the run was fine, but the judges saw the slower entry and gave Nick the advantage on that run, so we went OMT. I did two clean runs. He had shallow angle coming onto the front straight and a quick straighten there on both runs, so I got the win.

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I did not think I would be in the top 4 when this day started! The next battle was against Marc-Andre Claude, one of the Pro-Am guys that stepped up to Pro for this event. He was doing a great job. I followed him decently well but nothing crazy. He straightened out behind me on my lead run, and I got the win.

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So now I was in the finals with Marc Landreville! Yeeha! Kevin told me to go 100% since Marc knows this track like the back of his hand and is not likely to make a mistake. He also qualified 1st and breezed through into the finals. I had nothing to lose, except the $5,500 difference between 1st and 2nd payout! We entered with a bit of gap, and I closed in through the infield and stayed with him the rest of the way. It was easy to follow him because he’s so smooth on this track. It felt like slow motion, and I didn’t have any “oh shit!” moments like I usually do when I try to chase people close… haha. I knew with 70psi or whatever we had in the rear tires, my car wasn’t fast enough to pull a gap on him, so I wanted to do a clean lead run, and we would see if we’d go OMT or if he would make a mistake and give me the win. On my lead run, Marc got bogged down coming onto the front straight, and I pulled a small gap. I heard him right behind me most of the time though, so I thought we would go OMT, but the DMCC official giving the decisions in front of the stands told us to get out of the cars because the judges chose a winner. Then, they announced me as the winner!

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I couldn’t believe I just won it after such a crappy start to the weekend. A lot of luck and some decent driving gets it done again! Haha. So there’s one more round to go in the season, and I have a pretty good lead on Briggs in the championship since he lost to Landreville in top 8 this round. Hopefully I can finish strong at ICAR in a few weeks.

Big thanks to Kevin for helping out all weekend, JF for spotting and filming, Widened for all the vinyl work and merchandise, and Briggs’ crew for being awesome and helping out with our panicked tire change!