A tacky Knoxville Raceway surface is hard on the small teams
On Saturday, hours after a heavy rain shower, water trucks circled the racing surface at Knoxville Raceway. At the same time, Jason Feger was engaged in a long discussion with Rick Schwallie at the LOLMDS trailer.
Keeping my distance, I wasn’t sure what Jason wanted to say. It wasn’t a conversation of anger or anything like that. Jason just looked passionate. Hours later, ahead of the feature I caught up with Jason. Is it something you want to talk about?
“Lucas is the best series about being receptive,” Jason Feger explains his conversation with the series directior.
“We were just talking about the track [Knoxville Raceway] and how it’s been pretty fast. The consistency, at least that I get, among the drivers, is that they wish they wouldn’t water it so much. It’s just hard on equipment.”
“100 laps is a long time. Today, they got two races. They water it and water it and water it. It’s not that it’s not fun, it’s just hard on equipment.”
If a track is intended to remain moist throughout the distance of 100 laps… That’s 100 full throttle laps, on a large 1/2 mile racetrack. 20 second lap times for 100 straight laps. The motor is spiked for 33 minutes.
“We’re coming off 3 days at Eldora, now 3 days out here. Six days in ten nights. I mean it’s for big purses. I just think you’re going to see the car counts start dropping. It makes it hard to come out here.”
Because it’s a hard week on equipment?
“It’s so hard on motors. If you don’t have the biggest, baddest motor. It’s tougher on the little guys.”
“I’m still a small team. There’s a couple of my buddies here, they said the same thing. We don’t know if we’ll come back.”
“The bad thing is… This track seems like the best it is to me, is when it’s really black and really slick. We race all over it.”
The more the track is watered, the faster it is. Most track prep is intended to purposely let the track dry out at a planed time of the event. Not all. But, I’d say a vast majority of tracks want the track to slick over and dry out in the middle of the feature.
When a track slicks over, it creates a multitude of grooves. Usually, with dirt late models, they can run all over a black surface. The top, bottom and middle lanes are open for business.
Alternatively, a track with a lot of moisture can sometimes produce the same thing. The difference is that a moist track has more give in the surface, that creates a bumpy track. At the same time, the moisture in the dirt creates a ton of traction. That means you have to be on the gas as you roll through the bumps. Simultaneously, that’s brutal on suspensions and motors.
“To me it seems like it displaces the best racing. We never even really started to get it black. It got a little black last night in the feature but not compared to what it used to. The last few years they just kept it as wet as they could get it. It’s just tough on equipment.”
32 cars started the 100 lap main event in the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals. 17 cars finished the race. Some dropped due to incident or tire/mechanical failure. Others pulled in, simply to save equipment.
Author: Shane Walters