‘Computer people’ from the NASCAR world have brought advanced technology to dirt racing
37-year-old Jesse Stovall has a pretty neat home track. He’s local to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO, the famed 3/8-mile oval owned by Forrest Lucas.
However, just because that gem of a race track is in his backyard doesn’t mean he gets to race there very often. The speedway doesn’t have a super late model division on the bill for their local shows. But, when the Super Late Models are on the schedule, he’ll be there.
Ahead of the Show-Me 100 I chatted with Stovall about the track which led in an array of other discussions on modern dirt late model technology.
“Well, I don’t race here locally anymore. I’ve raced here locally in the past with the modifieds and stuff. But, they don’t race an open late model locally. As far as being local — Yeah, this is one of my home tracks,” Jesse Stovall explains to RacingNews.co .
Well, how often do you race here? I assume you come to all the big shows?
“Yeah, we really only get to race here 3-4 times a year. The first race here was canceled. So, I haven’t raced here yet this year.”
“So, I’m kinda in the dark this year, as everybody is. Nobody has got to race here locally. Except if many there’s a UMLA guy here that races here locally a time or two to come out here and have fun.”
“I’ve raced here since it opened. When they first built it and it was just dirt pits and Wheatland Speedway.”
I heard when Forrest Lucas bought the track they tore everything down and started fresh with the exception of the track itself. So, how much of the track is the same since the day it opened?
“They’ve changed the track just a little bit, here and there. Sometimes they do good and sometimes they do bad. But, for the most part, it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been. ”
I would say you have more knowledge than anyone, as far as the notebook when you come to Lucas Oil Speedway. But, does the notebook even apply when the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series comes into the area?
“Well, your notebook never applies, hardly at all anymore. The racing industry is changing so much everyday. From shock and springs to Chassis’.”
“You can take a few things. But, really the setup that I ran 3rd with here two years ago will not even compete today.”
“So, you really just have to keep following the trend these days. It’s getting kinda wild and crazy with some of the shock and spring packages that we’ve got.”
“You really can’t never take the same thing to the track.”
It’s just that the parts change and that changes the whole setup?
“Shocks and springs have just advanced so far. It’s just like a computer. A computer three years ago doesn’t do what it does now. The same thing with these race cars.”
“They’re just advancing in leaps and bounds right now. Because of all the technology with computers, with pull down rigs, with the data and all the things you can put on these cars.”
“The computer people from the Cup world seen that there’s a market here. So, they started making data systems that you can put on these cars.”
“They started making pull down rigs. You can take your car to the pull down rig. You can hook a dirt late model up to the rig and simulate a dirt track.”
“It’s changed the whole — The last 2-3 years have just been crazy. So, you just can’t bring the same old thing that you had. Your gear selection, that’s about all you got.”
The pull down rig is a scaling system with motion. Sensors on the race car during a track test collect multiple sources of data. For example, how far did the shock travel? Then, when the car is placed in the scales it moves back into that exact position it was on the race track. The system can actually simulate an entire lap moving the car up and down while on the scales. But, with costs around $50,000 is a really expensive R&D system.
I’ve actually heard that now the pull down rig is becoming outdated over actual testing. Would you agree?
“Yes. The pull down rig, it just didn’t hit like everybody thought it was going to. It came out big, a lot of people thought they had to have them.”
“They’re finding out that you just can’t simulate that race track and going through them ruts. You just can’t do it.”
“This race track is going to be different than it was last year and different than it was three years ago. It’s never the same. There’s always a hole in a different spot. Or grooves change at a different pace.”
“It stays slicker longer. Stays muddy longer. Stays hooked up longer, whatever. It’s just hard to know that.”
“I just got a lot of laps around here. So, that’s the only thing that I can probably have an advantage on people. You know, you go to Illinois and Bobby Pierce is gonna — He’s gotten good here too. If it gets rough late, his car will go around here like Jack the Bear.”
“Nothing against nobody — But, I don’t know that he’ll do that in the car that he’s in now. Different cars are different to him. You just never know. Especially when you change brand new cars. You go to those same race tracks you were good at and you might not be worth a shit at.”
“And when you come to a place that you weren’t good at, you might shine. It’s tough.”
I’ve seen guys win a feature and then not make a feature, requiring a provisional on back to back nights at the same track.
“Yeah, for me it would be just as easy to not make this race than it would to make it and sit on the front row. It’s just if we hit right, we’ll be good. If we don’t, I’m not going to be mad about it.”
“I used to let it bother me. Today, I don’t. I’m just going to go out there and give it all that I’ve got, that’s what we’ve got.”
It’s probably what makes dirt racing so great though. All that change.
Jesse Stovall finished 6th in the B-Main on the first night of the Show-Me 100 weekend. He missed a transfer spot into the A by 4 positions. On the second night of the show, he finished 13th in the main event. Jesse Stovall transferred into the Show-Me 100 main event by finishing 2nd in the H main on the final day. He went on to finish 25th in the finale.
Related: Show-Me 100 Results – May 26, 2018
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