Chris Ferguson came across a bit of a bug in his first time out with his new race car
28-year-old, Chris Ferguson has made the switch to Sweet Bloomquist Chassis. The car made it’s debut over the weekend in the Dirt Million. The North Carolina driver ventured North for the biggest dirt late model race of the season in Mansfield, Ohio.
This is a program that started to take shape back in July. Though, talks of the idea came months earlier.
The car was actually expected to debut at Florence Speedway for the North/South 100. However, the #22 car wasn’t quite ready for the show. As Bloomquist sent his trailer off to get worked on, the #0 team used the #22 trailer for the trip to Florence.
How long did you take to put this new car together?
“I guess about 4-5 weeks,” Chris Ferguson explained to RacingNews.co . “Really, it was 4-5 weeks of driving up to Scott’s on the weekend to work on it. Actually, all of my crew works Monday-Friday.”
“I actually took off work a couple Thursday’s and Friday’s. We actually had it done about a week and a half before Mansfield. But, we needed to go through everything.”
“Nut ‘n bolt, check if the oil line’s right. Because Scott runs Ford stuff and I run Chevrolet stuff. So naturally, everything that he had, it didn’t match up. So, I had to take my stuff to Brown and Miller Racing Solutions. I took the whole car to Brown and Miller to get it all plugged.”
Was it an option to take it back to your shop to put it all together?
“Yeah. But, not really.”
“At first, I thought it was. Once I started building it at his shop I realized it really wasn’t. I’ve built plenty of race cars in my day. The stuff we did on this car, I would have never knew to do.”
“I’m very fortunate to build it up there just because of the stuff that I’ve learned. I would have never knew if I took it home and bolted it together.”
“These parts, everybody can order every part. That’s the good thing about dirt racing. Everybody can basically buy what everybody else has. The actuality of it is every part on this car is manufactured by a company who has something to do with dirt racing.”
“But, with his car, there’s a specific way he wants everything done on them. To build it as his shop, it was really the only way to do it. Cause he has to show you. It’s not like I can call him on the phone. I’m not going to know how he wants me to do it over the phone.”
“It actually was pretty cool to learn some things that I never thought twice about on the race car. It was cool to have somebody show me how they do this and explain why it’s better. Instead of just bolting something on.”
Your first night in the car was the Dirt Million. Were there any bugs?
“Yeah there was. There was definitely a big bug. I pressed the clutch in qualifying instead of the brake.”
“On every car I’ve ever drove in my entire life the clutch is all the way on the left. The brake is in the center and the gas is all the way on the right.”
“It’s just like a straight drive. By happen chance, I drive a beater around Charlotte. Instead of driving my truck I drive a beater, which is a straight drive.”
“The first night, I got out of a rhythm of making sure my foot was on the brake. I went into the corner in qualifying and pressed the clutch and couldn’t figure out why the car wasn’t turning. I just couldn’t figure out why the car was carrying speed and I couldn’t get it to turn.”
“About the 2nd lap of qualifying, I figured it out. By that time, I realized I had completely ruined everything we had going for us.”
“Cody, Scott’s crew chief had a great idea. We got a golf ball from Devin Moran, cut it in half and taped it on the front side of the clutch pedal.”
“Now, when I press the clutch I can feel that golf ball. I’m on the wrong one. Let’s go around and make sure I get my left foot on the brake pedal.”
Why is it reversed?
“In all honesty, it makes a little bit of sense. For guys like Scott and me. I’m not tall but I’m a taller guy. The more you can kinda spread your legs in the cockpit … These cockpits are pretty small. I got a lot of leg angle.”
“Somebody with shorter legs or a short torso, they can sit down flat in any kind of dirt late model. Their legs kinda sit pretty straight toward the pedals. Which is good.”
“But, when you got a little bit longer legs you got a lot of leg angle. Because the pedals are closer to you. When you spread those pedals out you can pull your legs apart. It takes out the leg angle and you kinda feel like you’re sitting in a recliner.”
That’s pretty smart right there.
“At first, I didn’t really believe him. Now, after the feature, I feel 100 times better. I got more of an insert. And the insert in my car kind of goes up in the center. There’s a contour in the center of the seat. It feels like I’m sitting in a recliner.”
“Before, when you got your two feet together and they’re real close there’s a lot of leg angle. You actually wear yourself out because there’s no leg support.”
“It’s just something he came up with a long time ago. It is the opposite of a real straight drive. So, I can see why as a manufacture you probably wouldn’t want to do that.”
“But, when you’re building cars for a handful of guys it’s not that big of a difference. I liked it in the feature. I wasn’t as wore out as I usually am.”
“We passed a lot of cars on Friday. I got more and more comfortable. We’re still getting the bugs worked out. But, it felt good to really go forward on a surface that I’m typically not very good at.”
Chris Ferguson finished 11th in his feature event on the Friday night portion of the Dirt Million.
What about the surface do you struggle with?
“It was like dirty, shiny, dirty, crumby,” Ferguson explains the transitional surface.
Yeah, there’s nothing like this down South.
“Yeah, it’s nothing like this. So, you have traction for a second then you hit a black spot and it’s slick.”
“It was really nice to be able to kinda search around. I passed a couple guys on the outside and passed a couple guys on the bottom. By the end of the night, I was real comfortable.”
“I wish I could go back and not press the clutch in qualifying. We really got us in a hole. If we could have started a little farther forward we would have had an even better car.”
“That’s part of the learning process I guess. Learn to not press the clutch and I’ll be ok,” Ferguson concluded with a laugh.
Related: Kyle Bronson back to Rocket Chassis
Related: Kyle Bronson to Team Zero