Late Model Return Ends On Podium
May 20, 2017
Late in the 2016 racing season, the Mark Burbridge Racing team acquired a Pro Late Model chassis. At the conclusion of the season, the team sold off their Thunder Car, and set out to chase down the 2017 Pro Late Model Championship at Flamboro Speedway. After an extremely long winter of work, and a little helping hand from mother nature by delaying the season opener by two weeks, the team finished up final preparations on the car Saturday morning, and set out for Flamboro Speedway in the afternoon.
The afternoon practice sessions were all about shaking down the #02 Hearth and Home Chevrolet, checking for minor bugs in the car's handling and drive line. At the completion of the two practice rounds, the team felt that they had all the bugs worked out of the car, but did not yet have a good idea for how the car would handle under racing conditions.
For the first of two 30 lap main events on the evening for the Pro Late Models, Mark was slotted to start 14th out of 17 cars, after a random pill draw determined starting positions. The team was comfortable with starting towards the rear of the field, as it would allow them to run some low pressure laps to get a feel for how the car might handle. When the green flag flew, Mark began moving forward as the field shuffled itself out. By lap 10, Mark was up to the 9th position and running strong. As the field passed the halfway point, Mark was still running strong, and looking to keep moving forward. With just ten laps remaining, the first caution flag of the event would fly when the #15 of Matt Lockwood spun the #86 of Billy Schwartzenburg while attempting a pass for the lead. Schwartzenburg would go to the rear of the field as an accident car, and Lockwood would join him there for his involvement in the incident. This would move Mark up to the 7th position for the restart. When the race restarted, Mark used the inside line to his advantage, slipping past the #86 of Kenny Forth and battling past the #63 of Hudson Nagy, moving up to the 5th position. With just two laps to go, all heck broke loose at the front of the field, as the 2nd and 3rd place cars of Jake Sheridan in the #5 and Blair Wickett in the #97 got together heading into turn one. The two cars appeared to hook together, going hard into the turn one wall, resulting in Sheridan's car landing upside down on top of Wicketts. As this incident developed, Mark managed to sneak past on the low side, coming through free of damage. The crash would result in a lengthy red flag delay, as safety crews removed the mangled cars from the race track. When the track was finally ready for racing, Mark found himself starting from the 3rd position for the two lap battle to the finish. When the green flag dropped, Nagy got a good jump on Mark's outside, forcing Mark to fight hard for 3rd. The two would battle door-to-door, with Mark finally gaining the advantage heading down the back straight on the final lap. Mark would slip past Nagy, and come home to the checkered flag with a 3rd place finish.
For the second race of the evening, the team made preparations to loosen up the car. Bump stop packers would added to the left front, and more stagger was added to the rear tires, with the aim to help the car roll through the corner better. Mark was slated to roll off from the 9th position for the second race, but as the field took to the track for pace laps, a light rain began to fall. The cars continued to circle the track, hoping the rain would fade out, but it continued to get stronger. Eventually, track officials made the call to postpone the remainder of the event to another night.
The Mark Burbridge Racing team was happy with the strong run, but will look to make some more gains before the next event. That next event will take place in two weeks time, on Saturday, June 3rd, with racing starting at 6:30pm. See you at the track!