Frustrating Weekend Builds Notebook, Refocuses ABR
Port Royal, PA – March 21, 2022
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: WRT SpeedWerx / Chris Hockley
Coming off a season opener back on March 6th that saw Austin Berry come out of the gate looking strong, ABR entered their first three-race weekend of the season feeling positive and ready for the very competitive ULMS weekend.
March 18: ULMS / Williams Grove Speedway / Mechanicsburg, PA
(21 cars, Qualifying 10th, Heat 6th, A-main 11th)
Friday night brought 70 degree weather and 21 super late models to the famous Williams Grove Speedway on a mid-March evening. Warm weather in March and super late models at ‘The Grove’ are both rare occurrences in PA.
The Tire Mart / JDS Racing / Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter / Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop / Nathan Berry Beef Farm / A&C Racing Engines / Swift Springs / Addicted2DirtPR.com / Penske Racing Shocks / Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic / VP Racing Fuels / Rocket Chassis XR1 No.86 of Berry was among them.
Over the past couple seasons, Berry and team have made it a goal to compete at multiple tracks each year. The team knows that is an essential aspect of learning and growth.
“You have to race as much as you are able and challenge yourself at a variety of facilities. It’s the best way to improve. It makes me better behind the wheel and it makes all of us better at understanding what our car needs”, Berry shared.
Berry’s night started off reasonably well with a 10th quick qualifying effort and a surge into 3rd place early in his heat race. Contact with another car entering turn 3 early in that race sent Berry spinning and relegated him to the rear of the field for the restart. He was only able to rebound to a 6th place finish in the short event, which put him 16th on the starting grid for the 30-lap feature event, instead of the top-10 starting spot it appeared he would have.
The Mifflin, PA native clawed his way to an eventual 11th place finish on a surface that was a bit narrow and challenging to pass on. It wasn’t quite the finish Berry felt they were capable of, but they had added a couple lessons to their notebook.
March 19: ULMS / Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
Saturday’s ULMS event at the ‘Speed Palace’ was cancelled due to rain.
One highlight of the weekend occurred prior to Sunday’s on-track activities at Port Royal Speedway. The speedway officially presented Berry with a beautiful plaque to commemorate his 2021 Most Improved Driver award.
March 20: ULMS / Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(32 cars, Qualifying 3rd in Flight 2 , Heat 3rd, A-main 16th)
The weather front that moved through Pennsylvania and washed out Saturday’s event brought everyone back to reality as more normal March temperatures and conditions set it. A high of 50 degrees, spitting rain and 15 mph winds were the order of the day for the final event of the weekend.
None of that kept the race teams away though as 32 super late model teams signed in. Austin Berry’s pill draw placed him in the second flight for group time trials, and he promptly ripped off the third quickest lap in a stout group.
The lap put Berry in a good position to claim a spot in the redraw through his heat race. He earned the second starting spot in heat three. A top two finish would hand him a spot in the redraw and would mean he would start no worse than 8th in the 30-lap A-main.
On the opening lap Berry slipped back one spot to third. He spent the remainder of the 8-lap qualifier trying to reclaim that prized spot, pulling to the bumper and even alongside Jacob Hawkins on multiple occasions. Berry was working hard to time his passing attempt just right in hopes he would be close enough to strike if the door opened.
When two cars run so close together, the air flows over the trailing car and therefore no longer creates downforce on the nose of the car. That loss of pressure on the nose of the car will cause the car to wash up the track, unable to hold its line. That’s what happened to Berry on multiple occasions as he tried to work back into second. He ultimately finished 3rd, which meant an 11th place starting spot in the feature event.
In an effort to keep up with the tricky, cold weather, day-turned-to-night, surface, as well as solve problems from earlier in the day, Berry and team made some major changes prior to their feature. Those changes did not pan out. Berry knew early on he had a very loose racecar and was unable to enter the corners as aggressively as he wanted to. As a result, he slid backwards through the running order as he fought the ill-handling racecar to a 16th place finish.
“I’m extremely frustrated. We all are. We have been fighting little issues since our test session back at the beginning of March. We have been trying new stuff and I think we got off our sequence for adjustments. Nobody to blame. We made our decisions together”, Berry commented.
Berry and team have certainly raised the bar for themselves the past year. They have been running more consistently than ever and as a result, they expect more.
“We push ourselves. We know we have the stuff it takes, so we want to get our program to a place where being off a little off means running 10th“, a determined Berry explained.
“We just need to get back to work”, Berry concluded.
ABR will spend this week going over the car closely, making sure every component is race-ready, then they will be back in action at Port Royal Speedway on Saturday, March 26th.
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