The event began with a mid-afternoon 90-minute practice session. The No. 90 UNION Insurance Group Chevrolet ran respectable times amongst an incredible competitive field (a tenth of a second was the difference between 10 spots).
Qualifying was slated for 6 PM. The team drew a dreaded early position for time – going out 7th of the 33 cars to attempt to qualify for the 31-car field. As predicted, Renee qualified poorly in the 26th spot.
After qualifying, Renee participated in an autograph session on Stafford’s midway.
The125-lap feature eventually rolled off at about 10 PM. The race went green for 32 laps. When the next caution waved about 10 laps later, Renee brought the car to pit road for chassis adjustments and fresh rubber. When the car returned to the track, the brake problems that have plagued the team all season reared their ugly head.
“This has been a frustrating season – to say the least,” explained Renee. “The brake situation has had us completely stumped. Obviously, we went to the track thinking we had the problem solved. But, we didn’t – and we didn’t know that until race time. It’s just impossible to drive the car with major brake issues. It makes the car unpredictable and incredibly inconsistent.”
“Regardless, with Martinsville next week, we unloaded the car on Saturday morning and went to work. We borrowed some brake pressure gauges and immediately confirmed a serious problem. Eventually we found a clearance issue with the bias adjuster and pedal assembly. Some machine work on the Bridgeport solved the problem. But, to be certain we changed all the steel lines on the car too. Now, between the last three races, we have swapped out every brake component on the car.”
“On an interesting side note, on Saturday night I got a call from Waterford,” explained Renee. “One of our crew guys was down there and was talking with Rob Summers (a fellow WMT racer) about our problem. They called me and Robbie and I talked. He said they chased the same exact problem for four races last season. We commiserated over the frustration, because – from the outside looking in – it appears like the driver just isn’t getting the job done. He went out of his way to call to make sure we had the problem properly addressed. He didn’t have to do that, but I’m very appreciative that he did.”
As Renee mentioned, the team is headed to Martinsville (VA) this weekend for a 200 lap race – which is scheduled to go off at 1 PM on Sunday, June 6. The race will air on SPEED at a date and time yet to be announced.