We were promised a new improved version of Lakeville Speedway this year and after talking to Randy Young during the off-season it was clear that he was serious about that promise. Of course promises only go so far until the season begins and it's time to make good on those promises. In a brilliant move Lakeville brought in Ed Fredricks and his crew of track officials to help make this plan work and the change was VERY clear to anybody there this Friday night. The first sign of change was when I saw the black flag fly in hot laps for rough driving in the Mini Stocks. What a way to introduce yourself Ed! ;-) The driver's meeting was probably the most important part of the night and a clear sign of changes made for this season. Chuck Griffith starting things off by explaining that many of the things that have tarnished Lakeville in the past will now result in those violators looking for a new place to race. The plan is to eliminate all the drama on the track and in the pits, as well as in the grandstands. Finally, Lakeville will once again be a great place to take the family for some good clean racing action. The list of things that will no longer be tolerated was made very clear and it seemed to really sink in for once.
I've said before that it was going to be up to the racers and fans to help make this turn-around happen, just as much as it was up to the track. I'm happy to say that the drivers certainly did their part this week to clean things up. It looked to me as if many of drivers remembered where that brake pedal was at the same point where they would have probably just used the other cars for a guard rail in the past. Hats off to you drivers for stepping up and doing your part to improve the Lakeville experience. Even with the milder attitudes out there you put on a great show and probably some of the best racing I've seen there in years. It was great to see racing instead of beating, banging, and bitching going on out there on the track. Now, does this mean that everything including all the calls made were perfect? Hell no, but I've asked you before to let me know if you find a track anywhere that can pull that off so I can witness this miracle. Congrats to all of the staff at Lakeville and of course the racers for making such a huge difference in just one night. Let's hope this level of cooperation continues all season.
Now for some of the racing action. JR Gentry was clearly the standout in the Late Models as he turned the very first laps in his new GDI ride. What a way to break in a new car. Fighting a loose condition he still stole the heat race win in fine fashion. After making a small change for the feature he set out to put on a clinic on how to get around Lakeville. He checked out on the stout field behind him and had them covered by about half a lap when the first caution flew. Under caution it was clear that his car was in trouble from a broken j-bar mount but the young fella still took the green and went back to his ass whoopin' until the car finally turned right on him in turn 3 and his night was over. What a run though for this team. I can't wait to see what they have in store for next week. The wild action in that feature was far from over once Gentry was in the pits. Lonas and Duncan put on quite a show of their own. In a move that would have made even George Lee cringe, Duncan made a charge on the last lap that had him dusting off the back stretch wall and sneaking by Lonas right at the stripe. DAMN that was fun to watch!
In asphalt news, you may have noticed I didn't post an update on opening night down at Midvale last week. Well you didn't miss much but here's a condensed version. A week of tinkering after practice day gave Miller a better handling car but still not what he was gonna need to work the outside groove. Qualifying went fairly well with Mike turning the 3rd fastest time. The feature was when the outside lane would be needed the most and the car just wasn't up to the job. Mike got freight trained towards the tail before making up a little ground on the inside to finish 7th. This week would bring more changes and an improvement we've been looking for. Although it still wasn't perfect, for the first time in quite a while Mike had a car capable of working either lane and it was a welcome sight. Had it not been for being blocked and roughed up for several laps he just might have picked up the win. From his 7th starting spot he quickly found himself riding in 4th before the blocking dragged him backwards for a while. Once clearing the rolling road block he went to work chasing the front pack down. The laps would run out before he could make it to the lead but a strong 3rd place finish ain't to damn shabby at this point. The well deserved win went to Doug McMillen and after their recent bad luck it was great to see one go their way. Congrats guys! Hopefully some more small changes this week will make Miller's ride even better and that could get interesting. Stay tuned................