It looks like the racing season has finally come to an end around here. I'm happy to tell you that Mike Miller provided a great ending to one hell of a season this weekend at Lorain County Speedway's Halloween Festival Of Speed. Last year we had high hopes of winning this show after qualifying 2nd and running strong in every test session. Early in the feature things were looking great until disaster struck and the oil pump snapped off the block. Not only was it a bad way to end the season, it was a costly one too. This year Miller seemed determined to make up for that ugly day no matter what it took. We started out fast enough in hot laps but suffered from mechanical demons all weekend. The car would just shut off at the end of the straights nearly every lap. With very limited test laps we needed to find the cure and do it fast. Even with the problem Mike squeezed out the 3rd qualifying time, missing our time from last year by just .03 of a second. That's a consistent car and driver! We made many changes between every chance to get on the track on Saturday but were forced to use the heat race and the Mods/Lates exhibition race for more testing. Mike shot into 3rd early in the heat race but just couldn't hang there to the end with the lack of power and the 22 car breathing down his neck. He made the wise decision to let him go and settle for 4th. The later race that night featured 6 Modifieds against 6 Late Models, and this is usually a pretty one sided battle in favor of the Mods. Our plan was to try our latest changes for a couple of laps and then get the hell off the track. Plans don't always work out though. Especially when Miller feels a bit hungry. Still struggling with the dead motor at the end of the straights, he soon found himself working the outside and moving forward. It was clear once he could see the front of the pack he wasn't coming in anytime soon. The crowd got pretty noisy when they saw him slide into 2nd and set his eyes on the front runner nearly a straightaway ahead of him. That lead went away in a hurry and he was just making the move for the lead when laps ran out. While that race gave us some encouragement we knew we still needed to cure this damn power problem before the 50 lap feature on Sunday. Hot laps on Sunday showed that at one point we actually made the problem worse so it was time to get busy. We changed damn near everything except the driver (sure glad we didn't try that!) before the feature and could only hope for the best. If the problem was still there it would be a very short race for us and Mike would once again be forced into spectator mode. Miller lined up 10th surrounded by some of the best Late Models in the area so it was go time from the start if the car was right. It took him roughly 2 laps to bust into the top 5 and it obvious at that point that we'd finally gave him the car he deserves. I've said it many times but it's just plain purrrrty to watch this guy pilot a good car. The folks standing next to me in the pits swear there's nobody smoother behind the wheel and I'd have to agree. Never one to force the issue he patiently worked his way to second and took his time planning his move that would put him the lead. This 50 lapper was slowed constantly by caution flags and that was the only thing keeping Miller from the lead the second half of the race. Every damn time he had the chance at the lead the caution flag flew and he'd have to do it all over again. The last caution came out with just 3 laps left and Mike knew he'd have his hands full trying to get by Dave Wagner for the big prize. Anybody that may have dared to dream that this old fella might have lost something over the years sure as hell didn't watch this race. He drove the fuggin wheels of the thing and did everything but play dirty on those final laps but came up a bit short at the stripe. Another lap would have almost certainly brought a different ending but that's racing. We were more than happy to take second at the biggest show of the year for us. Maybe more importantly, we finally cured that power problem and that thing was a rocket ship! That's a great way to put a cap on a strong season if ya ask me.
Speaking of capping off a great season, I know I'm a bit late mentioning the Dirt Blowout at Lakeville (you know by boss is a slave driver!) but what a show that was! If you missed it your ass should be black and blue all winter long. Awesome on track action, corn hole games, bike races and even a championship awards presentation all came together for an entertaining weekend to say the least. A long season of changes at Lakeville finally paid off for the entire crew there when the ugliness of past Blowouts became just a distant memory. Sure Mother Nature tried to dampen the fun, and there was still some wild action on the track, but things sure as hell went smoother than I expected. Hats off to the entire staff and especially the race teams for putting on a great show all weekend. The 4 Bangers may have put on the best show of the weekend and that's a huge example of just how much things have changed at Lakeville this season. The turn-around in just one season was simply amazing. It sure as hell makes me look forward to next season at Lakeville even more. Sure, 2009 didn't go flawlessly by any means, but it didn't at any track, and we were treated to some good clean action packed nights all summer long. This is once again the place to take the family for kickass side by side dirt action. THANKYOU Lakeville staff and race teams for a summer to remember! See ya there again after the nasty ol' winter is over. ;-)