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Top-10 finish at Thunder Road


After failing to qualify in his first-ever appearance at Thunder Road Speedbowl back on May 4, Ricky Wolf enacted revenge on the challenging quarter-mile track as he raced to a 10th-place finish on Sunday, May 25.

The quality finish is Wolf's second top-10 of the 2008 campaign and his first top-10 at a track other than his "hometown" track of Lee USA Speedway.

Ricky recalls the events of the weekend...

"Memorial Day weekend saw us point the hauler north early Saturday morning heading to Barre, Vermont, where Thunder Road was hosting the American-Canadian Tour and the Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day 100. Saturday afternoon saw practice sessions only for the ACT Late Models, and True Value Modified Series who were visiting the track for the first time in more than 40 years. Thunder Roads regular divisions also had practice and their qualifying races held on Saturday as well.

Even though it was not really showing up on the stop watch Saturday afternoon during our practice sessions, we were confident we had an improved setup in the car compared to our first visit to Thunder Road, when we unfortunately failed to qualify. Jason made a few minor adjustments to the chassis as the afternoon went on, but one of the biggest things for me was logging additional laps at the tricky quarter mile track. There are so many great weekly Late Model competitors at the Road, and when you add to them the ACT regulars you have a very stout field.

Sunday morning saw a field of 39 cars attempt to qualify for the 100 lap feature race. As always the numbers game known as qualifying on the Tour starts early, with the draw for starting position in the first round of qualifying. A draw of "46" set the Mark and Robbin Willoughby owned #38NH in the 5th starting position in the third of four 15-lap qualifying races, with the top four from each qualifying race guaranteed a spot in the feature. Contact amongst the front runners early in our qualifying race allowed us to pick up a few valuable spots and settle into the third position. We slowly reeled in Pete Fecteau in the #75 machine, and eventually slipped into second place, where we remained until the checkered flag was thrown. Moving from fifth to second earned us a "plus 3" in the ACT handicapping system.

Much to our surprise, the "plus 3" form our qualifying effort was good enough to start us on the outside of the front row for the Mekkelsen RV 100. I have to say the view from turn one during driver introductions was an experience in itself. To be on the outside of the front row with all of the tough competition that there is on the Tour was enough, but the view of
the standing room only seating from the track was completely impressive. It is something every short track racer should get to experience.

When the green flag finally flew, we ran outside of the pole sitter, Eric Williams in the #7VT for quite a few laps, hanging tough in the outside groove. Little did I know that I would be in the outside lane for almost the first 30 laps+/- of the race, battling with the top three cars for position. It was good, hard, clean racing. You really have to see Thunder Road to understand how much cooperation it takes amongst your fellow competitors to maintain a side by side battle, especially coming off of turn four - you really have to respect each other. Although it forced me to use up a little more tire than I wanted to the first third of the race, the racing in general was just phenomenal. We eventually battled with Joey
Polewarczyk in the #97, and settled into third place, where we ran for quite a few laps, slowly reeling in the first and second place cars. The car began to loosen up a little bit off of the corners as the race wore on, and a spin by a lapped car in front of us caused us to check up and lose several positions, without a break in the action until lap 70. When the first caution did eventually come, we were still running in 9th place, and we finished out fairly strong as well, ending up in tenth place.

A huge thanks goes out to Mark and Robbin and the entire Willoughby Motorsports team. Jason made some great calls adjusting on the car all weekend, and put a great car under me. The crew never missed a beat, and worked their tails off all weekend as well. Thanks also to our sponsors, BG Environmental, Waste Management, Ciotti Racing Products, and Kimberly
Meyer Family Dentistry. The team continues to get better each week, and the efforts of all are beginning to show. Thanks also to our loyal family of fans that continue to show us their support at the track every time out.

The next "new" challenge for us will be the Waterford Speedbowl, in Waterford Connecticut, on Saturday, June 7th. Of course, it is another track I have never seen (other than watching video on youtube!!) or competed at. I am confident we will prepare a car that will be competitive when we arrive in Connecticut."

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