Extra distance events have always been a favourite for Port Hope, ON-racer Bryan Mercer. The 38-year-old made it to victory lane twice during Kawartha Speedway’s 2011 season, including becoming the first regular in track history to capture the prestigious NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model Summer Sizzler. When the June 1 kick-off for this year’s campaign was rained-out, Mercer and his crew immediately went to work getting the #81 Sine’s Flooring/Durmach Excellence in Tooling Chevrolet Impala ready for the Friday, June 15,100-lapper that would mark this year’s opening night of action at the Fraserville, ON speedplant.
“We were able to make some solid set-up notes after the practice session at Kawartha and although the car was loose to start with, it got better as time wore on,” said Mercer. “Communication with the crew has always been one of the strengths of our team and the feedback we’re able to share keeps us competitive at Kawartha and anywhere else we choose to race.”
Bryan Mercer has learned a lot about how the car will change during a main event that’s four times longer than what they usually run. Handling characteristics will change as the fuel load runs down and as the tires heat-up. The driver says the car felt fast during the pre-race practice session, but there seemed to be an issue with braking. While the other divisions were on the track, the team investigated and found an issue with the rear brake master cylinder, which meant they’d only have front brakes for the entire night. Even with that concern, Mercer was able to win his qualifying heat race and also claimed the checkered flag in the semi feature.
“We had plenty of speed, but the car was a bit of a handful because of the braking problem,” said Mercer. “We lined-up 4th at the start of the 100 lapper, but struggled with getting the car to behave early on. Contact with another car resulted in a spin on the 15th lap, but the crew was able to repair some front-end damage and adjust the chassis. Things on the handling side of things were better during the second part of the race, but driving the car hard to get back to the front caused the right rear to wear-down.”
Mercer eventually managed a 3rd place finish as the checkered flag waved and although he was happy with that result, he really wanted to have a third win on the night and pick-up a second consecutive victory in Kawartha’s first 100-lapper of the year.
At the start of the year, Bryan Mercer had plans to also run the Pro Late Model mini series being staged at Sunset Speedway, but after an 11th place showing in the opening round, he admits to be giving that idea some serious thought.
“There are different rules between most of the tracks in the province and I felt like we were at a disadvantage throughout the show,” said Mercer. “The goal is to always turn in a competitive performance and I don’t think that’s something we accomplished. I want to contend for the win and it’s hard to be happy with just a top 10 effort.”
For 2012, Bryan Mercer’s #81 Kawartha Speedway NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model is supported by Sine’s Flooring, Durmach Excellence in Tooling, Creative Edge Graphics, Jim’s Pizza, Appleman Carstar Collision, APX Racewear, B & G Equipment, Cressman Tree Maintenance, DenTec, Glass1Autoglass Mobile Service, LVG Auctions, Northumberland News, Quantrill Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac, Reflection Glass and Accessories, UAP NAPA – Port Hope and Clarke Motorsports Communications.
From Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications