HAMPTON, ON- Almost a week removed from his 8th place finish in Round 8 of the OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour at Kawartha Speedway, Kelly Balson is evaluating the gains made by his London Recreational Racing/Cochrane Automotive No. B10.
‘The Crowd Pleaser’ appeared stout all afternoon long, practicing strong and racing amongst the championship contenders in his qualifying heat race. As the 50-lap feature began to find it’s rhythm, Balson was racing within the top-5 and appearing comfortable in just his second career Super Late Model appearance at the high-speed 3/8-mile oval.
Then, it happened. A flat right front tire sent Balson careening towards the wall, and despite a valiant save to keep his front nose off of the concrete, the Rookie of the Year contender was sent pit-side in search of replacement rubber.
“I thought we were headed for the wall”, admits the multi-time Peterborough Speedway champion. “It certainly felt as though we were headed for the wall. In fact, in that split second I likely would have bet money that we were on our way to restructuring the front end of our racecar”
Thankfully, for Balson, that was not the case. However, it became immediately clear that the well-worn spare tire that Balson now had strapped to his right front left him at a definitive disadvantage.
“Any time you suffer a flat tire that early in a race, it’s going to throw your strategy right out the window”, explains Balson.
“OSCAAR has a tire rule. A good one, at that. And it keeps us from stocking limitless supplies of fresh rubber in our haulers. However, that means that in a situation such as ours, it leaves you with little option but to use the tires that were beat up on for 50-laps in the previous event”
The Hampton, ON driver put forth an impressive effort, fighting his way to an 8th place finish in a car that appeared uncooperative through the final 35-laps of the event.
“We were in trouble the moment we had to rely on our spare tire”, says Balson, bluntly. “That tire had done its job at Peterborough Speedway the week before. It was in the trailer as an emergency, not as a secret weapon”
“The car handled like a sailboat with no rutter”, continues Balson. “The right front is the rutter. And we had a great boat, with great sails and no rutter”
However, in the same breath that Balson describes his self-contained battle in the final 35-laps of the feature, he’s quick to explain just how good the car was before the ill-timed flat.
“We went to Kawartha with the intentions of performing better than we did when we were last there in June”, says Balson. “We accomplished that the moment we hit the track for first practice. This car unloaded fast, and we were able to improve on it all day long. It was a night and day difference from the struggle we had earlier this season”
“The car responded better, and I felt much more comfortable in it. Aside from our tire issue, today was definitely a step in the right direction”
Balson will enjoy a week off, before returning to competition with the tour at Sunset Speedway on August 23rd for Round 9 of the 2014 schedule.
“Our Sunset program has gotten better with every lap there”, confides Balson. “We should have a car capable of competing on August 23rd. I look forward to seeing what we can do there”
Kelly Balson’s 2014 season is powered by London Recreational, Dan McHattie Racecars, Shelley Taxidermy, BARKER and Cochrane Automotive.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)