Ottodrome International Speedway
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Graham records another top-ten in CARQUEST Mandatory event
by Race Author
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Wednesday, August 13th, Rob Graham and his OKI Data / Doering and Brown / Hawk Performance / Jones Auto Body Chevrolet Monte Carlo made another trip to the 1/3rd-mile Ottodrome International Speedway Speedway just outside of Ottawa. The event was the second of four mandatory Carquest Sportsman Series events for the Bothwell driver and his Welfred Racing Team, and Graham entered the night in the thick of a championship battle, sitting fifth in the standings, 33 points behind the leader, and 19 markers out of a podium position.
The team worked on the # 55 throughout the practice session, making some minor adjustments before getting a new set of tires scuffed in for qualifying. Little did they know that one of those tires would become the team’s Achilles heel on the evening.
In qualifying Rob ripped off the 10th-quickest time of the session, and noticed the handle of the car starting to go astray from the practice session. “I was noticing that the car was off just a bit, but there we couldn’t quite put our handle on what was different and what was effecting the car.”
The inversion number was six, which would not change the starting position for the OKI Data machine, as Graham rolled off from the outside of row five. When the green dropped, Rob started to make ground, and despite the fact that the handling of the car was starting to go away was able to improve on his position quickly. While manhandling the car, Rob climbed into the top-five and continued until he was running third. “I had to work hard to turn good laps and make some passes, but the car continued to feel worse and worse.”
Finally the handling difficulties caught up with Rob, and he faded back in the running order, before heading to pit road just after the halfway mark for a new tire. The crew made a solid stop and kept Rob from losing a lap while changing the right rear. But, when Rob went back out the car was still handling poorly, and on during the next yellow flag period the # 55 rolled into the pits again for a new right front tire. This stop would bring the problem of the car to light as they noticed that the tread on the right front tire had split.
After another quick yellow, Graham visited pit road again to get a new left rear and have fresh rubber for the run to the checkers. It worked as the blue and white Chevy restarted at the back of the pack and started to climb through the field over the last 35 laps. Rob was able to climb to a tenth finishing position by the end of the 150-lap affair. Graham was frustrated at the stroke of bad luck that had cost the team a better finish, “We just got a bad tire, and when a tire beats you up, a tire beats you up. The tread of the tire split and you could see underneath the tread. It still held air, but had a big gap in it. It was just one of those freak things that happen in racing. We must have just had the wrong number when we were lined up at the tire truck and got a bad tire.”
Point leader Steve Robblee sat on the pole with a new track record, and took the lead early despite starting in the third row. Robblee led much of the event until his original tires got the best of him. Both Steve Munro and Richard Beauchamp took on a fresh tire during the race, and both got Robblee late in the event with Munro picking up the win.
1. Munro, 2. Beauchamp, 3. Robblee, 10. Rob Graham.
The next event for the Welfred Racing Team will be on the Saturday of the Labour Day weekend for the 150-lap mandatory event at Delaware Speedway. Graham is excited about returning to his ‘home track’ for the first time since early in July. “Delaware is where we have run best. It will be fun to get back in front of all our home town fans, and have them cheering us on in one of the biggest weekends on the Canadian Motorsports calendar.”
For more information on Rob Graham, Welfred Racing, CASCAR, Ottodrome International Speedway, or Delaware Speedway, please visit www.sympatico.cascar.ca, www.ottodrome.com, or www.delawarespeedway.com. Or contact Maudsley Motorsports at (519) 453-7256, or email@example.com.