Testing Pays off for Flying Dutchman Off Road Racing
Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012
Since the last time the team was at Crandon, the track underwent major changes. The addition of new jumps, as well as renovations to current jumps, left the team with only one clear answer going into the weekend. Testing would be critical.
The team scheduled back to back days of testing at the famed Crandon International Off Road Raceway the week before. Not testing on the same day, would allow more focus on each individual truck and driver and prove to be more beneficial in the end.
VandenHeuvel choosing to test on Thursday in his Pro 2, wanted to focus on nothing but valuable seat time and getting comfortable in the race truck.
Morris arrived on Friday to put in his test laps. After getting a feel for the new track configurations and jumps, the team fine tuned brake settings and tried some new setups.
With a 6 truck inversion, Morris would start 3rd for Saturday’s race. The race started with the iconic landrush start that Crandon is known for. Trucks went 5 wide into the first corner butbegan to spread out as the race progressed. Just before the mandatory caution, running in 5th place, Morris got tangled up when the 2-4th place trucks collected each other. He had no where togo but into the back of another truck. By the time he righted the truck, majority of the field had passed, leaving him in 17th place. After the restart, Morris picked off trucks one by one using lines he tested in practice. At the checkers, he crossed the line in 10th place.
Wanting to redeem himself after Saturday, Morris charged hard into Sunday’s race. On the second lap, he tried to get around a slower race truck, by taking an outside line around the barnjump towards the skyboxes. The back tires got into the loose dirt and drew the truck right in towards the wall. As soon as the tires made contact with the wall the front end slapped against the concrete, damaging the front wheel and spindle. The day was over for Morris.
“Its disappointing when we know we had a great truck,” explained Morris. “My Maxxis tires hooked up so great all weekend and I qualified right at the top of the field on Friday. We were just as fast as anyone out there, but with 19 trucks you never know what’s going to happen.”
A weekend packed full of racing for VandenHeuvel would start on Friday night with a make-up round from a previously rained out weekend. In order to get the race in Friday night, Crandon made the decision to run the make-up round under the light on what’s become known as the “Super Short Track.” Having to start on the very last row of the 12 truck field, VandenHeuvel attacked the short track and battled each and every lap to the end, earning his first ever Pro 2 podium.
“The short track makes racing very tight. You have to stay patient and make good decisions. I was lucky enough to run a clean race and be able to take advantage of others mistakes and finallyget to show our potential in the Pro 2 class.” The crowd reacted by chanting “Mikey! Mikey! Mikey!” an honor rarely heard of in off-road. “This crowd was amazing, I’ve never had so much support before. Its such a cool feeling to know all these people were cheering for me.”
Flying high from Friday’s podium, the crew prepped the truck for Saturday’s race back on the long track with the traditional landrush start. Early on VandenHeuvel lost a brake line. The decision was made not to risk damaging the truck further and get the equipment ready for two races on Sunday.
For Round 12 on Sunday morning, all trucks would have to balance running hard for the win and keeping their trucks in one piece for the AMSOIL Cup race later in the afternoon. Running midpackand battling with competitive trucks, VandenHeuvel made contact with another racer resulting in aflat tire. Going into the pits to change the tire put him out of contention. He used the rest of the race as an opportunity to find more speed for the upcoming Cup race.
The final race of the weekend for VandenHeuvel would be the AMSOIL Cup race. The Pro 2 driverswould get a head start on the Pro 4 racers in hopes of keeping the 4-wheel drive trucks behind them all the way to the finish. On the start VandenHeuvel was hit by another truck, and had to take action not to crash out. Coming around turn one he was the last of the Pro 2 trucks. With the Pro 4’s starting to breath down his neck on the third lap, the transmission lost 3rd gear. Not wanting to be in the way of the Pro 4 trucks, VandenHeuvel made the decision to park the truck.
The team would like to take the time to thank special sponsor Mole Lake Casino Casino Lodge & Conference Center for all their support during the Crandon event.
The team concludes their season the end of September at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA. This will be the Huseman Memorial Weekend to honor Rick and Jeff Huseman who died tragically one year ago in a plane crash. The weekend will include Cup races in both Rick (Pro 2 & 4) and Jeff’s (Pro Light) honor. The team looks forward to honoring the Huseman family and racing in their memory.