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JConcepts wins the Pro buggy class at the Carolina Nationals

Posted: 8/9/2009

Event: Carolina Nationals
Date: Aug 8-9, 2009
Location: Charlotte, NC
Race Reporter: Brandon Melton

Over the weekend of August 7-9 JConcepts drivers Brandon Melton, Chris Pace, Barry Pettit, and Greg Smith attended the Carolina Nationals at Charlotte Motorsports Park, previously The Farm 2. The track still remains as the same configuration from the Worlds track, however it's ran in reverse with many changes to jumps and new additions. The new direction and facelift was a refreshing treat and many drivers commented on the track being very fun but challenging to drive. The stories of the week were the heat (near 100 degree temps all weekend) and a local charity on site called Hometown Heroes. A local Texas Roadhouse restaurant came onsite and was grilling burgers, ribs, and steaks, and all sales from food went to the local charity that provides for local terminally ill kids.

The Pro Buggy and Truggy classes were very competitive with fast drivers from OH, NC, SC, GA, TN, and FL coming to battle it out. Nearly every manufacturer had team drivers there and the racing was as hot as the temperature. The race format used 5 qualifiers and qual points to grid the mains. In Pro Buggy, Brandon Melton grabbed the TQ after 5 rounds of ultra close racing. Brandon Melton and Barry Pettit each TQ'ed 2 rounds, but the points from other rounds added up in Melton's favor for the overall TQ. Chris Pace TQ'ed one round giving JConcepts the top spot for all 5 rounds of qualifying. The mains were on Sunday and the buggy main ended up in the heat of the day right around 3pm.

The buggy main was fairly close between the top 3 racers of Melton, Pettit, and X-Ray's Ryan Lopez for the first 30 minutes of the race. Melton fell back to third after a bobble through the moguls, but would settle in and match the pace of Pettit and Lopez and hope for a mistake or tire wear from the front two runners. Melton and Pace chose tires that would easily go the entire length of the race, using JConcepts tires in yellow compound. At about the 25 minute mark, it became a race of attrition as the heat started to play havoc on engines.

Lopez would be the first to retire with engine troubles and then about 10 minutes later, Pettit would experience a flame out, causing him to go 2 laps down on the large track. At this point, Melton and Pace relied on the dependability of the RC8B and Reedy VR121 and JConcepts tires to cruise in for the 1-2 sweep with Melton taking the win and Pace 2nd. Pettit would hold on to maintain 4th place after his flame out.

The truggy main was a great race to watch (unfortunately Melton was limited to running just buggy for the weekend). After a slow start in rd. 1, Pace turned it up a notch in the following rounds to take TQ honors in truggy. Pace, Pettit, and Greg Smith each TQ'ed qualifying rounds showing the speed of JConcepts tires. For the first 30 minutes of the truggy race it was a three way battle between Pace, Pettit, and Travis Phillips. Greg Smith put in some fast laps early on, however a drive train problem from his truggy would cause him to exit early. Phillips was using a different fuel strategy that would have him pit at 9 minutes to cut out one stop during the 45 minute race.

Pace was able to run strong enough to keep in touch with Phillips during the pit cycles, however bad luck with a back marker would keep him upside down for 15 seconds waiting for a track marshal, all but killing his chances for the win. This would set up the race for an unbelievable finish between Pettit and Phillips. Pettit was about four seconds behind Phillips on the last lap. As Phillips crossed the line for the last time, his truck ran out of fuel on the front stretch, all heads turned to locate Pettit, he would miss the loop and be called as "done" crossing the loop about 1 second too late!! After misfortune, Pace would run strong to finish with a respectable 3rd place and TQ.

It was great to see a well run race for a great cause. This was the first year of what will be a great race in years to come. Thanks to the track crew for an awesome track in great shape. Info on the local charity and news coverage of the event can found at the link below


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