Borenstein Racing Successfully Completes Coast to Coast Weekend.
(7-15-06) Borenstein Racing was heading into what seemed to be a typical week. Coming off their best finish of the season the week before, plans were to make some small changes to their Weekly Racing Series car and run the single day event at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday night. What appeared to be a relatively easy week for the team drastically changed on Monday.
Borenstein Racing was started with the intention to move up to the Grand National West Series next season. Team owner Loren Borenstein and Driver/Team Manager Nick Joanides have been working toward acquiring equipment to achieve that goal.
On Monday, the team was in contact with Randy MacDonald, Busch/Cup Series team owner about purchasing a trailer and some pit equipment. After discussions about the teams intentions, Randy indicated he was combining his team with Cup Series Driver/Owner Stanton Barrett and they were selling off several cars.
Suddenly the week turned from a simple one day race event to a perfectly choreographed coast to coast week as Randy invited the Borenstein Racing Team to compete in the Nascar Grand National Busch East Series event at New Hampshire International Speedway more than 3,000 miles away.
Driver Nick Joanides’ first reaction was “No Way” since the team was racing on Saturday in Irwindale California and figured there would be no way to pull off being on two different sides of the country at nearly the same time.
After some quick consideration, Nick and Loren calculated all of the travel and were able to find flights that would just barely allow them to pull this off. It was all based on everything going exactly according to schedule. Any slight delay would put them at risk of missing one of the events. Due to their future goals, they decided this was a good opportunity to evaluate some equipment and potential for the future. Monday afternoon, they decided to take Randy up on his offer.
The flights were booked and they headed to Boston on Wednesday. The first glitch in the plan didn't take long as their flight was delayed by more than three hours due to bad weather in the Boston area. They finally arrived in Boston at 3:30 in the morning. With the track opening at 6:00 AM, they made the hour and half drive to New Hampshire.
With absolutely no sleep, they managed to arrive on time, only to find rain falling at the New Hampshire International Speedway, posing a serious threat to the schedule of events. Fortunately the rain did clear and the events proceeded as scheduled.
Things still did not get any easier. Tech inspection is completed based on the order of the point standings. Since Borenstein Racing had not previously competed in this series, they were one of the last cars to make it through inspection. Tech extended well into the first hour of the hour and a half practice session, limiting Nick to just 12 laps of practice.
After just three laps, driver Nick Joanides quickly radioed the crew that the car was extremely tight and would not turn through the corners. With very little time remaining in practice, the team made some minor changes and Nick posted the 25th fastest time among 45 competitors.
After practice completed, the team made several major changes to the car, but unfortunately were unsuccessful in improving the handling. Nick did however improve to 19th quickest in qualifying.
After finally getting some much needed rest on Thursday night, the team made several more major changes to the setup prior to Fridays race. Nick maintained his position through the first 20 laps of the race when the first caution flew. With the car still extremely tight in the corners, he headed down pit road for fuel and more changes. Nick restarted the race in the 24th position and got an incredible restart as he went to the high side of a five car wide battle for position and came out in front. A few laps later he had moved up to the 14th position.
Although the restarts allowed Nick to take advantage of the packed up field, the car was still too tight in the corners. The team never gave up trying and worked extremely hard trying to improve the car, choosing to pit at virtually every available caution. It however was finally determined that something with the geometry of the car was off and it would not be able to be cured with the limited amount of time available at the track. Nick hovered between the 20th and 38th positions through the remainder of the event before finally coming home in the 20th position. MacDonald/Barrett Motorsports had three teams at the race track and Nicks qualifying and race results were easily best among the three teams.
After the event, they headed back to Boston to catch their 6:00 AM flight back to Los Angeles for what was originally planned to be an ordinary day at Irwindale Speedway. The ordinary day quickly became anything but. The team was having a new engine built for the Weekly Racing Series Car as a back-up to their primary engine. On Thursday, the engine builder called Nick and said that the new motor made significantly more power. They originally had no intentions of changing the motor and were hesitant to make such a big change to the car without the opportunity to test prior to race day, but because the dyno numbers for the new engine appeared so much better, they decided it was worth the risk for the potential performance gain on the race track and changed the engine on Friday.
Nick and Loren headed straight from the airport to Irwindale Speedway, arriving shortly before the required drivers meeting. With just one 45 minute practice session, Nick headed out on the race track and quickly discovered that the new engine was not performing as the dyno results indicated it would. Their lap times were more than 4/10ths of second off, leaving him in the 18th position on the speed chart. After qualifying second fast the week before, this was just not acceptable.
With just an hour and a half to go before qualifying, the team decided to put the original engine back in the car. Amazingly, the team, working with Jackson Race cars completed the engine swap just in time. With no practice time to test the installation of the engine or to scuff in tires and check the set up of the car, Nick made it out to qualify just 30 seconds before the time expired for him to make an attempt. Amazingly he posted the 7th fastest time among 30 competitors.
The team was poised for a great run and appeared well on the their way. From the drop of the green flag, Nick quickly charged toward the front moving into the fourth position in just 15 laps and gaining on the leaders. Unfortunately on lap 17, the clutch began slipping, preventing Nick from applying full throttle down the straightaway. Having to dramatically reduce his speed to avoid damage to the motor from over-revving, he was forced to just hang on. He did still manage to limp home with a respectable 10th place finish. The finish was the fifth straight top 10 for the team and also moved Nick up to the seventh position in the season standings after being 21st just four races ago.
Although the final results were not what the team had hoped for, the weekend was still considered a success as Borenstein Racing received great press from several media outlets (click here for articles) for their weekend adventure. They were also able to be reasonably competitive in their first Grand National Division Event, running in the top 15 of the 40 car event. The weekend concluded with a great overall performance by the team at Irwindale and appeared well on their way to at least a top three finish before the clutch failure slowed their efforts.
Owner Loren Borenstein and Driver Nick Joanides would like the thank Randy MacDonald and Jackson Race Cars for all of their extremely hard work in making this weekend possible.