Geico Superbike Shootout/AFM Rnd. 2

Less than a week after the races at Auto Club Speedway and it was already time to hit the road again. This time to Sonoma for the Geico Superbike Shootout Arai Pacific Nationals and AFM Round 2. Sonoma is a track I have struggled with in the past. It poses a challenge to me that I have had difficulty conquering. As a racer you always think back to where you could of gone faster and what you could have improved, but I am very happy how I performed and I achieved the goals we had set for the weekend. An overall success.

 

Cresting Turn 2 during practice

Cresting Turn 2 during practice

I have to congratulate Andrew Zabzdyr for a great performance. It was his first time ever riding at Sonoma yet he still managed to run as high as 2nd place during his races. He's one fast kid. I cant wait to race with him... If I can ever catch him...

Andrew Zabzdyr (#805R) rubbing elbows with Chad Lewin (#48)

Andrew Zabzdyr (#805R) rubbing elbows with Chad Lewin (#48)

The big news from the weekend was the AP MotoArts/RX Unlimited team with rider Jason Catching of Catching Competion not only entering the Arai Pacific Nationals, but achieving a 9th place finish in their first national race. I couldn't be more proud of my friend and teammate Jason as well as crew chief Andy Palmer and head mechanic Omar "El Mechanic O" for their outstanding achievement. I was lucky enough to be a part of the crew on a national grid, something I had only seen on TV before. It was an amazing experience. I can't wait for the day when I am a rider on that grid.

Geico Superbike Shootout Weekend

This past weekend at Auto Club Speedway was Round 1 of the Geico Superbike Shootout. More importantly (in my imagination) it was a WERA race weekend that I competed in alongside some of my AP MotoArts and RX Unlimited teammates. I'm not sure where to even begin, it was just about the perfect weekend. I had done a few trackdays at Auto Club Speedway including my very first one, though it had been a few years since I had ridden there.

The plan was to spend Saturday's practice just trying to get a feel for the track again so that I could hopefully get a good result on Sunday. As it turned out, that didn't take very long. By the end of practice I was on pace to be able to battle with Kalvin Kwong (#624) for the lead in the next days races.

The track is very close to home for me (about 5 miles) so I had a lot of friends and family come out to support. There were also a lot of spectators who were there for the pro races which was a new and interesting experience for me. Surprisingly, it didn't make me feel intimidated as I thought it might have. It was actually pretty motivating for me.

I was entered in three races on Sunday, the first being Heavyweight Twins Superstock, race #1 on the schedule. I entered this race mostly just to have a practice race so that I would have the experience of racing on that track before pushing to be competitive. Nothing much worth noting happened during this race, other than some contact that I made with Max Cappellari (#88?) coming onto the front straight. Definitely a first for me, but all in all pretty undramatic.

Oops...

Oops...

The second race was Lightweight Twins Superbike, race #6 on the schedule and the most important race of the day for me. I was gridded in 7th, got a decent start, and was 4th going into the first corner behind Stephen Ludwig in 3rd, and Chris Castillon in 2nd. Kalvin Kwong had taken the holeshot so I knew I had to get past them as quickly as possible. I pushed hard and took 3rd coming out of turn 20 onto the front straight. From there I was able to take 2nd going into the high-speed turn 1 of lap two, but by then Kalvin had built a gap of about 5 seconds. I really put my head down and dug deep. I started closing the gap by nearly a second every lap, but with only 5 laps to catch him I ended up taking a bittersweet 2nd with under 1 second separating us. It had been a while since I had ridden so well and so aggressively, it felt pretty amazing. I got such an adrenaline rush that it took almost an hour until I felt somewhat normal again.

I spent so much in Lightweight Twins Superbike that I didn't have much left for Formula 2, race #14 on the schedule. During the race I made a few mistakes and didn't finish very well, but after the previous race I didn't really even care. Nothing could've brought me down after that.

Probably one of the most important parts of the weekend for me was receiving high praise from some riders I really look up to, namely Dustin Coyner of TrackDaz. Being able to showcase my skills and have them recognized by the people I admire in the sport is a really important tool for me. It helps show me if I am becoming the rider I want to be.

Thank you to everyone who came out, your support is very appreciated.