Polenz Wraps Up His 2011 Season At The Myrtle Beach 400
1st Practice Day
Practice for the Myrtle Beach race started Thursday morning. David took to the track for the first time in the FDJ Motorsports prepared car in the second round of practice. After feeling the track out and running a few laps, an engine miss showed itself and the team jumped right to work to find the problem. It didn't take long to find, as they found an issue with the carburetor. Fortunately the FDJ Motorsports team was prepared and they threw a new carburetor on the car and the problem was solved. David went back out on the track and started the day a little off the pace but by days end he was in the top 20 on the speed chart.
2nd Practice Day
The team headed to the track early on Friday morning to get the car through pre-event tech inspection. All went well and the team reassembled the car and got ready for more practice. David took to the track in the first round of practice and he proved to be a quick study, as his lap times were even better then the day before. For the last round of practice the Polenz Team bolted on a new set of tires and sent David out to do a mock qualifying run. David turned in what the team felt was a pretty good lap and David was happy with the feel of the car. After practice the time sheet came out and David was 8th quickest on the day, an awesome lap and only a couple hundredths off the fastest time. The team was encouraged, since the race was hosting the best of the best in NASCAR Late Model racing and David was right in the middle of it all.
Final Practice and Qualifying Day
Saturday morning started early again, to get the car ready for an hour and half practice session and then prepare the car for qualifying. Since David had good speed for qualifying the team decided to work on race set-up. Myrtle Beach Speedway is known to be very tough on tires and making sure your car will be fast at the end of the race is important. The team spent the whole practice working on just that. Even though the group was one of the few teams that didn't do a mock qualifying run during that practice, David’s lap times were good enough for 17th on the speed chart. The qualifying rules were that the top 20 cars would get in on speed and the cars outside of the top 20 would have to race a qualifying race on Sunday morning. 38 cars would make the field and the track owner and NASCAR officials would choose some cars to be able to have a provisional spot to start the race. With David's speed the team was confident he would make the top 20.
David went out 28th to make his qualifying lap, the car didn't seem to be handling as well and he couldn't back up his mock qualifying run from the day before. Once all 59 cars took their qualifying the team received disappointing news as David ended up 27th quickest and meant he would have to race in one of the heat races Sunday morning. The cars were impounded following qualifying so the team didn't get a chance to check the car over. David said it had become very loose on exit and he couldn't get back to the throttle coming out of the corners. Nobody on the Polenz team got much sleep that night, wondering what went wrong.
After little sleep the FDJ and the David Polenz Racing guys all got to the track early and waited to go over the car. Mike, the Crew Chief, found that the right rear tire had grown almost 3 times as much as expected which increased the tire stagger (that will make the car very loose on exit). We were able to move the tires around to different spots on the car which fixed the problem.
At the start of the heat race, David started 4th. On the initial start there was a caution before the first lap was complete. On the restart David was able to make an awesome move making it three wide moving into second place along side of the leader coming out of turn four. He ran side by side with the leader for a lap and coming out of turn four the car developed an engine miss again, so David made a pit stop but the team was unable to fix the issue and David finished last.
The entire team was disappointed but went to work to fix the car while David, and other team members went to find the NASCAR representatives to try to get a provisional spot for the race. Nearly an hour later, the team got word that they had secured a spot and would be starting 44th, dead last. The team felt fortunate to be in the race.
A game plan had been developed for the race and eventhough David as starting last, the team stuck to their strategy. The race was going to be split in two segments with a break at the half way point. Our plan was to ride around the back and save tires until near the end of the first segment. David did just that and with 15 laps to go in the first segment it was go time. By the end of that segment David was in 13th place. It was a little further forward then the team wanted to be, but with a wreck amongst the leaders it moved David few spots. At the start of the second segment David wanted to drop back a little and ride but the traffic was heavy so it took about 20 laps to drop back to an opening where David could ride. He rode it out there until 40 laps to go when there was a caution. On the restart there was a lap car on the outside of David and it took David about 15 laps to clear him, but the damage was done, as he used up a lot of tire. As the laps wound down David was in 13th and hoped to finish there, but there was a caution late and the race restarted with a green, white, checkered finish. David held on and got shoved up out of the groove and managed to hold on and finish 21st. Due to several circumstances, the team was not able to stick to their plan the whole race and used up the tires too soon. The car was capable of winning but circumstances got the best of them. Moving forward the team will take it as a learning experience and go back next year better prepared.
A Note From the Polenz Racing Team:
That wraps up the 2011 racing season, it was an awesome year and we had a lot of fun.
David Polenz Racing and Polenz Motorsports want to thank all of our sponsors and please support them as they support us and make all of this possible.
We also want to thank our crew members for a great year, Bob Moon, Terry Polenz, Brian Grupe, Derrick Gates, Brandi Grupe, Justin Workman, Jordan Irving, Dave Moon, Moon Racing Enterprises Elaine Gates and our post-season crew chief Mike Lee and FDJ Motorsports. GREAT JOB FROM ALL OF YOU!
Thanks to all of our fans, family and friends for all of your support.
We will keep you posted on our progress as we prepare for the 2012 season.
Thanks from all of us at David Polenz Racing and Polenz Motorsports.