Lismore, AUS — January 24, 2009 – By Ben Graham, Dirt Modifieds Australia Media Liaison
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series regular Jimmy Phelps had a tough introduction to Modified racing ‘Down Under’ on Saturday night (Jan 24) with persistent fuel problems hampering the performance of his JBR Motorsport Troyer entry. Phelps is competing in the inaugural ‘Modified Masters’ two-night event at the Lismore Speedway and is behind the wheel of the specially themed JBR Motorsport Troyer of Simon Jupe.
On a day where the temperature was well over 100 degrees, Phelps managed 2nd-place in his first qualifying heat race only to record a DNF in the second.
“It was a tough night,” said Phelps post-race. “I’m hoping we didn’t dig too big a hole. We got ourselves a little behind there at the beginning with some fuel pressure issues. We made a change and thought we had found it but that made it worse in the second heat and ended up knocking us out right at the green in the second heat. These guys busted their butts, I’ve got to thank them, they really thrashed.”
Troyer Race Cars owner Billy Colton, who is accompanying Phelps on his two-race tour of Australia, had a similar assessment of their first night racing in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Yeah we had a brutal night,” confirmed Colton. “To make a long story short we had the carburettor apart three times, two fuel pumps, fuel filter apart, fuel line apart, fuel cell apart and finally it ran a little better for the last one but we really didn’t get a feel for how the car was ‘cause the motor wasn’t running prior. We were a little bit too tight and the motor is still down 500rpm from where it should be but we’ll tune the car a little bit for tomorrow and hopefully we will be alright.”
The format of the two-night event then called for the field to be split in two for a pair of 15-lap ‘scrambles’ to round out the opening night competition, with Phelps’ USA No. 49 entry starting mid-pack. After a tentative opening few laps, Phelps was clearly more at ease on the tight, almost circular, Lismore track, advancing his way to fourth by races end and salvaging some valuable points heading into Sunday night’s final night of competition.
“Once I found that outside and cleared a couple of guys I started to move forward,” Phelps added. “I had a little trouble getting clear and the guys out front broke free on that last run but I got the chance finally to watch the guys out there in that last scramble, got to watch the guys out front and the lines they were running, so we are going to work and make a few changes. We tried a few things out of the ordinary tonight just to try and see what we could learn on these tracks and we’re going to fine tune it a little for tomorrow and get the engine running right so we should be alright.”
Colton and Phelps will be hosting a set-up seminar on Sunday before a final round of qualifying heats and main events later that night.
And Jimmy Phelps’ first impressions of Modified racing Australian style?
“Its good hard racing. These guys don’t muck around. I didn’t come here thinking it was going to be easy but I just hope we can get in the mix and have a little fun with those guys up front.”