Maryborough, AUS — January 31, 2009 – By Ben Graham, Dirt Modifieds Australia Media Liaison
New Yorker Jimmy Phelps rounded out his two-race Australian campaign with a fighting second place finish on Saturday night (Jan 31) at the Maryborough Speedway. Competing in the opening round of the ‘Roosters Cup’ Series, Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series driver Phelps was high qualifier heading into the main event after some tough, three-wide racing early in the night.
“We had a good night all in all,” Phelps said. “We came to win and we came one spot short. But considering what we went through last week and then getting it back together again it was a good outing. It was a real good car all night. Bottom line is I thought we had the car to beat in the Main and when that top went away it really threw a curveball in the whole deal. Once it got one lane there unfortunately (Darren Latimer, winner) got there first and we had to follow him. I think we were able to run with the leader but we really needed some traffic ‘cause that bottom was just too dominant of a lane. We had a couple of shots in traffic but he was able to squirt underneath the lapped cars and get back underneath me.”
The result was a fitting reward for Phelps, who along with Troyer Race Cars’ Billy Colton and a band of helpers, virtually spent three days straight rebuilding the JBR Motorsports No. 49 race car after the damages sustained the week prior in Lismore.
“If you had said that going into the night that we were going to be where we were I would have been a little sceptical,” Phelps remarked. “Especially given we haven’t had much time with the car and we didn’t know what we had. But after that first heat race I knew we had a pretty good race car and when they put us up there in the front in the second heat race and we took off it was even better.”
After chasing fuel problems and then repairing a badly damaged race car last weekend at the Lismore Speedway, Colton was somewhat relieved to finally have an opportunity to tune the set-up on the racecar.
“It was a lot better than last weekend,” Colton noted. “We followed the race track with the set-up, and when the race track was going away we followed it along. We were probably a touch too tight to run the bottom as good as you could but Latimer was pushing like that too, he was pushing but he just had track position. There was a lot of bite around the bottom and that was the problem.”
“I can’t take anything away from Latimer, he ran a really good race. It’s just unfortunate that it turned into a one lane race round the bottom. Jimmy tried him around the outside a few times but boy, the outside track was a second slower than the inside.”
Phelps and Colton will be spending Sunday exploring the beaches along Queensland’s Sunshine Cost before boarding a plane back to the chilly northeast corner of America on Monday.
“You know what, I am very happy,” Phelps offered. “I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity, I saw a lot of great things and it was really a lifetime experience. In that regard I’m happy. Yet I’m really disappointed we couldn’t get a victory down here, that’s bummed me out a little bit but that’s racing. We only really got one shot at it because last week kinda went by the wayside, we were really out of contention before we even started. I think we had a car that could’ve won the race tonight but you lose a heck of a lot more than you win. That’s just racing, we just happen to be in a different country doing it!”
“I’m telling you, I cannot say enough for how welcome everybody has made us feel. It’s really special to be able to come into a different country and race, even the racers that we are racing with, they have been so gracious. Simon Jupe and his wife Kate, the Britten’s, and everybody who has been involved in making this happen…I just can’t thank them enough.”