Lismore, AUS — January 25, 2009 – By Ben Graham, Dirt Modifieds Australia Media Liaison
To say that Jimmy Phelps has had a frustrating start to his Australian racing campaign is an understatement. The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar series standout returned to the Lismore Speedway for the second night of the Modified Masters event on Sunday only to sustain major damage early in his heat race, severely hampering his efforts during the night.
“It was definitely a major setback,” said a somewhat dejected Phelps. “We pretty much were out of commission other than the help from a bunch of great people, and we were fortunate to get the ‘promoters choice’ to start the Feature.Otherwise we would not have been able to run the deal cause it took us right up to feature time to get the thing back together.”
Following its opening night fuel problems, the JBR Motorsport team replaced virtually the entire fuel system, with Phelps starting his final heat race down the order only for a car to spin in turn two. Unfortunately for Phelps, he had nowhere to go and made with the spun car, the impact all but destroying the right rear corner of his USA No. 49 Troyer mount.
“It was one of those nights in racing you want to forget in a hurry,” said Troyer Race Cars’ Billy Colton, who is accompanying Phelps ‘Down Under’. “ We chased motor problems all day yesterday, the guys pulled the whole thing apart, changed everything, and the motor was running really good finally. Then on the first lap of the first heat race we get caught up in something that just about destroys his car. It rips the rear end out of it, the birdcages, crushed the header, broke an axle, it just really, really, tore things up to the point where we were starting to worry about next weekend instead of the feature here tonight.”
The lack of track time across the weekend made the task of tuning the race car to the tight Lismore Speedway track conditions a difficult task, with the team having little chance but to ‘wing it’ on the setup for the 35-lap Feature.
“We really didn’t have a handle on it,” said Phelps. “All weekend it seems like we haven’t been on the track much. We had a couple of runs on heavier situations but we didn’t really know what we had to do. We really needed to do some things that needed scales and a level floor to do but we didn’t have that so we just ‘wung’ it. We know we were probably a little free on our tire selection but other than that we were picking them off here a little bit and the car got good down there in the bottom and I think we could have climbed out way into the top five for sure.”
Phelps’ Feature charge ended with 11 laps to go while running strongly in seventh (from 21st) with fuel issues emerging once more, the car consuming an excessive amount of fuel causing it to run dry with the checkered flag in sight.
JBR Motorsport’s Simon Jupe was somewhat philosophical about the weekend’s events, but is confident of a better showing next weekend in Maryborough (QLD).
“It’s not what we planned when we brought these guys out,” said Jupe. “It’s been a tough, tough two nights for us. It was a huge effort to get that car back on track for the Feature. I’ve got no idea how many guys we had working on that car at any one time but there were a lot of hands and I am really appreciative of everybody who helped us out. It was good to be able to get back out there but it defintely wasn’t the way we wanted to end. But that’s’ racing! The boys will put in a big week in at the shop, we’ll put new doors on it again and it’ll be right for next weekend.”
“I just feel real bad for everybody with the JBR team and Simon who have put so much effort into it and put so much effort into bringing us out here,” offered Phelps. “Everybody worked so hard and we didn’t really have anything to show for it at the end. Hopefully we can come back next week and get it done.”