We started our season as we always do at the pre-Gator test session at South Georgia Motorsports Park. It was so nice to be back at the track with my team. We made two passes on our first day of testing. Since I had been out of the car for almost 7 months, the first hit was all about getting us back to our routine so we just did a half-track pass. Everything went smoothly and all data looked good on the computer, so I was told that if it felt good, to make a full pass on the second run. So she launched hard and went straight down the track to run a 5.56 at 258 mph. When Adam came on the radio to tell me what I ran, I am pretty sure I asked him three times to repeat what he said because none of us were expecting to run that fact on our first pass out. Needless to say, we were all very happy with that run and excited to get to Gainesville and compete. We also tested Tuesday but just made two half-track passes to break in some clutch discs for the race.
Wednesday morning we loaded up and made the short two hour drive over to Gainesville. Wednesday night I was given the opportunity to be part of a "jersey swap" with the Harlem Globetrotters. That was the first time I have seen the Globetrotters and I have to say they put on a good show. I was also able to hang out with some of the top drivers of the NHRA, including Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca, Jack Beckman, Bob Vandergriff, Hillary Will, and Leah Pruett.
On Friday morning, we had our first qualifying session at 10 am and ran a 5.70, which put us #5 in the field. Our second pass was Friday night after all the pro sessions and had great conditions to run fast times. The car launched hard and I knew she was on a good pass, but when I went to shift into second gear, it didn't shift and I had to lift. We could tell by the early numbers that it was on a great run and probably would have run a low fifty. We were up late that night working on the transmissions and had to change my brake master cylinder, bleed the brakes and of course all the regular maintenance between rounds.
Saturday morning we were scheduled to run again at 10 am. We were not able to improve on our last qualifying run because we smoked the tires and had to shut it down early. We were not going to let that get us down, though. We stayed qualified in the #10 spot and had Todd Veney first round later that night. I kept myself busy in-between rounds by using my practice tree to keep me on top of the game for first round. Unfortunately, our luck didn't change first round and we smoked the tires again.
I really want to thank my guys for all the late nights and hard work they put in the last few weeks. I couldn't do it without them and I can't wait to get back out there with them in a few weeks at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
Cassie Simonton is the driver of the Kon Rodz Racing Top Alcohol Funny Car. Like the team on Facebook or follow Cassie on Twitter at @CassieSimonton.
Photos courtesy of Cassie Simonton/Kon Rodz Racing