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2005 Race Recaps

 

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Team Alltel Delivers To Ronald McDonald House

After dodging a couple of hurricanes we were finally able to deliver the proceeds of our annual fundraiser to Mobile's Ronald McDonald House. Due to the storms that hit the coast during racing season we were never able to hold Ronald McDonald House Night at Mobile International Speedway.  However, our race team finished 5th in the final points standings at MIS and we pledged our check to RMH. Ida Fields, the track owner, matched it and to bring the 2005 total to more than last year we enlisted the support of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Driver Rick Crawford.  With a little help from Mother Nature, everyone has already reupped to bring Ronald McDonald House Night to Mobile International Speedway in 2006.

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Love Hate Relationship Continues in Pensacola

The love I have for racing in Pensacola has been put to the test over the years with some really bad luck. I approached this years Snowball Derby with a new attitude that this would be our year.  Weeks of testing, primping and paying attention to every detail paid off with a fast Alltel Pontiac off the trailer.   Our car was a little free of the corner and we felt like a new set of sticker tires would make us perfect for qualifying and we parked it after only 8 practice laps.  We were quick in qualifying but not as quick as we wanted and qualified 9th out of the 50 odd cars trying to make this years field.  The car was still too loose off the corners to make a great lap and we knew we had left some on the table and might have even had a pole car.  The guys went to work putting our race set up under the car and for the first time I was really anxious about what we were doing to the car. 

In all the years of trying I never felt like we had a Snowball winning race car after qualifying. This year, after the first practice I knew we had a car capable of winning.  We just needed a little luck which has been in short supply for our team in Pensacola.  As usually happens on the first corner of the first lap they start stacking up cars in front of us.   I was on the brakes and I thought I had it missed but the guy behind me hasn't seen it yet. The car went towards the inside wall first, I over corrected and it was headed to the outside wall, I kept it off the outside wall and then it was headed for the car sitting broadside in the middle of the track.  Somehow we missed him and we were clear.  Holy cow our luck had really changed and this was going to be our year.  

The green flag flew again and within 2 laps our Snowball Derby was gone. Another car hit us square in the rear and turned me around in turn 4. We had to take up the tail end of the 32 car field. I tried to stay positive but I knew our chances of winning were slim.  We started picking off cars one by one making our way back to the front.  We were back into the top 15 when we got tangled up with a lapped car and spun out losing a lap.  Our chances for winning were now officially over.  Eventhough, our winning the Derby was gone we were set on taking the best finish we could home with us. We spent the rest of the night dodging wrecks and passing cars winding up with a 14th place finish. 

14th place and we rolled it on the trailer is not all bad but it's tough to swallow when you know you had a car that could have won it.  

 

Alltel Pontiac Testing for 38th Annual Snowball Derby

With less than 3 weeks to go, the clock is ticking for the start of the 38th Annual Snowball Derby at Pensacola's Five Flags Speedway. Our race team picked up a little hardware at the MIS awards banquet last weekend taking home the 5th place spot in the Fausak Tires Points Championship. A real credit to all of the guys who worked so hard to overcome the problems we had this year.

 After an extended test at Mobile International Speedway two weeks ago the team has been hard at work making changes we hoped would improve the car for Pensacola.  The hard work paid big dividends in an all day private test at Pensacola.  Our Alltel Pontiac was faster than it has ever been at Five Flags and our team has high hopes for this years Derby.

Tires wear out quick so testing is at a  premium at Pensacola.

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Snowball Derby Count Down Underway

With the 38th Annual Snowball Derby just over a month away our Alltel team is already hard at   work prepping for the season finale.  We completed a 3 hour test at Mobile international Speedway as a prelude to an all day test at Pensacola's Five Flag Speedway scheduled for November 12th.  While the exterior of our Alltel Pontiac will look the same, very little will remain the same underneath it.  The changes start with a bigger fuel cell for the longer distance and almost every working chassis part is changed for the track surface and banking in Pensacola.  Testing will be the key for a solid run in Pensacola.

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Team Preps For Season Finale Lee Fields Memorial At Mobile International Speedway

The damage from hurricane Katrina has been repaired and the season finale is set for Saturday night at MIS.  The team spent the week getting our ALLTEL Pontiac ready for our final night at Mobile in 2005.  The guys have made changes to our car anticipating the racing surface to be different from the lack of activity over the last 4 weeks.  Saturday will be the Lee Fields Memorial Race at MIS honoring long time track owner and promoter Lee Fields. Lee was a big bear of a man with a gruff voice that hid the kind and gentle man that was inside.  As a kid I knew of Lee as the wrestling promoter who was behind my hero "Cowboy" Bob Kelly.  I got to know Lee when I started racing and I found out what a great guy he truly was.  I've been fortunate enough to run in all of the Lee Fields races and haven't won one, it would be sweat to end the year at MIS with a Fields win.

Luana Saves Car for 5th Place Finish
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Our special good luck charm from Hawaii helped save our car from what was certain disaster on the first turn of the first lap Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway.   While most people bring back a svelte bobble hula girl from Hawaii, I felt like Luana, as the team has named her, was more appropriate for my race team.  In the first race we were 3rd off of turn 2 as the leaders raced side by side in front of us.  The car on the outside made a hard turn into the leader, Luana jooged to the outside as the rest of the top 5 were collected in what turned into a melee on the back stretch.  Under caution we gave up the lead to work on our car and we ended up 3rd. In the feature we started 4th and had the lead at the flag stand, coming off of 4 we got a little love tap from the 2nd place car.  It was just enough to hang us out for the field to freight train underneath me.  The race went green all the way and we were able to get back up to 5th but that was all we had without a caution. Not a bad first night for Luana, who had her eyes closed most of the time.

Team Scores Big At HIBT
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Tommy & Thomas were part of the Outdoor Channel's Buzzard Angling Team for the 46th Annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona Hawaii. Click here for the full week's story. The 1 hour special will air in October only on the Outdoor Channel.  

Special Peavy Construction Paint Scheme
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Our Alltel Pontiac returns to Mobile International Speedway Saturday night with a special Peavy Construction paint scheme.   Ken & John Peavy signed on as one of my very first sponsors when I started racing and have supported my racing efforts through the years.  Along with stepping up for a special paint scheme we use the Peavy Warehouse to store our show car and our project x car. In addition to the special Peavy paint scheme we'll have a special good luck charm we picked up in Hawaii inside the car this weekend. Pictures will be forth coming on Monday. 

Alltel Pontiac Returns With Top 5

After having taken the last few weeks off creating a new motor program Team ALLTEL was ready for some racing.  A limited test on Thursday night was enough to let the team know they had plenty of work to do to get back to their old form.  The guys spent all day Friday and Saturday changing everything on the car in preparation for Saturday night. Off the trailer some things worked but for the most part they didn't.  The guys changed 3 of the 4 springs in the car for qualifying and we turned a decent lap for a 4th place starting spot.  While we were decent we left a lot on the table and still had a ways to go catch the front row.  I ordered another spring change for the feature trying to swing for the fence and catch the guys up front.  When you swing for the fence 1 of 2 things usually happens, you hit a home run or you strike out. When you strike out it's normally not very pretty.  With the setup changes I called for, I struck out and it was ugly.  The car was loose, really loose and I had a tough time driving it.  We stopped under caution, made some changes, stayed on the lead lap, it helped but not enough.  We were able to pick our way back up to 5th at the checkered flag but it was a night that could have been. The guys worked their behinds off in the shop and at the track and while it didn't payoff Saturday night we learned which way to go next. 

The biggest question mark going into Saturday night was our new motor program.  From the drivers seat we had plenty of horsepower and the motor worked flawlessly.  Tom Claxton, the only motor person I've ever had, was on hand Saturday night to make sure everything went to plan.   Tom has been an invaluable resource to our new motor program headed by Mike Woodsen. While Tom isn't building our motors, we're going to keep him busy keeping us going.

Post race with the fenders still on.
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Alltel Pontiac Limps to 6th Place Finish

Mobile 6-4-05- With the new Alltel logo adorning our hood for the first time our race team was hoping for big a night.   Handling and a brake issue kept the team on its toes during the 2 short practice sessions before qualifying.    The guys were able to solve some of the handling issues and we qualified 3rd just missing second by 2 one-hundredths of a second, but we did it with no brakes.  Running by yourself with no brakes is one thing but racing with others is out of the question.  The guys worked hard trying to resolve the issue and came up with a banjo fix for race night to try and get some laps in.   Untested, we took to the track and spotted the field a good 10 car lengths to see if our brakes would work.  After a few laps we had a little brake and we were able to pass a little to limp home to a 6th place finish.  By Sunday afternoon the brakes were out of the car and the motor had also been pulled to try and head off another possible motor issue when we return. 

My Dad had a saying about boats, "the slower you go the less you tear up!"  Of course the flip side of that is, the faster you go the more you tear up!  The guys have our car really fast and we are working through the mechanical issues that come along with hauling butt.  

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ALLTEL Pontiac Post Best Qualifying Time
For A Great Start To A Bad Night


A test session on Thursday paid big dividends for team ALLTEL on Saturday night with a career best qualifying time that put us within a tenth of a second of the track record. We started outside of the front row and I called for some changes to our car that I thought would help us work the outside and they didn't work like I wanted them to. We ran the outside for several laps until we were finally able to get down to the preferred groove. An ill handling car turned into a wicked handling car and we were struggling to hold to 3rd. I wiggled a little in turn 2 and we got touched a little and it was enough to put us in the spin cycle. The race quickly turned to quick sand for me, the harder I struggled to get back to the top the deeper the trouble I got us in. The front left of the car got drilled by the 17 in turn 1, caution, the 45, 96 and I were 3 wide in turn 2, that never works, caution, I got turned around again, caution. Each time we had to take up the rear of the field. Finally the checkered flag flew and we were 8th with a beat up race car. Not the kind of night we were looking for with such an awesome qualifying effort. The team will have to work overtime this week to get us ready for testing and racing at the end of the week.
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Team ALLTEL Wins In Mobile 4-9-05

A runner up finish and a long night in Pensacola on Friday led to a long day in the shop on Saturday changing our car for Mobile International Speedway. A tired ALLTEL crew rolled threw the gates at MIS and had a good car off the trailer. While most teams were still struggling with the new tire compound the preseason testing and hard work by the crew of the ALLTEL Pontiac was paying dividends. The team worked on the car all night, tweaking every set up point on the car, springs, roll out, sway bar, cross you name it they worked on it. We qualified 2nd even with our driver having a brain spasm on the first lap, that nearly cost us a good race car.

We started 3rd in the first heat raced and the guys gave me an awesome car and we had the lead by lap 2, set sail on last years track champion and cruised to our first win of 2005. Just to prove to the guys they had a good car we were turning lap times faster then the pole in race mode and we were looking forward to the feature.

With an invert I think they figured out on Mars, we started 8th in the feature after qualifying 2nd. We picked our way through the field and worked our way up to 4th, when the 2 guys in front of us got together and started spinning. I hit the brakes to keep from hitting them and spun out. I had to take up the tail end of the field with 5 to go. Starting from dead last we were able to pass everyone again up to 3rd and were closing on the leaders, we just ran out of time to run the leaders down.

It was absolutely a great weekend for our ALLTEL team, we raced 4 times in 2 nights and in baseball terms we hit for the cycle. We finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in 4 races in 24 hours. I can't tell you how the hard the guys have worked to make our success happen.

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Winning crew in Mobile.
susancleaningmobile4-9-05.jpg (72409 bytes) Susan Peoples cleaning the car, her cleaning jobs get us an extra tenth.
tirerubmobile4-9-05.jpg (76372 bytes) A little tire rub.

 

Team ALLTEL Takes Second in Pensacola Season Opener 4-8-05

From the drop of the green flag our ALLTEL Pontiac sliced its way through the field and by lap 3 we were in the lead.  On a clear race track our car was very good and we quickly set sail on the field except for the R18 of Jessie Reid.  Jessie stalked us lap after lap with many opportunities to move me and take the lead, nose to tail until a caution on lap 13.   On the restart the R18 got a great run on the outside and we stayed side by side until 2 to go when cleared me for the lead.  I tried to mount a come back but I had used up everything I had trying to keep him behind me and the right rear of our ALLTEL machine was used up.  It was an impressive night for the team, we rolled off the trailer decent and I made some calls to change the chassis that were just plain awful and we were horrible in the heat race.  The guys rolled the car to the tech line and we were on and off the scales for about 30 minutes and as they continued to work on getting our chassis right and it paid big dividends.  

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Pcola crew, Buddy, Thomas and Chris

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Thomas putting finishing touches on car.
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ALLTEL Pontiac Rolls to 3rd in Season Opener

Months of hard work paid off as Team ALLTEL opened the 2005 season with a 5th place qualifying run and two 3rd place finishes.   A new track surface
and a new tire compound has all the teams working overtime to come up with the right set up for Mobile International Speedway.  Our race team did more preseason testing with tires and set ups than ever before and it paid
dividends on Saturday night.  Off the trailer we thought we were bad and
thought we had a really bad qualifying run that would put us way back for
the start. Apparently we weren't the only ones struggling and we qualified
5th.  The guys were making huge changes after each time on the track and we used the heat race as a test for the feature.

With the invert we started on the outside of the second row and by the time
we were able to get down to the preferred groove we were 8th.  As the laps
ticked off the changes the guys made to the car really started to make it
come alive.  We picked our way through the field and worked our way into
3rd and could really have used a caution to put the leader back in our
sites.  It was not to be, as the race went 20 caution free laps and we
ended up with a solid top 5.

Off Season Work Prepping for 2005 Season

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Bare Chassis with a new coat of paint.

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Body installed ready for paint booth.

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Fresh coat of Sikkens paint from Johnston Paint & Supply. Paint job by Walker Frame.

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The complete package, stickers from Moosesigns.com.