IT'S THE NORWALK EXPERIENCE, BABY
Jun 23, 2009
Author: Bobby Martin
It's another first for me. The Parkertech/Lane Automotive team is going to
a national event as the defending champions. Frank and Dan have done it
before (at Indy no less), but for me it's the first time. In the past
couple years with Parkertech Racing, we haven't gone to Englishtown, which
was the site of many of my career highlights. Norwalk has taken its place
as my home/favorite track. We won both events there last year, including
the Nationals. This year is different though. First off, last year we were
coming off a win in Chicago. This year, we had problems in Chicago and are
looking to get our game back.
Chicago certainly wasn't a disaster. Although we went out first round in
the Jeg's Allstars, we were in the Jeg's Allstars. Then the next day we
got around Marc White and Tony Bartone to get down to the final four. This
has lots of significance for me because I never beat either one of those
guys before. They were both around and tough when I first got into TA/FC.
I raced Marc a lot cuz he was a Division 3 guy. I was never close to him
back then. Bartone was in his championship years reeling off like 36
rounds in a row and stuff. If I raced him, he was usually #1 qualifier and
I was 16. No upsets there. This time Tony was #2 and I was #7. That's a
little better. We actually outqualified Marc, who was tenth. Still, Frank,
the team, and I were struggling with the car and it bit us in the semis
against Steve Harker. Steve has put me away the last two or three times
we've met. But he's not on the entry list for Norwalk. Chicken.
Other people not slated to be in Norwalk who were there last year include
Mick Snyder, Nick Bastaio (Alexis DeJoria), and Marty Nothstein. Von Smith
has been replaced in the seat by Bartone. Von became a non-threat last year
after taking his car off the end of the track, giving us a single in round
2. Bartone is being touted as a championship contender, and owner Rick
Jackson and his team are going to expect to do better this year. I had a
dramatic shutdown myself in the final, as you may recall. Frank has been
proactive, installing the latest chute release system on the Lane Automotive
Charger. But even that has proven to be less than perfect. Now with what's
happened in TA/FC recently with people going into the sand, you can expect
to see our chutes out a little earlier than usual at Norwalk.
Our Parkertech/Lane Automotive team has a tough act to follow. We
qualified #1 last year and won the race. So let's see, same crew chiefs and
team, same car with some upgrades and updates. We should rule! But, as we
all know, it's not that easy. We'll have plenty of competition just from
people we see at D3 races. Guys like Andy Bohl, Chris Foster, and Terry
Munroe are on their game and will run fast on the new Norwalk track surface.
This will be a real test for our team. But Frank Parker and Dan Parker are
two of the toughest, smartest racers I know. And the crew of Larry Radke,
Mike Meeks, Kyle Pelfrey, and Kevin Wilhelms is one I wouldn't trade for
anybody. Bill Bader, one of the great track owners of all time, is putting
down a whole new surface from half track on. That'll make the track smooth
and fast. This is an important race for the Parkertech team. We make our
first qualifying run 2 o'clock on Friday. We'll know a lot more after that.