As the 2020 Ultra4 racing year ends, the Proving Grounds Racing team gears up for Nationals: a journey from Phoenix to the windy town of Davis, OK. As for where the team sits in battling the points division for the season, it is anyone’s luck for the box positions.
Fighting blown head gaskets two days before the race on the 4570, we had our hands full in last minute prep to get the car up and running. Klein Engines was able to knock out the head work and items needed to get the car back to order. At the same time, the RAM pulling the race hauler decided to puke the thermostat and water pump just before loading the car, adding another dilemma to the time crunch. With the help of the guys at Fly Offroad, we were back up and running to load the 4570 into the trailer, leaving a day later than expected but leaving none the less. Barreling through the states and driving through the night, we arrived at Cross Bar Ranch for the 2020 Ultra4 National Championship race.
After putting in the new heads on the motor, we were still working through cycling the coolant and air pockets to keep the 4570 from overheating. We found that after running through the A loop on the track, the car did not like idling at low RPM. The car ran great on the throttle but would not idle transitioning through the gears or downshifting. We pulled it into the pit to troubleshoot the issue but could not find the gremlin. Changing an O² sensor on the car in the case of blowing coolant through it when the old head gaskets blown, we took a loop in the B loop, or the rocks, to prerun. Running smooth, we thought we had fixed the issue, but it was still having trouble idling and was running sporadically. We ran into Erik Miller and Andrew and preran some of the optional lines on the course and through the wooded areas. Noticing temps in the car rising, we knew it had to be an air pocket when looking at other temps and feeling the radiator after a quick stop to cool down. Powering through the issues and hiccups on the course, we made it back to main pit to check some vitals on the car. Still at a loss for the reasoning of the low idle hiccup the car has, we were able to fix the air pockets in the coolant system with the vacuum tool, adding a full gallon of coolant, remedying our overheating issue.
Knowing we had to run the car hard to keep the idle up, we set a fast pace for qualifying. Driving hard into the turns and fast into the table top jumps, our run was smooth. We hit the rock section and the car spit and sputtered across with the RPM change. Stalling out in the rocks, our run was taking a turn for the worst. Overcoming the stalling and being pinned on the rocks, we were out and rounded the checkered flag to end our qualifying lap.
Taking a rear start from the qualifying run, we were ready to battle through the car issues and fight our way to the front. Unfortunately, the EFI system had different plans for us. In line to start, the EFI would not stay running. After attempts from multiple pit teams trying to help get us running, we were dead in the water. Not having enough parts nor a clue what went wrong, we fought for over an hour in the pits to get it back up and running. After countless tries and swapping parts, she just would not fire.
It was not the race we had set out for, nor the conditions for a smooth race day, and the DNF took us out of the running for a national podium spot, but as the Ultra4 season comes to a close, we still managed a 5th place for the Ultra4 National points.
This year has been seemingly difficult around every turn. We cannot thank our supporters, partners, crew, families, and friends enough for the support and help through this season! See you at Hammertown if not sooner!
Check out the Nationals Race Recap in the videos!