Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – LAKE CITY, FL – Nothing like starting your first race at a track you’ve never run a Dirt Modified from P1.
That’s exactly how Seth Zacharias’ Wednesday night was for the first leg of the Short Track Super Series ‘Sunshine Swing’ at All-Tech Raceway.
Zacharias made his way to the feature redraw by placing third in the final qualifying heat race, finishing behind Mike Trautschold and Darren Smith.
Once his turn came around to draw a starting position, there was one number left, and that was the best seat in the house.
“We’ve were adjusting to try and get our car to stick on the bottom all night,” Zacharias said. “Then, we saw Darren (Smith) go up to the top during the heat and decided to follow him. It ended up working out good and we got into the redraw.”
Since unloading at All-Tech, Zacharias and his team have been working hard to get comfortable and they’ve made big gains.
“Things have been going good so far since hot laps on Tuesday night,” he said. “We’ve just been working on the car since and it’s seemed to be paying off.”
Then came the 30-lap feature event and the 19-year-old’s maiden feature at the Lake City, FL track. After a few missteps on the opening laps, including near spin on lap one and a trip into the turn three wall a circuit later, Seth settled in and made it to the finish, coming home in 18th position.
“I’m disappointed but still happy, if that makes sense,” he said. “I wish we had been able to get a better result and run better during the feature but we made it to the finish and have something to build on the rest of the week.”
The youngster feels like his teams on the right track setup wise. Now, he just needs to get even more comfortable on the Florida track, and that’ll come with each lap he makes.
“Nerves just got the best of me tonight,” he said. “I’ll learn from it and I think we can have three more good runs down here.”
The track conditions also threw Zacharias a bit of a curve ball. With temperatures nearing the high 30’s, the All-Tech surface turned greasy which had everyone guessing.
“I’m still learning tracks that may be wet like tonight,” he said. “We’re decent when a track is dry slick but this is a different animal, but we’re getting there.”
Quite The Rebound By Hackel In The Main Event
Bobby Hackel was kicking himself after his heat race on Wednesday night.
That was because he’d qualified for the opening night’s feature but due to an incorrect compound on the left rear of his #97, his finish was disallowed and he was relegated to the consolation race.
“I screwed up and grabbed a 48 compound left rear before the feature,” Hackel said. “I wanted to pull some stagger out and the rule was a softer 44 only.”
In the last chance race, Hackel drove through the field from ninth to come home in third and make the main event.
There, after starting 23rd, the East Greenbush, NY driver methodically worked his way towards the front. When the 30-lap feature was complete, Hackel had placed ninth.
“We had a really good car tonight, and we were able to showcase that in the main,” he said. “I just put us behind with the tire mistake but tomorrow’s a new day.”
Williamson’s Night Not What He Expected
Mat Williamson knew the engine combination he brought to All-Tech Raceway for the ‘Sunshine Swing’ might now be the right one for this week.
On Wednesday night, that was definitely the case.
“It wasn’t even close tonight,” Williamson said. “We’ll see what the rest of the week brings.”
The St. Catherines, ONT pilot has his team’s DIRTcar 358-Modified engine this week, tuned to make it fit the Pennsylvania spec rules.
“This was the only engine that we had to use for this week,” he said. “We freshened it late last season and to bring it down here we put a ported intake and Tri-Y headers with it.”
Hackel’s disqualification in the heat race was a benefit for Williamson Wednesday as it gave him the last qualifying spot.
In the feature, though, the S&W Service Centre #6 fired from 17th and was only able to get to 11th at the finish.
“We knew we were either going to look like a hero or a zero down here,” he said. “It’ll all depend on track conditions. If it gets slippery, I think we’ll be alright.”