Oppressive Heat and Challenging Track Throws Carlson a Learning Curve Ball
Elk River, Minnesota (July 15, 2015) – The challenge of running with the best racers in professional short track off-road racing reared its ugly head this past weekend as The Off-Road Championship (TORC) series visited Charlotte, North Carolina. Pro-Light rookie Andrew Carlson looked to continue his momentum and rapid learning curve that had already netted him several top-five finishes. Instead a wall of heat, ever-changing track conditions, and hard luck in both finals met him head on.
Racing is a staple in this part of the country that is essentially home to NASCAR, and the TORC race was held at the hallowed grounds of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Carlson Motorsports team entered the weekend riding a string of strong finishes and growing momentum they looked to continue on the continuous paperclip shaped track.
Crew Chief Keith Stamper, and the rest of the CMS crew had the 151 Atturo Tires, Best Western, AMSOIL Pro-Light truck set-up to near perfection as confirmed by Carlson’s fastest of class practice times. However the track changed quickly under the burning southern sun, quickly transforming the tacky, traction-laden track into a slick as ice, blue-clay groove. The quick transformation forced the crew to make quick changes as they chased the ideal set-up.
They looked to be close as Carlson cranked it up in the first final of the weekend, clawing his way up to 6th place by the mid-point of the race. But then fate struck in the form of a flat tire, forcing Andrew to pull off the track and sacrifice his hard earned points.
“The track changed so much from practice to qualifying,” said Stamper. “We had the perfect set-up early on, but once the blue-groove formed it was all hands on deck to get the truck as close as we could throughout the remainder of the day.”
The team regrouped on Saturday, hoping to parlay the lessons learned Friday into a stronger finish. Fueled by optimism, Carlson rallied from his mid-pack starting position and looked to make a big move in the opening laps. He quickly gained the 6th position but then was promptly punted off the track by an over aggressive driver dropping him to the back of the field.
“I’m disappointed to say the least,” said a clearly miffed Carlson as he climbed from his battle worn truck at the end of the race. “There is such a huge difference in driver experience in this class…we need to get to the front of the pack where the experience level makes for cleaner racing. The back of the pack is more like a demo derby than a truck race…my truck looked like a crushed beer can at the end.”
The team returns to action in three weeks as they head to Sturgis South Dakota for the Battle at the Chip, August 4-5. The break will give them some much needed rest, truck preparation and continued practice on their home track.
The Showdown in Charlotte will be broadcast on Fox Sports – Round 9: September 10th at 9:00pm Central and Round 10: September 17th at 9:00pm Central. Visit the TORC website for exact dates and times for broadcasts, past videos, point standings, and the latest team news. You can follow the Carlson Motorsports team throughout summer season on their website www.carlsonmoto.com or follow them on Facebook @CarlsonMoto or Twitter #CarlsonMoto. You can also follow TORC Pro-Light racer Andrew Carlson via Twitter @151Carlson.
VISIT THE TORC SERIES WEBSITE: HERE
PHOTOS BY JOE WIEGELE