Austin at Knoxville (Chuck Stowe Images)
(Bill W) June 15, 2017 – The TKS Motorsports #2KS team and driver Austin McCarl put in a busy week, that had its ups and downs. From competing toe to toe with the World of Outlaws at Knoxville, to a tire issue at West Burlington with the All Stars, to getting caught up in someone else’s mess at Eagle Raceway in Nebraska Tuesday, it was interesting to say the least. The team will rebound at Knoxville this Saturday for weekly competition.
Car owner and crew chief, Troy Renfro, was pleased that the team made the feature with the Outlaws both nights in what was a tough 40-car field at Knoxville Friday and Saturday. “We were able to get some good laps in,” he says. “Austin made the show both nights. I think we were better than we showed. There are some things that Austin needs to work on, and there are things that we need to work on to put things in his wheelhouse. We keep progressing and getting better, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.”
The team finishes 17th both nights, but got there in a different fashion each night. “As always, running with the Outlaws is a good learning experience,” says Austin. “We qualified really well Friday after coming out late. We ended up running third in the heat, which was one spot out of the Dash. We were a little free in the feature. I got to racing with Daryn Pittman there, and he got me up over the cushion. That cost me a couple of spots and then it laid rubber.”
On Saturday, Austin would have to make up some ground in his heat after not qualifying as well (12th quick). “Qualifying was on me a little bit,” he says. “I should have run the bottom in three and four a little more. The car was really good in the heat though, and we had a good start (going from sixth to fourth). It took me a little too long to get going in the feature. I probably didn’t do the best job on the double-file restarts. It was really tight in the dirty air. After we got going, and the race stayed green, we were really coming on. It was just a little late, and we ended up 17th. I think both nights at Knoxville, we were better than the results showed. It was really promising for the Nationals, especially qualifying well Friday.”
At 34 Raceway Sunday with the All Stars, things started well. The team went in with confidence after a strong showing in April with the IRA that included quick time. “I’ve been able to win races there before, and we’ve had some good finishes,” says Troy. “We were good there earlier this year, and we always have been. We went out in the last session and we were third in hot laps. I wasn’t real concerned.”
A tire issue would plague Austin in qualifying, however. “We put on a new right rear and a new left rear,” says Troy. “We went out to qualify, and right away, we were really loose. We didn’t know what was going on. We measured the tires and the right rear grew and inch and a quarter, and the left rear shrunk three-quarters of an inch. That’s a drastic change. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Stuff like that happens, but we dug a hole.”
Austin could not transfer out of the back of his heat, but came on in the B, finishing second. “We had the car ready for the rest of the night,” he says. “We had a really good racecar in the feature too. The track was around the bottom, and it took me a couple laps to figure out how to drive it. I wish it would have been 40 laps instead of 30, but it’s a sprint. It was fun and we got some really good laps.”
The team used the night as an opportunity to try some things. “The rest of the night, we used as a test session on a short dry-slick track,” says Troy. “We were able to do that. He’s the best young driver as far as communication that I’ve ever worked with. He has a real feel for the car and what he wants. We were pretty good come feature time. There were some things that happened that just come down to seat time, and more laps.”
With the WoO at Eagle on Tuesday, it was another opportunity for the young team to get some laps. “Eagle is another track that we’ve had success at,” says Troy. “It’s hard to know where to run the track these days. The track is not what it used to be. Despite that, we were able to get into the show. Austin did what he had to do in the heat.”
In the feature, Austin could not avoid the flipping car of Cap Henry. “That’s racing, things like that happen,” says Troy. “The important thing is Austin is o.k. Obviously, that was most important to us. We just got caught up in someone else’s mess. It did set us back a little bit. We’re seeing what we can salvage from this car, which I don’t think will be much. We’ll have our other car ready for Saturday at Knoxville. That’s really going to be our concentration now, because Nationals will be here before we know it.”
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Photo: Austin at Knoxville (Chuck Stowe Images)
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