Tony Buffomante
March 16, 2009
Photos By: Wes Duenkel

March 12-15, 2009

I've never been to Homestead-Miami Speedway before, so this should be fun! It's been six months since I've been in the Mustang and I can't wait to see what we've got for 2009. After a nice run on the high banks at Daytona, we're ready to tackle the oval. What's this? We are not running the oval? Series officials just walked over and told me that we are running the club course, bypassing NASCAR 3 and 4. That's not cool. I didn't run the club course on iRacing!

I just saw Jamie Slone running around the paddock setting us all up with GoPro cameras. He looks like he is about to freak-out that he's not racing this year. I tell him that he looks like crap in his official series shirt and that he should be in a driving suit. Strangely enough I don't think that helped.

Whatever...let's check out the course in practice. We run the promoter test day and are bouncing around the top 5-10 in speed. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but there's lots of time left. It seems everyone has stepped up their game big time! There are also a few new names in the paddock which is exciting for the series. A little more work on the car, and it's time to call it a day at the track.

Thursday night Mike, Bill and I check out some of the local sights and sounds in Key Largo, a short 30-minute trip away. And by sights and sounds I mean, watching a 65 year-old Cougar sing "My Ding-a-Ling" at a local Karaoke bar. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. Let's get out of here!

By the time official practice starts, our Mustang FR500S is handling pretty darn good, but we are still way off the pace. Got our engine dyno'd a week ago and it was at 285RWHP/297RWTQ. I'm not sure what anyone else has, but I'm guessing more than that. There's nothing to do now but get the car to handle as good as possible and be smooth behind the wheel. Lap times are falling off over a second per lap for some guys after they run 3-4 laps on the abrasive track. Maybe this will be a good thing if we can run without burning up the tires and be there at the end.

For race one, we qualify 7th, about .8 off the pole. The field is much closer this year; hey these guys are GOOD! It should be a good race tomorrow with the field so tight.

Did I say good race? Well, that depends if you are me, and you get shuffled to the outside on the start, or if you are someone else. We ran as low as 11th, before getting some spots back for an 8th place finish. There was some good racing in the pack, but the leaders were gone. One brief caution period slowed the race, but after that, all of us were doing everything we could maintain position and/or make some late race moves for position. That was very disappointing. I'm looking at video and data, trying to figure out how to get off the corners better for tomorrow. We have to figure something out, this is ridiculous.

Probably the best way to figure it out is to see who on South Beach may have some insights don't you think? I thought you would feel that way. OK, fine, Dad, Paula, Mike, Bill and I take a quick drive to Ocean Avenue in search of some resources to help. I thought I found someone who knew the Three-Valve engine, but Mike was skeptical based on the colorful hair and the "back-less" leather chaps. No sense of adventure! I'm sure Deter had some thoughts about getting some more power to the ground.

I love these kinds of schedules: practice, qualifying, and race sessions all within about a three hour timeframe. It's like a Saturday night short-track schedule, or an episode of Pinks All Out. A few shock changes and we are 6th in practice; getting better. We bolt the stickers (tires) on for qualifying and pick up a second over practice times. BUT, so did everyone else, we are 9th.

This time a much better start gets me into 8th right away. Had some good battles with a few cars (except for the straight-aways that is), and got one more before the end to finish 7th. Another disappointing run, but at least this time we moved forward.

Got to do something for Barber Motorsports Park in April--another double-header is coming up! We're putting our heads together to figure out what we can do differently in a month. I hope you'll ride along to see if we are going turn it around and get back on the podium.

See you soon,T

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