Adventures of Victoryman

With Jeff Banyas
5.18.05

Before I get any slack for not writing a new column yet this season let me apologize. Schoolwork combined with a rash of wrecked racecars has kept me away from my journalistic priorities. Nevertheless it is time to update everyone on what has happened so far this season.

First off the Banyas Racing Team has announced our new online home www.banyasracing.com. The site is the culmination of the hard work of the people at Xtreme Digital Hosting and Un-identified Graphics and it looks great. If you havenít stopped by yet make a point of doing so.

Now for the racing aspect of things. Saturday April 9th ended up being our season opener after harsh weather wiped out a couple of races. Mercer Raceway Park was the scene, and in traditional fashion the night started off with a horrible draw and a shotgun start for our heat race. The car felt comfortable in hotlaps after a long season away from the track and we decided to leave it alone for the heat race to let me get my feet wet again before changing too much on the car. Bad idea, the track began to go away and I was very loose for most of the heat, but that would be the least of my problems as late in the race I tangled with Charlie Holben in turn four bending up the top wing and almost every bolt on component on the rear end.

From here the thrash was on as the crew went to work on changing the rear end and patching the wing along with help from Doug Stanleyís crew. The rear end was changed and the wing patched in plenty of time, but the shifter cable was not working properly on the car and it took us right down to the wire before we could get the car in gear to get it onto the track.

With no time to adjust the setup I was left with an ill handling racecar in the feature, but still managed to move through the field from the tail to an eleventh place finish. Not a bad result, but could have been a much better night overall.

The next week we made the call to go to the second night of the All Star Circuit of Champions Spring Nationals at Attica Raceway Park. We are planning on concentrating more on Ohio racing this year as opposed to Western Pennsylvania, and Attica seemed like the place to be. In typical fashion we started out the night with a bad draw. As a result we had a horrible qualifying time and could not get any forward bite all night on an EXTREMELY dry slick racetrack. The night ended with a C-main run in which we finished seventh after starting from the tail of everything. The season was not starting well.

A week off due to weather landed us at Fremont Speedway for the season opener. Many of the All Stars were there after their weekend race had been cancelled earlier in the week and the night didnít look a whole lot different than two weeks prior at Attica. Another bad draw put is in the back for qualifying, and knowing very little about how to drive the tight bullring that is Fremont I was completely out to lunch. I was trying to really throw the car into the turns and get back to the gas very quickly in order to get off of the corners. After talking to Mark Keegan, Dale Blaney, Lee Jacobs and others I discovered that this was not the way to go at Fremont. We made progress on the car however and by the end of the night I was feeling much more comfortable, but still could not do any better than a tenth place finish in the B-main.

The next week saw All Star action at the Fremont Speedway, and you guessed it, we drew horribly. The car felt much better in hotlaps, but by the time I got out to qualify the track had gone dry slick and I was left with another horrible qualifying time and more last place starting spots for the night. The night culminated with a decent B-main run in which I was able to pass some cars, but was unable to transfer into the A-main finishing seventeenth.

Last weekend saw threatening skies, but the rain moved out early enough for us to get the program in at the Fremont Speedway. The track was super-fast and tacky all night making the draw obsolete as the track stayed good all through qualifying. With the tacky conditions I was able to lay down a very good lap of 12.77, good for ninth fastest. The car felt much better and I felt like I was finally getting the hang of the tricky little track.

Heat race action would prove otherwise as I would try to put the car onto the big cushion that had developed from my fourth place starting spot. After falling from fourth place all the way to the back I put the car back onto the bottom with a couple laps left and managed to finish seventh, still not good enough to secure an A-main starting spot.

The B-main would be much better as I started outside pole alongside Brock Mayes. Mayes got the jump on me at the start, but I quickly moved to the bottom and held onto second place putting me into my first ever Fremont feature event.

The A-main started well as I settled into eight after starting ninth by running the bottom grove that I had found to my liking yet again. Going into turn three after an early restart I slipped off of the bottom allowing Dale Blaney by. Andrew Palker saw the opening and went for it down the front straightaway but didnít have me clear going into turn one and we tangled, flying off of turn one and into the Styrofoam, ending both of our nights.

All in all the beginning of the season has been very disappointing for the Banyas Racing team, but we hope to turn things around this weekend with trips to Attica Raceway Park for the SOD 360 show on Friday and Fremont Speedway for 410 action on Saturday. See you at the races.



7.26.04

So, whoís ready for another two weeks worth of racing action from the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking 07 Team? You are? Good, cause here we go.

First off the team would like to welcome aboard a new sponsor this week. Ronís Lawn Service of Sharpsville Pa has come on board with the team. We look forward to an excellent end to the season with Ronís Lawn Service on board and continued success in future seasons.

Now into the racing part of the last two weeks. Two weeks ago we decided to make the trip to the annual Brad Doty Classic at Attica Raceway Park to test our skills against some of the best drivers in the country. Attica took a bit of a nosedive from the last time we were there as the track started off not only dry slick, but also very rutty. It is a shame, as Atticaís track surface was once one of the best in the country. We started off the night by qualifying 35th out of 58 cars. Then a racers worst enemy came calling. Rain. A three-hour rain delay left everyone soggily scratching our heads as to how to set the car up. The rains had made the track very tacky and fast while leaving it pretty rough as well. We put some more stagger into the car in the heat race and put a different shock package on to account for the tacky conditions.

All of those changes proved to be too little as we had such incredible forward bite that all I could do was pull four-foot wheel stands down the straight-aways. From the stands that may look impressive but to a driver it is very hard to race with people when you have little to no control over the front end of your car. We started in the back of the heat race and never were able to advance our position leaving us to start in the back of the B-main. We decided to make a few more changes to the car to try to keep the front end on the ground including lowering the ride height of the front end for the B-main.

After a red flag on the first lap for a flipping Wayne Johnson down the back stretch and a few other cars dropping out at the same time we managed to settle into sixth position. The car was handling much better, but the front end was still a tad on the light side and the track was very difficult to navigate. We ended up finishing seventh, three spots out of the transfer, but on a night like that night we were simply happy to bring the car home in one piece.

Saturday night found our usual stop at Mercer Raceway Park getting rained out. After a quick check of the radar we decided that Fremont Speedway would probably be our best chance to get a race in that night. The trip to the track made us hesitant as it poured right up until about two miles from the track when it cleared up. We got hot laps in, and we were the next car out to qualify when Mother Nature interfered with our plans again washing out the eveningís events.

This past Saturday found us at the wingless and winged double feature show at Mercer Raceway Park. An average draw of 38 would start us sixth in the first heat. Having only raced wingless once before we were a little behind on the setup in hot laps. The car was much looser than I had remembered it being in this show the previous year so we decided to make a change to the right front shock as well as cutting some stagger.

The start of the heat race gave me a big scare as on the first attempted start Andy Priest and Scott Bonnell touched wheels sending Andy spinning in front of the rest of the field. On the second attempt Mel Straleyís car washed up coming off turn two catching me in the left rear and sending me on a wild two wheel spin coming off turn two. After moving to the back for causing the caution we moved up to sixth at one time before being passed by Arnie Kent and finishing seventh with a racecar that was much too tight for my liking.


Going "Topless"

For the nonwinged feature we would have to start thirteenth due to not finishing well enough to make the redraw. We decided to go back to the stagger we had for hot laps as well as putting a lighter torsion bar in the left rear and changing the right rear shock. The changes seemed to work as the car was much more comfortable to drive. I was able to get by a few cars early in the race and settled in to racing with Scott Priester, Andy Priest, and Jason Dolick eventually finishing seventh behind Dolick after a late race restart produced passes of Priester and Rod George who nearly lost the handle on his number 4 car coming off turn two.

Next it was time to strap on the wings and get ready for feature number two. From the fans point of view it probably looks as if the only change necessary to run the winged feature is just bolting on the wings. Not so. On this night we had to change three of the four shocks, reset the ride height on each corner of the car, change the left rear torsion bar, and change the gear. Not to mention the problem of diagnosing an overheating problem we have now attributed to a problem with the radiator.

In the hot lap prior to the winged feature the car was too light on the front end so we decided to lower the front of the car as we had at Attica the week before. Other than that it felt good so we left it alone. Starting from eighth position we had our work cut out for us, but the car handled good from the get go and I was able to pass Scott Priester, Charlie Holben, Chad Levingston, and Butch Beasley early in the race to move into fourth before Jamie Smith moved by me putting me back to fifth behind himself, Gale Ruth, Rod George and Arnie Kent. A late restart allowed me to move by Ruth for fourth, and we almost got by Arnie coming down to the checkered as he lost the handle on the car late in the race sliding off the cushion in turn four. Unfortunately we had to settle for a fourth place finish in the winged feature.

This coming week will put us back at Mercer Raceway Park again for the regular nights festivities. Also look out for the new Banyas Racing T-shirts from Classic Impressions Racewear now on sale. Prices are $17 for Adults sizes and $13 for Childrenís. See you at the races.



7.14.04

Two more weeks of racing to update you on and rather good weeks at that. Lets dive right in.

Two weeks ago saw the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking crew take on the best of the best in 360 racing on the East Coast as the URC Sprint cars made their annual pilgrimage to Mercer Raceway Park. As is typical of our luck the night started off with a pitiful draw of 71. This would leave us as one of the last cars to take the track for qualifying. The car was pretty good in hot laps, but we knew the track would be a lot drier and much slicker by the time we hit the track for qualifying. We decided to put some weight into the left front corner of the car and groove and sipe the rear tires more for some better traction.

Well as expected there wasnít a lot of traction left by the time we got out on the track, but thanks to some last minute advice from Arnie Kent who went out a few cars before I did I managed to pull off a lap that would be good for 22nd fastest. As luck should have it this would actually give us a good heat race starting spot setting us on the outside pole of heat four.

Now that the track was even for everyone we figured we would be ok for the rest of the night and left the setup alone. I knew if I could get the jump on the pole sitter on the start it would be hard for anyone to get passed me the rest of the race. I managed to stay even with him down the front stretch and through turn one at the start of the heat before pulling by him on the outside off of turn two. From their one early caution for Jamie Martin in turn one would be all that would slow us down as we took the heat win and transferred into the show.

Unfortunately for us our bad qualifying time meant that we would be left starting deep in the field at fourteenth. They watered the track prior to the feature and learning from the previous week we made a few shock changes to try to accommodate for the tackier surface. Unfortunately the tacky surface made for little passing back through the field and the race went non-stop giving us little chance to advance position on restarts. We ended up sixteenth, but the good news came in Victory Engines Powered cars taking two of the top three spots with Jamie Smith winning in an engine he had leased from Grant Doermann and Scott Bonnell finishing third with the engine he had bought from us the week earlier.

Sunday saw a five hour round trip for dinner at the Kings Family Restaurant as we got washed out at Tri-City after firing the engine to get heat into it. Ohh well, it was a good dinner.

This past weekend saw the 410 car back on the speedway at Mercer Raceway Park. A mediocre draw of 29 started the night off with a fourth place starting spot in heat one. The track was very tacky in hot laps and we have been concentrating a lot lately on our dry slick setup. This made for a very tight racecar in hot laps that I kept having to pitch sideways throughout the corner to get to turn. We decided to put a different left rear on for the heat as well as making a couple of shock changes and putting a smaller wicker bill on to help the car turn through the corners. On the start I was able to get by third place starter Chad Levingston to settle into third behind Rod George and Mr. Heat race Gary Kriess. From there we were able to hold our ground for a third place finish putting ourselves solidly in the invert.

As luck should have it we got a good starting position for the feature, as we would line up in the fifth position behind Butch Beasley, Jeremy Cook, Andy Priest, and Jason Dolick. For a change of pace the track didnít take much water for the feature and was actually getting slicker. We decided to stick with the same left rear tire as we had in the heat, but put the taller wicker bill on the wing and changed one of the shocks back to what we had started the night with.

The start of the feature couldnít have worked out any better as I was able to get by Dolick down the front stretch, then Priest and Cook coming off of two as Andy got very loose exiting the corner. From there I chased down Beasley and made the pass on him through one and two. The car was really flying, and I knew we would be tough to beat, especially if the race went non-stop as it had the two previous weeks. Unfortunately no such luck would be with us as three cautions slowed the race and allowed Gary Edwards to sneak by me on the top side around the halfway point. We didnít fall back any from there but it was still a bit of a disappointing second place finish. That win is right around the corner though. I can feel it.

This week the team will attempt to make the $16,000 to win Brad Doty Classic at Attica with the 410 car on Wednesday before heading back to the old stomping grounds at Mercer Raceway Park on Saturday. See you at the track.


URC action


7.1.04

Looks like everyone out there needs two weeks of racing to be updated on from the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking 07 team so lets get you all up to speed.

Two weeks ago at Mercer Raceway Park found us with a familiar dilemma, starting towards the back of a starstuded heat race. The car was handling excellent in hot laps, but we still had to start sixth in a heat race that featured the likes of Jamie Smith, Arnie Kent, Rod George, Scott Bonnell and Gary Edwards. Luckily all we needed to get into the invert was a top sixth and we were able to pull that out coming home in fifth after a fairly uneventful heat race. The track was going away though, and we had picked up a loose condition in the center of the corner that was making me wait on the car before being able to pick up the throttle off the corner.

We decided to make a change to the left rear shock and cut a little bit of stagger for the feature, hoping that these two changes would allow us to move forward from our eight place starting position. On the start of the feature it seemed as if we had went the right direction as we leapt ahead of seventh starting Chris Shuttleworth going into turn one, then moved under sixth starting Mike Shearer as he got loose coming off turn two. From there the car continued to be to my liking as I was able to hug the bottom groove and get tremendous drives off the corner. I moved by Andy Priest and Jason Dolick early in the race to advance into fourth. Then was able to use the low groove to race by Scott Bonnell and settle into third behind Rod George and Gary Edwards. The car was really moving and if I got a few cautions at the right spot I felt I might have a chance to win this one. Unfortunately the only caution we would see from there would be with four or five laps to go and Gary and I had the lapped car of Butch Beasley between us and Rod. We raced around Butch on the restart and I managed to give Gary a nose inside going through three and four coming down to get the two to go, but wasnít able to get up by him and had to settle for third.

This past Saturday at Mercer we decided to start the night off by blocking the car with a little shorter setup block in the rear in an attempt to raise the ride height to get even more forward bite. Unfortunately that idea did not pan out as we planned as the car had a tendency to wander on me in hot laps. We quickly decided to go back to our taller blocks and left the chassis alone from there for the heat race.

For once we got a good starting spot in the heat race, but that didnít mean our luck would change as far as the competition. Again we found ourselves having to battle the likes of Gary Kriess, Jamie Smith, Arnie Kent, Rod George, Gary Edwards, and Mike Shearer. I donít know what part of fates wonderful sense of humor continues to stack the lot of us together in heat races, but I wish fate would loose that part. Anyways, we started the heat from the outside pole and had a good car, but nothing compared to Gary Kriess who jumped out of the start and left us to settle for second. Still we would make the much sought after invert and would have at least a decent starting spot for the feature.

We decided to put a new left rear tire on for the feature as the left rear we had on didnít appear to be wearing much at all, telling us that it wasnít giving us adequate bite. This would be the only major change we made to the car for the feature. Unfortunately for us the track took the water that the prep crew put on it prior to the feature this week as opposed to blowing it off as it usually does. This made the track very tacky and left us with too much forward bite. It was all I could do to keep the front end on the ground most of the night and we werenít able to advance from our seventh starting position, actually falling back to ninth.

This week the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking team will pull out the 360 car for the URC race at Mercer on Saturday, and if all goes well there we will come back home and bring the 410 car out on Sunday night for the fourth of July race at Tri-City. See you all at the track.



6.15.04

This past Saturday found the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking 07 team at its usual stomping grounds in Mercer Pennsylvania. The night started off on a rather familiar note as we pulled a bad pill and would have our work cut out for us in the heat races.

First up, however, were hot laps. This week we decided to try something a little different with our shock package based on our performance at Attica the week before. Instead of starting off with a straight 5 shock on the right rear, a 4/7 tie down on the left rear, a 6/2 easy up on the right front and a 5/4 easy up on the left front we decided to tie down both rear tires and put equal easy upís on the front end. The changes seemed to work as the car was getting great forward bite off of the corners, which is something we have struggled with all year.

Our heat race problems went from bad to worse as we found out that not only would we have to start eight, but our heat race was a talent packed one with the likes of Gary Kriess, Arnie Kent, Rod George, Gary Edwards, Jamie Martin, and Doug Stanley to compete with. After a poor start and getting held up by a couple slower cars we managed to take the final transfer position, which would leave us starting 17th in the feature.

The car was still handling very well, and the track didnít really appear to be changing all that much. For a change, we decided to leave the entire setup alone. Starting that far back in the feature you would normally try some make or break changes, but we had a good car already and didnít want to screw it up by changing too much.

The feature started off very well, as I was able to gain quite a few spots on the start. From there I settled into the bottom groove and worked it for all I had. The car was getting tremendous bite off of the turns and I was able to move all the way up into eighth place, but as the race wore on so did our right rear tire. I managed to nurse the worn out tire home though and still came out of the night with a solid eight-place run.

This week the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking team will make two stops. First will be a Thursday night appearance at the Fremont Speedway in Fremont Ohio to gain some non-winged seat time against the USAC stars with our 360 car. Then we will bolt the wings back on to the 410 car and make the regular trek to Mercer Raceway Park on Saturday. Maybe one of these days we will put together a good starting spot along with a good setup and maybe win one of these things. See you all at the track.



6.9.04

Well, I have another two weeks of racing to update you on so without further ado lets dive right in.

May 29th we made the weekly trek back to Mercer Raceway Park. The night started out with an average draw that would start us third in the third heat against some stiff competition. The likes of Rod George, Arnie Kent, Charlie Holben, and Gary Edwards were all scheduled to go in our heat, but the car felt pretty good in hot laps and we felt confident that we would be able to make the invert from the third starting spot.

On the start of the heat it was obvious that we werenít as good as we thought we had been in hot laps. I settled into third behind Charlie Holben, but Rod George was pushing me hard for the position and we were continuing to struggle getting off of the corners. Rod would eventually get by me through turn four and Arnie Kent would follow not long after that relegating us to a fifteenth place starting spot and a long night ahead if we planned on seeing the front of the field at the end of the night.

For the feature we decided to put a new right rear tire on the car as well as putting quite a few grooves and sipes into the right and left rear tire. The new right rear tire was also smaller and would cut the tire stagger, which should help us get off of the corners.

At the start of the feature it looked as if these changes were going to help as I got a terrific start coming from fifteenth to the top ten on the first lap. From there though the car started fading backwards, and after a couple of bad restarts I found myself on the outside of the top ten looking in again. Luckily for us a full moons luck was hanging over a number of competitorís heads as caution after caution after red flag after red flag would fly and push many of the cars in front of us back in the field. When the final red flew with three laps to go I was sitting in seventh behind Chris Shuttleworth whoís car doesnít seem to like nose wings as his had collapsed on him again this week. I managed to get by Chris on the restart and was closing in on Scott Bonnell for fifth when we ran out of time. Still a sixth place finish and a car that was still in one piece was a small victory on a night when many cars came off the track on the hook.

This past Friday we decided to make a pilgrimage to Attica Raceway Park to run the BOSS 360 Sprint show as our weekly stop at Mercer would not happen due to the Big Block Modified Special there on Saturday. The night started out a little hairy as we pulled a high pill for the heat race start. We were scheduled to start sixth in the third heat race, but because the fourth place starter didnít make the call we ended up starting fourth.

The car was pretty good in hot laps but Atticaís track surface has deteriorated greatly from the timeís that I was a little kid sitting in the stands watching the Al Harrison owned #44 car fly around with the likes of Mark Keeganís X car and numerous other Attica heroes. On this night it didnít even appear that the track prep team had even made an attempt to get any moisture into the track and everyone was having trouble getting off of turn two. We decided to cut some stagger as we had the week before at Mercer and put an easy up shock on the left front corner to match the one we already had on the left front.

The changes worked rather well in the heat race as I managed to shoot out into third place, and then take second from Jac Haudenschilds nephew Jac Neville just before the only restart. Around the midway point of the race however Jamie Martin would get passed me in turns three and four leaving me to a third place finish, but keeping me in the redraw. Luck would be on my side at the redraw as by the time my number was called the only two starting spots remaining were second and sixth. I got the better of the two numbers and would start outside pole to Todd Heller.

For the feature we decided to cut some gear and put just a little bit of stagger back into the car as the track appeared to be taking rubber. We also made sure to groove and sipe the tires a lot as the track didnít have any moisture left in it what so ever.

The start of the feature went rather well as I was able to battle Todd Heller for the first lap before settling into second. The car was about as good as Iíd ever felt it around Atticaís high banks, and I was able to run up in the rubber that we had foreseen laying down on the track. Around lap ten David Harrison squeezed between me and the wall coming off of corner number four, but I was able to hang with him decently and hold onto third up until the last caution. That final restart however would be our unraveling as the tires we had put on had burnt up pretty well and put some sharp lips onto the blocks. The forward bite on the car was going away as the tire was running on the lips as opposed to the whole tire. We lost five spots on that final restart and wound up with an eight-place finish.

This week the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking 07 will be back at Mercer for the Main Event show with the 410 car. See you at the races.



5.27.04

Well Iíve gotten behind a little bit on this column. Now I have two weeks worth of racing action to get you all caught up on, so lets get too it.

Two weeks ago the plan was to bring both the 360 and 410 cars to Mercer Raceway Park for the Western PA Championship race. Well as Mother Nature loves to do she decided not to co-operate. After a quick search of the Internet and a lengthy decision making process we decided the best chance to get some racing in for us was to load the 360 car up and head to Crystal Michigan for the SOD show.

After a 20 minute thrash to get everything we thought we would need for the trip loaded up we started on the five hour trek to Crystal. If we were going to make it there in time for hot laps we had to hit every route just right. Luckily we made it with minimal traffic and no wrong turns, pulling in right around the time the drivers meeting started. I quickly got us signed in and managed to actually pull a number four pill for the heat races (there goes all my good luck for the draw for the year) while Dad and the crew went about mounting a new spec. tire that we had to run for the show. After we fired up the engine the SOD officials informed us that our mufflers were not the right set mandated by the organization. We ended up having to borrow a set of headers from Mike and Dustin Daggett to run that night, as we did not have the proper set with us.

As for the racing action, I can only say one thing about the track. DRY. With all the rain we have gotten throughout the area you would figure the track would be a heavy mess, but instead it was so dry that you could not see going down the back stretch in hot laps. Nevertheless we ended up finishing second in our heat race from the pole after eventual winner Tim Allison passed me in the middle portions of the heat. The car was extremely loose and struggling to gain forward bite. To correct this situation we lowered the ride height of the car, and softened the rear torsion bars. We also put more gear to the car, as the track appeared to be gaining rubber.

I managed to pull the same number four for the redraw as I had for the heat races on the night, but at the start of the main event it was obvious we had made the wrong changes. I began sliding backwards, unable to pick up the throttle without spinning the tires like crazy. I was in eight on an early caution when I got a little too aggressive and looped it in turn one on the restart. From there I was unable to advance any ground and had to settle for an 18th place finish and a long ride home.

Last weekend we got back to an actual racetrack. It was nice to be able to put my foot into the throttle again and pick up some traction with the 410 car at Mercer Raceway Park. With my luck at drawing already gone for the season dad pulled another four for me, which would start me on the pole of the first heat. Gary Kriess in Troy Prestonís 1P machine would get by me at the start of the race and take off as I managed to hold onto second in a car that was quite obviously to loose. We decided to correct this problem by cutting some stagger as well as putting softer compression shocks on the rear of the car.

For the start of the feature we were scheduled to line up in seventh place but after Gary Edwards team left to tend to injured driver Jeff Rudzik we were bumped up to sixth. On the initial start Scott Bonnell and Chris Matthews tangled in front of me in turn one. I managed to make it by the duo and moved up to fourth for the complete restart. For the first five laps or so I was just holding my own with a car that wasnít feeling terrible, but wasnít feeling great either. I managed to hold steady around the top five until a nose wing mount broke laying the nose wing down onto the hood and making it very difficult to turn the car into the corner. I lost a number of positions on the next restart, but managed to use lapped traffic to move back up to a solid seventh place finish, but it was still a frustrating night as we had a car that was probably capable of running in the top five had the nose wing not laid down.

This weeks plans have the Victory Engines/Harrison Trucking 07 headed to Mercer again on Saturday night and if all goes well there we will probably make our yearly pilgrimage to Tri City Speedway on Sunday. See you all at the track.



5.14.04

Another weekend of rain dodging has come and gone. I really donít know how Mercer Raceway Park has managed to get two full shows in the past two weeks. Rain and thunder should have gotten at least one of them, but the shows both went off without a hitch. Maybe there is something to Darrell Waltripís vortex theory of keeping cars at speed sending the rains away from the track.

Anyways, on to last weekends festivities. The night started off on a pleasantly surprising good note as Rich Dubeckyís (our crew man) wife pulled a number 11 pill for us. The luck of the draw actually had us starting on the pole this week, but the next four spots in our heat race would be filled with Scott Bonnell, Jamie Smith, Arnie Kent, and Mike Shearer. A staked heat race by all means.

The car was good in hot laps, but by heat race time it was evident that the track was already beginning to slick off due to the hot summer sun and a nice breeze that was blowing in. We decided to not risk a bad-handling racecar by leaving the setup alone as we had the previous week. After changing the right front shock and putting some weight into the left front corner we felt pretty confident that we were ready for heat race action.

By the end of lap one in the heat race it was evident that we had made the right changes to the car as I was able to shoot by Scott Bonnell through turns one and two on the bottom, then move up to the high side through three and four and take off. I decided to stay on the high side for the rest of the race as opposed to moving down to the bottom as I would normally do and it paid off pretty well as we ran off with a pretty convincing heat race win.

So now we had finally made the invert and because of some mediocre finishes in the last three races we were set to start the feature in third place. Unfortunately the track was continuing to dry out, and Mike Shearer who has been fast with the exception of some bad luck the last few weeks was on the pole. We decided to make a few more changes to the car before the feature by adding a larger wicker bill to the top wing and putting a little more weight in the left front corner of the car, along with a little weight in the rear of the car to make up for the fuel load.

At the start of the feature it was apparent that we had a good car, but we could have been better. Shearer and I jumped out to the early lead with Mike moving towards the high side and me hugging the bottom. I was able to pull along side him, but a number of early race cautions didnít allow me to pull by. Once we finally got a substantial green flag run it became obvious that we were having some forward bite problems. Mike began getting away from me a little bit, and Gary Kriess in Troy Prestonís machine got by me for second. Then around lap nine we began approaching lapped traffic, allowing Gary and I to catch up to Mike a little bit. Unfortunately for Gary and Mike the duo got tangled up in lapped traffic and spun, handing the lead to me.

On the next restart I decided to stay on the bottom and hope for the best. I managed to hold the lead for a number of laps before Ralph Spithaler moved by me on the high side. Not long after Ralph got by me we began working lapped traffic on the high side. Unfortunately our car wasnít getting any better forward bite up top than it was on the bottom and I wasnít able to gain on Ralph at all. Then the red flag came out, and because of the mass number of caution laps we had already had the crews were allowed to come out and refuel the cars. This would help us by putting more weight on the rear of the car, and hopefully giving us the forward bite we needed to mount a charge on Ralph.

On the restart I managed to get to the inside of Ralph and might have sneaked by had it not been for another caution, this time with four laps to go. I stayed on the bottom for the final restart and tried to mount one more charge on Ralph, but it was unsuccessful, and Arnie Kent managed to move by me on the outside in the process. Thus we ended the night where we started it, in third. Still a good run, and something to build momentum on for the Victory Engines, Harrison Trucking 07 team. This weeks plans will be an action filled night at the Western PA championship at Mercer with both the 410 and 360 cars.



5.6.04

Man I sure wish Mercer Raceway Park awarded passing points. If they did we would have been pulling them in hand over fist last Saturday night.

As you can probably guess by now the night started out with yet ANOTHER bad draw. This time it was a little better as we pulled a 41 pill, but that would still start us towards the back of the heat race.

As far as the car goes the night started out pretty well. The car was really fast in hot laps and I really felt like we had a good shot at finally making it into the invert for the feature through the heats. Following hot laps we decided to keep our eyes on the track (as well as the skies) and make a decision as to what we wanted to do to the car for the heat. While watching the Sportsman Modified makeup feature and Stock Car heats it didnít appear that the track was changing a whole lot so we decided to leave the car be. That would be a huge mistake.

We started sixth in the second heat and jumped right out to fourth before losing that spot to Jamie Smith as I jumped the cushion on both ends of the track the first to laps. Obviously the car or my driving style wasnít suited for the cushion on this night so I decided to move back down to the bottom line and try to pick up that one last spot I needed down there. Unfortunately the car wasnít much better around the bottom. The bottom and middle grooves had gotten real powdery and the car was just slip sliding around making it very difficult to gain any real ground on fourth. Instead we had to settle for another fifth place finish, keeping us out of the invert and relegating us to a fourteenth place starting spot.

Almost instantly we decided that we were going to need to make some changes to the car for the feature. We put some weight into the left front corner of the car as well as changing the rear shock package. We added our traditional weight across the rear of the car to account for the increased weight of the fuel load needed for a feature. Then we made the decision to put on some softer tires. A risky choice seeing as the track was drier than it had been in previous weeks. If the car wasnít set up right it was going to get very easy to burn the softer compound tires off by spinning them too much coming off the corner. Never the less we decided to take a chance and bolt on the softer tires on the rear of the car, cutting about a half inch of stagger in the process.

When the feature started it was obvious the changes were working, at least from the get go. The car was working real well for me both around the upper part of the track and around the bottom. Within five laps I had managed to work the car up from fourteenth to a battle for sixth with Doug Stanley. After two laps of working on Doug I finally had a good run on him coming off of turn four when his car jumped sideways touching my right front and sending me on a heart stopping spin down the front stretch. Luckily we didnít hit anything, but I would still have to go to the tail.

From there on all I could do was hope for plenty of cautions to keep the field bunched up and try to gain as many spots as I could. Luckily the cautions came rather plentifully and I was able to make some moves around a number of cars on the high side on restarts, as well as working around a few other cars under power. When the checkered flag flew we were in ninth and back working on Doug Stanley, this time for eight.

All in all the Victory Engines, Harrison Trucking machine was fast throughout the feature. And the race certainly provided for some good passing practice for me. Hopefully I can put that practice to good use this week. Who knows, I may not need it so much if we get an elusive good draw.

This weekís itinerary has one more tune up at Mercer Raceway Park before the following weekends Western PA Championship race. Look for both the Victory Engines 410 and 360 machines to be at the track for that race, along with an expected car count of well over 100 Sprintcars. See you at the track.



4.26.04

Another week, another bad starting spot. Such is our luck it seems. If we get a good draw to start off the night we will invariably miss the setup. If we get a terrible draw to start off we will be fast all night.

The weekend didnít start off with a trip to Attica as we had planned due to logistics between getting myself and the crew there for the night. Instead we focused our efforts on Saturdayís weekly stop. Mercer Raceway Park. As indicated above, we started the night in the hole due to a bad draw. Unfortunately in the world of wing sprint cars itís very difficult to dig out of that hole most nights.

As far as the car went things started off rather well. We came back with virtually the same starting point as we had begun with the previous two weeks with one exception. We decided to try something a little different on the left front and right rear shocks in an attempt to get the car to drive off of the corner a little better. The car felt very racey in hot laps, and other than an 8th place starting position in a pretty competitive heat race I was feeling good about my shot at putting the car at least into the show, if not into the much sought after top 12 inversion.

We decided not to change anything for the heat race as the track didnít appear to be changing too much and the car was very good in hot laps. We started off the heat by jumping out into the 5th spot from 8th, so I was solidly in the show with a little bit of breathing room, but up ahead was Cameron Dodson holding that valued inversion spot. For most of the race I was trying everything I knew to do to close in close enough on Cameron to make the pass. I just never could quite get there. The track had dried out some through one and two and had developed some ruts through three and four. The ruts werenít the worst of my problem but the car was pretty loose through the one and two. Nevertheless we finished fifth, but that finish would relegate us to the thirteenth starting spot. Again we would have to work our way up from mid pack to try and pull a good finish out of the A-main.

After the handling issues we had in the heat and watching the track we decided we needed to make a few changes. We went back to our standard right rear and left front shock combination as well as cutting about an inch of stagger to help the loose condition through one and two. We also put about a half a turn in the rear of the car to compensate for the fuel load and put a little weight into the left front torsion bar. All this we hoped would help us get through the dry stuff in one and two better as well as the ruts in three and four. I had also picked up on a little different line around the track that I wanted to try in the feature.

As I said before we started the feature from thirteenth and after a successfully maneuvering through a few early wrecks we found ourselves on the threshold of the top ten. A long green run through the middle of the race would help me utilize the line change that I wanted to try. The line worked very well for me and the car was moving forward pretty quickly. We passed by Jason Dolick, Chris Matthews, and Kevin Andrusky to put ourselves solidly in eight place when a caution fell with five laps remaining. I could see Arnie Kent in sixth with some substantial nose wing damage from one of the earlier accidents that I knew would probably play into my favor. On the restart Cameron Dodson who was running seventh at the time and I made the move around Arnie as well as a couple of lap cars. I then set my sights on finishing the job I had started in the heat race and trying to get by Cameron. Coming off of four to take the white flag I was able to move under him and we drag raced through turns one and two, with me eventually completing the pass down the back stretch into turn three. This would give us a solid sixth place finish from a rather undesirable starting spot.

On the agenda for next week is another trip to Mercer Raceway Park. Once I am out of school we may start hitting a few other 360 and 410 shows throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania, and of course we plan to have both our 360 and 410 cars out for the Western PA Sprint Car Championship triple header night at Mercer coming up here.

It was very nice to see Gary McCollum walking through the pits on Saturday. Although it sounds like Gary wonít be returning to action any time soon it is still good to know that heís on his way to recovery from that nasty accident he had in the season opener.

I also have to give a big thank you to all the crew and sponsors for the help they continue to give us. Special thankyouís go out to my parents for continuing to support me through college as well as at the track, and also all of the guys at Victory Engines for making the great horsepower that they do. See you all at the track.



4.19.04

Iíd like to start this weekís column by dedicating it to Rod George. Rod I know youíve been looking forward to reading this so much, so here ya go.

Well now I have two weeks of racing action to bring everyone up to speed on. April 10th would find the crew at our regular stop at Mercer Raceway Park. This week the track would be, at least in my mind, 100% improved over the 360 opener two weeks prior. A good draw would start the night off on the right foot for us by putting us on the pole of heat one for the debut of the new paint scheme and the 410 engine this season. In hot laps the car felt very comfortable, but it was transferring a little too much weight onto the left rear corner for my comfort. We decided to make one change to the car and leave it along otherwise for the heat. After putting one turn into the adjuster on the left rear torsion bar we were ready to go for the heat.

As I said before we started heat one from the pole along side Indiana native Cameron Dodson. I knew if I could get the jump on Cameron on the start I could have a good chance at getting that first heat race win of the year. Well we got the jump and the car felt really good. The track was dry slick and there was very little, if any cushion to work with. I tried a few different lines through turns three and four just trying to be a little more comfortable throughout the race but other than that it was smooth sailing. We would win the heat easily which would give us the first shot at the redraw. My uncle who had pulled the number 2 pill for us earlier to start the night out would keep his luck alive by pulling a 3 pill in the redraw.

Now we had a few decisions to make. The car was pretty stout in the heat race but the track seemed to be getting drier and drier. We decided to make a few minimal changes to account for the drier track. First we moved the right rear tire in about an inch, then we cut about an inch of stagger from the car.

Unfortunately we outguessed ourselves on the setup on this night as the track hadnít changed nearly as much as we thought it had. I was having difficulty from the start trying to get the car to turn into the corners. Rod George and Cameron Dodson would jump in front off the front row while Scott Bonnell got the best of me for third. The top 4 would really never waver from that as Rod would cruise away for the win, while we ended up with a solid fourth place finish.

Well Iím at it Iíll mention to continue to keep Gary McCollum and his family in your prayers. Although it does not sound as if things are as serious for Gary as they seemed when he was initially lifeflighted from the track after his early flip in turn one in the feature he is still apparently having some problems particularly with ringing in his ears. Best of wishes go out to Gary from everyone on the 07 team.

This brings us to this past Saturday, or as I like to call it, the night that wouldnít end. Unfortunately our luck didnít get off to as good a start as the draw would be unkind in giving us a very bad starting spot in the heat race.

Hot laps went well, and the car felt very good again this week. After assessing our options and remembering back to the previous week we decided to leave the car alone for the heat race. I would start on the inside of the final row in the heat which would leave me with a lot of work if I wanted to get to the 6th place transfer position or better yet the 4th place invert position.

The start of the heat went well as we managed to advance into the 6th place transfer from 9th fairly quickly. Before I knew it we were chasing down Jimmy Weller and Brad Knab for 4th and 5th. Unfortunately I got a little too low trying to make a move on Jimmy through one and two and almost lost the handle on the racecar. After that I wasnít quite able to make up the necessary time to get into that 4th position, but we were in the show and thatís all that mattered.


Turns 3&4 at Mercer Raceway

About the time of the B-main is when the night started getting long. Thatís when the skies let loose with a nice 15-20 min. gully washer accompanied by a stunning display of lightning. The short duration of the storm allowed Vicki Emig and her crew to make an attempt at re-prepping the track and finishing the show. After a lengthy delay the stock cars and bigblock modifieds finished their B and A mains respectively. Enough Sprintcars had left to justify not running the B-main for sprints, so we went straight into the feature.

We had made a few changes to adjust for a bit of a loose condition we had in the heat race prior to the rain hitting. After the rain came we decided to pull back about half of them and settle with cutting about a half inch of stagger (mainly due to having cut the right rear tire during the heat) and changing the left rear shock to a 5/6 tie down from the 4/7 tiedown we had been running. We also put a half a turn into each of the adjusters on the rear bars to compensate for the extra weight added with an increased fuel load.

We had to start 16th in the feature due to our finish in the heat but it was apparent from the start that we would be able to pick up some positions. The car felt pretty good, particularly right around the bottom which is the line I prefer anyways. After passing a few cars under power and gaining a few positions due to caution we were up to 8th place and running on Arnie Kentís heals when the red flag flew for race leader Jack Sodeman Jr. I was feeling pretty good about our chances of picking up a few more spots on the restart, but Mother Nature had other ideas. This time in the way of fog that would cancel the final 8 laps of the feature.

All in all weíve had two successful nights of racing since the last column. Next week looks to be the same trip to Mercer on Saturday night, with a possible tow to Attica Raceway Park on Friday night for the NRA 360 show thrown in as well. See you at the races.



4.7.04

Long time no see yíall. I know itís been a while since this column was updated but with schoolwork and the like Iíve been rather busy. Never fear though, the semester is almost over and then you will be hearing from me, probably more than you really want to.

Well enough with the chit chat. Time to get down to racing. Opening night was, to say the least, a disappointment. We arrived to find the pits in a total state of mud. Not that I mind getting a little mud on my shoes at night, but this was taking it a little far. I have to give credit Vicki Emig and her crew though. Despite all the rain we have had they stuck with the racers and the fans who have waited all winter for some action and opened on a day when the weather was actually pretty good.

If the pits were bad, the track was worse. Not to any fault of the Mercer track prep crew. Again with as much rain as we have had this spring itís just not easy to get the track prep right. That combined with the latemodels, who tend to contribute to quite a few ruts growing in a soft track, made navigating the track rather difficult. Again, no one to blame for that other than good ole mother nature.

Firing the engine presented some problems as we found a few leaks that had to be corrected, but thatís not at all unexpected at the start of the season. I felt pretty comfortable in the car during hotlaps, all things considered. We stayed pretty much with our standard 360 car setup which, with little change, worked very well for us during most of last season. Tonight didnít look to be much of an exception based off of hotlaps.

The heat race started off very well. An average draw combined with a number of bad draws from other competitors set us up to start fourth in the heat race behind Ontario driver Cody Geldart and Mercer regular Chris Shuttleworth (how about that paint scheme Chris has on that car again this year, beautiful, just beautiful), and next to another Mercer regular Arnie Kent. Chris and I managed to get the jump on the high side off the start and pull into first and second early. For a few laps it felt as if I might have something for Chris, but I soon found that our setup wasnít quite up to par and we had gotten a little behind on the fuel settings. All things considered we finished third behind Chris and Arnie which put us into the redraw, where we would pull the number four spot.

Not really having a lot of experience on a rough track and knowing how our car has responded to rough tracks with the setup we had under it in the past we decided to leave the setup alone. We re-adjusted the fuel settings much to the amusement of Dana Blair of Blair Signs (who does all of our graphics) who said something to the effect of ďyou know somethings wrong when an engine builder has the hood off of his car.Ē

Lining up for the feature I could tell it would be an interesting night. I could feel on our car as we went through the ruts that the floor pan was bottoming out on a number of the high spots. Which leads me to a little pet peave of mine that Iíll point out for any sprint car racers out there. MOUNT YOUR THROTTLE PEDDLE OFF THE FRAME RAIL. Many cars still use the floor pan mounted throttle peddle and I personally have seen a number of drivers take vicious flips when a throttle peddle has hung open due to a caved in floor pan. For your own safety get those throttle peddles mounted on the floor frame rail.

The race started and I knew I was in for a hang on and hope for the best night. The car was just not up to snuff setup wise and I was just hoping to hold on and pull a top ten finish out of the whole ordeal. After an early restart those hopes would be dashed as Chris Matthews and I would hit a few of the ruts in turn three wrong and collide, leaving the left front corner of our car out of service, and ending our night.

Looking back the night could have been much worse, and was for a number of drivers (Matt Alloway and Tim Hogue come to mind). Iím just happy we made it out of there with a car that was repairable and we can now focus on the first 410 race of the season. Hopefully mother nature will cooperate this weekend and we will be able to put on a good show for the fans at Mercer Raceway Park. See you all at the track



11.5.03

Hello to all of you out there, and welcome to my new web column. Once the new season starts this will become a weekly column similar to the one Sprintfreak wrote last season. For now I will take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you who donít know me, or for those of you who know me I will give you a little extra background on myself.

My name is Jeff Banyas and I race my family owned #07 Sprintcar mainly at Mercer Raceway Park, although I have also raced at Attica Raceway Park, Fremont Speedway, Tri-City Speedway, Sportsman Park, Wayne County Speedway, Limaland Raceway, Lakeville Speedway, and Eastbay Speedway. This coming season will be my fourth in a full sized sprintcar following four years of racing quarter midgets.

My career in Quarter Midgets was a very successful one including three championship runs in various series and tracks, well over two dozen career victories, and runner up finishes in a number of different point series. The highlights of my career included a Region 4 Senior Honda Victory at Waterford Michigan and three race victories during the Junior Sprint Cars of America (JSCA) Gasoline Alley Nationals at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After I turned 16 it was time to retire from the Quarter Midget ranks and move into 360 Sprint Cars. We purchased Lee Jacobs first car off of Kenny, and his trailer, and went racing for our rookie season at Wayne County Speedway. After a rough start to the season that I finally started getting the hang of the new beast when a pair of late season crashes at Wayne County and Attica set me back a little bit. We did manage to finish out the season at Wayne County with a rookie of the year effort.

Our second season in the sprints was a learning season. We did a little more traveling, and didnít really run for points at any one track. Our season began at Wayne County, but by the end of the season we had run at seven different tracks. By the end of the season, however, we had made Mercer Raceway Park our semi-home. The atmosphere at Mercer was very fitting of what we liked, and we decided to make it our home for this past season.


Jeff behind the wheel at Tri-City Speedway.

This past season had its ups and downs. The season started off very well with a number of appearances towards the front of the field with our 360 against the 410ís at Mercer. Then when the tracks became dry slick we struggled quite a bit. We have never really been that great on a dry slick track, but we got better as the year went on. Towards the end of the season we picked the pace back up and were the highest finishing 360 on a number of nights. A few late season parts failures caused some minor headaches, but the season ended on a high note when we came from 13th to finish 3rd at the final 360 show of the season at Mercer.

Next seasonís plans are still up in the air a bit. We are almost certain to be running regularly at Mercer again. The plan is to run a 410 next season, but that depends a lot on the selling of one of our cars and at least one of the 360 engines (if anyone is interested in them please drop me a line at SGR_Victoryman@hotmail.com ). We are also currently on the sponsor hunt which will also contribute to our plans for next season.

Now that you all know a little bit more about me its time to end this first column. Itís going to be another long winter, but spring will fall upon us sooner than we think and then it will be time to sling some more dirt. I look forward to seeing you all at the racetrack this year and keeping everyone informed on the goings on of our race team. See you at the track.


Ohio/Pa Sprint Car Racing