AFM Round 1
March 18 - 19, 2017
Being it my first year racing as a novice, and only my second time at Buttonwillow Raceway, I felt the weekend would be an uphill battle. This would be my first time racing the Watchdog Armory Ninja 250 in AFM 250 SuperStock. With the bike and gear loaded up, my girlfriend and I headed down to the track Friday for a half day of practice. The first couple laps, I felt so slow. I had not rode at all since the end of last riding season. However, by the second session I was back in my groove, and by the final end of day session, I was putting down a solid pace. Feeling optimistic for the Sunday races, I put away my bike until Sunday, pitted with the Spears Racing crew.
Saturday was mostly uneventful, tweaked the bike a bit, had a hassle changing wheels to get on new Moto3 tires from Dunlop Tire Service for Sunday, but it worked out.
Gridding up for 250 SuperStock left me feeling anxious. Having no prior points, I was placed near the back of the grid behind the experts. I had a good start, but wasn't quite able to pull off a big pass on the first turn. Before even one lap was finished, the red flag was out, and I had to return to the pits. A rider had to be airlifted out off the track, due to his injuries.
After what felt like eternity, we were finally able to do another warm up lap and regrid. This time, I felt like I had a great start, and was neck and neck with most of the experts in the class. I had a difficult time passing two experts, Pao Vang and Laura Llovet. Buttonwillow is known for being a somewhat tight track, and without the raw horsepower of larger bikes, passing has to be well planned on a 250/300. After a lot of blocking, I was finally able to execute a great pass through turn 1, taking a decent lead over the pack. In that excitement, I missed a downshift and lost some time, leading to more back and forth battling between myself and the two expert riders. In the end, I came out on top and was able to cross the finish line first in the novice class and faster than all the experts, save Steve Driscoll, who was able to breakaway from the very beginning. Unluckily, I was DNF and DNS for my last two races lightweight twins and 250 superbike, due to a spark plug wire failing right at the end of my warm up lap.
Overall, a successful start to the 2017 season, my first novice win, can't wait for round 2. I'd like to give a huge thanks to all of my sponsors.
AFM Round 2
April 29 - 30, 2017
After much needed maintenance on the bikes after Round 1 was finished, we were off to Sonoma Raceway to take Round 2 head on.
Saturday Practice went well, the track was slick as this course is known for being, the morning left me with a headshake issue and chasing tire pressures, but the bike was dialed in by the afternoon with a compression adjustment by JPH Suspension. The 250 was also sporting newly re-done forks with brand new fluid by JPH Suspension for this weekend, and the bike has never felt better. There was only one Saturday race for me, a class I had not yet entered in – 350 Superstock. Still learning the track, the race was mostly uneventful and I was able to take a 5th place finish.
Sunday would see three races, 250 Superbike, Lightweight Twins and 250 Superstock.
250 Superbike was another smooth, clean fought race ending up in a 6th place finish.
As I was learning the track better, laptimes were falling slowly but surely, and I gridded up for the novice Lightweight Twins race. I had a great start, and was able to hold off most of the Feel Like A Pro Ninja 300’s on my 250. Coming out of turn 1 on lap 2, I was chasing Chris Ackerman when suddenly I realized there was a person spinning on the ground in the track heading up the hill, #973 had crashed out of the race and luckily I was able to avoid both him and his machine. The race concluded with my first podium of the weekend and a solid 3rd place.
The last race of the weekend, 250 Superstock saw me with another solid start to the race, able to make a couple passes heading out of turn 1. I had dropped many seconds off my lap from the beginning of the weekend, and was managing low 2’s before the race was ended one lap early due to a red flag from a violent crash. I was able to take a 1st place finish in novice, and 2nd overall in the race. The weekend was a success and I’d like to thank all my sponsors, friends and crew for the continual support.
Race 3: Thunderhill Raceway
May 27 - 28, 2017