It was a pretty long week. At the same time, it was a 100% different experience than last year. By the time qualifying started, I was really confident in my car. One thing that was different was having a better awareness of tire prep. In the beginning runs, I was using Simple Green to clean the tires, which does work very well. The only thing I did notice was that it was not as good on longer runs, the tire would tend to overheat a bit. Oddly enough, Buggy Grip to clean and SXT 3.0 heated up with tire warmers was really good any time of the day. It also ran as long as the battery lasted. The only caveat to this was the fronts. I ran new rears each round, which was great. I found they actually ran the best for about 3-4 runs, then traction began to drop off, but for the nationals I just ran new skins each round.
The fronts were actually broken in, and could be used for many runs. However, as I found out the hard way, the insert has to be monitored to make sure it is still in good shape. I basically threw away rounds 2 and 3 because the fronts I had been using became very soft as the inserts started to break down. The car became very unstable, and was pretty hard to drive. As soon as I went to a less used set of fronts, the correct feel came back and the car was very good. Just keep an eye on the fronts, and especially watch for the death groove.
Another big issue was lead weight. A little discussion has already occurred on RcTech about Austin Brumblay's lead setup. I noticed his car looked like it was kind of hard to drive in Q1, which allowed me to Tq the round, despite his very fast initial pace. From what I could tell, the lead showed up in Q2, and his car was VERY dialed from that point out. In short, he cantilevered the lead out sideways from the radio trays, and stacked lead up (6+ oz.). This was more like a 103 with the battery sideways in terms of weight distribution. This added weight transfer really worked for him. After seeing how good his car was, I added 4 oz. (as much as I had, LOL) to my car in a similar fashion. What was interesting was not the fact that the car became much more stable- in fact I had to add 30 points of dual rate to get the steering back. What was more interesting was the tire wear on my rears was much better. Without the weight, the rears grained pretty bad, and I'm sure the car broke the rear end loose quite a bit. After the weight, the tires came back in almost new shape.
For asphalt in general, I can't recommend this more. I haven't run it enough to monitor improvement in the number of runs on a tire, but I would imagine there should be a couple more before the tire is slow.
Before any of the racing started, I did show my "lowered" front end setup to race director Fred Medel, who shut me down immediately, LOL. I was sort of expecting it, and Craig "Cuda" Hammon warned me it would probably be thrown out, as they were pretty harsh on creative setups at the last couple races. It worked out fine though. I did use a short Tamiya ballstud on the camber plate to get a bit of the angle back into the upper arm, but they seemed ok with that. I was allowed to run the shorty servo with the output shaft facing up and forward as I have in the past. This was ok since no parts were cut or altered. I ran black front springs, which was fine until I put the lead on the car. Looking back, I could have run gold or even softer, since I needed steering. Austin B. mentioned on RcTech that he used gold springs with AW grease, which sounds just about right, and his car was great.
I'll probably have more in the next couple days, but for now congratulations go to Austin Brumblay TCS NAF winner! I'm sure he'll be issuing beat downs in Japan...Also congrats to Anthony Fung in 2nd place, and thanks to my rc.F1.blog team pit buddy T Marshall. The rc.F1.blog team managed to qualify 2nd and 4th, and I got to the podium in 3rd, which wasn't too bad.