Geico Superbike Shootout Weekend
This past weekend at Auto Club Speedway was Round 1 of the Geico Superbike Shootout. More importantly (in my imagination) it was a WERA race weekend that I competed in alongside some of my AP MotoArts and RX Unlimited teammates. I'm not sure where to even begin, it was just about the perfect weekend. I had done a few trackdays at Auto Club Speedway including my very first one, though it had been a few years since I had ridden there.
The plan was to spend Saturday's practice just trying to get a feel for the track again so that I could hopefully get a good result on Sunday. As it turned out, that didn't take very long. By the end of practice I was on pace to be able to battle with Kalvin Kwong (#624) for the lead in the next days races.
The track is very close to home for me (about 5 miles) so I had a lot of friends and family come out to support. There were also a lot of spectators who were there for the pro races which was a new and interesting experience for me. Surprisingly, it didn't make me feel intimidated as I thought it might have. It was actually pretty motivating for me.
I was entered in three races on Sunday, the first being Heavyweight Twins Superstock, race #1 on the schedule. I entered this race mostly just to have a practice race so that I would have the experience of racing on that track before pushing to be competitive. Nothing much worth noting happened during this race, other than some contact that I made with Max Cappellari (#88?) coming onto the front straight. Definitely a first for me, but all in all pretty undramatic.
The second race was Lightweight Twins Superbike, race #6 on the schedule and the most important race of the day for me. I was gridded in 7th, got a decent start, and was 4th going into the first corner behind Stephen Ludwig in 3rd, and Chris Castillon in 2nd. Kalvin Kwong had taken the holeshot so I knew I had to get past them as quickly as possible. I pushed hard and took 3rd coming out of turn 20 onto the front straight. From there I was able to take 2nd going into the high-speed turn 1 of lap two, but by then Kalvin had built a gap of about 5 seconds. I really put my head down and dug deep. I started closing the gap by nearly a second every lap, but with only 5 laps to catch him I ended up taking a bittersweet 2nd with under 1 second separating us. It had been a while since I had ridden so well and so aggressively, it felt pretty amazing. I got such an adrenaline rush that it took almost an hour until I felt somewhat normal again.
I spent so much in Lightweight Twins Superbike that I didn't have much left for Formula 2, race #14 on the schedule. During the race I made a few mistakes and didn't finish very well, but after the previous race I didn't really even care. Nothing could've brought me down after that.
Probably one of the most important parts of the weekend for me was receiving high praise from some riders I really look up to, namely Dustin Coyner of TrackDaz. Being able to showcase my skills and have them recognized by the people I admire in the sport is a really important tool for me. It helps show me if I am becoming the rider I want to be.
Thank you to everyone who came out, your support is very appreciated.