6/15/2012 - Putting the "W" in Wisconsin
I always enjoy heading up north to Wisconsin and Road America. The land of cheese, and even though I'm lactose intolerant, I am and always have been a huge Green Bay Packers fan. It's cool to go up there and see a very different part of the country each June.
I'm happy to say that this years Subway Superbike Doubleheader event was much more satisfying than the last. Last year, after qualifying 6th, I struggled with the bike throughout the entire race and finished a lonely 9th after losing the lead group of 8 riders. I was pretty sure that's not how I wanted to leave Elkhart Lake this year, so that was my motivating factor coming into the weekend.
As motivated and prepared as I was, sometimes there are outside factors that step in the way of a good performance, such as mechanical failures. I had my share of those throughout the weekend, first in the practice session. An oil leak caused me to retire my primary bike, provided by Kuryakyn, and park it for the rest of the session. All was fine and dandy because I had posted the fastest time of practice, but moving forward from there I had to ride my spare bike - one that I have not spent a ton of seat time on.
Qualifying went well. I say this now, but at the time you wouldn't have heard those words come out of my mouth. We realized an issue with the spare bike at that time, something bent in the chassis that was causing an uncontrollable wobble on the entry of each corner. That same bike that I rode at Miller in the race to second place the week before was now very apparently tainted, since I was able to ride both bikes back to back and feel the difference. So my saying that qualifying went well is based on the fact that we discovered a problem that we may have otherwise not - we now have a direction and ultimately, a solution. My title sponsor, KLR Group and GK Motorsports have purchased me a brand new 2012 XR1200 from my other great sponsor, Spyke's Harley-Davidson, to cycle into my fleet. We are turning that bent bike into a dummy show bike for the KLR Group office in NYC - talk about a win-win-win-win? I have the best sponsors in the world!
So I qualified in P2, matching my worst qualifying effort of the season. Can't complain about that, but I really want to keep earning pole positions and train for the XR Showdown - or the last 5 rounds of the series - where points will be reset and I'll need to capitalize on those bonus points for pole and most laps lead. My Dad, Uncle and Paul Diener from Spyke's took my primary bike back to the Vesrah/Rider's Discount truck to put her back together with it's weathered motor all the way back from Daytona, and we were ready to race. Let's hope she stays together this time!
I got off to a great start - pulled the holeshot and lead into turn one. We had 7 laps to decide the outcome of our race, and it came down to myself and my two familiar rivals Michael Barnes and Tyler Ohara, Bartel's teammates . In each of the completed 5 rounds of the 2012 season, it has been just the us three who have shared spots on the podium. No other riders have been in the top 3, so I knew it would be a race between the three of us.
It was 6 laps of sizing each other up, waiting until the last lap. With three long straightaways there's not much hope for breaking away because of the draft, so we all just hung around in the front pack until the closing laps of the race. I wanted to lead.
I pinpointed my strengths and weaknesses around the track. Certain corners I could pull a gap on my them, and others they would close in on me. I found that my weakest section of the track was in the long, sweeping carousel section, but I was the strongest rider from that point to the finish line. If I could maintain the lead through the carousel, I'd be alright to the finish. I was confident on my drives out of the last corner and my tuck down the front straightaway - if I executed my plan, there was no shot at getting drafted. It all worked out perfectly, and I led the entire last lap of the race.
This was a big win for me. My first since Daytona, my third career victory, but also my first win at a track other than Daytona. I feel as though I have an advantage on the drafting tracks because of my dirt track background, and so far it has paid off.
Next up on the schedule is Barber Motorsports Park. I'm so pumped to get back to the east coast rounds! Going out west has always been a struggle for me, with tracks that I'm not so familiar with and limited time around them. Now we are back to my favorite tracks - Barber is where I competed in my first ever club race as a novice in 2008, and I've had hundreds of laps and great results there in the past. I've proven that I can win at a track other than Daytona, but now it's time to prove that I can win without the drafting strategy that comes along with long straightaways. There is virtually no straightaway at Barber Motorsports Park.
My fitness has been improving exponentially! I've been spending countless hours at my local Planet Fitness working on my core strength, riding my Shimano kitted bicycle and recently took up motocross again - my first time in two years. Motocross played a key role in my fitness a couple years back, and I'm glad that the injuries that kept me out of it are now in the past and I can be back to my full potential. It's going to be a great next couple of rounds.
Thanks for reading!
Thank you to all of my supporters:
KLR Group, Spyke's Harley-Davidson, Vesrah, Kuryakyn, GK Motorsports, Planet Fitness, MCJ Motorsports, Maxima, Arai, Cortech, Sidi, Held, Progeria Research Foundation, Ohlins, Kicker, Shimano, Motion Pro, Chicken Hawk Racing, Webster Dental Group, Superbike Chassis, G2 Ergo, Long Pond Autobody, The Sound Awake, DVS, Electric Visual, Katra