By BILL FOLEY
Rick Laubach got some unexpected assistance as the final night of the Modified portion of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
That assistance saw him with the best car of the week and put him in the position to win the finale.
With around 10 laps to go in the 50 lapper it appeared he was going to run away from the field for a convincing victory, but appearances sometimes don’t become reality.
Such was the case on Saturday night.
Rick had taken the lead from fast timer Jack Lehner on the 14th lap only to have Lehner return the favor on the 39th lap and when it was all over the No. 7 was seventh.
Earlier in the night, Rick told Dirt Track Digest, “We tried something different with shocks and it felt good and put it where it worked. Tires have also been a struggle as about the only time I run Hoosiers is the Super DIRTcar Series show at Bridgeport.”
However, the night was totally different than the rest of the week as Laubach had a solid, highly competitive mount under him.
Victory was in reach, but then it wasn’t.
Afterwards, he said, “That sucked. We could’ve won this thing. It was just that I got a left front flat tire at the end. I don’t know how or why. It just started going down. Then going in I would miss my line and I started to get loose and then you would get loose.”
Continuing he said, it got to the point when he ran well, “This is only a heat race (left) and I can do this. I’d go into three and it would push all the way up and I would go ‘what the heck.’ I didn’t know what happened until the race was over and I let off. The car then settled down and it was “Oh God!”
Reflecting on his runs at Volusia, he said, “We’ve won three times down here, but it’s been a few years now and the cars have changed. Derrick (McGrew) helped me and I can’t thank him enough. He turned everything around.”
That relationship with McGrew was something totally unexpected.
Rick said, “I really didn’t know him and had just seen him on Facebook.”
McGrew, who noted he has worked with Jack and Ronnie Johnson in the past, has his own team racing with his son and was at Volusia as a fan.
He said, ”I was getting a hamburger and Rick came over to me and asked if I could answer some questions. We talked. We put the tires on to see how it set and then took all the shocks and springs off. Jack Lehner let me use his spring smasher and we built some shocks. He went out for practice on Friday night and it was the best car he’d had all week. He came in after winning the heat and we made some small changes and it worked. We’ve never worked together before, but we made it happen.”
Rick explained, “Derrick definitely knows what he is doing with springs and shocks. I saw him milling around, went over and asked him a question. He volunteered to help us out and the last two days and just like that we were right there.”
Of the race itself he was more than comfortable.
“On the initial start I probably could have done it (take the lead), but I didn’t get the best start,” said Laubach, “When I got another start I figured I could probably get it. I could just tell. Then I knew not to hold it on the bottom just from my experiences here. Just let it flow and go around in a big circle. They were fighting it on the bottom of three and four and I was just floating through the middle as I could control the car. However, when that tire went down it made the front end sit and I couldn’t do anything.”
This was a bit hard to swallow as he concluded, “It will probably keep me awake til about North Carolina on the way home.”