Jesse Iwuji

Last week had a load of racing seat time as we raced 4 races in 7 days! On March 18th we raced at Tucson Speedway, March 23rd at Kern County Raceway Park, and March 25th Irwindale Speedway twice all in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race. We had many ups and some downs throughout the week but my team rallied together to end the week on a positive note for sure.

March 18th

On March 18th we traveled to Tucson Speedway to compete in our 1st race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at the 3/8th mile oval. Luckily this was my 2nd trip to that track. My last race here was May 2016. With the car hopefully sorted out, we had a goal of finishing the race clean and being faster than we were last year at the track, and luckily we accomplished both!

My favorite part of the entire race day was when this little girl came running up to us after the race and gave my car the biggest hug ever because it's purple color made her day. It was a pretty heartwarming moment. We started the race night trying to conserve our tires from the brutal tire wear of the track but our strategy did not work the way we expected and set us back very early in the race. Going into the 2nd half pf the race I had to pick it up, I had to forget about tire conservation, and I had to really focus on running the proper line at the track to keep the speed up and not lose the pack. The 2nd half of the race proved to be a lot better with our adjustments. Even though I didn't have the race I wanted, we made some great improvements from the 1st half of the race to the 2nd half of the race, ran side by side with some folks, dodged some spins by other drivers, and brought the car home clean. We finished 20th of 24 in the race.

March 23rd

On March 23rd we traveled to Kern County Raceway Park to compete in our 2nd race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at the 1/2 mile oval. Once again this was my 2nd trip to that track. My last race here was April 2016. Looking to having a stronger start than we did at Tucson, we had a goal of finishing the race clean, finishing better than Tucson, and being faster than we were last year at the track. Once again we accomplished all 3!

I'm always thankful of the opportunities I've received through grind, faith, and prayer no matter what the struggle may be that day. We had to battle all day! We missed half of practice and missed qualifying after a rear gear pump/belt issue plagued us. During the install of our rear gear prior to the race day, a mistake was made which cost us tons of track time on race day prior to the race. After missing Qualifying, I ended up having to start the race 20th but stayed in the fight, ran hard all race, dodged some very close call spins and managed to bring car home clean finishing 16th which was ahead of where I started again.

March 25th

On March 25th we traveled to Irwindale Speedway to compete in our 3rd and 4th race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at the 1/2 mile oval. I have the most seat time at this track than any other track in California. My last race here was March 2016. After progressing in the last race, we had a goal of finishing the race clean, being faster than we were last year at the track, and coming away with a better finish than Kern County Raceway but unfortunately we had a major mechanical failure during the 1st race. Here’s what happened…

I experienced my first fire as my engine literally blew up in race #1 of the night after finishing 16th Thursday night at KCRP I felt we had a car that could move up some more and get closer to that Top 10 at Irwindale Speedway. In the 1st practice Saturday, we were 15th quickest and on used tires. We went into qualifying and got faster but not as fast as we wanted qualifying 19th. Just 25 laps into the race I felt the car rumble, begin losing power, and I fell to the back. It all happened so quickly then BOOM the motor blew up. That ended our first race, but we had one more race to go!

We quickly began preparing one of our back up cars to get ready to race. Irwindale is a 1/2 mile oval and the car was set up to run a smaller 1/3 mile oval but at least it had the right gearing so we slapped on new tires and did what we had to do to make sure it was race legal. I've never been in this car in my life so during the first half of the race I learned what it could do. As the first part of the race went on I noticed the car was a bit loose so I needed to pull into the pits and make an adjustment to help free up the handling of the car.

From then on I did what I could with what I had and actually moved up 3 positions in the race before losing one spot in the final corner of the race; finished the race clean as a whistle but only 18th after starting 20th. One of the biggest positives of the day was not overcoming adversity; it was making the day of a now young 5yr old Darrian Nordstrom and his family. They came all the way from Vegas to watch the race and I'm glad we battled to stay in it so that they could watch their driver! Darrian is still battling cancer but is still IN the game and if he can stay in the game, I can always too! All weekend my new car owner Shawne Merriman was there to watch and support our team. It was a great learning experience for him to see the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in action. Shawne has a better understanding now of the ins and outs of race days and the prep needed to have a successful day, He’s looking forward to getting more and more involved as the season goes!

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