The Firestone Twin 275s weekend at Texas Motor Speedway is complete and Kingdom Racing has a break in on-track activity for a little while. We are not scheduled to take to the track again until Davey Hamilton returns to run the season finale on October 16th at Las Vegas.
To be completely honest, I've been agonizing over writing this recap article. Why? Because we had a terribly difficult time on the track on Saturday night. Why else? Because we had a terrifically spectacular time outside on the Texas Motor Speedway midway leading up to the race. There are two distinctly different, yet important, facets to Kingdom Racing, race mode and ministry mode. And to make Kingdom Racing successful, we absolutely must excel in both arenas. On Saturday night, we did not, and it brought about a certain degree of anguish.
Now, there is no doubt that the most important part of Kingdom Racing is our ministry. Saturday morning called for meeting up with the folks who dropped off our show car at the booth and stage located along the midway directly outside of Texas Motor Speedway. The location was spectacular as we were sandwiched in between the Honda/IZOD INDYCAR pavilion and the Texas Motor Speedway "No Limits" Garage. It was a prime location to attract fans and deliver the Kingdom Racing message of "God's Word Through Motorsports."
And that message came across loud and clear. Word came from Randy Ford and Steve Martin that we gave away every single Kingdom Racing/Davey Hamilton hero cards we had to deploy. That is MONUMENTAL!. Whereas most hero cards simply list off information about the team and the driver, ours deliver the deeper message of stewardship through God and Salvation through Jesus Christ. That the humongous stack of hero cards with that Message are now in the hands of thousands of race fans is a tremendous victory in spreading His Word.
But Kingdom Racing is not just about standing out on the pavilion and handing out hero cards either. No, we had a magnificent local band named 'Sleeperstar' that played to the crowd and brought them closer to the stage where the show car sat for a closer look. A good number of those fans then took the chance to have their picture taken in the show car, which itself is a declaration of our ministry. So when they go home, look at, and share those photos with their friends and family, the Message will be spread even further. In addition, one of our guests this weekend was Lt. Col. Rich Clifford, a former NASA astronaut, who graciously signed autographs for fans on those same hero cards. This is great because folks are more likely to hold onto those hero cards with an autograph on them rather than throw them away or shove them into a pile of forgotten racing memorabilia. To get the Message across, it must be seen, and seen again, and again, and again. For Kingdom Racing to acheive its purpose, people must be talking about it, repeatedly.
From the smiles of accomplishment on the faces of those who worked the Kingdom Racing booth on the midway, as well as yours truly who spent some time out there, we were very successful in this endeavor. As I've stated time and again, Kingdom Racing is more about the Kingdom than we are about the racing, and to have delivered of ourselves so wonderfully in His service deserves a round of applause to every single member and volunteer who took part in the occasion. Kudos, team!
Race mode for Kingdom Racing did not go so well. After a fairly decent 212.555 mph qualifying run by Davey to start in 18th position, things went wicked bad right from the start. Within a matter of laps Davey fell to the back of the pack and stayed there throughout the first of the twin 275 kilometer races. As I watched the timing and scoring monitors, the race leaders were running 211s while we were in the back running 201s to 205s. In the end, this resulted in Davey finishing the first race in 27th position, a full five laps down from the race winner, Dario Franchitti.
When Davey climbed out of the car at the end of the first race, he looked like he'd been riding a bull for nearly an hour. Professional bull riders only do it for eight seconds at a time. He was equal parts red and white and you could tell he'd been fighting the car the entire time. The car had been setup so badly that, when going down the straightaways, he was having to hold the wheel nearly a full ninety degrees to the right, something no driver should ever have to endure at the professional level of motorsports. To say that he was not pleased with the setup of the car would be a gross understatement, but he was definitely unhappy and tension brewed among the members of his Dreyer & Reinbold pit crew as well.
At that point, I headed back to the Media Center to begin uploading some photos and sending out some of the information to Twitter and Facebook while the intermission between races got underway. The starting positions for the second race would be blind-drawn by the drivers during that intermission. Proving to be the most controversial aspect of the night, the blind draw turned out to be what it really was, a sideshow gimmick. Davey ended up drawing the 24th starting position, which was four positions ahead of the winner of the first race, Dario Franchitti. It is a safe bet that you have seen the first and last blind-draw for starting positions in the IZOD INDYCAR Series. The drivers were unanimously furious with how the blind draw was handled and that it translated directly into affecting the outcome of the second race. Regardless, Davey would have to start close to the back as well. It all depended on how good, or bad, his car was going to be.
From what I understand, the Dreyer & Reinbold No. 11 crew tore apart and rebuilt the car during the intermission and cut it very close on even making it out to the grid for the start of the second race. Personally, I only made it out of the Media Center in time to sprint out to the grid and take several photos before the cars fired and rolled off. And I can tell you from that brief visit that they still had to pull one of the side pods from Davey's car to fix an electronic problem right before the engines were fired. It was definitely a close call.
The car seemed initially to be no better at the start of the second race and Davey quickly lost two laps to the leaders. However, things picked up after the first pit stop.
After some adjustments to the front wing of the car, Davey was able to regain good car control and stayed in lock step with the race pace. He did not lose another lap throughout the remainder of the second race. However, that is the absolute wrong time to be finding the right balance in a racecar from a professional racing team. At Texas Motor Speedway, if the car is setup correctly, driving the track and navigating the high banks is an easy task for a seasoned driver. Get the setup wrong through and you have a fight on your hands. And what Davey had was just that, a fight on his hands for the first 75% of the evening affair. Davey Hamilton placed 25th in the second race, a slight improvement over the first but only because they finally figured out how to give him a car he could drive.
At the end of the night, it was pretty clear that the entire team was frustrated over the performance on the track. We agreed that it was not the right way to honor God and it was defintely an embarrasing affair for one of the few dedicated premier sponsors remaining in the INDYCAR Series. As a team, Kingdom Racing must regroup to find the right mix to put out on track to contend for race wins. Davey is definitely the right guy to drive the car, but it becomes real hard to contend for a race win when the entire team is changing from race to race and you have absolutely zero consistency within the organization responsible for fielding the car.
Talking with Davey after the races, he said he would definitely not be doing this full time under those same conditions. He called Justin Wilson out as probably the best all-around driver in the Series and even HE was bringing home 17th and 21st place finishes in the Saturday doubleheader!
So there you have it. On track we had a frustrating, embarassing show while outside of it we scored another decisive victory to the Glory of God. We, as Kingdom Racing have some tough decisions to make going forward. Davey will certainly be back to finish the season at Las Vegas in October, going firmly against the slightly humorous rumors floating around the TMS Media Center this weekend that he would retire after the night's races ended. I must admit that news brought a chuckle when first heard.
Altogether though, one thing should not be overlooked and should itself be declared a victory.
On June 9th, 2001, Davey Hamilton suffered a horrendous crash at Texas Motor Speedway, nearly losing his life, and certainly almost losing his feet. Twenty-one surgeries and ten years later though, he was back and climbing into a race car at Texas.
On June 11th, 2011, Davey Hamilton finished not one, but two INDYCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway.
Did he win? You bet he did.
Sometimes winning isn't about where you finish the race, nor when. Finishing itself is a miracle.
Thanks to Davey & the entire Kingdom Racing team! We'll see you in Vegas!
Social Media Director