Editor’s Note: Nathan Byrd is a 21-year-old racer who is embarking upon an intense racing schedule that will see him race in more than 10 different series and multiple forms of race cars, including sprint cars, asphalt late models, formula cars and midgets. SPEED SPORT will be following his journey with a driver diary for the rest of the season.
IRWINDALE, Calif. — We were back on the West Coast Saturday, where I was making another start with the SPEARS Modified Series at Irwindale Speedway.
The guys gave me an awesome car. We were able to dial it in during practice on Friday, ending up fifth fastest with a 19.562-second lap. That fast lap came after the Acre Race Engine crew made a few quick adjustments that allowed me to drive the deeper into the corners.
We went even faster during qualifying, where we timed fourth with a 19.266-second lap. That put us in the top-eight redraw, where we unfortunately drew eighth for the start of the race.
I held on to that position for the first 23 laps as our plan was to hold back and save our tires. The caution flag waved about that time and during the restart I went from eighth to fifth.
Things seemed to be going well, but on the next lap down the backstretch the right-rear tire went flat after I hit some debris that fell from the car in front of me. The tire quickly lost air pressure and we brought out the caution flag.
My crew managed to get the flat tire off and put a new tire on, but it was a practice tire from Friday that had more than 150 laps on it. That pretty much guaranteed we had no shot at winning since I couldn’t get any drive off the corner with such an old tire on the car.
We still finished ninth, but it was definitely a bummer to have such a fast car only for a flat tire to ruin our day. It felt like we had enough pace to challenge for a podium, luck just wasn’t on our side.
Thanks to the Arce Race Engine guys for bringing me an awesome car again. I’m looking forward to being back in the modified in two weeks at Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield.