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It was another weekend with Arrive Drive Motorsports in the SVRA weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Course for Nathan Byrd. (Byrd Racing photo)

BYRD: Three Tracks In Four Days

This past weekend, I hoped to show my versatility by racing four different cars at three different tracks in four days time.

It might have been my biggest racing challenge, at least in terms of proving my ability in different race cars.

We started off the weekend in one of Davey Hamilton Racing’s Silver Crown cars at Wisconsin’s Madison Int’l Speedway. It was a fairly good practice, but I didn’t get as many laps on the track as I would have liked because this was my first time racing at that track.

In qualifications, I had to turn it up a notch because I wasn’t close to the fast speeds in practice, especially considering I had never driven the Silver Crown around a track this fast.

Very rarely will I ever do my fastest lap of the weekend in a practice session or race unless I’ve already qualified at that track before in that car. Unlike formula car racing where you get a whole session with multiple laps and chances at a fast lap, in short-track racing you almost always only get those two flying laps and that’s it.

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Nathan Byrd We started off the weekend in one of Davey Hamilton Racing’s Silver Crown cars at Wisconsin’s Madison Int’l Speedway. (Byrd Racing photo)

After hyping myself for qualifying in an attempt to get a “flyer,” the sun became a most unlikely culprit.

Going into turn one, I was blinded by the sun and that affected my depth perception. It was very hard to be confident entering the turns, and that is where I was losing most of my time.

I was able to see in turn three, but not going into turn one. That was costly to my lap.

I ended up qualifying 15th and had to move up through the field quickly if I wanted a chance at a top-five finish.

I was held up at the start of the race and by the time the first caution came out I could feel my brakes starting to overheat.

I passed two cars by taking the outside line. I hesitated for a couple seconds but went with it and was able to pass another car a few laps later while my brakes were still somewhat functional.

I was up to seventh over the next 65 laps when the final caution flag waved with seven laps to go. A green-white-checkered finish ensued.

Unfortunately, I was issued a two-lap penalty for the passes I made during the first restart.

Although I didn’t understand the reasoning to wait so long for the penalty, I wasn’t going to challenge it.

I finished in 10th place, not the result I was looking for. But considering I ran the majority of the race with overheated brakes, it was a decent result.

Following that race, we drove overnight to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It was another weekend with Arrive Drive Motorsports Pro Mazda in the SVRA weekend in Group 9.

Unfortunately, my qualifying was cut short because a brake line failed. I was stopped on the track and had to be towed in.

However, we flat-spotted our tires when the wheels locked up, but managed to borrow tires from one of the F4 teams in the paddock.

That team uses Hankooks instead of Hoosiers, but we threw those on for the first race. That actually improved my setup, which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

We started fifth and quickly moved up to third.

Unfortunately, the car in front of me, an old Daytona prototype, held me up pretty bad, gapping me substantially in the straights and then holding me up in the corners. By the time I had formulated a strategy to attempt to pass them for second, it was the final lap of the race.

After making a failed attempt in turn nine, I finished third overall and second in my class.

I was fairly happy considering that I was beating cars that were theoretically faster than mine.

I was supposed to start race two on Sunday third on the grid, but the Daytona prototype ended up not showing for the race. That put me in on the outside of the front row for the start.

We shared the front row with an old formula Atlantic car that was significantly faster than my Pro Mazda on the straights.

I passed him on the outside of turn one at the start of the race. I was able to stay out front for the next few laps before I was passed going into turn four. The raw speed of the other car was too much for mine, and I scored another second-place finish.

The Enduro started a few hours after race two and I was on the pole with the fastest car on the grid. I ran about 90-95 percent for half the race, putting the entire field several laps down before it started to rain.

I knew that rain at Mid-Ohio and slick tires do not mesh well, so I pitted for rain tires. But when I exited turn four, I tried the dry line a little bit to see how slick it was.

Bad idea because I lost the rear end of the car, spinning on the pavement and in an effort to get straightened out, beached myself entering turn five.

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Nathan Byrd tested two supermodifieds in preparation for his upcoming races this weekend. (Byrd Racing photo)

This brought out a caution and I had to get towed back to pit lane because I couldn’t restart the car. When I finally got back to the pits, we decided to start our mandatory five-minute pit stop when I crossed the line and used the opportunity to change out my tires for new rain tires.

The race restarted while I was still in the pits and by the time I returned to the race, I was still on the lead lap, but in last place, with only six laps to go in the race.

It’s a good thing I had built up a three-lap lead, otherwise I would have never been able to come back from my mistake. In a matter of a few laps, I was back in the lead.

I went on to win the race, even though we made it a little more dramatic than it needed to be.

Immediately after the Enduro, we raced to the Columbus airport to catch a flight to Syracuse, N.Y., by way of Washington, D.C.

I was scheduled to test two supermodifieds at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway with Muldoon Motorsports the next day.

Unfortunately, the Washington to Syracuse flight got delayed by about six hours and I reached Syracuse at around 6 a.m.

After catching a couple hours of sleep at the hotel, I tested the small-block 350 Supermodified first. I got up to speed and eventually ran some competitive laps.

The big-block super, however, was a whole different beast, and for the 30 to 40 laps I was in the car I was still learning its limits.

Both cars were absolute beasts of machines, which makes me really excited to take both of them to the limit this Saturday at Oswego Speedway where I’ll be making my debut in both divisions.

It was a crazy weekend of racing, testing, and traveling and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I look forward to doing it all again this coming week and all the weeks after that.

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