|TORC 2014: Kleiman - "We showed that we can run with the best of them"|
After a tough start to the season in Primm Valley, Kleiman Off-Road Racing was looking for better results as the team prepared for the "Showdown in Charlotte." The family based team has shown the speed to compete for a podium, now a little luck is needed to be on their side. The final results for the only TORC event on the East Coast really didn't represent the potential for Mark, Cody, and Kyle Kleiman.
The days leading in to the "Showdown in Charlotte" saw the delivery of new powerplants for both of the PRO-Lights. The level of competition in the largest of all TORC PRO categories was high during last year, and after one weekend into the 2014 season Mark Kleiman knew their engine program needed to be upgraded. The engine replacement meant the team would leave for Charlotte a couple of days later than expected, but it was enough time for everyone to get comfortable to the warm North Carolina weather.
The track was created within one of the premier dirt track racing facilities in the country. It was a great combination of speed and agility. The layout used all of the front straightaway and backstretch before heading into infield where there were two sets of whoops and a sizeable double jump before heading back in front of the grandstands.
Friday afternoon twenty-two PRO-Lights headed out for qualifying. Both drivers, Mark and Cody, had slower traffic to maneuver around as the Ponsee backed trucks qualified in the middle of the field.
Friday evening racing started with the eighteen lap PRO-Light race. The first nine laps was a very orderly affair as Cody in the #48 and Mark in the #42, were running in to the top ten. After the halfway mandatory caution, the race saw some very aggressive driving, hard contact seemed to the norm and not the exception.
Cody worked his way to fifth place when a flat tire slowed his pace which resulted in a twentieth place finish. Then a couple of laps later Mark was hit by another racer breaking a tie rod and flattening a front tire which also ended the evening early with a seventeenth place finish.
Even with that said, much of the prep work for Saturday involved putting the fiberglass body panels back together for Round 4. The Saturday afternoon qualifying session saw Cody's brother Kyle take his turn in the #48 yellow and black PRO-Light while dad Mark continued in the #42 all yellow PRO-Light. Once again the qualifying results had the two trucks lined up in the middle of the PRO-Light starting grid.
When the green flag waved for the start of Round 4, patience was not in any driver's mind. Kyle seemed to be making all the right moves. After four laps the #48 was running in fifth spot when he was involved in a racing incident that put him back a few places, but he regained the position by the halfway caution. On the restart, Kyle made the pass for fourth place. Then disaster struck as the rear axle housing broke ending the race. Kyle was credited with an eighteen place finish.
While Kyle was have a strong run, his dad Mark was just a few positions back in his own battles. The door to door racing created another punctured tire for the #42 Ponsee PRO-Light. A quick visit to the hot pits for a new tire put the elder Kleiman back in the race, but now one lap down. The checkered flag came out with Mark in thirteenth place.
"I'm really proud of my family and team, we didn't have the best of finishes this weekend, but we showed that we can run with the best of them," commented Mark Kleiman. "We have some time off before we go racing in our backyard in Bark River. We'll have plenty of support that weekend which could give us an extra push for that podium. There's nothing like home cooking."
The next race on the 2014 "TORC Series presented by Amsoil" is the "Throwdown in the U.P." June 14-15 in Bark River, Michigan.
2014/05/03 | 18:52 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/REUSCHE