2015, this was the last time Crick had the opportunity to drive Irwindale in competition form, and since then the rumor has been that each year would be the last year this track would still stand. We couldn’t take the gamble of missing Irwindale’s last potential year so without further adieu here is how our competition went at the iconic Irwindale Speedway.
Practice: A goodnight’s sleep, healthy breakfast, and your support system ready to go are just a few things we needed before Thursday’s practice/qualifying day. The car was in order and tires were mounted as the team set out to stake claims on our pit area of Irwindale Speedway. Crick’s car was still on the same suspension setup that he had from the prior week when he attended Thursday Night Drift at Irwindale…and it showed! Crick was laying down qualifying passes in practice from beginning to an end, but with one minor hiccup, we had to stop our practice session just after 2 sets of tires were burnt off. The alternator decided to take a dump on us and send us back to the pits. Now most of you don’t know this, but 1 of 3 LS alternators will be 14v and the other percentage will be 17v. We needed the less likely 14v, but the only way to know is to hook it up to the car. Kevin, Jake, and Tone b-lined it to the closest automotive store, bought and alternator, came back, installed it and BOOM!!! Folks…we had a 14v alternator! Time to follow Crick back out to the hot pits where we’d wait for qualifying to begin.
1st pass: HIGH on the bank, fast through the 1st inner clip zone, but a little shallow on the outer zone. Nonetheless, Crick’s score was still a 80 and the first time Crick scored a 80+ point qualifying pass. Crick knew and the team knew we had more in the tank and could polish the run up to get in a more comfortable qualifying zone.
2nd pass: HIGH on the bank again, faster through the 1st inner clip zone, and deep into outer zone, running the wall, clipping the last inner zone clip and crossing the finish. A 88 comes over the radio, tying Crick for 1st place qualifying position. Fellow Nexen Tire driver Dale Denton, would later go on to score a 90+ taking the 1st place qualifier position, and bumping us down to 2nd overall, and pairing Crick against Dylan Hughes for Top 16 battle on competition day.
Friday: Competition day
After a night of celebrating Crick’s 2ndplace qualifying run, it was time to get to business and prepare for a night of competition. PRO2 drivers get 1.5hrs of practice before the Top 16 opening ceremony, and on Crick’s 1stpractice pass partnered with T. Beechum, he threw a belt which caused him to lose power steering and throw the tail-end of his car into the wall. As Crick came into the hot-pits, we all noticed the passenger rear wheel was not where it was supposed to be. The result of the crash was a bent rear knuckle and sheered bolt from one of the rear suspension components. We didn’t have a knuckle, but we were able to source a bolt + spacer by a driver in PRO1. Unlucky enough…we missed the rest of practice locating the bolt + spacer, installing them, throwing on a new belt and re-aligning the car; but we were grateful to make the opening ceremony and prepare for Crick’s first battle against Dylan Hughes.
What seemed like hours for a decision was only minutes before the judges unanimously chose Crick as the victor! Onto Great 8…and here comes the rain. Can we get a round without rain? PLEASE! The team was on the line when the rain and lightning decided to show up. Crick buried his head and said, “God…I hate the rain.” FD officials gave Crick and his opponent Robbins a parade lap to get used to the wet conditions. Crick and Robbins lined up for their first bout, a drag race to the first bank, Crick flicks in (at this point we were thinking ‘oh s*&$’) and rides the wall and completes the course in fashion. Robbins spun just feet before the finish line, which would give him a 0 on his follow run. On Robbins’ lead run he spun in the first outer zone on the bank, and Crick would drift passed him (with no power steering because we broke another belt). Crick would come out on top of this battle, and would advance to the Top 4 against. R. Sexsmith. Sadly, this is where our trip to Irwindale would come to a close. When the belt broke, it also pulled the wires out of Crick’s temperature sensor and we wouldn’t have a plug nor the pinning tools to replace it. Crick’s 2ndplace qualifying pass would be our saving grace in Crick achieving the 3rdplace spot at Irwindale. Later, Crick was also presented Formula Drift’s Most Improved Driver Award for 2018.
It goes without saying that without our support system; Crick’s wife ‘Tiffany’ and children ‘Nik and Cole’..Nik being Crick’s spotter, Jake B. his right-hand man on and off the track, Tone F. as his eyes and hype man, Most Films for enduring the blistering heat and wet rains to grab that perfect shot, Kevin and Nicole Q. for showing their love for their childhood friend by traveling from AZ to give what they can on and off track, Nexen Tire USA’s managerial staff as well as the laborers in the pits…y’all take care of us with the utmost urgency and respect, and there’s no way the competitiveness of this sport would be possible without you, TF Dave from Stance USA for being a call away for sudden suspension setup questions, Phenix Industries staff for making it to their first ever drift event in support of Crick, Knapik’s whole team for always lending a helping hand when we need it most, Beechum’s whole team for being right there to try and get us back in the game during our 5min mechanical timeout, and lastly all friends and family that have watched Crick progress over the years and have shown love in person, on social media etc. You are ALL appreciated.
Huge shouts to all of the media at Irwindale, and that have been at each round capturing these moments for the driver’s and their families to share for years to come.