Lancaster garners a win a WERA Nationals
MUNFORD, Ala. _ Lincoln’s Tucker Lancaster had his road-racing skills put to the test on the Talladega Gran Prix Raceway when a heavy rainstorm moved in to put a damper on the young rider’s hopes of doing better April 27-28.
After finishing up in Las Vegas the week before, Lancaster and mechanic Mike Pascarella loaded their van and headed for Alabama. They arrived several days early and the Wednesday before the race they walked the track to try and determine the race lines.
The track was narrow and short and didn’t appear all that complicated.
That Thursday, they entered the track mid-afternoon and set up a pit station. They met up with Jon Tyus of CTR and K-Tech suspension. Having had suspension problems the previous week, Tyus did some adjustments that brought Lancaster’s bikes up to where he felt more comfortable on them.
“I went out on the new K-Tech on my ‘A’ bike and it already felt 100-percent better than it did in Las Vegas,” Lancaster reported. “In my first session, I was already down to 1:00 lap time.”
However, the Lincoln rider discovered the race lines he found earlier were no longer valid.
The “A” bike handled great so Lancaster planned to race it in the 600 Superstock qualifier. He was also equipped it with Pirelli V.2 DOT tires, which he reported worked amazing.
After putting his bike through the paces, he turned in a 59.166 on his fourth lap to earn the pole position for the Sunday 600 Superstock WERA Nationals. Lancaster said he was happy to be on the pole, but his lap was only .026 seconds ahead of the second fastest.
The 16-year-old was able to get in two practice runs on Saturday before the track was turned over to endurance racing. He had a 58.823 lap, which gave him confidence for nationals the following day.
To kill some time, Lancaster hung out with Luie Zendejas of Atlanta. Zendejas is a Riders Discount 100 Racer and took the Lincoln prodigy to “The Icebox,” a facility offering cryotherapy.
Lancaster was placed in a tube cooled by liquid nitrogen, which lowers the temperature inside the tube to minus 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It was like getting a massage,” Lancaster said, “and it relaxes your muscles. It was actually pretty cool.”
That evening it started to rain and continued through the night.
Sunday, Lancaster and Pascarella were greeted by a wet track and threatening storm clouds. The track didn’t seem wet enough to change to rain tires so they stuck with the DOTs. Although everything felt OK, Lancaster wasn’t happy with his times.
They switched to rain tires and the local racer did two laps and came back in feeling unprepared to race in the rain – and more bad weather was on the way.
The first race was delayed when a crash occurred with the rain coming down so officials decided to let the worst of the storm pass.
When the 600 Superstock was set to get underway, the rain had stopped but it was decided to stay with the rain tires because of the wet conditions. Although Lancaster had the pole position, he proceeded with caution and fell into third place by the first turn.
“I tried to keep up with the guys in front of me for as long as I could,” Lancaster wrote. “With having very little experience in the rain, it was hard to have trust in my tires and the track.”
After being passed by another rider on lap five, Lancaster began to push. But after a few slips, the Lincoln youth decided to settle for fourth-place points. It would have to do for his first race in the rain.
Lancaster had the pole spot for the 750 Superstock as well. Again, his start was poor and he found himself in third place by turn one. He was able to keep up better this time but his braking skills in the rain were just too limited.
He held onto fourth place going into the last lap when a yellow flag was brought out. Lancaster applied the brakes a bit early and another rider went up inside him. Although a violation, the rider was given a warning and not docked a full position.
Lancaster finished fifth.
The track was beginning to dry, so it was decided to set up the bike for dry conditions in spite of the fact it was still sprinkling a bit. It was a good decision.
In the 600 Superbike, Lancaster got the holeshot and led the entire way. He raced to victory a full five seconds ahead of second place.
For his final race, the 750 Superbike, it began to rain again. Starting on the outside of the second row, he was in second place going into the first turn. But still overcautious on the brake, a second rider passed him. In spite of his efforts to get back into second place, the Lincoln rider had to settle for third
“I wasn’t too unhappy with my finishes for my first time racing in the rain,” Lancaster said. “I still had a win and I was always the fastest when it was dry.”
Lancaster now is hoping for some rain in California so he can get more practice on a wet track.
His next race was scheduled for Sears Point/Infineon/Sonoma Raceway. He became eligible for the Sonoma track after turning 16.
Lancaster is scheduled to make a personal appearance at Champ Cuts at 745 Highway 65 from noon-3 p.m. May 18.