With a full field of 31 highly talented competitors to go up against, David continued to showcase the resilience of this Leckner Ford Nissan Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram DPR #33 team. The weekends crew consisted of driver, David Polenz, and team member, Billy, for Dominion Raceway’s Memorial Day 100 lapper and it did not stop them from going to the front.
The late models were given two hours to adjust to the 4/10 mile high banked oval. David ran on 75 lap old tires to prepare his car for the wear and tear of a 100 lap race. After some work in the shop from the season opener, the car was immediately fast in the first 20 lap run. David and Billy swapped out the rear shocks for a 2nd 20 lap run, just to see how the car would react. Both runs, the lap times didn’t show what the #33 would be capable of with new tires, but they showed that David would be fast for all 100 laps. He was so ecstatic with the handling, he decided to cut practice short, trying to get a leg up on the competition for qualifying and race.
After raining out on Sunday night, track officials planned two 16-car group qualifying sessions on Monday prior to the race. David lined up in the first group. Since the rain fall removed much of the rubber laid in practice, this became a disadvantage. His strategy, was a two lap run, once the track was clear of slower cars. Nothing seemed to go Davids way as he waited for a gap between cars. After many laps of riding around, no competitors came to pit road. The majority of cars in group 1 were the slower half of the field, which used the session as a practice instead of qualifying. One car spun out as David took his first lap at speed, which added a heat cycle to the tires. To add on to it all, the pressures he ran were meant for a two lap run. In the end, there was not much he could do, and the qualifying effort landed him in 17th position.
The race started in the heat of the day, and David was on fire. He started working his way to the front, with little patience. Early in the race David manhandled the #33, three-wide, bumping and grinding from 17th quickly into the top 10. Cautions would breed cautions, and as the race went on, drivers got restless in the back and began to cause problems.
A string of cautions gave David his own issues. Davids car would take 3 laps before the air pressures would come up and stop bottoming out. On top of this, on each restart the Cone rule was in affect, where drivers have a choice to pick one side of an orange cone to start in the inside or outside line. The outside was struggling on restarts, and David made the right choice to stay inside the majority of the race. On one occasion he made it to the top 6 but the caution flew and cancelled out again. The next cone restart left more cars choosing the inside lane, and he made the mistake of staying low. Instead of starting 6th by taking the outside, David fell to 13th not even under the green flag.
This time the caution didn’t fly on the restart, and David had to work back by the cars he had already passed, and did just that. He made it back into the top ten with aggression. He drove by 9th place quickly with 25 to go, and started to run down the top 8. The top 8 were bumper to bumper within a straightaway, and David caught them quick. He went to work on the #01 of Sergio Pena. Lap traffic blocked every move he made down low on the #01. After struggling 5 plus laps to complete the pass, David grew impatient, pushed up into the door of Pena, rubbing doors three-wide with lap traffic, finally overtaking the 8th position. He started to work on the #98 who grew a straightaway advantage after the battle, catching him with two laps to go. He bumped the #98 in turn 3, both cars were side by side, and sideways, with David in position coming to the checkered flag. He barely missed taking 7th by two feet at the start finish line. After giving the crowd a show, the #33 came home with only a few tire marks on the door, and some traded paint.
As the 8th place finish was impressive, and exciting after a poor qualifying effort, it is still below David’s expectations. Fixing the qualifying problems, David feels his goal of consistent top 5s and wins are on the way. With some more work in the shop by Mike Darne, Dennis Brock, and David, the #33 Leckner Ford Nissan Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram stock car will be battling for wins once again! Next race will be at Southern National Motorsports Park this June, a track where David’s had three in a row strong runs inside the top 5. Exact date will be decided within a week.