Day 2 of the opening round of the 2014 JConcepts Indoor Nationals Series, the Winter Indoor Nationals, will see 3 rounds of qualifying at the SmacTrac in St.Louis. With each driver counting their best 2 qualifiers, the large entry has resulted in 37 heats meaning it will be a late finish to proceedings.
Team Associated’s Tanner Denney will be the top seed for qualifying at the JConcepts Winter Indoor Nationals in St. Louis after he used his new B5 to post the fastest 5 laps after the single round of timed practice. The 18-year-old set an average lap of 14.364 to just pip team-mate Steven Hartson by 3/1000th of a second with Team Losi Racing’s Taylor Larsen third fastest around the SmacTrac track.
Having felt he was lacking a little on power steering on his B5 in the final free practice, Denney added a washer to change his ackermann and said the change gave the buggy ‘all round smoother steering’. Starting the day with a brand new straight out of the bag set of JConcepts Dirt Webs, the majority of drivers here subjecting their tyres to a sanding before use, he said they feel really good and other than freshening up his shocks he will go into Q1 with the car as is. Asked what he has found to be the biggest different between the B4 and the B5, this being the cars debut race weekend, he said ‘it jumps better’ and that the ‘B4 chassis slap’ is gone. He added that the B5 also drives more like the mid motored Centro conversion B4.
Having JConcepts Barcodes all round on his B5 in free practice for the timed run Hartson switched to green compound Rips on the front. Gaining more steering from the change, the 4WD World Champion said he also slowed down his driving a little for the 3-minute run which seemed to work and led to him avoiding the track piping he was having problems with earlier in the day. For tomorrow he plans to run everything as is saying he ‘think(s) all is good for qualifying’.
Just 6/100th off the pace of the two Associated drivers, 15-year-old Larsen was very happy with his day. Running a rear motored TLR22, he said its been ‘really good’ and he hasn’t had to change anything in terms of set-up and the plan for the first qualifier is to just continue as is. Running JConcepts Dirt Webs, which he scrubbed in back home in preparation for this event, he said for the level of traction the tyre wear is very low and he will continue with the same set of tyres for tomorrow.
Setting the fourth fastest time Michael Twilling was the fastest mid motor car. Running an Associated B4 Centro he said it was ‘very good’ adding he is ‘really happy’ with how its been running. Making an early change to the anti squat to try and ‘lock down’ the rear end out of the corners he said the rest of the day was about breaking in tyres. Scrubbing in a set of JConcepts Dirt Webs at his home track before the race, the Oklahoma driver said he was delighted he did. Planning to leave the car as is for tomorrow he said he is ‘pretty pumped about it’.
‘Pretty descent’ was how Brent Thielke summed up his day in 2WD, the Associated team manager taking his B5 to the 5th fastest time. ‘Learning about the new car every time’ he gets it out on the track, he adjusted the link height together with moving the battery position to the rear which he said made it feel ‘more comfortable’ on the track. Working closely with Denney both looking for a similar feeling from the car, for Q1 he will be following the change the No.1 seed made to his steering ackermann.
Completing the Top 6 was local racer Chris Baumgartner. Another driving a Centro B4 he said he is ‘very happy’ with how it is working. Having had to think about whether he made any changes to the set-up over the day, none being made, he said for tomorrow he might adjust his ride height. Benefiting from local track knowledge he said tomorrow is due to be around 30 degrees warmer than today which temperature change ‘effect(ing) the traction a lot’.
In 4WD Buggy it was Hartson who set the pace ahead of Xray’s Josh Wheeler with Denney completing the Top 3. Hartson also topped Mod Truck.
With no official timing and drivers getting only a limited number of runs per class, practice at the opening round of the JConcepts Indoor National Series in St. Louis, has been a rather relaxed affair. Running 6-minutes each time they hit the track, we will only get a true picture of who is fast at the SmacTrac, and who needs to do some work, when the day concludes with a round of controlled practice that will determine the seeding of the heats for tomorrow’s qualifying action. The smallest track the series visits, a good seeding, which will be based on the average of a driver’s five fastest laps from the 3-minute run, is going to be very beneficial for qualifying.
Due to a busy nitro testing schedule, in preparation for the Dirt Nitro Challenge in 2-weeks time, last year’s Winter Indoor Nationals biggest winner Ryan Maifield has had to skip the event. 4WD World Champion Steven Hartson heads this year’s entry on what is a significant weekend for his team as Team Associated gives its all new B5 its race debut. Associated Team Manager Brent Thielke, offroad legend Brian Kinwald and young gun Tanner Denney are among 15 or so drivers debuting the extremely well received new 2WD Buggy at the event.
Having completed just 5-battery packs with his B5 at OCRC Raceway before making the trip out from California for the event, Hartson said he put the car on the track as he ran it back home and straight off it is working ‘really good’ here. Completing only two runs, not changing the set-up between run, he said the biggest initial difference between the B4 and the B5 is how much more consistent the new buggy is to drive. Running sanded green compound JConcepts Barcodes on all his cars, he is also running 4WD Buggy & Mod Truck, he is happy with how they are working describing the track’s dirt & traction levels as ‘good’.
Thielke described the difference between the new & old car as ‘just more solid’. Sixth in 2WD here last year, he said he has changed his set-up each run using the information & feedback from his team drivers who are all running the car at different tracks to build up as much set-up data as possible.
Running JConcepts Dirt Webs tyres straight from the bag, Denney said his 2WD was ‘really good’. Making a front end caster change after the first run the 18-year-old felt his lap times are competitive and he is looking forward to qualifying getting underway. Commenting on his 4WD buggy, he said ‘it went around the track’ but he hopes a front swaybar & shock piston change will should help improve it for the seeding practice round. Kinwald managed just one run with the B5 instead spending most of his day preparing tyres. Happy with his 6-minutes of track time, he is also running 2WD Short Course this weekend as well as RC10 classic.
With Kyosho’s Jared Tebo having to unfortunately withdraw from the event having made the drive to St.Louis, the biggest challenge to the Associated team will come from Team Losi Racing. Making his first visit to SmacTrac, JR Mitch said he was using the practice round to ‘just get some track time’. Also running Dirt Webs on his cars, he said he is sanding them having been ‘hurt’ at the 2013 Series Final in Omaha back in December when he opted to let his tyres come in through natural wear. Commenting on the track he said he races on a similar sized track back home in Florida and so he has been able to quickly adapt to the size and drivers stand.
Returning to the St.Louis, having attended the race for the first time last year, TLR’s Cody Hollis used his practice runs to break in tyres. Describing a lap of the track as ‘pretty fast’, the Oklahoma driver said its ‘fun’ to drive. Running his TLR22 in mid motor configuration in addition to 4WD Buggy he is also running 2WD Short Course this weekend.
One of the stars of the Series Finals at HobbyTown USA Hobby Plex, Taylor Larsen said he couldn’t have asked for better from his rear motored TLR22 in the practice runs. Running the car pretty much the same as he did at Omaha, where he was Top Qualifier, the 15-year-old said he is sticking with the rear motor configuration because he simply hasn’t done enough testing with it as a mid motored car.
Track Name – SmacTrac Country – USA Location – St.Charles, Missouri (approx 20-miles from St.Louis) Direction – Clockwise Surface – Dirt Previous key events hosted – 4 X Winter Indoor Nationals
For the fifth year running the SmacTrac in St. Charles, Missouri, plays host to the opening round of the JConcepts Indoor National Series. The fourth year of JConcepts popular electric offroad series this is actually the fifth time for the track to host the Winter Indoor Nationals. Opening in 2010 it hosted the race that same year before JConcepts decided to merge all its key indoor events to form them into a series.
Owned and operated by Scott McDonald, who is himself racing this weekend, a regular week at the SmacTrac consists of Monday & Thursday night practice with racing held each Saturday. Operating all year round and the only indoor track in the area, for the months of April and May the track is exclusively used for Oval racing. Looking after all the racers needs next door to the track there is a separately operated hobby shop, Blaze RC which is owned by Mike Marshall.
One of the smallest tracks that the series visits, the track covering an area of 90 X 48 feet, according to 4WD World Champion Steven Hartson this year’s layout is the best Scott has come up with yet. Better building of the jumps gives the track a better flow to the laps with a good 2WD lap time expected to be a late 14-seconds. Main features of the track are the hip jump in front of the drivers stand and the wooden rumble section.