RIDING THE HIGH LINE with Jeff Cembruch Season Wrap Up Edition
(November 3rd, 2012) – Hey guys!! Well a week has passed since the Jammin 107.7 Great Pumpkin 178 season finale. It was a pretty uneventful race for us which I think kept us on the safe side of things. We missed the opening lap wreck then raced side by side with Ray Christian for 17 laps. I felt like me and Ray Ray put on a good show for second. He was really loose and he would let off the throttle really late going into the corner. So he would kill me going in and I would pull even with him coming off the corner. Kenny Cassidy meanwhile was in a whole ‘nother time zone. I was happy to run third on the final lap until the caution came out. The green white checkered restart was something Kenny didn’t want, I’m not even sure if I was really pysched about it either. That restart was one of the most intense things I’ve been a part of this season. Everyone was going all out and come to find out later someone really was going all out. Ray’s throttle was stuck and Kenny was having transmission problems. It would’ve been cool to see Ray get his first win this year but Kenny getting the record 12th win was a feel good moment though. I’ll give him style points too for the Freddy Kruger costume in victory lane.
So once again I would say our finale weekend was pretty quite. I can’t say the same for the other races that day though. It seemed like everywhere you looked in the pit area there was some kind of argument. I thought after the Street Stock race the track was going to have to call the National Guard. At least the day ended on a good note though with Tyler Chadwick, a fellow quarter midget alumni, winning the coveted SK Modified championship. Congrats to him and his guys on that feat.
Overall I would say our season was a success. Friends have made the comment that the #11 car’s season overshadows ours thus deeming it unsuccessful. But I refuse to base the success of my season on someone else’s. I feel like I am a 100% better driver then I was in April and that’s what matters to me. I actually wrote down a list of goals in April , something I commonly do every year,that I found recently among my things. When I made the list I tried to think of what I needed to do better to become a championship caliber driver. In 2011 we had several races where we would be involved in wrecks and it would either take us out or I would go back out and struggle to regain a top 10 finish. So at the top of my list was “Minimize damage,” meaning when things go wrong I need to keep digging and get the best finish I can get. I knew we accomplished this when (A) I saw how prepared we were when it came to spares and tools and (B) during one of the first few races of the season. We wrecked with 9 laps to go and restarted 17th. We came back to finish 3rd, taking over the final podium spot on the outside coming out of turn four. There were numerous times where we probably had no business finishing in the top five because of misfortunes. But we just never gave up and kept digging and I can’t tell you guys how proud I am of that. When it was all said and done we were one of only two NASCAR teams at the Speedbowl to have all top ten finishes (the other – Late Model Champion, Dillion Moltz). We also doubled in top five finishes and tripled in podium finishes when compared to last year. Most importantly we finished second in the standings, just a job well done by everybody involved in this team.
I’d like to take a second to thank all of our fans and supporters out there. Thank you to all of you who bought a ticket this year, we appreciate you taking time out of your Saturday to come hang out with us and support local NASCAR racing. I’d like to say thank you to my family and friends who helped get me to the track every week and sacrifice so much. Thank you to our partners who supported us this season and took this awsome ride with us: Hunter’s Recreational Products, Tank Transport, Tim’s Signs, American Barboot, JM Rose Lawn Service, Greg’s Chimney Service, Novicelli Storage, Underpass Auto Parts, East Side Flooring, Local Motion Entertainment, Wallingford Auto Body and GCR Engines. Also thank you to Terry & Yokasta Eames and the Speedbowl management, the track crew/volunteers and officials who donate their time; NASCAR, Sid’s Vault and Race Dog Photography for all they do.
So what now? Well I don’t have any official plans yet as far as next year. At the moment I have a lot of irons in the fire and I’m exploring for the best opportunity to take that next step in my career. All I can say right now is the #26 is currently for sale and at the very worst we will build a brand new car and chase down that first Mini Stock title. Other than that my off season is going to be filled with a lot of hockey games. I’ve been a big Boston Bruins fan for two years now and watch NHL religiously. Of course there is not going to be a season cause of the lockout so my friends and I have been hitting up a lot of college and AHL games. Since there is no NHL season I’ve also started getting into football. I’m still trying to decide what my favorite team is though. So far I’m jumping on the bandwagon of sorts, I’m leaning toward the Atlanta Falcons. But considering I like hard hitting hockey teams I’m also looking at hard hitting football teams like the Steelers and the Packers. I don’t know yet, we’ll see by season’s end. You guys will have to help me out maybe. Nows your chance! Plead your favorite team’s case to me – tweet your opinion to @JCRacing26 or share the link to this story on Facebook with your suggestion or any other comment you may have and I’ll get back to ‘yall.
Every year Tom “Sid” Dimaggio gives year end awards in his season recap on Jeff-pearl.com. Tony Stewart hosts the “Stewies” on PRN radio. This wouldn’t be a season in review recap if I didn’t follow suite and put on my suit and tie and give out some hardware for my division:
Most Improved Driver – Doug Curry #2
*Dougie Fresh improved in strides this year and put together a lot of good runs. He even got his first heat win and a pair of top fives to go with 12 top tens.
Surprise of the Year – Joseph Fogarasi #76
* Joe EARNED the Rookie of the Year honors if you ask me. Toward the second half of the season more times than not he could keep pace with Kenny and me. For a rookie he was very smart and smooth. He raced hard but with a lot of respect. If guys like him and Doug Curry stick around, the future of the Mini Stock division is in good hands.
Favorite Race of the Year – Four Cylinder Fury 50
* You’d think I’d pick the race we won but you’d be wrong. Even though we finished second in this one it was hands down the most fun I had all year. Racing side by side with Ken Cassidy, swapping the lead lap after lap was awsome. There were times you couldn’t fit a piece of paper between us but we never touched. That’s what good racing is all about. If it weren’t for excess amounts of speedy dry in the outside lane toward the end I think we would’ve won this one.
Sportsman of the Year – Nick Pappacoda #6
* I thought long and hard about this one. There a lot of good choices for this like Kenny, Sean Caron and Ian Brew. But I have to go with Nick simply because of the times he saved me from getting my bell wrung. Times when I would spin with the field charging toward me he would stay perpendicular to my door and take the brunt of the impact with his rear bumper instead of my driver side door taking it. Thats just smart racing cause he’s saving equipment and he knows he’s not going to lose anything because the caution will come out, where most guys will wreck trying to avoid you. He’s also been a really classy guy off the track as well along with Kenny, Ian and Sean.
Feel Good Moment of the Year – Walt Hovey (#16) Winning the SS Title
* Ok, he’s not a Mini Stock driver but seeing him win the championship put a smile on my face. To see him walk around the pits with his son Nick after the race said it all to me. I’ve never seen somebody so proud, he was grinning from ear to ear. It showed me what a big deal it is to win a championship and what it might feel like. I don’t know Walt that well but I can tell that is someone who truly appreciates his accomplishment and will represent the division well as it’s champion.
Thank you to Overdrive Radio for allowing me to do this blog. It’s been a lot of fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it. I can’t wait to do it again next year. I wish you and your family and a safe and happy holiday season. Hopefully I will see you at the Speedbowl banquet or over the off season.
Take care ‘yall!!
RIDING THE HIGH LINE with Jeff Cembruch is a once monthly blog and the views expressed are those solely of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Cembruch Motorsports, it’s partners or Overdrive Radio. Follow Jeff on Twitter @JCRacing26 or visit http://www.JeffCembruch.com