Pensacola, AL - After a solid opening weekend the Moose was looking forward to the second round of double header racing on the coast with Pensacola on Friday night and Mobile on Saturday night. In working towards the Moose's second regular season start at 5 Flags the team took a page or 2 out of the Vanderley's playbook to improve our on track performance (DJ Vanderley was the fast qualifier at both tracks in the season opener). With changes in place the G Force Ford Fusion was better in testing on Thursday night and in Friday's practice we tweaked on the car with some minor changes. On track for qualifying the Moose was in a zone and posted a lap of 16.97 seconds just missing the pole speed set by DJ Vanderley by 3 one hundredths of a second. Moving to the 16 second bracket in a 2 lap qualifying effort is a significant achievement for the Moose and our race team. The only other people who've been in the 16-second bracket in 2 laps are DJ, track record holder TJ Reaid and NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. Thomas, "I've never had a car like we had in qualifying, it was just perfect. I felt like I left a little on the table off of turn 2 but it was awesome. I knew we had turned a good lap I just didn't know how good until I heard the number. I appreciate the Vanderley's and our chassis builder Augie Grill for helping us get quicker." While our qualifying time put the Moose second, a 6 on the dice roll invert would have the Moose rolling off 5th. The first corner of the green flag was clean with the Moose's inside line moving and the Moose was racing side by side for 3rd headed into turn 3. The competitor on the outside of the Moose got loose and drove into the right rear of the G Ford Fusion sending the Moose spinning. Thomas, "I think DJ was the only car behind me that didn't hit me. I saw one car go flying by the right side on 2 wheels after he ramped over my right rear." On the hook on lap 1 after such a great qualifying effort was not what we were looking for. The impact tore off most of the right side of the car, shoved the rear end up to the seat and broke or bent everything that attaches to the rear end, shocks, trailing arms, panhard bar, drive shaft and shoved the motor forward a couple of inches and it snapped the shock mount off the car. (Picture at top is the car as we tried to get it to roll back in the trialer.) A wreck of this magnitude normally takes weeks and a trip back to the chassis builder to fix but our Max Force team was committed to Mobile on Saturday night. It took almost 4 hours to get the car back on the ground and rolling. The team worked almost nonstop from the time Midnight was dropped at the back of the trailer until it was loaded back into the trailer for MIS. Long time friend and sponsor Mike Walker, Walker Frame and Body came to the shop on Saturday morning and put his healing hands on our battered G Force Fusion. Walker has a long history of fixing our torn up cars and even cut up one of Tommy's car into 3 foot sections so it would fit in the dumpster to throw it away. Walker spent hours cutting, fabbing and welding our ailing machine and when he said put the shocks on it, it took just 2 turns on 1 shock bolt to have the car back to it's original scale numbers. While Walker worked on the frame, the rest of the crew worked on the body and making the changes to go from Pensacola to Mobile. Our team is normally at the gate waiting for it to open, we made the gate 10 minutes before practice started. Thomas, "Mr. Mike is the man. What he can do, it's like watching an artist. All we could see was all the destruction; at the track on Friday night he was already working on how he was going to fix it. I didn't know what kind of car we had when we rolled it off the trailer but I knew how proud I was of our race team for what they had accomplished. There are very few teams that could pull of what ours did, of course you have to be kind of nuts to even try."
After a few shake down laps the Moose was rumbling around the familiar confines of Mobile International Speedway. Even with the back up rear end and all the repairs Midnight was close to ticking as fast as it was in the season opener. Our G Force Fusion was tight (wouldn't turn in the corners) and the team threw a double handful of changes to free it up. We chose a bigger gear for qualifying and it hurt our qualifying effort but we were still within a tenth and half of our opening night effort. Rolling off 7th the Moose had a long way to go the front with a car we were still struggling to find the handle on. On Saturday night we wouldn't make the 1st turn as the competitor on the outside turned down into the right front on our G Force Fusion. The contact snapped the strut on the right front wheel assembly and ended the Moose's night on the first lap again. From the penthouse to the outhouse and repeat. Thomas, "I just couldn't believe it, my right front tire mark was ahead of the guys number and he still came down on me. All the hard work everyone had done just seemed wasted. Riding back in the wrecker for the 2nd night in a row was like being in a nightmare that wouldn't end. By the time they got the car back to the trailer my team was waiting on me with the parts ready to fix it, what can you say? They had worked all night, all day and we were out on the first corner and they were ready to get back to work. We had a horrible points weekend but I couldn't be prouder of our team. Congratulations to DJ on double poles and double wins and Grant Enfinger on his run in Texas.” The team has 2 weeks to get ready for round 3 of the Gulf Coast Two Step. This weekend the Moose will be in Talladega to lend a hand to Mobile's Grant Enfinger's Beasley Allen ARCA car.