GREENBERG STRUGGLES AT MILE HIGH NATIONALS
The Lyle Greenberg Motorsports team always looks forward to running the Mile High Nationals in Denver. Not only is Denver our adopted home track, but our history goes back to the very 1st Mile High Sportsnationals in Denver in 1978. At that time Andy Johnson and Lyle were racing a "C Econo Altered" in the Competition Eliminator category. Since then we have run many Division 5 and National Events at the Bandimere Speedway facility. In 1998, we qualified a very respectable 12th with a 6.39 ET. This year we hoped to dramatically improve on that performance.
We were scheduled to be the in the first pair in the first qualifying session on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, we had a mechanical gremlin pop up in the steering mechanism which forced us to miss the session. It is always disappointing to lose a qualifying run since it seems that you never quite get caught up. There were a total of 20 alcohol funny cars in attendance and we now had only two more qualifying runs to get in what was shaping up to be a tough program.
On Friday, we prepared the car with the same tuneup that we had intended to use on Thursday. The weather was very threatening and there was considerable concern that this may be the only qualifying shot we would get. As a result, it was very impo rtant that we make a clean run that would get us into the field. The car launched well, but began to shake the tires just after the shift to 2nd gear. Lyle lifted off the throttle momentarily to try and get the tire shake to stop. After about half a second he got back on the throttle. The car did stop shaking, but continued to bounce and act generally unsettled the rest of the run. The time was a 6.39 at 226 mph. At the conclusion of this qualifying session, this was good enough for 14th position.
The normal maintenance was performed on the car and no damage of any sort was found. A review of the computer data seemed to indicate that the car had too much counterweight in the clutch and knocked the tire loose just prior to the shift to 2nd gear. Then when the shift was made, the lack of traction turned into tire shake. Several grams of counterweight were removed from the clutch and minor adjustments were made to the fuel system. Unfortunately, it began to rain and the 3rd qualifying session was postponed until Saturday morning.
The way the schedule was re-arranged to accommodate the postponed qualifying session, there was not going to be a lot of time between the session and the first round of eliminations which was scheduled for 1:00 PM. The Greenberg team prepared the car and went to the staging lanes knowing that the earlier 6.39 was not going to hold up. In fact, by the time it was their turn to run, they had been bumped out of the program. Again, the car launched well and this time there was no hint of any tire shake. The car continued to motor on down the track until, at about 1,000 feet, there was a blower backfire and the motor went dead. Even with the car coasting for the last 300 feet of the track it turned a 6.29 at a slowing 207 mph. This put us back in the show at 12th position. Several more cars made their final attempts and we ultimately finished up a disappointing 14th.
Upon their return to the trailer, the team set about the task of determining what went wrong and the extent of the damage. Whenever there is a blower explosion, it is a safe bet that there was either an intake valve hung open or that the fuel mixture was extremely lean. The first discovery was that a intake pushrod had been damaged. However, the damage did not appear to be extensive enough to have hung the valve open. Robert soon found that the #2 rod bearing was smashed quite a bit. This indicated that this cylinder was much too lean. A scan of the computer data confirmed that this cylinder was running much too hot. The question was WHY? The crew now knew that they were going to have to hustle to repair the damage in time for the first round. During the process of replacing the burst panels someone suggested looking at the port nozzles to see if they had become obstructed. Sure enough, a very small piece of plastic had become lodged in the #2 port nozzle, restricting the flow of fuel severely. At just about that time, a second catastrophe occurred. As the nuts were being loosened so that the cylinder head could be removed, a cylinder head stud broke. On a Keith Black aluminum block, the threads for the stud are recessed deep into the deck of the block and the tool that is normally used for removing broken bolts doesn't work. A thorough search of the pit area found nobody with a tool that could remove the broken stud. At that point the team notified NHRA that they would not be able to repair the car and the 1st alternate would be able to replace us.
The entire team was bitterly disappointed with this outcome. After the promising start of this season in Phoenix where the team qualified 8th with a stellar 5.84 at 242 mph, the car has been plagued with relatively minor problems that the team just hasn't had the right spare parts and/or tools to overcome. Originally the 1999 plan included running the Division 4 FMDRS event in Noble, Oklahoma. It now appears that the car will be parked for the remainder of the year until future plans are firmed up.
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