After a year off, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returned to Madison International Speedway for the Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200. The Wisconsin based track has been voted one of the best in the country and the fans poured in for some Father’s Day racing.
After a 27 hour trip up from Mobile Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his team had “Carlos”, Chassis #500, ready to go at the track that most resembles Mobile International Speedway on the tour.
“We were one of the few teams that had been to Madison and we really had a nice Project Semi Colon Ford in the first practice.”
Up on the spotters stand 8-time Daytona winning crew chief, Billy Gerhart was standing next to Praytor’s spotter and offered some advice. “When Billy Gerhart is trying to help you, you listen. Mr. Billy saw something in the attitude of the car and we made his changes and it really came to life.” The Project Semi Colon Ford would roll off 12th.
The Montgomery Ward 200 was almost over before it started for team Project Semi Colon. When they waved the green flag to start the race the driver in front of the Moose didn’t. “I think he was over my hood pins before I could even think about stopping.”
The nose of the Project Semi Colon Ford was crushed and the hood was hanging on by a thread. The first job was to get air into the air box to cool the motor, the second job was to make sure the hood stayed on.
After multiple stops the team had the Moose band aided up while keeping him on the lead lap and sent him back out.
Most of the band aids worked but the motor was still a shade hotter than the team wanted and at the next caution took the rest of the tape off the nose. The motor cooled off and the Project Semi Colon Ford was cutting through the field.
The Montgomery Ward 200 made a long green flag run and the race became one of attrition as much as speed in the heat. Conserving brakes, motors and driver became as important as going fast. You can’t have a good finish if you don’t finish.
“Conserving is not one of the things I like to do but it has gotten to be a regular deal here lately. You could tell the guys who pushed too hard too soon and we picked them off as the race wore on.”
When the checkered flag finally flew the Project Semi Colon Ford had moved all the way up to 9th, the teams best finish of 2016.
“Happy Fathers Day to all our racing Dads, we’ve a got a lot of Dads in the garage that take care of all us. A solid day for our team, proud to have Amy Bleuel and her Project Semi Colon on the car with us this weekend. Amy lost her Dad to suicide and has been an advocate for suicide prevention ever since, perfect day for them to be at track. We’ve got a lot of work to do to this week to get to Winchester.
Pictures: Praytor and Bleuel with Project Semi Colon Ford.
Big Crowd at Madison International Speedway
Crushed hood and air box on Carlos
Praytor racing with Will Kimmel late in the Montgomery Ward 200