There are some noticeable changes for the Sprint Car class at Rocky Mountain Raceways in 2012 that many are talking about around the water cooler at work.
For starters, the group is no longer running under United States Auto Club (USAC) rules, as they have for the past twelve years.
However, the biggest change for the 2012 season is the fact that the wings have returned atop these magnificent machines.
These changes took much homework on the part of RMR officials and teams alike during the off-season. And thus far, it appears to be working.
Former Sprint Car champion, Todd Ellison, held the track qualifying record (with a wing) at 13.247, that dates back well over a decade. Well, that record became a thing of the past as a total of six drivers either reset or broke Ellison’s track record.
It began with T.J. Thorne (No. 56) who’s first lap broke the record with a time of 13.209. He then followed that with a lap of 13.214.
Last year’s NSRA champion, Sierra Jackson (No. 23), then broke Thorne’s record with a lap timed in at 13.165 and then 13.082.
Two qualifiers later, Bryan Warf (No. 91) bested Jackson on his second qualification lap, as he toured the 3/8-mile America First Credit Union Super Oval with a lap of 13.068.
Now the question was could anyone break into the twelve second bracket? Well, Ryan Burdett (No. 36) who finished second in points to 2011 Sprint Car and Ford Focus Midget champion Jimmy Waters, answered that question in a hurry with a record-setting lap of 12.918. (Now we are getting into Super Modified territory).
But, we were not done.
The next car was Mike Murgoitio (No. 80). The driver out of Idaho who would later dominate the feature, laid down an incredible lap of 12.654.
Below is a list of drivers in order who either broke or reset the former qualifying record:
- No. 56-T.J. Thorne: 13.209/13.214
- No. 23-Sierra Jackson: 13.165/13.082
- No. 36-Ryan Burdett-13.161/12.918
- No. 91-Bryan Warf-13.207/13.068
- No. 24-Jimmy Waters-12.961
- No. 80-Mike Murgoitio-12.654
Now let us put this lap into perspective. Troy Regier holds the current Super Modified qualifying record at 12.838. Before Saturday night, Regier had been the fastest ever on this track. That is no longer the case, as Murgoitio, who finished second to Ryan Burdett in last year’s season opening Sprint Car race at RMR, now holds that honor.
Another item worth mentioning is the amount of Sprint Cars that were in the pits for this season opening event. In 2009, the number was twelve; 2010 and 2011 was 9. The return of the wings–15 Sprint Cars were sitting in the pits to begin the night.
So, as I said, it appears to be working thus far. Of course, we will be better served to answer this question at the completion of the 2012 season. But, so far so good.
Russ Sala Jr.
Photos Courtesy of Mike Evans, www.imagesbymde.com