MARSTONS MILLS, Massachusetts (May 1, 2018) – To borrow a famous line from music legend Jerry Lee Lewis, the Follow A Dream/Permatex Chevrolet Camaro Top Alcohol Funny Car had “a whole lotta shakin’” going on during this past weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
While shakin’ may have been good for Lewis, it wasn’t so good for the Jay Blake-owned car, as tire shake – which has been a near-constant malady throughout the early part of the 2018 season – once again reared its ugly head and prevented the team from getting past the quarterfinals.
There was other adversity, as well: the chassis broke during qualifying. However, Blake’s crack team was able to weld the chassis back together and was able to go on to win its first round match before falling in the quarterfinals to Andy Bohl of Racine, Wisconsin (who would go on to lose in the semifinals).
“We struggled all weekend,” Blake said. “We qualified 11th (out of 16 cars) and we lost in the second round. The team is very frustrated, but everybody kept their head up and working hard, determined to figure it out."
“We broke the chassis because the thing shook so hard in the last qualifying round on Saturday. Everybody worked together and we got it repaired. Dan Page of Dan Page Race Cars came over and helped, and that was great."
“We got through the first round, but that was ugly, as we ran six seconds (6.006 seconds at 180.55 mph), while the guy next to us ran 6.30 seconds (Tyler Scott, 6.316 seconds at 234.41 mph). It was lucky, but we got by."
“And then Sunday, we just shook the tires right at the hit (at the starting line). We found we had a bad set of rear tires and made some changes in the front end. So we learned some things at the end of the day that should help us in our next race, this weekend in Atlanta.”
On his way to Atlanta, Blake will have a speaking engagement Tuesday in front of several hundred students at Jordan High School in Columbus, Georgia.
Speaking of Atlanta, the Follow A Dream team will essentially be working with a clean canvas at the NHRA Southern Nationals. This is the first time Alcohol Funny Cars have raced at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, in nearly a decade.
With no data from past races there to rely upon, Blake & Co. have a very simple gameplan going into the event.
“We’re going to take Atlanta one round at a time,” Blake said. “We think we keep learning things."
“We definitely made some changes this past weekend and the car responded to some of those changes. But a couple of times, it seemed like the car didn’t change; it kept doing the same thing like before the changes we made."
“They get temperamental at times. But Anthony (chief tuner Anthony Terenzio) is working real hard and we’ll get it. We’ll get it.”