By Wednesday afternoon the 42nd and final driver will be Tim Emick, who some argue will have the best opportunity after watching the 41 drivers before him complete the course. “I think this is the first time I am happy to go last,” said Tim Emick, whose brother Dustin Emick will be co-driving. “Only time will tell if we are really lucky though, it all depends on what the tracks are like after the 41 people before me.”
The Last Chance Qualifier has a lot of names that are familiar with King of the Hammers. Ian McGlynn, Cottin Rodd and Larry Gipson all raced in the 2009 Griffin King of the Hammers main race last year and are still trying to qualify for this years race. There is also a group of seven that competed in last years LCQ who are trying their luck again including Brandon Johnson, Troy Bailey, James Andrus, Brandon Davis, Loren Healey, Jose Ponce and Josh Patt.
There are 33 names on the 4 Wheel Parts Last Chance Qualifier list that have never competed in the event before. Trophy Truck driver Curt Leduc and NHRA Pro Sportsman Drag Racer Les Figueroa are included among them. Les comments, “This is a huge challenge not knowing what to expect, it’s the most homework I have ever done for a race, it’s a lot different than going really fast, and trying to stay straight! Luckily, we will be going in the first day and if we do well that will give us an extra day to prepare for Friday’s race and be successful.”
There is quite a bit of strategy that will go into the qualifying process. Drivers will not only want to be in the qualifying group, but will be conscious of what position within the 21 they end up. As part of the Main Race starting draw, the LCQ starting positions were determined as well. For example, the Last Chance Qualifier that finishes in the 8th place, will take the 3rd position on the Main Race starting grid. Whereas, the driver that gets a better time in the LCQ and finishes 4th has a Main Race starting position of 94th! David Smiley who will race on day two said, “we will watch for times and try to position us the best as possible, although we know there are still a lot of drivers behind us that could throw it off. We will watch on Tuesday and change and firm up our strategy depending on what we see during Day 1 Qualifying.”
The course this year is a grueling 6 miles. It starts by zig zagging up and around Means Butte and then increases speed through some fast desert to the Back Door obstacle that was the center of attention last year. Once the driver clears Back Door, they have a stretch of fast yet large whoops to handle and then go down Trap Door. As Back Door is a vertical climb, Trap Door is a vertical fall. Competitors will finish off the course with a very fast and fun desert section that has some serious potential for overdriving. As a spectator, it is good that there are two days of qualifying so you can move to different locations to see all the action. See the entire course rolled out at http://vimeo.com/9059027
Every spot in the Griffin King of the Hammers has been earned, but those that qualify through this final process could be called Knights of Armor. They are attempting to race two of the most challenging races back to back with only a day in between.
A section by section presentation of the 4 Wheel Parts Last Chance Qualifier can be watched at: http://vimeo.com/9059027