The Zloop 150 at Kentucky Speedway was the realization of a 12-year old's racing dream for Hixson's Thomas “Moose” Praytor. As part of the Outdoor Channel film crew, Kentucky was the site of Praytor’s first ARCA race and the beginning of a dream of competing in the most versatile driving series in the world.
The last of a 10 consecutive race week stretch, the Zloop 150 marked the return of “Batman” the Hixson Motorsports/Max Force Racing preferred down force chassis that was lost in the first of the 10 race stretch at Chicago.
Performance Vehicle Works in North Carolina spent the last few weeks working overtime to not just repair but replace the Realtor car from the rear of the roof to the back bumper. With such an extensive repair the team did not get the car back until after Salem and the thrashing was on with just three days to prepare for Kentucky.
“We knew we were pushing it to get Batman ready for Kentucky but it’s our best Realtor car and with two races left in the season we’re doing everything we can to stay in the top 10 in the Championship standings,” said Praytor. “Doug Thompson from our road crew came back to Mobile with us from Salem and we were wide open with our Mobile guys. Late Tuesday night we realized the motor and transmission in the car that we originally thought survived the wreck in Chicago didn’t.”
The Mobile crew spent Wednesday pulling out the motor and transmission while the Soddy Daisy crew prepped the new motor and the backup car, just in case. Late Wednesday early Thursday morning the Mobile crew arrived in Soddy Daisy with Batman.
On Thursday the backup motor that wasn’t 100% complete was finished and installed in the car. The team then went to work on finishing the setup and prepping the car for the Zloop 150. At 11:00 on Thursday night the trailer door was closed in Soddy Daisy and the team arrived in Kentucky at 5:30 AM on Friday morning. A couple of hours of sleep and the garage was open for a busy 1 day show.
“We rolled out of the trailer in Kentucky and had no clue what we had. Our motors usually go to the chassis dyno at Roush-Yates, this one hadn’t and the entire drive train had been replaced. Basically, the car had been taken completely apart and put back together with no laps on it and I had never turned a lap at Kentucky. We had a lot of unknowns.”
The first tentative laps on the Realtor Ford will not go down in racing history as anything other than slow, really slow. “After we shook the car down we just weren’t very good, the car wasn’t working well and I was struggling with the bumpy race track.”
Mobile’s Grant Enfigner was parked one garage over with his Team BCR group fresh off their win from Iowa. Howard Bixman Team BCR owner, or as we call him 1800CREWCHIEF stepped in to help the Scotts Rookie of the Year Candidate.
“Howard put his healing hands on our Realtor Ford and we immediately started to get better, a lot better.” Praytor’s lap times improved 5 seconds during the last half of practice. “I think if we had given Howard another hour he would have had us on the pole.”
Rain washed out qualifying and the race on Friday and the Realtor car would roll of 11th based on 2013 owner’s points on Saturday allowing the team to get some much needed rest.
The start of the Zloop 150 would be a 160 MPH dance with extremely fast cars in the back of the field that didn’t have owner’s points. “The start was interesting at best but it didn’t take long for our Realtor car to find its footing. With each lap I was able to keep pushing harder and we picked up another second over our practice times and we had a competitive racecar.”
The Realtor car dodged some serious bullets with wrecks that happened just in front of or beside Praytor. With 30 laps to go the Realtor Ford got really loose going in to turn 3, the right rear had been punctured by debris. Praytor brought the car to pit road under green and while the tire was replaced the team lost valuable laps and would finish 19th.
“Our race team over came so much this week the flat tire was a heart breaker. I know 19th doesn’t sound like a good finish but with everything that happened this week I’m really proud of our race team and their effort. Our Realtor Ford was solid and we can use what we learned at Kentucky to build for the finale in Kansas. Our goal has been the top 10 and we’re going to do everything we can to stay there.”
Originally scheduled for just three races in 2013 the joint effort of Hixson Motorsport and Max Force Racing has spent most of the season in the top 10 in the Championship standings, currently eighth with just one race remaining.