The 32nd running of the US Indoor Championships was held recently in Cleveland, Ohio and Keven Hébert gave this report. As the longest-running and most prestigious event in on-road racing, this is THE race to attend for on-road racers. Every year the race features a challenging layout and this year was no different. Set up in the hotel ballroom, the smooth high-traction layout was conducive to great racing. The schedule called for three rounds of practice on Thursday, followed by three rounds of qualifying on Friday, and three more on Saturday. All main events were scheduled for Sunday.
On Thursday, the first practice runs were used to shake down my cars and to learn the layout. But after running all three cars the first time (Mod TC, 17.5 SS TC, and Mod 1/12), it was apparent that all had too much steering and were driving “on the nose” more than I am used to, so I ended up making a few minor changes to make the car easier to drive. By the end of the day, my cars were much better and I was confident heading into qualifying.
I had not run Super Stock 17.5 TC since the IIC in early October, so it took a couple of qualifiers to find the right power combination for my LRP SXX Stock Spec ESC. However, after six rounds of qualifying, I was TQ by a few seconds over second qualifier Martin and third qualifier Andrew Hardman. Both looked fast and would be contenders in the A Main. Modified TC qualifying went equally as well. A lot of setup improvements throughout qualifying allowed me to take the fastest time every round. Martin and Andrew were again second and third but this time Andrew held a slight advantage and would start second.
Modified 1/12 was the most competitive class of the weekend for me. Even though I was TQ in the first five rounds, the last round would determine the pole sitter, as it usually does. While I had a mechanical failure, teammate Mike Blackstock drove a near perfect run to claim TQ by a little over 2 seconds. I would have to settle for second on the grid with Paul Ciccarello in third.
Sunday’s main events started early with Super Stock TC the first of my three mains. My TC6.1 was great throughout qualifying and things would be no different in the A Main. At the start tone I was able to get away clean and thanks to a tangle between second and third place on lap 2, I built a 4-second lead and I was able to drive the rest of the race conservatively to secure the win. The Modified TC A Main followed the same script. Another clean start lead to a 4-second lead that I was able to maintain for the rest of the race for my second win of the day.
The last and toughest race of the day was Modified 1/12. I knew that a good start was crucial so that I could stay in touch with Blackstock and keep the pressure on him. We both had a clean start and ran a second apart for the first two minutes until a bobble by Blackstock allowed me to close in our cars to touch. Mike kept the lead but on the next lap he missed the corner coming in the sweeper and the resulting contact with the boards ended his race. With Mike out, I was able to maintain a ¾ lap advantage for the rest of the race and take my third win of the weekend.