By Bill W
June 2, 2011 – Kaley Gharst was back in action at the Knoxville Raceway in the family #8 last Saturday night. After leading the first three laps, the Decatur, Illinois driver was plagued with power steering issues the rest of the way. This weekend, he’ll be back with the Sprint Invaders in the Plath Motorsports #14P at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa. He is the all-time leading feature winner with both the series and its races at the 3/8-mile oval.
Kaley would post the 15th quick time of the night amongst the 31-car field. “We had an issue in qualifying with the wing valve,” he says. “The wing went all the way back, so we were definitely a little tight there.”
Kaley started outside row two for his heat race. “We were decent in the heat and came out of there third,” he says. “The invert was in our favor and we got to start on the front row of the feature.”
The raceway was in fine shape for the feature. “The track was really good,” says Kaley. “There was a good top and a good bottom. Even the middle was working late in the feature.”
Kaley rocketed out to an early lead from his pole position, but a red flag with three laps in the books changed the complexion of the event. “We got off to a good start and got out front there,” he says. “We had the red flag, and we stumbled a little bit on the restart and let (Dustin) Selvage get by us.”
Then the trouble started. “After that, the power steering pump blew a seal and started leaking fluid,” says Kaley. “The steering pump started going away, and it got worse as the race went on. I wanted to run the middle late in the race, but I just couldn’t hold onto it. We had to hold on and run the top.”
Still he held onto a strong finish in his first night out in an Eagle chassis. “We were lucky to hang onto sixth,” says Kaley. “We were falling quickly, and I was glad to see the checkers when I saw them. I was just about ready to pull off. It was getting hard to turn.”
Why #8? “Dad couldn’t find any #44’s that he thought looked good, so we went with the #8,” says Kaley. “We had a brand new Eagle chassis, and for the first night out, things went decent. Things started a little slow with the wing slider, and we ended with the power steering problem.”
The car ran strong enough to finish on the podium. “I think we had a shot,” says Kaley. “I believe we had at least a top three car. I guess that is coulda, shoulda, woulda. We’ll be back (to Knoxville) at Nationals time.”
Kaley will look to grab another victory with the Sprint Invaders at Lee County Speedway Friday night. It would be #6!
Keep an eye on Kaley’s progress this week and beyond at www.KaleyGharst.com!
If you would like to receive Kaley’s weekly releases, send an e-mail with the subject line “Kaley” to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kaley and car owners Randy and Lori Plath would like to thank Sebastian Powder Coating and Sandblasting, Holtkamp Truck and Trailer Repair, Nelson’s Catering, Pieper Inc., Lange Chiropractic, Rockstar Graphics, Scott Performance, Midland Performance, Winters Performance Products and GPC Race Products.