MONTGOMERY, AL (Sept. 4, 2018) – Cole Anderson and his No. 97 ATF & Gunslinger team entered Sunday’s Alabama 200 with high expectations after a summer string of successes together in pro late model competition. Montgomery Motor Speedway was the next target on their list and all indications were positive until Lady Luck cast a menacing glare on the team early in the 200-lap contest which ended their day prematurely.
Cole quickly ascended into the upper portion of the speed chart during Friday and Saturday practice sessions, working to fine tune his Toyota for the long 200-lap marathon that was to come on Sunday. The Alabama 200 is one of the longest races of the season for pro late models anywhere in the country, a division whose races typically are half the distance of Sunday’s contest, forcing teams to think about tire strategy and conservation more than usual.
Time trials for the race on Saturday evening were tight amongst the top runners, but Cole clocked in sixth fastest overall and was the beneficiary of an invert which moved him up a few more spots for the start of the race. All the preparation of the ATF & Gunslinger team seemed to be working out for the best in the early stages as Anderson methodically moved his way forward and worked toward the lead.
With barely 20 laps complete, Anderson began having issues with the throttle pedal, experiencing a weird sensation with the throttle pedal underneath his right foot. While attempting to setup a pass for the lead, the car nearly held itself wide open, forcing him to spin in order to avoid contact. There was no damage to the car, but the crew discovered a broken throttle return spring once the car returned to the pits. Ultimately, the discovery ended the day for the No. 97 team before it had barely begun.
“Overall, I’d say our weekend was pretty decent despite the issue with the throttle return spring,” Anderson said after the race. “Yes, it’s a real downer, but I thought we were close. You never know how our car would’ve compared to the eventual winner, but we were fast in practice and qualifying. We just never got to show what we were capable of in the race.
“It took the guys a minute or two to diagnose what happened to the car, but by the time we ended up on pit road, there was already one lap to the green and we would’ve been down a handful of laps trying to fix the problem,” Cole continued about the incident. “So we just didn’t have any time and decided to save the car and call it a day. We had a fast racecar, it’s still in one piece. It got pretty brutal at the end of the race, so it could have been a lot worse for us.”
Dirt racing is on the agenda for Cole Anderson the next few weeks, with a multi-day stretch of action planned for the second half of this week, followed by a trip to Canada to compete for a $10,000 winner’s purse in his modified before heading south to Florida to compete at Five Flags Speedway again in preparation for Snowball Derby weekekend on September 22.
For more information and the latest updates about Cole Anderson visit his website at ColeAndersonRacing.com. He can also be found on social media such as Facebook (@ColeAndersonRacing), Twitter (@Cole_Anderson97) and Instagram (@Cole_Anderson97).