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Larry Jacinto Racing returns to race the legendary Mint 400

12bitd_mint400_jacinto01Las Vegas, NV – On hiatus since 2010, Jacinto Racing was like many who could not resist the call to race the Mint 400. The Mint is legendary for both its pre-race festivities held in downtown Las Vegas on Fremont Street and the brutality that the Nevada desert dishes out on race day. It’s a true test of a team’s ability to come prepared and to persevere when the going gets tough, two qualities that the team has in abundance. You can tell at first glance the team takes a lot of pride in what they do. The transporter, chase trucks and their beautiful Porter unlimited race car are always beautifully prepared. Team owner Larry Jacinto likes it only one way, “top notch”. The car was not just dusted off for the race, they did their typical race prep which entails taking it down to the bare frame, cleaning and inspecting every nut and bolt, sending the transmission and the shocks out for service and then carefully re-assembling the car making sure everything is tight and right. When they show up for a race, they mean business.

The freshly prepped car was then taken out testing where they monitored temperatures and made fine adjustments to the King shocks, picking up some additional speed. One more final check was performed and the car was loaded up and taken to Kroyer Racing Engines for a dyno run. The motor was nice and healthy so they headed out to the race.

The team’s first test once they arrived at the race would be during qualifying. The unlimited vehicles all get a reconnaissance lap to check out the course and then they line up again for a one lap dash to see where they start on race day. Driver Jake Johnson did his first lap and while waiting to qualify he jumped in Sam Baldi’s car to give him a little extra perspective on his reconnaissance lap. There was a large hole on the course that had already claimed a few drivers. As it does in racing, sometimes even when you know it’s coming, it still gets you. This was the case with Sam. He and Jake hit that hole a little too fast and rolled the car several times. Luckily, the two were not injured but Jake still needed to get back to the starting line to qualify the Jacinto car. Many drivers would have backed off having just crashed minutes before but Jake was driving for the whole team and couldn’t let them down. He pushed hard and qualified in tenth spot.

12bitd_mint400_jacinto02The strategy on race day was to run steady for the first few laps to get a feel for the course and then open it up if the opportunity presents itself. Jake and co-driver Willy Clark would start side-by-side with Justin Davis. At the drop of the flag they beat Justin to the first turn which meant Justin would have to eat their dust. When you are running up front, everyone is fast, the racing is tough. Jake would spend a couple laps swapping positions back and forth with Davis and Mikey Childress. On lap three Davis was not in the mix but Childress had gotten by when they stopped to pit. The team topped off the fuel and put some fresh BFG’s on for the last lap. They ran all day without a flat but these unlimited cars are so powerful they actually wear down the tread on the tires. They left the pits ready to go all out if they had to. They came past the main pits and spotted their prey. Childress was still pitting as they went past. They were now the second unlimited car on course behind Robby Gordon, third overall.

Just when everything was falling into place for a podium finish the racing gremlins struck. They noticed the radio was cutting out and the voltage gauge was reading low. The main cable from the alternator to the battery had come loose and rubbed against the frame. The alternator was fried and the battery was quickly losing juice. They began shutting off everything they could hoping to make it to the next pit. They just made it to pit one when the car shut off. They had not made it into their own pit but they were in a legal spot to work on the car. The pit crew jumped right in and changed the bad parts. The car was back on course in only 18 minutes but in the meantime several cars and trucks had passed them. They sprinted to the finish but the down time dropped them from second to sixth in class and eleventh place overall.

12bitd_mint400_jacinto04Desert racing is incredible on so many levels but it can also be cruel. The team did not get their podium finish but they still came away with a lot to be proud of.

www.larryjacintoracing.com

Photography By Brian Binkert
Bink Designs – www.binkdesigns.com

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