Byrne Racing Completes Roller Coaster 2006 Season And Looks Forward To 2007
Shullsburg, WI – David Byrne and his Byrne Racing team wrapped up their 2006 midget racing season December 15 at the 2nd Annual Mopar PRI Sprint and Midget Classic at the Orlando Speedworld in Orlando Florida. It was a season of ups and downs, but Byrne and his team learned a lot and are poised for a great 2007 season.
Byrnes season began back on May 21st at the USAC National midget event in Concord, North Carolina at the Concord Motorsports Park. There he finished third in his heat race but had to settle for a 17th place finish in the feature. Next it was on to Indy for the prestigious 61st Annual USAC “Coca-Cola Night Before The 500” at the O’Reilly Motorsports Park where the Byrne team had a productive test just two weeks prior. That night began with David qualifying 17th out of 48 and then finished sixth in the first of two qualifying races. In the feature Byrne started 17th and would make it up as high as tenth, but when Bryan Clausen got back by him on a late race restart, Byrne would have to settle for 11th place. The team left Indy pleased with their results and was looking forward to the remainder of the season.
June brought the Byrne Racing, Bytec, Inc., Truck Country Freightliner, Tricor Insurance, Stealth, Fontana Team a little closer to home at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois for the 50-lap UMARA/USAC/WOWMS “Salute To 7-Time Champion Mel Kenyon”. Byrne qualified ninth out of 28 and finished fifth in his heat. This would mark the first time the Byrnes had run on the “Regional tires” and though it took some getting used to, David was able to work his way from ninth place start to a sixth place finish and a great start for June.
From Grundy it was on to Raceway Park in South Bend (IN) for Ryan Newman Night on the ½ mile banked pavement oval. There Byrne qualified seventh out of 28, finished fourth in his heat and had another top ten with a seventh place finish. But the highlight of the night for Byrne’s team was when he passed NASCAR Nextel Cup star Ryan Newman and held him off for the seventh spot.
Next up was the famous Milwaukee Mile on July 21st and 22nd where David and his team looked to do well as this was the closest to home they would race. They had also done months of promotions with the Milwaukee Mile, Klondike Cheese Company and Swiss Colony for the ABC Supply Co. / A.J. Foyt Indy 225 weekend which included the Indy Racing League, USAC Silver Crown Series and the USAC and UMARA National Midgets. Friday the team battled brake problems all day, but got them repaired before the main event on Saturday. In the 25-lap main event Byrne spun going into turn two on lap six, relegating him to the rear of the field. On the restart Byrne again showed adjustments made to the springs Saturday morning were good ones, as he quickly passed car after car working his way up to as high as eleventh place when the caution flag flew again.
The mid-race caution would prove unlucky for the Byrne team. On the restart Byrne’s car wasn’t firing right, forcing him to the pits and ending his run at another USAC top ten. “We think it was the battery that caused the problem, but we won’t be sure until we get it home to take a look at the electrical system” said Byrne. “We easily had a top ten car today until that caution came out. Even after that spin the car just felt great, it just stinks that we had that problem today.”
August was probably the highlight month of the season for Byrne. He began the month back at Grundy on August 5th for the UMARA Bob Corson Memorial where he qualified third quick, finished third in his heat and finished second to Brian Olson in the 40-lap feature. The following week at Grundy he was second quick in qualifying, finished second in his heat and finished third in the 30-lap feature. At the Grundy season finale on August 19th the UMARA/USAC/WOWMS Illinois State Midget Championship, Byrne was third quick in the quickest field ever at the 1/3 mile paved oval, where half of the 26 car field clocked in at under 15 seconds. He finished second in his heat race and was running down the leader in the 40-lap main event when the drive belt on his oil pump shredded and sent him to the pits where he would have to settle for 17th place on the night. Byrne admitted “Its just so frustrating having these little things bite us every time we have a good run. My Stealth/Fontana powered car was absolutely great all night. I think we had at least a second place car tonight because I was faster than Gough early on and I pulled away from Olson. I was just going to let things settle out and then try to make my move past Gough.”
One month later at the brand new Iowa Speedway in Newton Iowa Byrne would again finish 17th in the main after qualifying 14th. This time the engine developed a miss after two laps and rather than take a chance on hurting the motor, David pulled into the pits. They decided there, that they would send the engine in to be freshened up, and would have to miss the USAC event at Kyle Texas and the USAC/UMARA season finale at Berlin Speedway in Marne Mich.
He then finished up his 2006 season in Orlando last month, where he qualified ninth, his best for a USAC National event to date, and finished 13th in the main event. After the race Byrne said, “We were running 10th with five to go, but we put to much fuel in the car before the race and with five to go I got a little lose getting into the corner and the three cars behind me, who had been running nose to tail and had less fuel load, all drove under me and I wasn’t able to get back by them.”
Mechanical woes would be the theme for the Byrne team throughout the season, it seemed that every time David had a great run something would happen to either slow him or relegate him to the pits. But Byrne and his team had several strong finishes late in the season and are making several off-season changes to hopefully limit the mechanical issues in 2007.
Looking beyond the mechanical issues of ’06 they are pleased with those strong runs the second half of the season and are already looking forward to the start of the ’07 season.