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I invested in some aluminum wheels (instead of the wire spokes I'd been using) and some Hoosier race tires. As we dialed in the tire pressures using a pyrometer I was able to whittle down my lap times. Last year (wire wheels/street radials) I was averaging 2:42 with a best lap of 2:40.5 (3.27 mile road course). Today I got down to 2:36.8. Unfortunately during the last race today I also got my first DNF. Exiting VIR's turn 10 - a fast left hand turn - I felt the engine stumble then saw a cloud of smoke from up front. I cut the ignition and coasted off the track. After a flat tow back to the paddock we winched the car back on the trailer and headed for home (a 45 minute drive). Once home I got a good look around. No holes in the block, all coolant hoses intact but some milky oil on the underside of the valve cover. My guess is blown head gasket. Hopefully no other damage and quick refresh & new gasket will have me ready for the Jefferson 500.
Here's a photo from the false grid - waiting to be waved out on the track. And one of my grandson Joey who was thrilled with a ride from the paddock to the false grid.