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Clinical Racing Pushes And Places Second At MORE PCI 300

It was time to head back to the desert and take on the fourth race of the 2023 MORE season. Clinical Racing headed to Soggy Dry Lake Bed in Johnson Valley, California, to battle and keep their class points lead.

This year’s PCI Race Radios 300 would comprise of three 64-mile laps for Class 2000. Something different for this year’s race was a joker section each team had to take on one of their laps, which would take them through a two-mile sandy section.

Once on the lakebed, the team prepared to go prerunning and prep for the race when they discovered issues with the steering system. The truck did not feel right as they drove it doing a shakedown.

The team worked to check and adjust the alignment when, after a quick drive pulling into camp, a high-pressure power steering hose that went from the steering box to the ram blew off. With power steering fluid everywhere, the team scrambled to find any extra parts they had brought to fix the problem.

Luckily, a spare high-pressure line was brought, and the problem was fixed. After a couple more test runs, the team got the truck feeling manageable, called it a night, and rested for race day. With no time to prerun the course, the team knew they had an uphill battle when the green flag dropped.

Clinical Racing drew the fourth starting position during the live drawing. With one of the lead trucks not showing up, the team would take off the line against the no. 2007 of Tyler Pullen, the same truck they took off the line with twice at Glen Helen. The green flag dropped, and Clinical Racing pulled in front on the first turn and headed out to the desert.

“The truck felt great off the start of the race and into the long whoop section,” Clinical Racing driver Steven Olsewski said. “It was great to put the issues we had the day before behind us and focus on the race.”

The team opted to take the Joker section on the first lap to get it out of the way and before it got too beat up from everyone else taking it. After the Joker section, the team headed towards Melville Dry Lake, then Hammertown, before paralleling the 29 Palms Marine Corps Base.

Making quick time on the race's first half set the team up for a good spot, entering the roughest part of the course. Around race mile 57, the team had caught up to the no. 2037 of Richard Oja. The battle for the first place position ensued, and after a few miles, the no. 2037 had let Clinical Racing pass.

“Once we got in front of Oja, I knew that we had to continue to push as they would be right on our tail,” Olsewski said. “We pushed harder than we should have, not knowing the terrain from being unable to prerun, but we had no choice at that point.”

Around race mile 59, there was a small canyon section that had a quick left, then right before you climbed out. The team came in hot to the first left and went straight over some large rocks.

Getting out of the canyon and heading back to the main pit, the steering on the truck felt off, and the steering wheel was clocked to the right. Travis Vallo, co-driver in the Clinical Racing truck, radioed into the pit, letting them know they would stop in to get a once over on the truck after the hit.

Pulling into the pit didn’t get any easier for the team as a swarm of bees flew around. The bees had made a home in a nearby vehicle as their queen had been stuck on the radiator. Running around the vehicle swatting bees the Clinical Racing pit crew gave the thumbs up and set the truck on its way, with only one team member getting bit.

While Clinical Racing was in the pits, the no. 2037 passed and retook the first-place position. The team headed back out and knew they needed to make up ground to catch the no. 2037.

On the second lap, Olsewski hunkered down and pushed the truck through the Johnson Valley desert. They had no issues on the second lap and put down their fastest lap time.

Coming around to start the third lap, the team was debating on stopping to add fuel, but to make up time and push for the first-place position, they did not stop. The hard hit on the steering still plagued the truck as they could not open it up in any section without risk of damaging more.

Around race mile 32, the team spotted Fern from Fern’s Semi-Famous BBQ and pulled up to them to have them help swap a tire that was going flat. The brutal hit earlier in the race put stress on the wheel, and almost all the beadlock bolts had broken.

Back on their way, Olsewski and Vallo could pick up the pace and try to make up the time they had lost from stopping. Just as they settled in, they heard a loud banging and vibration.

It kept getting louder and more prominent no matter what they did to the truck. Originally it felt like a driveline vibration, but it was louder, so they pulled over only to discover the passenger rear top shock mount had pulled off the truck. Olsewski and Vallo pulled the shock off the truck, strapped it into the rear cab, and kept going.

With 30 miles to the finish line, they got the truck back up to almost race speed despite the rear of the truck bouncing around more. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride, but the team was determined to finish.

Pushing through the Johnson Valley desert, the team crossed the finish line in second place. It was a well-deserved finish, given the team's troubles all weekend.

“This was a true team effort today,” Olsewski said. “From the guys in the pits checking the truck on the first lap, our friends on the side of the course helping when we pulled up next to them, to Travis and I having to get out of the truck to pull the rear shock, it took everyone today to get us across the line. Despite our issues today, we still finished the race and took home second place.”

Clinical Racing is heading to SEMA next, as the truck will be displayed in Bend-Tech’s booth in the South Upper Hall. After that, the team heads to Barstow, California, at the beginning of December for the final race of the MORE season. The championship will come down to the final weekend, so there will definitely be some close desert racing.

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