In his two most recent CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour attempts at Orange County Speedway and Caraway Speedway, veteran Mike Looney was among the fastest in his familiar No. 87 Harrison’s Workwear Chevrolet.
Yet on both occasions, the final results did not reflect Looney’s overall speed with finishes of 19th of 20th respectively due to recurring mechanical issues with his car.
Looney admitted that the lack of success in recent weeks has started to take both a financial and mental toll on him and his small operation.
“I’m just burnt out,” Looney said. “We worked our butts off for Orange County and didn’t get a good result. We took a week off and came back with a badass car that broke the track record at Caraway but the same thing happened again. Normally I’m ready to go on Monday but when Wednesday came around, I still didn’t want to work on the racecar.”
The mechanical problems for Looney began during the closing stages of the Old North State Nationals at Orange County, where Looney found himself in a great position to chase down Josh Berry and Deac McCaskill on the final restart.
Following contact between him and Mason Diaz moments before the green flag, Looney’s car began to sputter and he was ultimately forced to retire from the event with a fuel pickup issue inside of then laps to go.
A subsequent internal investigation did not reveal any major damage with Looney’s engine but he elected to skip the next CARS Tour event at Ace Speedway so he could exclusively focus on Caraway.
Looney proceeded to lead the first four laps of last weekend’s race at Caraway from the pole before being sidelined yet again by the same fuel pickup problem less than a quarter of a way into the 125-lap feature.
“Some ghosts from Orange County came back to haunt us,” Looney said. “We thought we had corrected the fuel pickup issues and ran 70 laps at Caraway on Wednesday, yet we still had a gremlin. We’re getting those issues taken care of now though.”
Since Looney has been unable to pinpoint the exact reason why the engine will not pick up fuel, he has elected to replace the fuel pump, the check valve and nearly every other component of the fuel cell.
Looney said that he is currently in no rush to test out the new parts on his car and is planning to enjoy Memorial Day weekend by fishing and spending time with his family as opposed to being at a race track.
Although Looney considers the next track on the CARS Tour schedule in Langley Speedway to be one of his favorites, he does not want to stretch his team’s resources too thin and has not yet fully committed to making the long trip up to Hampton, Virginia.
“We’re going to be making that decision soon because we need to get the entry form in and our motels reserved,” Looney said. “We have to get the fuel system in order and choose which engine we want to run. Hopefully a day of fishing will help me get a little more invested in working on these cars again.”
Looney added that he simply wants some good luck to fall his way in the CARS Tour and hopes to finally break through for that first victory in the next race he attempts.