Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki’s Steve Rapp scored another top five finish at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, charging to fourth place in the Superstock event. For Rapp, it was the five top five finishes in a row in a hot streak that includes two victories for the likeable Californian, who fought to the position from the third row of the grid. His teammates, Chris Ulrich and Matt Furtek, also completed the 17 lap event, finishing in 14th and 21st positions,
“I was disappointing to have qualified eleventh for this race after usually being on or near the front row most of the year. I have to give credit to the team because they really fixed the bike for today after we struggled a bit on Friday,” Steve said.
One of the characteristics of Rapp’s career has been his never-say-die attitude, a trait that served him well on Saturday. “Off the line, I was twelfth or 13th. After that, I slowly worked my way up to the front, picking off one guy at a time, slowly working my way up towards the front. The Michelin tires worked fine. Despite the hot weather, I had enough grip.” Steve was the fastest Superstock rider through the final split time in the race. “Still, it would have been much better if we had finished on the podium.”
Ulrich and Furtek, two riders who have struggled with injuries this season, showed grit in finishing one of the hottest Nationals of the year.
“I didn’t get the best start, then I got caught up back in the pack and the result we earned didn’t really show the progress we’ve made this weekend,” Ulrich said. “Yes, my shoulder bothered me at the end, but that’s part of racing. At the next one at Barber, I need to do a better job in qualifying so we can go to the front and get the kind of result I think the team and I deserve for our hard work this year.”
Furtek, who underwent more surgery on his troublesome wrist a month ago, faded with fitness problems related to being unable to train while recovering from surgery.
Rapp is hopeful to add to his season’s victory total at the Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama — just a short drive from the team’s home base — next month. “It would have been great to get on the podium but unfortunately we were one position short. I can’t wait ’til we get to Alabama, let’s put it that way.”