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A pretty disappointing end to what looked like being a race I was very competitive. It’s always frustrating to be taken out in someone else’s wreck that you can’t avoid but I suppose that’s racing. At least I’m not one of those hoping to win a championship having joined part-way through the season.

The video really tells the story, but the basics are that I had a nice stable setup, was about 0.3s slower in qualifying, but didn’t expect to be far off during race conditions. Judging by practice I also seemed more capable of running without spinning than just about everyone else on the race track: If I held my car to the third or fourth lane up, I knew I would never spin out.

The Ford Mustang FR500S pace car pulls onto pit road for the race start...

The Ford Mustang FR500S pace car pulls onto pit road for the race start...

So I qualified ninth, 0.277s behind the pole with a lap time of 22.769. I got a decent start and through various incidents ahead of me moved into fifth-place by lap seven. I stayed fifth until lap 26 when I came onto pit road under caution and right behind the leaders, I restarted sixth.
One of those 'various incidents' as Brian Simpson spins out ahead of me.

One of those 'various incidents' as Brian Simpson spins out ahead of me.

I held onto sixth-place until lap 33 and felt incredibly comfortable running with the leaders.

I started to focus on Ryan and try to use him to help me stay consistent and this backfired in a big way when a Daniel Olszewski spin ahead of him bypassed my attention until it was too late… I’m pretty sure nothing I did differently would have helped (as Ryan made contact with Daniel before I touched him) but I still think my reactions were a bit slow and when Daniel spun both Ryan and myself were collected… The chain reaction also caught out Cary Bettenhausen and Kevin Cress who both spun out in avoidance, Kevin getting the worst of it as he slammed into the wall.

Daniel's unlucky number 13 waited until lap 34 to strike us down...

Daniel's unlucky number 13 car waited until lap 34 to strike us down...

That was it: Race over. Extremely disappointed to have ended that way considering how competitive I felt. Not at all happy with a 13th-place finish and a DNF.

Fin Sta Driver Interval Led Fast Lap
1 4 Yang Ou 120 Laps 90 22.955
2 11 Scott Manifold -18.092 0 23.309
3 18 Bryan Heitkotter -22.391 0 23.246
4 20 Daniel Ensch -1 Laps 0 23.225
5 8 Tim Doyle -3 Laps 4 22.990
6 15 Vincent Sciuto -3 Laps 0 23.540
7 16 Todd Bettenhausen -39 Laps 0 23.328
8 7 Niles Anders -55 Laps 0 23.118
9 14 Gary Clark -56 Laps 6 23.395
10 13 Cary Bettenhausen -62 Laps 0 23.615
11 19 Kevin Cress -71 Laps 0 23.773
12 22 Scott Thrasher -76 Laps 0 23.549
13 9 Timothy Wheatley -86 Laps 0 23.216
14 2 Ryan Murray -86 Laps 20 23.129
15 10 Daniel Olszewski -87 Laps 0 23.376
16 1 Tim Holgate -97 Laps 0 23.393
17 21 Ryan Perezluha -103 Laps 0 23.665
18 17 Ben Bretzman -103 Laps 0 24.352
19 12 Brian R Simpson -114 Laps 0 24.521
20 6 Billy Wease -119 Laps 0 n/a
21 3 Larry Foyt -119 Laps 0 n/a
22 5 Kyle Krisiloff -120 Laps 0 n/a

Watch on Youtube.

Still, after seeing that I managed to set the sixth fastest lap of the race (right behind Ryan and then others who went way further into the race), I’m really hoping I’ll be able to catch a break and use my oval competitiveness to full-effect at Richmond next week. It should be a night race so that should make things interesting with an all-black paint scheme…

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British-born U.S. Resident, Tim Wheatley, works for Image Space Inc., a developer of driver-in-the-loop simulation technology. He lives in Illinois with his wife and children.
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