I can’t really say that I came out of this race feeling very happy. In the warm up I had literally had to slam the brakes to avoid someone who was all over the track and in the race I felt like this person had cost me a place in the race. But, after a day or so I had relaxed a lot and after watching my replay I found myself realizing that nobody blocked me on purpose or even meant to slow me down, it could just as easily have been me who they helped instead of hindered. It wasn’t just the one person either, it seemed from he replay like every time I passed a car it was in the worst place to do it and I’d had to run a totally different line around the racetrack to pass them.
I set a qualifying time just before the event, setting a reasonable 16.967 in the 7:00 am session. This put me 9th on the grid in a field of 13 where I was iRated 7th (and carried the number 7 also). I felt like I’d be able to finish 7th or perhaps higher, so just set that as my target.
Even on the parade laps prior to the green I felt like this was going to be a bad race… The person on the outside line had decided he was going to warm up his tires and I actually had to back off an entire car-length to avoid contact! Anyway, I’m sure that 0.1 of a degree he built up really helped…
I got a really nice start and had moved into 6th by the end of the first lap. I had had a little door to door contact with Michael Cotchin on the first lap (totally my fault with me having drifted up), but it caused no damage and didn’t seem to slow either of us too much. I held 5th for two laps until Gary Chambers managed to get by, but to my frustration it looked like he had burned his tyres out to get past me, because he seemed to immediately slow down, so I set my sights on passing him back as soon as possible… Just as I lined up to pass Chambers, Szabó Tamás (who had been pressuring me hard from behind) spun out after contact with another car. This left me with little pressure from behind and by the end of the lap I had passed Chambers, moving back into 6th.
On lap 16 while trying to chase down David Beattie ahead of me I was unfortunate enough to see him make contact with another car, blocking the track ahead of me… With a bit of skillful braking and slow-speed steering though I did manage to sneak my way through with no damage, but lost so much time to the cars ahead, I knew I was unlikely to be able to catch them, so immediately settled for my newly held 4th place.
I remained in 4th until lap 44 when I became slowed greatly while passing backmarkers and found myself under sudden pressure from Beattie. He managed to find a place to pass after I’d had to mess up a turn to make a pass, but feeling like I was faster, I didn’t give up. We traded position a few times, but caught more cars later on at the wrong time for me and that was effectively an end to the battle, I crossed the line in 5th place behind Beattie.
So yeah, a little dissapointed, a little frustrated, but that’s what short track oval racing is going to do to you. Although every place we caught a backmarker didn’t seem to help me, it could just have easily been the other way around… Besides, it’s just as probable that I dealt with the cars badly as it is that they dealt with me badly.
I set my fastest lap, a 16.593, on lap 18. My only incident of the race was the first lap car contact.
The only real positive that I took from the race was that I had now moved into 6th place in my division, just two spots behind real-life NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Marcos Ambrose… That feels pretty cool because I actually watched this guy in the Australian V8’s before he made the move over to the United States.