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Still a week down in the points I knew I wanted to get a big point haul. I figure that if I can get in a position to challenge for the lead in my division while I still have a week in-hand, there’s nothing anybody can do to get rid of me. Besides, Concord is my favorite track in the Late Model!

I ran a qualifying session for Concord early in the week and set a 16.800 – my best ever lap around this unique 3-turn oval. I felt good, I felt confident… Perhaps too confident!

I ran two races this week, the first would end up as a drop-week but was my best opportunity to score big points. I was in a position to win and I threw it away with a silly error. My good qualifying effort (11th fastest in my division) had placed me 2nd on the grid.

Edited Highlights of this dropped race.

I got an awesome start and by lap 9 was holding firm in 2nd-place. We had just started to get into traffic when I came out of turn one a little sideways and was unable to react in time to save it… I gently slid into the inside wall and had to wait for the entire field to go by. I didn’t even get an incident point as it was such a slow, lurid slide I guess the system didn’t think it was possible! By the time I rejoined, I had just been lapped by the car in 3rd. I was in 11th-place.

I kept lapping, really just so that I could build some safety rating. What really made me feel bad during the race is that I kept up with the car in 3rd-place the entire race with ease and eventually finished in 6th-place due to my passes and other people’s crashes.

I ran a later race and expected to only pull low points as the strength of field was much higher, I was starting 7th and was in car number 12… I expected that during the race I would be ran all over by faster cars… As it turned out though, things worked miraculously in my favor.

Edited highlights of race.

I got a good start, but crossed the line in 8th-place to start the race, though I had passed for 7th by the end of lap one.

On lap 3, coming out of turn one I so very, very nearly spun in exactly the same place I had on my dropped race – felt very lucky. I still looked to be within striking distance of the leader at this point as we were all lined up and racing very tightly.

By lap 5 I had two faster cars running right behind me. I decided to let them go and ran high in the turn. They both quickly slipped by and this dropped me to 9th.

I had noticed again here at Concord that I run a lot lower than other cars, especially in the final turn. This helped a lot when on lap 10 I came around the turn to see slow cars and smoke. I stayed low and to my surprise saw cars go flying by on the high side. I guess they wanted to be involved in the crash and they definately got their wish. I crossed the line that lap in 11th-place, but when the positions shook out I was in 8th behind cars which looked damaged.

I took my time, I felt there was absolutely no rush getting by these damaged cars and knew that the way they were bouncing off the wall was eventually going to end their race. In addition to that, people kept throwing perfectly healthy cars into the wall (or each other) too and by lap 14 I was 6th, lap 16 in 5th, lap 18 in 4th and by lap 19 I had got all the way into 3rd-place. I had no chance of finishing higher because the two cars ahead had lapped me earlier in the race when I had slowed down for a crash – and they didn’t.

From laps 19 to 50 things went relatively quiet. I set my fastest lap of 16.810 on lap 25 and ran incident free all the way. Looking at the stats after the race I was delighted to see that I became the highest scoring person in my division for that week with 114 points. Things were starting to look good…

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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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