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This race contained one hell of a comeback drive. Two spins to avoid car contact on lap one put me firmly at the back and to drive up to third? Awesome.

I put in a qualifying time of 2:12.597 the previous day and felt pretty well tuned with the Skip Barber Formula 2000 around VIRginia International Raceway. The qualifying time put me second on the grid and being the tenth-rated driver I knew this was a field rated well above me… I was looking forward to taking advantage of my liking of VIR.

I noticed the third-place car creeping shortly before the green light and knew that he had jumped the start, I knew that I just needed to concentrate on not screwing up the first turn and I’d be in a great position to challenge for the lead later in the lap. Unfortunately that perfect start was taken from me when going into the turn I noticed the second-place car getting closer and closer to mine… I had no choice but to run off the track. It was either a spin or certain car contact followed by probable damage – and a spin.

I recovered and rejoined in last-place (12th). I quickly set about catching the pack as I knew that at this stage they’d still be bunched together and forcing each other to run slower than they were capable of alone. It didn’t take long before I caught the pack and moved past two cars going into the final couple of turns; Unfortunately into the final turn the car ahead had to brake sharply to avoid the car ahead of him, forcing me to react and yet again I was spinning off into the grass to avoid them. I crossed the line to end lap one in ninth-place, infront of the driver who had damaged their cars in the final corner.

I crossed the line to start lap two in seventh-place and considering I didn’t pass anybody, assumed this was due to crashes ahead of me I didn’t see.

Ending the third lap I was closing in on the battle for fifth when I saw them both spin ahead of me: Very similar to what I had to do in the NASCAR Class D race I ran this week I split the two spinning cars, missing each by a very small distance and crossing the line to start lap four in fifth.

I pushed really hard from lap four to lap eight, setting faster laptimes on each lap. By lap eight I caught the battle for third-place and after seeing how quickly I had closed them down, was given fourth-place by one of the cars ahead. It took another lap before I got close enough to the third-place car to make a pass attempt and when I did, he simply ran off the road. I think he didn’t think there was room – although I left him plenty – but whatever, I was in third-place.

I continued to push hard, hoping something might happen to the first or second-place cars to move me further up the finishing order, but it wasn’t to be. I finished third and still think that was an awesome result.

I set my fastest time on lap 14 of 14, a 2:11.932. I had four incidents (from two spins) in the race and took home 84 championship points.


Watch on Youtube.

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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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