Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more stressful 3 hours in my life. Possibly an exam at some point, but I’ve blocked all of that out by now.
Suffice to say, that wasn’t quite the way we drew it up. We did intent to run around in the back, but a bad first stop caused us to loose the draft. And then the inconceivable lack of caution for the first 125 laps caused us to fall a lap down. Then we found ourselves right in the middle of the pack, which is where we were trying to avoid being, only a lap down. It didn’t look good. We had a real battle with the 43, 3 and 95 for the lucky dog, and fortunately we were the first car a lap down when the caution came out.
Though if anything, being on the lead lap made it more stressful. When we were a lap down we were out of it, and didn’t really seem like we had a shot. When we were battling and bouncing around from P8 to P20 and back, we were in and out and back in the top 8. Then we had a round of green flag pit stops, and that really calmed everything down. It split the leaders up into 2 single file packs, and I really hoped it would stay that way. We could have rode around in 7th and finished there and been happy. And then the 1 blew up, and changed everything.
That setup, in theory, 1 shot at a green-white-checker finish, as per the rules set specifically for this race. At this point, I became aware (perhaps others already knew?) that the 4 was in trouble. Their motor wouldn’t run very well. And he was already right around the bubble. On the first restart attempt he pretty much pulled over out of the way and fell back immediately. Though, apparently, that wasn’t actually a restart. Even though the green light turned on and the flag waved, we didn’t make it to the start finish line. The 17 was pushing us so hard that we go into the 48 too hard, and he spun coming out of the tri-oval.
We rode around for a few laps under caution, trying to figure out what was going on. Eventually Nascar decided that didn’t count as an attempt at a restart, and we would line back up and go again. So we re-restarted 7th I believe, again with the 17 behind. At some point, I guess the 4 figured out that dropping straight back was going to knock him out of the championship. So on the next re-start, he hit and spun the first car that passed him. Though this time we did actually make it to the start finish line under green before that happened. So we raced through 1 and 2 before the caution came out for the final time.
I’m not actually sure if we finished 7th or 8th at the moment, but I believe we wound up 6th in points. Such a feeling of relief to survive that place and make it to the next round. I’m exhausted, hopefully I’ll sleep well tonight, assuming the adrenaline has gone down a bit by then.
So on to Martinsville, the last short track (and semi wild card) of the year. We had a good run there in the spring, hopefully we can back that up. The big thing will be to stay out of trouble and get a solid top 10 finish. The net round should be pretty good for us, we raced well in Texas and tested well at Phoenix a few weeks ago. Here we go!