Back at the track, 7:00 am on Saturday morning. Some racers rolled in to the track on that morning, after a four hour drive from the GTA, but for Daniel and New Speed Motorsports, all the preparation from Friday was sure to pay off. The skies were overcast, and the temperatures high.
After a brief morning warm-up, Demaras lead the field to qualifying. Two or three corners in, the rain started to fall, making driving with new slicks treacherous. Multiple karts spun out, and several were off the pace as their dry setups did not produce the grip needed. Some experienced drivers anticipated this by running a wet set-up (rained axle, widened spindles) with dry tires. The No. 412 was not set up for these conditions.
Daniel was frustrated with qualifying. One of the Friday practice sessions was on a damp track with slicks on. But now that the sessions counted, he only managed a P7 in quali. The team made the decision to switch to rain tires and the wet weather continued.
Then, while pushing the No. 412 kart to the grid for the first heat race … the sun came out.
Sensing an opportunity for a strategic advantage, Max, Xavier and Chris made the last second decision to pull the rain tires and go out on slicks. The kart was still on the stand with the wheels off when the starter gave the 1 minute command to fire up the engines. A rival shouted “Hey NSM…this ain’t NASCAR!” as the crew scrambled, but it was too late. All the racers had left the starting grid. By the time the tires were bolted on, Daniel started the race in last place, several seconds back of the pack.
Demaras caught the tail end of the field, made two passes, then spun on the wet concrete in Turn 3. Regaining his footing, and some positions, he crossed the line nearly 30 seconds back of the lead pack who stayed on wet weather tires. The strategy call didn’t work out, but the racing gods do have a sense of humour. The race leader misunderstood the flag man, and entered the pits before the end of the race, abandoning his win. The second place driver was DQed upon entering the pits for not fastening his helmet!
One of the benefits of running Masters is that it gives Demaras a chance to watch his friends race in other classes. Shoulder to shoulder with Anthony, Daniel cheered on Chad Webster in the Briggs Senior race. NSM teammates Cayden and Rocco were having their own struggles to overcome, but the attitude was positive.
Daniel lined up for the Pre-Final in P6 and was determined to get to the front to fight his championship rivals. He belonged there. With motivation and coaching from experienced racers Max and Xavier, Daniel was ready.
Sometimes, a racer just wants it too badly. He demands success, and nothing short of a podium is even worth talking about. Daniel felt he was out of position so deep in the pack, and aggressively moved forward. But these guys aren’t pushovers.
The unlucky timing of a passing attempt on Levon for 4th place resulted in contact, which ripped off Daniel’s front bumper (and Levon’s rear bumper) and sent the parts scattering across the track. The result was a DQ for both drivers…banished to the back for the Final.
The team did everything it could to help get the No. 412 to the front of the grid. Daniel drove aggressively, over-aggressively, to overcome the disadvantage of his starting position. But this time, reaching the podium from so far back was too much to ask.
One bright spot for Demaras was his mom Alice and sister Michelle joining him at the track for the big race. The photograph of Daniel on the left speaks volumes about how he felt after KartStars Round 2 at PPKC.