~ by Daniel Demaras ~

My stock car debut had been delayed long enough. After a couple races being called off due to rain, it was finally race day with a clear forecast.

We drove to Sunset Speedway for my first time racing on an oval, and my first time being on track with other cars on an oval. A brand new experience for me, with a 20 lap race at the end of the day to test if I had learned the art of stock car racing.

First practice was a learning experience. The car struggled a bit for front end grip, which made the real challenge more difficult, dealing with other drivers on track. Different drivers took different lines through the corners, which affect my ability to take my desired line.

At one point I came down to the inside line and received a heavy contact to my inside rear corner. I knew I had to be more careful when it came to changing lanes around other cars. In practice 2 I gained confidence in the car and the ability to run near other cars without holding myself up in the process. At this point I was ready and excited for the first heat.

The grid was set randomly, putting me in 4th for the start of heat 1, on the outside. After multiple slow formation laps, we took the green. I was apprehensive into turn one, worried about being pushed out into the wall. I spent the first few laps on the outside, trying to get to the inside line but getting blocked out. I lost a couple positions before the first yellow flag.

I had the inside line for the restart, but through my caution to not drift wide into other drivers, could not not move forward. After another caution, I spent the closing laps of the race in a pack of about four cars, where I took advantage of last-corner contact to make up a place and finish in the top 10. I learned a lot about how to run with other cars in this race.

Heat 2 was largely uneventful, with me starting further back. I became separated from the group of drivers in front, and had to push to try and catch back up. By pulling away from the driver behind, I was able to drive a proper line and caught the pack, but ran out of time before I could make a pass.

The SKLD Motorsport team did a great job all day coaching me off track and making adjustments to the car, which improved as the day went along. It was also a lot of fun having the whole family at the track, cheering me on from the grandstands.

With the sun setting, I was ready for a 17th place start for my first feature race at Sunset Speedway.

Leave a Reply