So after another rain out, this was the end. I gotta thank my boys, Jimmy, John, Bob, and Todd. This year has been an absolute blast, you guys are the greatest bunch to work with. Thanks for all your help, and especially for all the laughs. I also have to thank everyone that took the time in the last few weeks to go out of their way to show their support, it means a lot.
So... Once again we were at the 30 lap end of the season extravaganza. The car was just perfect in warm-ups and the track was in fast shape, especially after being underwater from the storm last week. We had to draw for the starting position for the heats, so I sent John down to do the dirty work. He came back with number 5 in the 4th heat. I thought that would be okay, until we actually started the heat and I couldn't go anywhere. The two guys in front of me were battling it out and I just didn't have enough talent to get by. By the end of the race, I advanced one position, which with the heads up start for the feature, put me 16th. We ran hot laps and Jimmy and I decided we needed to tweak the car a little bit to see if we could make it better. They threw the green and a couple of laps in the caution flew when the 95 lost it down in turn 1. Back to the action and a few more laps in the caution flew again when the 11 got turned around in turn 1 also. I thought I was in good shape, following the 91 past the wrecking cars on the bottom, but the 11 came down the track and Walt caught him with his right rear and shot his car up into the air. I thought for sure that he was going to land on my shock towers, but I got the car slowed down enough to just run into the back of him a little. Fortunately, we didn't have any significant damage, it just knocked the toe out a little. That jingle got me up to eighth with 5 laps down. So now I was feeling like we had a shot. The race went green again and I started picking off some cars. The changes we made before the feature were perfect. By about halfway through the race, I got up to 5th and the guys in front had checked out. There were no more cautions, but lap after lap I closed the gap, catching up to the 68 who was dicing it out with the 22. It took me about 4 or 5 laps but I caught those guys and when Artie slipped up coming off of 2, I ducked under him and ran down the backstretch wheel to wheel with the 22. I passed him coming off of 4 and set my sights on the 14. A few laps later the 16 who was leading, ran into some lap traffic...literally. The contact sent him up towards the wall and Lorne and I shot past him. So now I'm out of breath and over driving the car trying to figure out a way past the 14. We were around lap 20 so I just started to slow down a little bit to figure what line I could use to try and get him. He was very fast and running the upper middle groove, so I started working the bottom. We ran up on some lap traffic and I got a great run coming off of 4 and got next to him. We went into 1 and I was able to trap him behind some lap traffic to grab the lead on the 25th lap. After that I just tried not to make any mistakes and we came home with our 7th win of the year.
Jimmy and I talked it over and we decided to that we were going to take just one car this week and we chose to run the Sportsman. Warm-ups were good, there were just a few minor things I wanted to change. We had to draw for starting positions for the heat so I sent John up to do the dirty work. Unfortunately we ended up starting 8th (no fault of John's, he was the last to draw). I got to work and made it up to second with about 3 laps to go but couldn't pull off the pass that would have put me in the lead and on the front row of the feature. Still, 6th wasn't a bad place to start. We made a few changes for hot laps but I still wasn't happy with the car. We decided to make a couple significant changes including one fairly risky one. The feature started and I got to 4th in a few laps. I checked up for a couple of guys that looked like they were going to wreck each other end ended up losing a couple of spots. A few laps later I lost some more ground and was 7th when the caution flew again. I totally nailed the restart, passed 3 guys going into1 and then passed the 68 coming off of 2 to get 3rd. Another lap or 2 and I got the 9 car and took off after the 12. I was able to catch up okay and it took a few laps to figure out what I need to do to get by. I got a good run off the top of 4 and pulled even with the 12 halfway down the front stretch. As I turned into 1 I felt him on my inside and moved away. The next thing I knew he was leaning hard against me and I tried moving up some more. He took 2 more shots at me and finally spun me out while ending up in the wall himself. I got going again and made it up to 16th or so before we ran out of laps.
After 2 weeks of rainouts, it all came down to the final night for points. I had a 36 point lead which meant that Bobby would have to win and I could finish no worse than 18th to clinch the points. Things started out normal enough. The car was pretty good in warm-ups so we left it alone for the heat. I started 8th and got up to 3rd without pushing too hard. Jimmy and I made some pretty big adjustments after the heat race to try and get the car a little more to my liking. We ran hot laps and decided on even more changes for the feature. I lined up 16th and a couple of laps in I could tell the car was really good. There was a bunch of cars double file in front of me and I could only grab 2 spots before the caution came out on lap 3. After the restart we went a couple more laps and then the leader spun coming off of turn 4. I thought I had things slowed down enough, but apparently not. I ended up getting into a spun car with the front end and spinning out myself. I didn't think too much of it, it didn't seem like it was a very hard hit. I took off down the front stretch and when I got to the other end the car just snapped left. Something was messed up in the front end. They were rushing the restart so I dropped in behind the pack and tried to keep up. The car was just uncontrollable. I ended up spinning in turn 3 after a lap or 2. I ducked into the pits to see what the boys could do. Unfortunately, not much as it turns out. I bent all 4 radius rods in the wreck and there was nothing we could do to fix it without losing a lap. They tried bending some of them back and sent me back out, but it was pretty apparent that I was going to kill myself or someone else if I continued. So that was the end. Bobby ended up 2nd and with the 20 points I got for starting the race, that tied us for the points lead.