It was a very exciting race, that worked out well. Really didn't think I had a chance once the pack caught me in Turn 3 on the last lap. But we will get to that.
Everything started as planned. Jumped off to a lead and planned to spend big in the first lap to build a lead. Wear spending in Turn 2 evaporated my lead on every lap, something I should have realized, but didn't in pre-race planning. Biggest hiccup in first lap was my spend of a wear to overbrake on race turn #5 (not track Turn 5). I would wish I had tested the dice instead when I needed that wear. But at the time, I trusted my plan and had an "extra" wear to spend. How naive I was!
Again in the second lap my lead disappeared coming in to Turn 3. My plan was to conserve wear at this point, but with all the traffic, I had to come up with a new plan. I knew Kevin, Mike and Rando would get by and I would have no chance. My only hope was to keep the gas on, use wear, and hope the pressure would finally break one or more of them. My redemption of the wasted early wear was a naked overbrake (T25) in final turn of lap 2 to save a wear, which turned out to be huge.
So into the third lap. Again my lead disappeared in going into Turn 3. At this point, I mentioned at the table that I was very relaxed. (I had done what I could and was going to try to hold on to third. At this point Kevin had broken his brakes, so my strategy had winnowed the field slightly.) I had a plan for the "Almost wearless" lap and planned to take a naked chance only if victory was possible.
My first break was Rando moving outside in T33 in Turn 4. I understood his move, but it gave me the inside, which was my planned path. Rando was frustrated with my next 60 post, but it was in my plan and I needed the inside lane. I could have gone 80 and been outside for the same 0w, but that would have ceded 2nd and lost inside position, which I was not prepared to do. At this point, everyone's wear was dwindling. I knew I would need a late roll to have a chance, but I was determined to get to that point if possible.
The second break was my plan to use my last wear in Turn 7&8 vs the last corner. This was my emergency plan created when I managed to save the one wear in lap 2. Mike came out of Turn 6 and conserved his wear for the final corner. That was 2 turns of speed advantage which put me in front, gave me inside position, and saved me from another overbrake test. At this point, my decision to risk a naked chance was almost sealed.
As the next two turns on the track unfolded, I was reviewing our division standings with my spotter and crew chief. A DNF would hurt, but I would have one more chance at Daytona. A second or first would practically seal my ticket to the finals. I had to give it a try. Besides, the adrenalines flowing. Rando's move would have been even more spectacular if he had trumped my successful chance with one of his own. We were giving the fans a show.
By the way, regarding the injustice of my passing a naked chance vs another race spinning with -3s. Before that chance role, I put my fate on the dice twice. I pushed my start, which would not have been fatal with my "extra" wear, and the aforementioned T25 naked overbrake test. Ignoring the start, I had a 83% chance on the overbrake and 42% on the naked chance. Rando had 4 -1s tests (did he have another naked one?) for 92% chance each, or 70% cumulative. Add in the 83% chance for making the -3s chance roll, the odds are much closer. I was still "lucky", but the total of my 35% vs Rando's 59% isn't as bad as the pure chance odds comparison would indicate.
It would have been an exciting finish if I had spun or crashed. Would Mike and Rando have made it thru? Would Kevin have nursed his broken car to the win? How different the division standings might be?
I fully admit the injustice of outdragging Mike to the finish. Neither one of us had skill chips, but at least I was inside so I had a chance. Mike needed 5/6 * 5/6 and I needed Mike to fail AND to make my 5/6 roll. Total, I had a 25% chance. Sometimes it works out.
The course had its challenges. I obviously need a better plan than the one I had, despite the win. I will need to figure out Turn 2. Taking a peek at Daytona, I'm not sure what to think yet. Will need some analysis. I want that Division Season Title, so Mike, I'm coming for you! (While keeping my eye on Kevin.)
All in all, an exciting race. Great group of racers hanging out having fun. We had some technical challenges early, but a quick change of host made that work much better. We will have to remember that.