This turned out to be a fascinating race, all the way through.

Track and Build - most of the drivers had seen this track before. A narrow track with few passing lanes and even fewer good lines. This one is built for tough racing. As most of the drivers did, I looked to build a from-the-front car.

Bid - With the glut of 100+ start speeds, it looked like bids would be high. I waffled between big spending (which would not have been enough for the pole) and low spending (in the back). Finally settled on a med-hi, trying to get in the 2nd row. Ended up inside of 3rd row, which wasn't too bad.

Strategy - As mentioned above, the optimum line provides a fairly inexpensive lap cost (wear). Being off the line can add up fast. Being in a position battle and losing position can cost wear and distance. So my goal was to spend early and get near the front, or at least clean air, but not waste wear. Easier said than done.

Lap 1 - Got off the line ok, but quickly was caught in a pack of 6 cars. At least I was at the head of it. Turn 4 was my first naked test (1). Russ took the line at 120, so I was left to late brake to 100 and save the wear. Will pushed thru with a chance and a blocked force pass which cost us both a wear. (Considered not blocking, but position is so important on this track.)

Things spread out after Russ's spin. Had to spend a wear in the "arrow-combo" corners (my name for them). Had to clear the corner or I would have lost a turn. Then fighting with Will costs some more wear as we finish the lap. Painful. 2nd naked late brake test. Saving my 3s chip. At this point I know I will need it for a chance roll somewhere in the race.

Lap 2 - On Turn 17, I post 140, then risk my 3rd naked late brake to stay on the line. I have a plan for burning extra wear on the 2nd half of the track to make up a turn. I decide it is time. Blowing an extra wear in the arrow-combo is unfortunate, but necessary. I anticipate Tim pushing me from the outside (which doesn't happen), but that accounts for naked test 4 and 5 (accel and top). Planning to go 120, so not worrying about the brakes this time.

Ideally I'm on the line to prep for the last three corners, but the Jason is in the way (passing is tough on this track). If I don't take the chance here, I never catch Doug. So 2w+chance, plus another 2w covers the first 2 of the last three corners. 1w in the last corner puts me on the home stretch just behind Doug.

Lap 3 - With the slip I pull even with Doug. Unfortunately he has 6w to my 4w. I'll have to put some pressure on. For turn 28, Doug plots 140 and late brakes to 100 with a wear and a naked test. The brakes fail and costs Doug -20 and another wear, plus the wear for the corner. I take the outside for my last 2w. We are still side-by-side with little wear left.

Doug and I both want the line in the next corner. We both plot speeds that will cause trouble with our braking ability at this point. Being on the outside, I decide 160 is my only chance. (I could have plotted 140, but I had to make up for my wear deficit somewhere.) So that is my naked test 6 and 7 (accel and top), while committing to naked test number 8 (overbrake). We both make our overbrake rolls for turn 30. Turn 31 has Doug using his last wear and pulling up next to me going into the Arrow-combo corners.

Since I am on the inside, I want 80, so I plot 100 planning on my 9th naked test (brake). Doug plots 120, presumably planning brake and chance rolls. He fails the brake roll ending his race. Unfortunately I still need to make my roll or I spin and the rest of the race becomes a lot tighter. The brake roll is successful and the last few turns roll off without a hitch.

Summary - Overall a fun race. Many more rolls than I wanted, but few if any were unwarranted. Whereas I don't lake to roll at all if possible, I've embraced the idea that it is sometimes necessary. Each one seemed a reasonable choice to prolong the race and put me into a position to win. Congrats to Tim and Jason for the podium, and to Kevin, Brent, Chris and Russ for making it to the end. Doug had a good plan, which was likely a similar plan that Don, Jason and I all had. I'm looking forward to racing with this crew again, but maybe not on this track anytime soon. Good luck at WBC.