|Trent Hamp in the #81 car ahead of me is not getting away from
me. So that means I'm at least as fast as he is. If I'm
lucky I should be able to pass him somewhere.
I've been stuck behind him for two laps already and, as we cross the finish line again, I still haven't figured out how to pull off a pass.
|I'm hoping he'll slide wide off to the left on this tight
I'm planning to stay over to the right in order to get a good run out of the following left-hander leading onto the straightaway.
|But Trent is no dummy. He stays nice and tidy, and keeps to the middle of the road.
He should be a bit further to the right (me too), but he's perfectly safe where he is.
|I've used a bit wider approach than Trent. If he slides over to the right now, I should be able to get my nose in there to his left.|
|But Trent has that covered too. I wouldn't exactly call this
blocking. It's much too subtle for that.
He's merely taking a conservative line to ensure that he stays well to the left where the better traction is found. But, instead of allowing the steering to unwind and giving his car free rein to accelerate, pinching his car left like this results in him being a bit slower on the exit.
A defensive line is almost always slower. I'm sure he'd be quicker, probably pulling away from me, if he wasn't watching me so much in his mirrors. If I can keep distracting him, I'm sure I will eventually get an opportunity to pass.
|I would prefer to have gone left, but I still have a bit of a speed
advantage over Trent so I head up the outside on the right instead.
This makes me nervous though. I don't know Trent, and I'm not sure whether he's the type that would pull something dirty. If he's desperate enough, he could change his mind and squeeze back to the right now. I'd be forced into the snowbank and that would be the end of that.
|There is a difference between overtly blocking, or subtly applying
pressure. It's obvious when you see it.
But Trent didn't try to block or pressure me. After he committed himself to going left, he very properly held a straight course down the straightaway, leaving me plenty of running room on the outside.
We're running side-by-side down the straight, but Trent has the inside line for the hairpin. I will brake as late as possible, hoping to make Trent overshoot the corner...
|Trent is too clever to fall for that trick. He is fully under
control, brakes early, and eases into the corner, keeping me outside
Had I been more daring, I could have tried going deeper under braking and then cutting in front of him. But I didn't know for sure whether he'd be able to stop, or whether he'd just slide straight through and T-bone me.
The way I figure it, if you're not certain of a pass then you shouldn't try it. If you dive in there with a kamikaze move and get in a collision, you can argue later over who was at fault. But you're still screwed.
Be patient. Live to fight another day...
|...and just like that, here's another opportunity.
I took a much wider approach into the hairpin, compared to Trent who came in very tight on the inside. I'm expecting him to slide wide from here. I should be able to start accelerating earlier and pass him on the left.
|But Trent surprises me again by waiting a very long time before
getting back on the gas, thereby ensuring that he doesn't slide
He's so late getting on the throttle that it forces me to back off too, completely disrupting my momentum.
Although he is actively defending his position, note that he makes no attempt to squeeze back to the left to block me. His choice of line is obstructing me, but it's not dangerous since he has left me enough racing room on either side of him.
|I still have a bit more speed than Trent at this point and move up
beside him on the left.
That was definitely not the fastest line out of the hairpin. Look how Jim Graham's car is positioned all the way to the right side of the track up ahead. He is running on his own and using the optimum line.
Because of the way Trent and I were running side-by-side, and because of his defensive line to hold me back, both he and I are slower than Jim.
|However I have the inside line into the left turn at the kink, and
I'm not going to back off first! Trent is still beside me on the
right and now he is the one that must make the choice.
If we go in here side-by-side, can he trust me not to slide into him? I'm coming at this corner from much too shallow an angle. There's a good chance I won't be able to hold my car over to the left, in which case I might slide wide and run Trent off the track.
Because Trent and I don't know each other well enough yet, Trent cannot (and should not) trust me, so he makes the wise decision and backs off first.
|With the pressure safely removed, I can concentrate on not making a mess of my line through this kink.|
|Apex tight on the right turn, and I'm safe. I'm up to
5th place and Trent can no longer hold me up.
If Landon Goudreau carries on to win (which I fully expect will happen) and I hang on to finish 5th, we should be tied for points with the two of us each having scored a 1st and 5th place finish so far.