|Trent Hamp in the #81 car hung onto my rear bumper for
another lap before I managed to shake him loose. Now I'm free to
concentrate on pursuing Jim Graham in the Red #78 up ahead.
The ice is really getting polished slick. The dark ice surface along the racing line here in the kink is treacherously slippery.
|On the exit of the kink it would be better to avoid the dark
polished ice altogether, but at speed the car really prefers to stay
sliding along that line.
On this slippery stuff, even a low-powered car like a Chevette has more than enough power to spin the wheels in third gear. When trying to accelerate out of this corner, it requires a very light touch on the throttle to keep the wheels hooked up.
It's tempting to simply mash the throttle and fly through here in a big broadside powerslide, but it really is much quicker if you can keep the tires planted as much as possible. Although I don't often get this corner right, I was particularly pleased with my exit speed this time through.
|As a result of getting the last corner right, I'm encouraged to see
that I'm gaining ground on the cars ahead of me. But I suspect
that has less to do with my brilliant driving skills and more to do with
the fact that Steve Adams in the #92 car is definitely holding up
Jim Graham has managed to pressure Steve into committing a big error.
Steve cuts the corner a bit too much and rides up the inside snowbank. This could easily lead to a rollover!
|Fortunately the snowbanks are soft and Steve continues without
It looked as though Jim had intended to cut inside of Steve, but was forced to change course to the outside. Now he's setting up a wide approach to try again into the second left turn.
As a result of hitting the snowbank, Steve is slow at this point and stays to the left while taking a defensive line to keep Jim from diving down the inside.
|But that's not going to work. Steve is looking a bit rattled.
Trying too hard to get back up to speed, he overshoots the left turn. Jim is perfectly positioned to take advantage of another mistake and is already heading to the inside.
Now that I've caught up, I'm anxious to stick with Jim. If he manages to get past Steve, but I don't at the same time, I may not get another chance.
|Steve slides wide onto the slippery stuff over on the right, while
Jim stays to the left where there is better traction and he easily
Jim will surely try to pass Steve here, or hopefully the two of them will trip over each other.
I also position my car all the way over to the left, as this will give me a better launch and a straighter line into the Esses, where I hope to profit from whatever mistakes these two guys are about to make...
|But Jim suddenly decides to back off, apparently not trusting
Steve enough to attempt a risky passing move here.
I shouldn't have been so surprised by this, because I made exactly the same decision in an indentical scenario when trying to pass Chris Brandt at this same corner earlier this morning while in the lead of Chevette Race #1. See figures 5, 6, 7, and 8 of that story.
|And now Jim's line is all messed up as he tries to get back over to
the right side of the track to hunt for traction.
My target acquisition sights are still firmly locked onto Steve's #92 car, and it takes me a moment to refocus my attention and realise that Jim is going much slower than I had anticipated.
For one scary moment I couldn't decide whether to go to the right or left of him, and nearly ended up hitting him instead.
|I'm pretty much committed to the polished slippery line along the
dark ice and I don't know if I could have avoided him, had Jim not
swerved all the way over to right. As it was, I blew straight past
That certainly was a whole lot easier than I had imagined it would be.
It turns out there is a perfectly logical and reasonable explanation for this unexpectedly easy pass. But I didn't find out why until after the finish of the race. To keep this all in chronological order, I will explain later...
|I've still got a pretty good run on #92, but there is all sorts
of activity up ahead at the finish line. One marshall is waving a
yellow flag, another is waving a white flag, and a third is indicating
we should keep over to the right side of the track while also holding up
a sign showing we've reached the halfway point in the race.
The yellow flag means danger, slow down, no passing. The white flag means there's a slower vehicle on the track -- could be someone with engine trouble or a flat tire, or it could be the tow truck. The yellow and white flags together almost always mean there's a tow truck on the track extracting some stuck car from the snowbank.
It's my understanding that you are allowed to race up to the point where the flags are being waved, but not beyond. But, since there is a sharp right corner immediately after this point, it would be dangerously stupid not to slow down right here and now.
To ensure I'll be able to stay to the right after the corner, I start from way over here on the left. Steve is approaching the corner from tight on the right side of the track, so he will need to slow down even more than I will.
|Sure enough, there's the reason for the yellow and white
flags. The tow truck is pulling someone off the snowbank.
Coming into this corner too fast and hitting the tow truck would be a capital offence. Anyone making a mistake of that magnitude could expect, depending on the mood of the officials, either to be thrown out of the event or executed on the spot. I sure wouldn't want to be the one to find out.
Note that the stuck car, and the tow truck, are both on the outside of the snowbank. That car had to have gone all the way over the snowbank to get there.
|We are allowed to race again once we are safely past the incident.
This is the fast left-hander leading onto the long straight. Steve is positioned too far to the left, whereas Jim and I are all the way over to the right edge of the track.
|Steve is sliding on the slippery dark ice and drifts over to the
right, unable to accelerate. With Jim right behind me, I cross
over the slippery stuff to get to the traction on the left side of the
track and we both pass #92 on the straightaway.
Yes! I'm up to 3rd place!