The qualifying sessions were hard. Too many people who thought they knew how to turn a quick drafting lap, not enough who actually did. It took me about two hours of running to turn a lap that would put me into the race. By the time Sunday night, the last night of qualifying came around, my time was sitting 59th of 80 drivers and in danger of falling out.
I decided to go see if I couldn’t turn a quicker lap and the planets aligned. I caught a big pack of cars at the perfect time and was able to pull myself up to them and knock out a lap that ultimately settled out 19th. That first lap I scored into the race on Saturday afternoon was not quick enough. Suddenly that extra 10 minutes of work seemed like a good idea.
The top-80 qualifying times from five nights of sessions, over 50 hours of opportunity, got to move onto the second round of qualifying. Each driver was matched up with another one in a seed format for head-to-head races. Since we were to turn basically two laps after starting on pit road, I took to the practice server to test some ideas. I checked how to get the best launch and then settled in to watch the broadcast of the first 20 head-to-head races since I was in the second set.
It pretty quickly was clear that the inside line had the advantage, as I suspected. The only time the outside line won was when the driver was able to beat the inside line driver off the line. Figuring I was fine because I wouldn’t spin my tires, I was fairly confident in my abilities to make the race.
Here comes my chance and we get the command, and I swear he jumped. By the time we’re midway down the second short stretch at Daytona, he had cleared me and dropped down in front. Leaving me going, “how the heck did he do that?” I gave it a good run, but ultimately finished second and dropped to the last chance qualifier. Never should have lost that head-to-head race though.
Considering that I figured the LCQ would be almost impossible to win without a huge gamble, I decided rather quickly that I would be pitting on the final lap of the race. I needed two things to make this work. I needed a pit box 27th or further back, and I needed a caution free LCQ.
The first I managed to get when I was slotted in 34th. Considering that only 17 drivers took a time, there was some gamble involved there. The 34th starting position put me before the start finish line. This was critical as I needed to just start rolling down pit road after my stop in order to get the checkered flag, saving me the get up to speed lap time.
The race was timed, 25 minutes. With about 7 or 8 minutes left in the race we got a yellow flag and that let everyone who had already pit catch us with the three of us who hadn’t. That ended my shot at winning, ultimately finishing 23rd.
The winning fan vote getter got over 750 votes. I don’t think even, with everyone that saw my pleads, I would have reached that. If I had a car, I would have gotten in easy. Head to every place with wifi that I could find and vote over and over again.
It was fun to try. Wish I had put my #67 Spy Optic Chevrolet into the race though. My wife says it was God’s way of telling me to go to bed at a decent hour.