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MidSeason Championship Night

MidSeason Championship at Evergreen Speedway
Even though the outcome was unknown at the time, I knew it was going to be a good night. Tom Hughs, a fine gentleman and avid racing competitor of mine, states in his THRacingOnline blog that he has no idea what MidSeason Championship at Evergreen Speedway means, but I do now! All my teammates were feeling it, too. I even broke out my super sweet chrome shield from Bell Helmets which I was saving for a special occasion. It definitely brought good luck!

Practice Runs
The car was running a little loose, but this is what we wanted. My car seems to get tight toward the end of each race and by starting it off a little looser; it would be just right by the end of the race. In practice, I got loose coming off of Turn 4. I saved myself from spinning, but shuffled off the asphalt a bit (you know me and my love for dirt!). The car suffered some front end damage and my crew went to work repairing it. By the time they were done, I honestly think it looked better than before I went out! Yeah, they are just that good!
Roger and I strategized a bit about how I can improve my qualifying times. We decided it’d be best to be first out on the run. Well, what was looking to be an awesome lap (best I felt I had ever run), turned into the track having troubles with their clock. Arghh!!!
I was sent to wait in the pits and try again after my tires cooled down. Though the wait was long, anticipation did not get the better of me and I set my fastest qualifying lap so far this season! Roger and the crew said that’s something to be proud of! Improvement is good. That’s what this gig is all about! My teammates are so great! Always encouraging and boosting my confidence which keeps me working hard to improve and develop better driving skills.
The usual 10 lap Heat Race gave way to a 5-minute Hot Lap Session since we were running a 75 lap Main instead of the standard 40 lap Main event. My car was BAD FAST! The best it has ever felt! Roger, Aaron, Toby, and Cris had done an awesome job preparing the car. I was pumped; I told them it was going to be a great night!

The 75 Lap Main
In the feature line up, I’m positioned on the outside next to Dan Moore (my serious competitor from last week) as he sat in Car #16 at the pole. Behind me, Tom Hughs was setting his sights on winning his first race. Last week he commented on my Facebook wall “Nice race last night, Natalie. Let me know when there is an enrollment opportunity in the "Natalie Sather School of Restarts."” So Saturday, he came up to my window and said he was ready! LOL!
Sitting in my car and watching the other class race, I noticed there were multiple red flags flying. A hole had opened up on the front straight away. Before heading onto the track, Roger radioed, “They may have to call it short.” It meant that the officials might shorten the race due to the hole in the front stretch. I took note of its location so I could avoid it once the green flag flew.
The start was a little rough, I dropped into second place behind Dan (Car #16), but not for long… At the next corner, I challenged him on the inside. After about three laps of side-by-side racing action, I made the pass and pulled away fast! Roger came on the radio repeating, “1 car length”, “2 car lengths, “3 and 4!” What great words to hear! The car was hooked up! I knew, if the car’s setup remained true, I definitely had a shot at winning this race!

The Caution Flag
A few laps later, the hole in the front stretch had gotten much worse. Small rocks were pelting the track officials every time we flew by. Larger pieces had damaged some racecars. Roger radioed saying they were probably going to call the race…
They did.

The Red Flag
So what did this mean?! Does the track get repaired and we finish the race later? Or, was I the winner? Granted, we had completed only five laps, but my team had taken the green flag. I wasn’t sure what the rules were.
I’m afraid; I was a bit disappointed the race ended so abruptly. The guys had worked all day to give me an awesome car and I wanted to give them a win so badly. As I returned to the pits, I thanked them for all their hard work.
A lot of discussion ensued after the race between the team owners and the track officials. There was a lot of disagreement on how the situation should be handled. I did not attend the meeting; I stayed up at the trailer and helped the crew load up. Jeff, my car owner and teammate, attended the impromptu meeting to make sure the decision made was fair to all involved. As the night ended, the status I last heard was that the race was cancelled. It didn’t count for anything. We were given qualifying points and the track was going to give us three new tires for the next 3/8th’s race. Personally, I did not like this decision; I had hoped to continue the race from where we left off; same race cars, same tires. But, the outcome was for the officials to decide and we would abide by their ruling.

The Aftermath
Monday June 29th - Morning
I received a call from the NASCAR official at Evergreen Speedway. He told me that they were deciding on one of two options:
• They would call the race short and I would be declared the winner.
• They would have a make-up race and start from lap five using the same tires, same entrants.
The official and I discussed my opinion. He still had to contact a few other drivers to get their opinions. Afterwards, he would get back to me with the final decision.

Monday June 29th - 5:30pm
The return call came at 5:30pm. The NASCAR official told me that I would be declared the winner of the race as I was leading and had battled from second to take the first place running spot when the race was called. It is unfortunate that, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, the race had to be cancelled. I was really looking forward to running the entire race and knew that we had a very competitive car.
It was a great night for the team! We really made a lot of good adjustments to the car that will help in future setups. I am excited to receive my first win at Evergreen Speedway this year, even though it was a short race. The points will apply to Evergreen Speedway Track Championship standings, but will not apply to or change the NASCAR National Championship Standings.
Them’s the rules.
Either case, I am proud to take to the podium for my team!
I really wish to thank my crew chief: Roger Habich and crew members: Aaron, Toby, Cris, Stevie, and my car owner: Jeff Knight. And my sponsors, TVM, K&N, Lady Eagle Safety Wear, Butler Built Seats, Firedown Graphics, Massage Envy, and Speedway Performance.
They have been so amazing to work with.
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