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Whether you think you can or you can't your right...

Words of Natalie, by Natalie Sather
Edited by Rob Tiongson
South Boston Speedway
October 16th, 2010
With the season coming to a close, it was a busy week preparing for the 300-lapper at South Boston Speedway. I flew in Monday night and headed to the track early Tuesday morning to test all day. Wednesday and Thursday was dedicated to packing up my camper to move back home for the winter.
The race schedule was a little bit different on this weekend than in previous occasions at this venue, with Friday’s activities consisting of practice and qualifying sessions all day. We had a consistently fast car all day as we made few changes to it so I was feeling very confident going into qualifying.
With an entry list of 36, the top-16 qualifiers were locked into Saturday night’s main event. I was confident going out for qualifying but was disappointed when I pulled in after my qualifying attempt.
The track condition was the worst we had seen it all year, as it seemed like every driver struggled with qualifying. With one car left to hit the track, I was in the 15th position, just locked in to the main event.
After the last driver’s first lap, I was still in and it was looking good but on his second lap, he picked up a lot of time and knocked me into 16th position by .002!
I couldn’t believe it! This meant I would be starting on the pole of the first heat on Saturday. Arriving to the track on Saturday morning, I knew it was going to be a long day with the 300 lap main event and also having to run an extra 25 laps in the heat race.
In the heat race, I was starting next to Mark McFarland who is a very accomplished driver. When the green flag dropped, well, let’s get this straight - when I took off, the green flag dropped (laughs) and the race was on.
Mark had the advantage entering turn one, and being that everyone was locked in, I didn’t put up too much of a fight. Running in second, I had a chance to make a few aggressive passes, but again, I didn’t want to take any big risks in just the heat race so I ended up finishing second place.
With the feature right around the corner, I rested for a bit and made sure to stay hydrated since the 300 lap main event was going to be the longest race thus far in my career. This was a big race for me, as many big-timers were in the field like Justin Johnson, Eddie Johnson, and CE Faulk just to name a few.
I knew that if I wanted to finish, let alone go for a top-10, I was going to have to be on my A game. When the green flag dropped, the action began.
For the first 147 laps, the action was fairly tame but on lap 148, a competitor’s motor blew, leaving a trail of oil on the track. I saw a few cars ahead of me spinning out of control and as I started to slow down, I realized why.
My car started spinning and by some miracle I stayed out of trouble. Intermixed with a handful of other cars, I was unable to get out of the mess before the leader came by, putting me a lap down.
The race was red flagged for our 10 minute break on lap 150 and well, I was pretty bummed to have gone a lap down being we were running fairly well. But like I have said many times before, “Never, ever give up,” and that I didn’t.
Going back to green flag conditions on the track, I knew that I had to pass one car in particular in order to be the next “lucky dog” if a yellow were to come out. And like the best laid out plans with life, I passed that car and a few others. Guess what happened next?
YELLOW FLAG!
Those had to be the best words I had heard thus far in the night and I was the “lucky dog!”
I had to go to the tail end of the line, even though I had lapped a few cars in front of me. The race resumed and I fought my way back to the front, making some pretty risky passes. Burt, my spotter, came on the radio and said, “Now let’s just take it easy here.”
Just then, I decided to make a three wide pass off of turn two.
“So much for taking it easy,” he said with a laugh, “But great pass!!”
We continued our charge to the front as the race headed toward the finish and at this point, I had made my way into the seventh position. With four laps to go, a yellow came out, and I was pleased.
At the time of the caution flag, I was trying to pass the car in front of me and this next restart would be a great set up to make a pass. The race went green with just two laps left, and just coming around to complete one lap and take the white flag, I made a pass to the inside, attempting to pass two cars.
My car was great on the bottom and these guys were running a higher line. Just as I almost had them cleared, the car on the outside decided to make a very aggressive move and cut down on Mark Wertz, driver of the No. 55 car, to my outside. As you could imagine, things got a bit ugly.
Well, I got the short end of the stick, sending me spinning down the front straightaway. Just as the car got wooed down, I said to myself, “You have got to be kidding me!”
What luck, as I was unable to re-fire my car before the leaders came back around so I was yet another lap down! I was so bummed as I finished the race under the green, white, and checkered flag shootout restart, and came in so disappointed.
All that work, to get it taken away with two laps to go! Frustrating, I tell you. To my surprise, the team came up to the car and was thrilled and celebrating, and I will be honest, I was pretty sad, even as they said to me, “You did great - you finished 8th!”
I did?! Well, I had lapped the cars ahead of me a few times and finished laps ahead of these drivers, but still, knowing this, I was kinda happy but still wanted that fifth-place finish!
H.C., my crew chief, told me, “You know, I have never met someone with more desire to always do better no matter what. You are just never satisfied!” he said with a laugh.
I just knew that we had a better car than the finish indicated and I wanted to get the finish that the guys on the Sellers team deserved. Overall, it was a great day, and we finished in one piece and in the top 10, so I really had nothing to be disappointed over. It was a perfect end to an unforgettable season.
With the season over, I look back at all the ups and downs and all the Sellers team did, and I am so blessed to be with such an incredible team. 2011 is going to be even better…mark my words, friends!
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