Sam and the Triple R Racing team took to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for twin 40 lap features for the Late Model Division. After last week's rainout, Sam was itching to get behind the wheel and see some competition. Once again, his machine was fast off the trailer and felt great. Sam said the track was a little tight, but he could manage.
Sam went out for qualifying 13th out the 22 car field and laid down one of his best laps this season. Clocking in at a 15.211, this had him on the front row with the cars that had been out so far. After it was all said and done, Sam was seated comfortably in the fifth position. This was his best starting position yet.
When it came time for Sam’s feature he was confident he had a car that could contend for the lead. The green flag was in the air and Sam took off! The sixth-place car got down in front of him taking fifth. It wouldn’t last long, a car ahead of Sam moved to the high groove with engine issues, in turn two bringing out the caution. “The car feels great, I’ve got massive grip!” Restarting p5 again, on lap 2 Sam would once more fall to p6. Sam likes to see what’s developing in front of him before he makes his move. On lap 4, Sam made that move and took the fifth spot. The third and fourth position cars were battling and not leaving much room to get around. The fourth position car finally makes a move to the inside On lap 10 allowing Sam to capitalize and follow him through, both cars marching to the front. It would be the very next lap that Sam found that same hole and stole fourth place! His eyes were now locked in on the third place machine and he was reeling him in. On lap 20, Sam began to set himself up for making the pass, looking for a weakness or opportunity to strike. It would take 5 laps until Sam made an aggressive move. Diving down into turn 3, he got to the inside and applied some heave pressure but backed off. Lap 30 he does the same move but stays with it. Sam and the p3 machine ride door to door for multiple laps with some beating and banging on each other. It would be the other car that got the advantage as they were approaching a lapped car on the inside. Sam tucked in behind the p3 car and both made the pass. Getting back to the inside door half a track later, the battle was back on. Coming out of turn 2 on lap 36, Sam got loose and lost his momentum. He had a 10 car length advantage over fifth and lost no position as he regained speed. He settled in and finished in fourth. There was a draw for which position the invert would be for second 40 lap feature. The winner drew a 9 and that meant Sam would start p6.
After a long wait for other divisions to complete their caution filled races, Sam took to his car at 11:45 pm. Rolling off sixth, he knew he was at a disadvantage and would have to get to the inside quickly! On the initial start, the car in front of Sam didn’t go causing Sam to lose multiple positions. Luckily the start was called off since the leader jumped the start. “This car feels wonderful,” Sam says in a joking manner to his crew chief. The green flag was in the air once more and all of the cars got a good start. Laps 1, 2, & 3 saw Sam lose a position on each resulting in him running 9th. Stuck on the outside with no chance to get down can really hurt in a race. He finally found a hole to get down behind the 8th place car. On lap 10, the 10th place car made a move to the outside challenging for position. Sam doesn’t give up the spot and battles back. In turn 2, Sam makes a move that caused him to slide up the track and make contact with the 10th place car and cause damage. He would lose the 9th position regaining his momentum. Other cars behind him took advantage of this and passed on the outside. Falling to 13th, Sam was frustrated with how the car was handling. His crew chief asked if he had a tire down. Sam responded but saying, “I’m coming in, I cannot turn this thing!” After some assessments, the team discovered that the earlier contact knocked the front toe-in at least an inch. That would be the cause of not being able to turn. Sam would not make it back out on the track and suffered a DNF.
Story Provided by Zack Wyatt 3 Aces Media