Sam and the Triple R Racing team decided to take their Machine to another track for some Friday night racing action. Tri-County Speedway (NC) would be their track of choice with a 60 lap feature lined up and it was a very smart choice. This was a track that Sam had never raced before. He was eager to race a brand new track and see how quickly he could figure it out. Sam went out for first practice and was running times that were up at the front of the field. The team made a minor adjustment that would propel them to the top of the time charts in the second and final round of practice. Team confidence was high and Sam knew he would be a contender.
The time came for qualifying. On Sam’s dead lap, the lap where he gets up to speed, his time was tracked and he was third fastest. Then his two laps that counted for time, he ran a 16.181. This sent him to the pole. He had a few other cars behind him, but only one had the speed to bump Sam to 2nd. To say He was excited was an understatement. It was time for Sam to take to the track for his feature. Sam came over the radio and said he was hoping that this race wouldn’t end like his previous experience starting on the front row. His spotter came over the radio and told him that he was at a new track and it was a totally different race. The green flag was in the air and we were racing! It didn’t take long for Sam to make the choice to save his car and tires for later in the race. He tucked in behind the leader and raced his race. By lap 10, he and the leader had checked out from the field and it appeared it would be a 2 car battle for the win. It would be a cat and mouse game for 46 laps. The leader would pull away and then Sam would reel him back in. Lap 46 brought out the first caution involving 3 cars on the front stretch. Sam came over the radio, “I know where I need to go to be faster. This car is crazy fast!” This race would utilize the choose cone where drivers can opt to choose which lane they want to restart in. The leader took the high line and Sam went low. The leader got a huge jump on the start and pulled away, but Sam was quick to react and drove his car in deep to make up ground. 2 laps later, another caution was displayed and Sam would have the opportunity to choose again. The leader went high once more and Sam went low. Sam and his spotter discuss the previous restart and how to avoid letting the leader get such a big jump. When the green flag was displayed, The leader wouldn’t get such a big jump, but he did get a big push from the car behind him. The momentum of the two cars was greater than Sam’s and he was passed on outside facing to 3rd. The 4th place car saw this and tried to make the same pass. On lap 56, Sam reached down deep and found some extra speed and tire grip to deny the pass. He had a run coming off of turn 2 and charged up to the p2 machine to make the pass. With 4 laps to go, Sam tried everything he could to read the leader, but he ran out of laps and finished p2. This was his best overall finish in the Late Model division and his best and only finish at this track. Sam told his crew chief and car owner that he really wanted to race this track again.
The following night, Sam and the team took to Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for their regular weekly series. The feature would include twin 40 lap races which Sam is quite used to by now. In early practice, the car was fast, but the team wanted more. Making changes between each round, they found a setup that everyone was happy with. Right before practice was set to end, a complete game-changer came in. The track was drenched from an hour-long passing storm. Sam was hoping that their setup would still be as fast considering the track was now cooler and the rubber had been washed away. When qualifying started, Sam was excited to see the track was now extremely fast! He ran a time of 14.968 which was good enough to start 7th. He wasn’t thrilled with this time and thought he should’ve been able to run faster.
It was time for Sam’s first feature. He took to the grid, strapped in, and went through the team’s pre-race routine. The green flag was in the air and Sam had one of his best starts yet. He stayed tight to the car in front of him and refused to let anyone get in on him. He settled in and had no pressure from behind. On lap 7, Sam took the 6th place position by passing on the inside and making it look almost too easy. Sam was reeling in the 5th place car and started setting him up for the pass. In every corner for 10 laps, Sam would look to the inside and try to make the pass, but came up short. He opted to adjust his line on lap 31 to see if that would give him the advantage he wanted. He quickly went back to his original line when he saw that he was giving too much room to the 7th place car and would ultimately lose that spot if he didn’t. Sam continued to try and make the pass on 5th, but was unsuccessful and finished 6th. He wasn’t happy with his performance and finding out what the invert was didn’t help either. The top 9 from the first feature would invert. Sam was to start 4th in the second 40 race.
Starting on the outside hasn’t been the best for Sam, but he was ready to race. The green flag was in the air and Sam sent it. Sam was making some moves he hadn’t tried before. He dove down between the 3rd and 5th place cars and refused to be hung out to dry. Lap 3 is where Sam started his charge. He took the 3rd position on the inside and cleared himself by two car lengths before getting out of the corner. The pressure was coming from behind on lap 10, but Sam wasn’t worried about that, he was taking the second position. Lap 13 is where Sam would make a pass he hadn’t made before in a Late Model. That was the pass for the lead. It would be 10 laps upfront for Sam until the 2nd place car drove deep and made the pass. The 3rd place machine was coming fast, but Sam saw this and slammed the door on him. He ducked down under the leader and glued himself to the bumper. Sam stayed tight to the leader for the remainder of the race and even peeked inside to take to lead back, but he couldn’t make it stick. Sam brought home his second p2 finish in two days.
Story Provided by Zack Wyatt 3 Aces Media