Sam and the Triple R Racing team were in attendance for another night of action-packed racing at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) where they were to compete in twin 40 lap features. Following last week’s goals being met, the team had a new goal in place. They wanted to go out and get a top 3 finish. The team went out for early practice with the threat of rain potentially canceling the afternoon practice session. Sam reported the car was hooked up great, but the track was terrible. The combination of heat and humidity made good lap times almost impossible. The afternoon rain projections appeared they wouldn’t be a factor which gave the team more on-track time to make adjustments.
The time had come for qualifying. The car went through tech and then to the grid for qualifying. As they waited for other divisions to get lined up, a popup showed moved in and soaked everything. The tracks crew went into action to get the track dry for qualifying. The rain cooled the track and lap times were drastically better than the earlier practice sessions. Sam went out for his qualifying run and pulled a 15.105 which at the time, would’ve secured him second. There were faster cars still left to have their shot on the track. When it was all said and done, Sam’s time was good enough to lock him in to start seventh.
The time had come to get lined up for the first 40 lap feature. The team talked strategy before getting Sam stopped in. This would be Sam’s first start at Hickory running the inside line. When the green flag dropped, Sam thought the car in front of him missed a shift due to the car not accelerating as quickly as it should, so Sam left a little room so he could take evasive action if needed. This proved to not work out in Sam’s favor. That car got going and the room Sam had left was just enough for the eighth place car to squeeze in. It wouldn’t take long for the first caution to come out. Lap four found Sam in seventh after passing the car that brought out the caution and he would restart on the inside once again. The team’s radio communications were positive and Sam said his car was “crazy fast’ and running great. As with the initial start, the eighth place car would find a hole just big enough to overtake Sam for the seventh position in turn one. Just two short laps later though, Sam would peek to the inside and take seventh back. His eyes were set on taking his next position. He stalked and set up the car in front of him, taking his time and being patient, Sam would take the sixth position on lap 12. Ahead, a car was stuck on the outside and Sam’s spotter advised him to get to the bumper of the inside car. Sam followed instruction and this would make for an easy overtaking of fifth. Peeking to the inside of the fourth place machine for multiple laps, it would be lap 24 when Sam dove to the inside and took the fourth position with minimal effort. Just one position away from achieving the team’s goal for the night, Sam was focused. It would be 4 short laps and he had reached the back bumper of the third place car. It appeared the third place car wasn’t saving his tires, and Sam claimed the third place position on lap 29. With 11 laps remaining in this feature, Sam wasn’t satisfied, he wanted more! Reeling in the second place car, Sam would make a move to the inside coming out of turn four, but it wouldn’t be enough. Sam finished his first feature in third place, completing the team’s goal for the night. In the post-race interview, the announcer dubbed Sam the “Hard Charger of the Night’ and said he was definitely turning some heads! The invert was drawn and the top 10 cars would invert. This meant Sam would roll off his second 40 lap feature in the eighth position.
When the time had come to line up for the second feature, the track had cooled off even more. The team talked more strategy as the track would be faster and the cars in front of him wouldn’t have as much experience running up front. The potential for these drivers becoming overzealous was pretty high. The pace laps were complete and the cars were doubled up coming to the green. The cars would stay double-file all the way around the track until the got to turn four. The second place car dumped the leader and caused an accordion effect collecting most of the cars running on the outside, including Sam. The team assessed the damages with Sam over the radio while the car sat dormant waiting of the wrecker to assist him. There was no fluid leaking from the car, which was a good sign, but Sam couldn’t turn the wheel to the left. The team was in place to make the needed repairs and went to work. Other teams jumped in offered assistance to help make repairs. It appeared they had done it! The car was missing the nose, a fender, and had the radiator held on using straps. There was an issue remaining though. The engine wouldn’t turn over. After multiple tries of a push start and popping the clutch, the team had nearly thrown in the towel for this race. After further inspection, the found that the wreck had caused a major piece of the motor to become compromised and had they sent Sam back out, they would have ultimately lost the motor. This mechanical failure prematurely ended the team’s night. The results don’t show the speed and quality that Sam and the team brought to the track.
Sam will be back in action at Hickory Motor Speedway June 6th.
Story Provided by Zack Wyatt 3 Aces Media