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WHO Nascar - 7 November 2018

Race Report

Nineteen racers braved a wet and 'orrible evening to start the final Nascar race of 2018. Although the championship winner was confirmed the moment Mike walked through the door, Alex still needed a solid performance to clinch the junior title and the Gen6 Cup would be decided by a four-car, two-minute shoot-out at the end of the night.

As is traditional for the end of season race, the oval was large. The sixty-one foot long tri-oval filled a good part of the Barn. Although the corners were wide, the banking was not extreme and turn four had no banking at all. In practice, a very good lap was just over the three second mark, with Mike D's car threatening to get just under that.

Before the racing started, there was the formality of our Annual General Meeting - a requirement of the club's status as a not-for-profit unincorporated association. Next year's dates, some changes to the AFX championship, the club finances and plans for our tenth anniversary in 2020 were run through in quick time, before four votes ended the meeting. We were ready to race just after seven o'clock.

The heats - as they often do with Nascar - varied between fast and precise to downright chaotic. They were pretty exciting. The benchmark in the opening two pairs of heats was a solid 30 laps, but when Ned, Alex and Andy got on track in the third group, that bar was raised to over 35 laps - Andy going best with a 36.65 in red. About fifteen minutes later, Mike beat that score on red by exactly a lap.

At halfway, Mike led Andy by three quarters of a lap, Alex was four laps adrift in third, with Keith the top Mega-G+ Gen6 car right behind him in fourth. Ned was fifth and John sixth. John is always there or there abouts in Nascar, but an okay-ish first two heats were followed by a big off in white, leaving him with a lot of work to do in yellow. A massive 36.20 - the highest of the heats in yellow - gave John a best-of-three total of 99.90 laps, just 0.05 laps behind Keith who was racing in the same group.

Alex and Andy were also having a great scrap and their final heat together - Alex in blue, Andy in yellow - left Alex with a total of 108.60 and Andy 108.65. These were incredibly close margins. Mike knew what he needed to do in the final pair of heats, but a crashy two-minutes in yellow momentarily dropped him down to third place. Mike handled the pressure well. A 37.65 in blue did the job and equalled his total in red -  top score of the heats in any lane.


The F final was a full house, with Daniel, Rick, Matthew and Steve looking to salvage something from the evening. Daniel got off to a good start with his Super-G in the favoured red lane, so it was his race to lose. Rick kept up the pressure in yellow and had closed the gap to just two seconds at halfway. It was a similar story behind, with Steve leading Matthew's new Mega-G+ for third. In the end, Daniel finished almost a lap ahead of Rick, with Steve exactly a lap up on Matthew.

If the first race had been a clean, fast race, Mike, Ryan, Aiden and Daniel served us up some even faster Nascar mayhem in the E final. Aiden rocketed off the line in yellow, just ahead of the others. Daniel was first to over-cook things into the un-banked turn four and then Aiden followed him just before the thirty second mark. Such was the rapidity of Aiden's start, the crash only dropped him to second, half a lap behind Mike. By halfway, Aiden was right back on Mike's left rear quarter-panel, but a heavy crash put him a lap behind. Daniel had got past Ryan, but only just. A brief interlude of calm exploded into a final fifteen seconds of chaos, Mike the only car to remain relatively unscathed and he won by two and a half laps, Aiden second and Daniel beating Ryan by inches...

The D final was another close race - at least in the early stages. Peter, Terry and Ash ran in a  Mega-G+ formation, Peter eking out a half second lead by the thirty second mark. Mike was fast, but crashy in white. Peter controlled the race from the front, keeping a gap of just over a lap back to Terry and Ash. That was probably enough to have one minor off and keep a lead... There was a crash-fest in the closing stages, but Peter escaped, as did Terry. Ash dropped back, but was still a long way ahead of Mike in fourth.

The C final was a trial run for Gen6 shoot-out contenders Deborah, Jerome and Peter, to see if they could prepare themselves for a successful run against reigning champion Keith at the end of the evening. Stephen was in the mix too, on a welcome visit back racing the small cars. Deborah crashed the first time through turn four, Peter swiftly following. That left Stephen a second ahead of Jerome at thirty seconds, a gap that had lengthened to three laps at half distance. The win was Stephen's, but behind him, Deborah was putting on a great show in white, hunting down Jerome. At the end, the gap stabilised at three seconds, but it had been good practice for the show-down. Peter rolled in five laps back, but was he holding something in reserve for later?

Although Stephen may have been a bit veni, vidi, vici against the Mega-G+s, he was up against very strong opposition in the B final. Keith had done magnificently to qualify fourth, but John and Ned both felt they had something to prove. John got off to the worst possible starts, stalling on the line and then crashing on lap three. That put him last after thirty seconds. At the front, Ned was 0.2 of a second ahead of Keith, with Stephen more focused on defending third than staying with the leaders. Ned still had the lead at half distance, but now by less than 0.1 of a second. He just could not shake off the Mega-G+ Mustang. As we approached the final thirty seconds, Keith could hang on no more - a crash gave Ned some breathing space. As the chequered flag fell, Ned won by just under a lap, Keith half a lap ahead of John.

That left the penultimate race of the evening - the A final. Mike lined up in red lane, with Andy choosing yellow. The win would be important for the club championship, Mike currently having a thirty point lead over Andy. However, Alex and Ned were both looking to gate-crash the party with their eyes on both the junior and race winner's medals. All four ran in formation for the opening laps. Slowly Mike and Andy pulled away, Mike stretching out an extra inch here or there. That continued as the race approached the half way point, but then Andy crashed, dropping to the back. The four cars were lapping at a rapid pace, Andy got past Ned and slowly closed in on Alex. Ahead, Mike seemed to find an extra gear and took advantage of the battle behind him, pulling out a comfortable gap. With twenty seconds on the clock, Andy moved past Alex, but the youngster responded - they ran almost neck and neck to the chequered flag, Andy finishing about three feet ahead.

Mike took the win, the Nascar championship and a sixty point lead in the club championship. Alex grabbed the junior medal and confirmed his third Nascar junior championship in a row. Ned seemed content with a decent finish which moves him back into the top three of the junior club championship after a season disrupted by his GSCEs.

Meanwhile, Keith, Deborah, Jerome and Peter were preparing for the winner-takes-all Gen6 Cup championship showdown. It was really sad that Tony wasn't able to join us on the grid - his Gen6 win in May qualifying him for the show-down. Keith won the other three rounds, with Deborah, Jerome and Peter qualifying on points. It was going to take an amazing performance and a little luck to beat Keith tonight.

One hope for the others would be Keith having a bad start. But it was Jerome and Deborah who crashed out on lap one. They'd have to recover very quickly to still be in with a chance. Keith pulled out a useful early lead - nearly half a lap over Peter, but Peter was driving beautifully in white. Behind the top two, Jerome and Deborah were back in the groove and have a great battle. All four were driving well, but it was Keith who was in charge. He had a cushion of a lap at half distance and the fastest car under him. It would take both an error and bad luck to take away the title. And it didn't happen. Peter kept at it and even though the gap was two laps at the end, he'd driven an almost perfect race for the championship runner-up spot. Jerome only just pipped Deborah to third.

And that was it for the evening. Thanks to a McCann père et fils production on race control, we'd got through a busy evening well before 9.30. A big thanks to Mike, Stephen and Daniel. Also a big thanks to everyone who came out to race and made it a very enjoyable, sociable and competitive evening at the Barn. Special thanks goes to our Nascar set-up crew and to everyone who stayed behind to pack away.

That's almost the end of our ninth season at the Barn. We still have two Digital Saturdays - the first in ten days time - plus our final HO club round of the year on Wednesday 5 December. The championship might well go down to the very last final of the night...

- Andy P



Race Results

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