2000 WGGT - Texas - Sunday Report
When I woke up this morning, I really didn't have a good feeling about how the race was going to turn out. I usually have a gut feeling on which way it tends to go. But this morning, things were different.
Had our typical meeting with James, the Sportscar Chief Steward, going over lots of rules and regulations regarding the race. And there were lots!!! Very serious penalties for over shooting the chicane, going below the white line, etc.............
As far as the weather, well at 9 AM it was already 95 degrees and getting hotter very quickly! I fully expected the heat inside the cockpit to be around 140 if not higher. This was going to be a test of true physical strength inside the car today. But I was ready because I had nothing to loose.
Qualifying 6th was really poor but it also at the same time provided me with a great challenge to face. I was ready to drive hard and to see what would happen.
At the start, I got a fairly good jump and got past Milka Duno. which put me into 5th spot. Then my sites were on Niki Ruman. I sat back for a couple of laps and then made my move coming off the oval into the infield. OK, now in 4th and looking at Divina for 3rd.
She was a little more difficult to catch and eventually pass. Her car was starting to wear out already and developed a push coming out of the infield onto the oval. Got a good run underneath her and we were side by side on the oval. By the time of the front chicane I had pulled ahead of her. So that put me in 3rd place.
Fred on the radio was excellent. Giving me splits, time remaining and encouragement to finish the race. It was getting so hot inside the car that it was getting hard to breath!! I really had to focus and keep my concentration. And believe me it was very, very hard.
When Fred told me there was 15 minutes remaining, I thought it was a bad joke!! No way I thought. This thing had to be over shortly!! Well, I was wrong and it was the toughest 15 minutes of my life!
With about 5 minutes remaining, the second place car threw a belt and lost a motor. I felt really bad for Belinda because she and Sonja Bauer were having a good battle for 1st and 2nd.
When I saw the white flag, that last lap was the hardest of my life. Coming out of turn 4 on the oval, I kept looking around the "A" pillar of the car for the checking flag. And there it was......................................... I screamed for joy inside the car.
It was a good fight and I felt good about my performance. Coming out with a 2nd place finish when I qualified so poorly, was a good day at the office. Much of the credit goes to the Panoz crew for being determined to give me a good race car for the race. And for Fred for all his encouragement and my Mom who just being "my Mom" was encouragement alone!! It was great having her there!
So here I sit on the plane headed back to Portland where I am actually hoping it will be raining!! My body temperature has finally come down but I still have a smile very wide on my face. My feet however, have little blisters on them from the heat from the pedals. Yep, it was that hot!
Thanks everybody for tuning in and I truly appreciate your comments, notes and phone calls.
See you at the track,