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Gateway has drag races Saturday nights and they kept Cheryl and I awake until the rain danced in and shut them down (and shut them up). It rained hard enough to wash the track and put many folks in small lakes by morning. Worst off were those who had put their cars on jack-stands and found the stands serving as piers in several inches of water!

The track was still a little wet during qualifying and it seemed a slick. Incredibly, we were faster than the day before. Rob had replaced a warped rotor after the Regional and now closed the rest of the gap. We qualified 0.03 seconds apart, a full second under Saturday's track record. More importantly, the next SSB car was two seconds and five positions behind us. We would never see the rest of the SSB class.

We out-qualified an SSA Eclipse and an SSGT Camaro. The Eclipse pained us early by using his power to get by on the front straight. He immediately held us up, though, as he was slow through the turns. He braked unexpectedly early on the first slow turn and I tapped him, crunching my right-front turn signal. Eventually I got around him and began to stretch a small lead as he tangled with Rob, and even blocked him at one point. When Rob finally got past, he used up his car trying to run me back down. Meanwhile I had used up most of my car trying to stretch the lead. I began to feel a vibration on right-hand turns just after the half-way mark. I figured I'd overheated the front tire by pressing too hard for too long. I didn't think there was any way the tire would finish the race and I backed off a bit.

Rob was on me instantly. The left-front wasn't sticking well now and I couldn't hold him off, but I couldn't give up too easily. Rob out-braked me at the end of the front straight and we went into turn one side-by side. We came out of turn one side-by-side and I escorted him to turn two, through which we remained abreast. On the short-shute before turn three I looked over and saw Rob shaking his head, undoubtedly laughing.

We made it through three and four still hand-in-hand, but I was losing ground. Turn five is a flat-out, slide-all-over affair that would see the demise of one of us for sure. I eased just a bit and tucked in behind. A few turns later he muffed and I went inside. I couldn't get inside far enough to do any good but I couldn't get back out fast enough either; I got my left-front fender crunched. My fault.

A lap later I had another chance to get inside of him, but my brakes locked and I slid wide. We touched. Oh, hell, we BANGED! A perfect body-blow, almost door-handle to door-handle. My fold-up mirror folded up. I felt like this was my fault, too, but it was mostly a "racing thing". The damage, it turned out, was not as bad as it felt. I reached out and unfolded my mirror.

I stayed close enough to strike, but I settled in to working on saving the car for the finish. My radio was weak, but a few laps later I heard static that sounded like, "Last lap!" I mounted my charge. Rob's brakes were all but gone and he was braking early. Mine were faded enough that I couldn't get a serious dive in on him. Rob's a good racer and he wasn't going to hand it to me. I tried as hard as I could but was still just off his tail coming around for the checker.
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