UCAP - North Wilkesbory (Day 2 - RACE DAY)

UCAP - North Wilkesbory (Day 2 - RACE DAY)

Post by Ken Solhe » Fri, 19 Apr 1996 04:00:00

in NW at about 9 AM.  This gave Steve and myself plenty of time to

Labonte trailer.  On the way we stopped and I finally broke down and
bought a First Union 400 event t-shirt.  If this is the last spring
race I need something to say that I was there and that I believe in
the kind of racing that I think I would find there.

About 9:45 I got to the Kellogg's trailer.  I have never met Cheryl so
I wouldn't know who I was looking for.  She told me that the TSS came
in the trailer so that I could ask there.  After a couple of abortive
attempts to describe the banner with terms like "newsgroup" and
"internet" were met with blank stares she finally said, "Oh, I know
what you mean.  I think that it came with the Petty trailer.  Try over
at the Coors Light trailer."  I had even less luck there.  The guy I
spoke to looked at me like I had three heads - and two of those must
have been terribly disfigured.

I was beginning to get discouraged when I saw someone walking towards
me in a RASN t-shirt.  This had to be Cheryl.  I braved rejection
again but this time met with success.  Cheryl and I spoke for awhile
before my friend Steve walked over.  His Ricky Craven apparel met with
approval.  My fears from the previous day were now fully realized.
GORDON HAT!!!  I don't know if I will ever be able to wear it again...

Not fearing sacrilege, we took the TSS out of her bag and gently laid
it open on the ground.  Fortunately Cheryl had a pen so that I could
sign it.  What an impressive banner!  We agreed to meet again in Dover
in September (if she goes...) and then said our good-byes.  

After cooking a couple of hamburgers we made our way to the
grandstand.  Our seats were directly across from the Start-Finish line
on the back straight.  The guy next to me said, "Well, at least you're
not Ford boys."  "What's wrong with Fords?" I answered.  "Hey you're
YANKEES!" he shouted back at me.  "I hear that y'all up there are
really into racing."  We were interrupted by the invocation and
national anthem., to which he muttered an appreciative offering.

As you all know by now, Jimmy Spencer received a special invitation to
start his engine.  As they all came to life it sounded like the roar
of a jet engine from across the race track.  And then they rolled
right by us.  I don't know if there can be as much tension in any
sport as there is during the pace laps of a race.  Our hopes are all
high for our favorite driver as we fear that our less favorite driver
will take ours out.

The flag dropped and the action began.  It seemed as though no one
around us was watching anyone by DE.  They cheered and whooped as he
quickly made his way to the front.  I'm not an ABE, not a die hard fan
either but I was truly impressed with the way he could cut through
traffic.  I did not see anyone get into turn 3 harder and lower than
he did as he moved to the front.  At the same time, our hero, RC was
sliding back.  Maybe what we heard yesterday was true.  As his tires
got worn he couldn't race with the others.  

TL was lapping people with ease and was quickly closing on RC.  RC was
able to shake Ted Musgrave with some impressive moves in traffic but
Terry was still closing.  Finally, Terry couldn't pass him and went to
pit road for tires and RC led for the second time this season.  

There was racing everywhere one would look on the track.  This was so

spread out.  

On the second caution Ricky was in 7th only one lap down.  But he
couldn't get to the front of the line.  He was almost to the end of
the longest line.  By the time NASCAR gave him the OK (from the same
guys that measured the distance from Loudon to NW??) it was too late
and the green flag had dropped.  

About 50 laps from the end people started leaving.  ARE THEY CRAZY???
They remind me of the people that arrive at Laker games late and leave
early.  I don't want to make a rash judgment but is there too much
racing in the South so that it is taken for granted - so that even on
perhaps the last WC race at this wonderful, shrine-like place they
feel that the end is not important??  It's like leaving Mass before
the Holy Supper....

AND THEN IT HAPPENED.  Right in front of us JN hit the wall and JA
went sliding down toward the entrance of pit road.  I looked up then
back when I heard the collision.  It was RUSTY.  I was bummed!!  I
like RW and he got nailed again.  Why not DE, Why not JG???  All
around me people were cheering, my friend gave someone behind him a
high five.  I was really bummed.

Then its TL and JG for the win.  I didn't think that Jeff would get
him.  There was too much UNOCAL money for the Hendrick team to turn
down.  I have to be happy that TL won on the day he become the
ironman.  Ricky came in 7th.  Had a rough scrape with Ernie and Johnny
Benson with about 7 laps to go.  He's still 4th in points.

After the race we passed by the stand where I bought my shirt.  They
were all gone.  I'm glad I bought mine early.

When one thinks of the kinds of racing that WC drivers do - super
speedways - drafting in packs of 20 or more, road courses - with their

100 miles an hour, you have to realize how talented they are.  Without
tracks like NW this diversity in skills and opportunities to show the
world - and for us to enjoy will be lost.

We drove just about 2,000 miles last weekend.  I would drive 2,000

Ken Solheim
Concord, NH

#41 - 1995 Rookie of the Year
      1996 Kicks ***and Finishes Top 10 in WC Points