The Final Turn

March 22, 2012
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You are currently an underdog in the intimidating world of NASCAR racing. You are in your twenties, with a fitting career that gets better every Sunday afternoon. Although your past wasn’t the best, you intend to have an amazing future. Your parents divorced when you were only four. The custody battles were not very heated, because neither of them actually wanted you. Instead, your crazy uncle Tom adopted you and raised you along with his other son, Jared.

Jared was six at the time, but you did everything together. When Jared turned eight two years later, Tom bought him a go-kart. Every Sunday, from April through October, your new family went to the closest race track and competed against the other racers. Another two years later when you turned eight, Tom bought you an additional go-kart. At this time, every Sunday, your new family went to the track, and both you and your brother competed. By the time you were ten, you and Jared were in the same class, and competed against each other. The talent, between you and your brother, was surprisingly equal, and although you were younger, you still beat Jared more than he beat you.

Eventually, around when you were seventeen, you and Jared both moved into bigger cars, called late models. These were much larger, much faster, and much more dangerous. There were only a few crashes in your career so far, none of them being major. Uncle Tom supported you and Jared financially through all of this, even though it was very expensive. He received a large bonus from his job, a store manager, for doing multiple overtime shifts recently. He immediately put it to use, moving you both to the NASCAR Nationwide series.

This was a much more serious form of racing. Every race was televised on national TV. High-class sponsors were introduced, but the amount of money needed to keep the team afloat was still immense. You and your brother appeared at press conferences, meetings, and had a mountain of paperwork to complete before you could even enter the series. You soon did, however, and were still very successful throughout the increased competition and high stakes. Jared led you through most of your childhood, but now you were starting to lead him. You consistently won more races and earned more points than he did through the seasons. After four years, you had won a total of seventeen races; he had only won twelve. These were still impressive numbers, compared to the rest of the competitors.

At age 21, with your winnings saved up, you graduated into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Jared had decided to stay another year in the Nationwide Series to gain more experience. After your first year, which was incredibly good for a rookie, Jared joined your team and once again you were racing together. Now, you have raced in two full seasons and most of the third, reunited with Jared. You are trying to win your first Cup Series championship this year, and you are only fourteen points away from the leader. You still have three races to make up those fourteen points, and get ahead of the current leader. All of the garage and pit operations have been running smoothly, so it’s all up to your driving skills.

In the first race you do fairly well, by placing sixth and leading 43 laps. You are now only ten points behind the leader. However, the second race does not go as planned. Fifty laps in, your right rear tire blows and causes an enormous crash. Eleven cars are involved in the pileup, and your car is towed to the garage in pieces. You are completely unscathed, and are filled with a new determination. In the end, you fall to 26 points from first. Jared still sat contently in fourteenth place, as he did for nearly the entire season.

The final race is at Martinsville Speedway. It has always been an easy track for you, winning twice and with two top 10 finishes, in your 6 times racing there. It is also a favorite of Uncle Tom’s, because he can get the best seats and the best food services in the entire speedway. You have to use your backup car because of your wreck the previous week. The race finally begins, after an hour delay for rain. The first half of the race goes very well, lap after lap, pit stop after pit stop. As it grows dark in the second half, the track surface cools, and as usual, the pit crew makes their adjustments to perfect the handling. There are still about fifty laps left at 9:00 PM. Now, the air temperature is 53?, and the track temperature is around 49?. This, an extremely low racing temperature, has greatly affected the handling of your car, and you are noticing it progressively get worse through every corner. You can’t make a pit stop because you have made your way up to second place, and need to win the race to win the points. You have to continue in your current condition for the remaining twelve laps. With only three laps left, you take the lead from the driver who was first in the race and the points. You look back to see where your brother is, but he is no where in sight. He usually is entering the turn when you are exiting it, but he is no where to be found, before or after the turn.

It is now down to the final lap, and your radio is silent so that you can concentrate as much as possible on the final four bends. You round turn one and turn two, struggling to keep your car straight and in the lead. The driver in second place is only about twenty feet behind you, so you can’t afford any mistakes. You make it around the third, and start to get excited. In your excitement, you lose concentration and enter the final turn too fast. You realize this and immediately try to correct your mistake by turning hard and slamming on the brakes. This only makes the situation worse. Before you know it, your car is sideways, drifting through the bend. You know there is no chance of getting the car straight again, but you still try as hard as possible. Just before you give up hope, you see another car in the same situation, but coming towards you much faster. You see the number on the side of the car. Twenty-six, you say to yourself. After a few seconds, it clicks. It is Jared, now sliding thirty feet away and closing in on you. You immediately know what he is doing, and prepare yourself. He slides into the side of you, passing the car who was in second, and straightens out his car, which pushes you straight at the same time. Another few yards later, you cross the finish line. Your brother has just saved your championship season.

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