The clouds and occasional sprinkles continued throughout the morning and early afternoon. As the race start approached everyone's eyes were once again on the radar. While rain was in the area, it did not appear that any would be hitting the track anytime soon. That, combined with the fact that the track was currently dry, meant that everyone made the call to stay on dry tires for the race. I got suited up and got the car on grid, ready to improve on Saturday's result.
The session before our race was ended a little early due to an incident that brought out the black flags. We left the pits uncertain about whether or not that incident had been cleaned up or not. As we approached turn 14 on the first pace lap, it became evident that we would be making at least one more lap around behind the pace car. This is where the confusion began. As we reached the end of the back straight on the second pace lap everyone was eagerly watching the lights on the pace car to see if we would be getting the green on our next trip by the start/finish line. As the pace car turned down the hill at turn 14 and went out of sight, its lights were still on. This left those of us not directly behind the pace car to think we were going to be making another lap. As I crested turn 14 and looked down the hill at the pace car, I realized that it had now turned it's lights off. The problem was that none of the cars in front of me had moved into the proper two-wide configuration and were instead still nose to nail. As we all hurried to get down the hill and get our cars into place the pace car pulled into the pits and the front of the field took off to the green flag. As luck would have it, I was able to continue my speed from trying to catch up and take it onto the front straight. This gave me a great run on the 4th place car and I was able to get by easily before turn one. Video of the start, and the rest of the race, is below.
The rain started at turn 10 on the first lap. It was quite a surprise to fire in there door to door with other cars to find a completely different grip level than we were expecting. Everyone kept it together and we battled on to turn 15 where the rain stopped. From there on out, each lap meant more rain on more of the track. Just staying on track became the name of the game as the conditions deteriorated. Cars from all classes were going off track all over the track. Due to the weekend's wet conditions, most of the cars that touched the grass either hit a wall or got stuck in the grass/mud. I found myself in a position in which I was well behind third place and well ahead of fifth, so I felt no need to push it unreasonably. Pushing a car on dry tires in wet conditions is quite a physical and mental challenge. I was quite happy to see the checkered flag.
Overall, my first race experience with the Mid-Atlantic region was quite a humbling experience. It is very apparent that I am going to have to step up my game to be able to hang with the front runners here. Challenge accepted.