The car in front of Danny moved left protecting his line, something within the rules of racing, if Danny wanted to approach the first chicane on the left hand side he was going to have to move offline and skate down the edge of the track. Such a manoeuvre was not risky providing the leading car did not keep moving across the race track, if they did they’d risk being black flagged for blocking but with three black flag warnings per race such an act was not unheard of.
They hadn’t even reached the start/finish line and the driver ahead of him was already driving defensively so Danny decided his move had to be even more defensive. Committing himself to taking the left line no matter how far the car in front moved Danny waited until the last possible second to make his move.
In a move that the race commentators would analyse over and over again for weeks Danny remained focused on the car in front. Having followed the lead car’s acceleration the two of them had broken away from the pack enough that Danny’s concentration didn’t need to remain behind but in front. He watched intently as they approached the point where he could accelerate.
The leading car’s front wheels hadn’t even crossed the line when Danny made his first move. The driver in front had obviously anticipated Danny’s move left, it was fairly standard racing move and not hard to predict, but he did underestimate how far Danny was willing to take it.
Pulling left out of the slip stream Danny suddenly felt the power as his car gained speed. Instead of only pulling out one car width, a width he knew wouldn’t be enough when the driver ahead tried to protect his racing line and position, Danny pulled out three car widths. It took him longer than he liked, would make him loose the slip stream effect quicker and mean he’d be running his left wheels on the painted white line on the edge of the track but he hoped it would all pay off.
The roar of the crowd as Danny made his move was ear shattering but even without the noise of his car Danny would not have heard it, he was concentrating too hard. The move took everyone, but Danny, by surprise and by the time the leading car’s front wheels where crossing the finish line the front of Danny’s car was already level with the rear.
Danny accelerated hard, racing boot pushing the pedal all the way to the floor, the engine was roaring, approaching redline, Danny knew he didn’t have anything in reserve but the car was still accelerating. As the left hand wheels hit the painted white line Danny felt the car slip slightly, it wasn’t enough to send him off the track but it was more than enough to remind him how risky his manoeuvrer was.
By the time the leading car’s rear wheels were across the start/finish line and passing became legal Danny’s front wheels were level with the front door of the car, by the time Danny’s rear wheels where crossing the line the two cars neck and neck and there was nothing the other driver could do to slow Danny down.
Once Danny was in lead he turned the steering wheel right to get himself back on the racing line before the approaching corner, the instant he turned the wheel he felt the slick tyres slip on the painted line. At more than 230kph the rear end of the car lurched as the tyre came off the paint and onto the bitumen surface. If Danny’s heart wasn’t already racing it certainly would have sped up as the car lurched but he was in the zone and although from outside the car it looked like a hair raising moment Danny regained control, pulled across onto the racing line and prepared himself to head into the first corner and chicane.
As Danny exited the first chicane clean and in lead the tv commentators were ranting and raving about how risky but well executed Danny’s move was, they replayed the move from several angels, in slow motion and at full speed. Before the commentators had finished their replays and discussions Danny was settled in the lead and accelerating ahead. While it wasn’t an intentional move the driver who Danny had passed helped him further by holding up a few of the faster cars and allowing Danny to break out even further.
Although the concrete canyon of the Markstown street circuit saw, on average, more safety car interventions than any other race track on the yearly circuit luck was on Danny’s side and there was not another safety car before it was time for his last pit stop for fuel. Before pulling in to the pits, at the end of lap 96 he had a massive 17 second lead and he’d stopped complaining about the car pulling to the left, he was in a zone and that zone was going to win him the race.
Although he came out of the pits in fifth position like his previous stop the cars ahead of him were all due another pit stop and all Danny had to do was keep it straight, keep it off the walls and the race was his.
Thirty nine laps later Danny crossed the line and took the first race of the season, he had a 15 second lead and apart from the ding Fittzy had put in the front panel on the third lap his car was straight and undamaged. It wasn’t just a good start to the season it was a perfect start.
After the flag dropped Danny did one final lap, his door open and his hand out the door waving to the cheering crowd. At several points on the track where it opened out and gave him space Danny did a few doughnuts for the crowd, but he was careful having nursed the tired tyres for the last 20 laps thanks to his earlier than scheduled pit stop and the aggressive way he drove to ensure he kept the lead.
On the podium Danny was presented with the winner’s cup but despite his second placing Fittzy refused to acknowledge Danny’s win, even as they sprayed champagne all over the crew in front of the presentation stage Fittzy refused to face Danny, but Danny didn’t let it get to him.
When all the cameras had disappeared, and the roaming reporters were off chasing other stories Danny was finally able to head back to the drivers truck and get out of his race gear. He walked through the pit garage helmet in his hand and race suit zipper open down to the mid chest congratulating the crew and accepting their congratulations. There was high fives, pats on the back, even hugs as they all took in the first win of what they hoped would be many of the coming season.
Congratulations over Danny headed towards the truck when he was stopped in his path, it was Fittzy.
“Who the fuck taught you to drive? You’ve always been fucking useless but you took that to a new level today.” Fittzy yelled at him.
“Didn’t I win the race?” Danny asked trying not to enter into an argument.
“I’m talking about that bullshit at the start of the race and you know it.”
“Didn’t I win the race?”
“Fuck you Danny Homo, that’s what we should call you from now on, not Holmsey. You drive like a fucking homo.”
“Didn’t I win the race?” Danny was trying his best not to laugh, he was also trying not to work up the rage to simple punch Fittzy and walk away.
“You drive like a homo!” Fittzy threw back at him.
“What does that even mean Fittzy?” Danny asked knowing there was no answer to the question. “You ran me into the wall, I recovered and won the race. Congratulations me!”
It was at that moment Fittzy took a swing at Danny, Danny twisted sideways, Fittzy missed and four of Danny’s crew grabbed him and stopped him from throwing any more punches.
“Get out of here Fittzy.” Danny said as he walked off heading for the truck.
He was three steps away from the truck when he ran into the team manager stepping out of the truck trailer.
“Good win and well done for not reacting to Fittzy.”
Danny had a history of mood swings but he had been working on it on the off season and where such a situation with Fittzy would have once had him raging and throwing punches, he was now able to react without such anger.
“Thanks Dave.” Danny replied.
As Dave kept walking he said over his shoulder. “Oh yeah Tracey is in your trailer.”
“Argh, shit, thanks for the head’s up Dave.” Danny said over his shoulder as he stepped up to the trailer.
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