January 07,2017

Zack Donatti Memorial Race

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Zack Donatti Memorial Race

 

Carter Stokes kicked off his 2017 season last night racing in the Zack Donatti Memorial 125 on a chilly evening at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  Zack and Carter grew up together racing quarter midgets and the two were very close friends.  This race has been on Stokes’ calendar since day one.   

In preparation for the 2017 season, Team33 has been doing a lot of testing and their Racecar Solutions prepared Chevy was in top form.  Stokes was consistently in the top five during all of the practice sessions leading up to the night’s main event.  This was no small feat considering the level of talent that was on hand from all over the USA.  Stokes was the last of the 22 Pro Late Models to qualify and he laid down a pair of solid laps that would earn him a respectable ninth starting position.

At the completion of the touching opening ceremonies and driver intros, the command was given and it was time to go racing.  With the green flag high in the air the field roared to life and sailed off into Turn 1.  Carter knew that he had to preserve his equipment in the early going if he wanted a car that he could win with in the end.  Getting too aggressive too early, and using up your tires and brakes, is a sure-fire way to take you right out of contention when it matters most.  With this in mind, Stokes conservatively worked his way up to the sixth position by the time the first caution flew at lap 62.  He had notched another position to fifth when the yellow flew again approximately a dozen circuits later. 

After the planned lap 75 controlled caution which gave the teams the opportunity to refuel the cars, Stokes got down to business and began to methodically make his way to the front of the field.  There were a handful of cautions in the ensuing laps and Stokes had to often battle the same guys for the same positions multiple times.  As any racer knows, the closer that you get to the front of the field the harder it is to make a pass.  Stokes made each pass count and he did so with respect.  After running in the second position for 20 plus laps, Stokes setup a good run and was able to take the lead on lap 113.

Stokes clearly had the best car at this stage of the race and his focus was on hitting his marks and not overdriving the corners.  As the laps ticked away, the gap between the top two cars ebbed and flowed as they worked their way through lapped traffic.  Carter kept his focus and was able to drive away from every challenge.  You could see the desperation mounting with the second-place driver in the final laps as he saw his chances for an honest win dwindling.  They passed under the white flag the same way that they had for the previous ten laps – Stokes in the lead with about a car length advantage over second place.  Stokes maintained that gap through turns 1 and 2, down the backstretch, and into turn 3.  That all changed just as Carter was getting into turn 4.  With no other chance at victory, the second-place car plowed into the rear of the Stokes machine sending Carter spinning up the track and out of contention.  All within sight of the checkered flag.

It’s a real shame that the night turned out the way that it did and Carter didn’t get to honor one of his best friends in Victory Lane.

Carter Stokes Racing would like to sincerely thank Atlantis Contractors, MediaMix365, Special Forces Automotive and Richard Childress Racing for your support.  Racecar Solutions, your tireless dedication to building the fastest car on the track is awesome.  Thank you!

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