It wasn't the finish that Mini Tyrrell and the #81 Mini T's Fastest Grease In The East race team wanted, but it was definitely a finish they needed with a hard fought 8th place effort in the CARS Tour race at Florence Motor Speedway.
Mini began the weekend with an afternoon test session on Thursday where the 16-year-old driver became acclimated with the track. Up until Thursday's test, he had never visited the 4/10-mile track in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
When Mini visits a track for the first time, the initial days are always a learning experience. He struggled at the outset to find the racing line to the point where he was essentially driving off the track in the corner in the quest to find speed.
What separates Mini from so many of his competitors is his ability to accelerate the learning curve. He studied his competition during Friday's practice sessions and came prepared for race day.
He qualified 12th and began charging through the field after the green flag waved. By lap 35, he was running 2nd and battling Justin Johnson for the race lead. After a competition caution slowed the field on lap 40, Mini restarted on the outside line. As Johnson re-assumed the top spot, Mini was able to clear Lee Pulliam to hold onto 2nd place. However, as Pulliam looked to the inside in turn 3, a miscommunication between Mini and his spotter resulted in contact that sent the #81 Chevrolet into a spin that caused slight damage to the right side of the hood.
Mini came to pit road for repairs and rejoined the race outside of the top-15. He moved up to re-enter the top-10 by lap 90. He came across the finish line with an 8th place finish, which was his 4th top-8 finish of the season. He passed an astounding 20 cars during the course of that race. Mini is now in the top-10 in CARS Tour driver points standings for the first time in 2020.
We had a decent weekend at Florence Motor Speedway. We had never been there before and it was hard to pick up for me. We qualified 12th and raced hard. We made it up to 2nd and were conserving tires. Lee Pulliam was under me in turn three and it was a mistake and miscommunication between me and my spotter. I turned down on Lee and that caused us to spin out. I apologized and talked to Lee and his team. They were very respectful toward me. I will continue to think very highly of Lee. That incident caused me to go to the back of the pack. We drove back to finish in 8th. Thank you to everybody who helps me get to the race track. Thank you to my race team for everything they do for me.