((There is something that I would like to try and experiment with using this race as a test engine, and something that is more prevalent in the trucks and Xfinity Series. It won't be reflected too much here, but there will be the assumption that all of our player-created drivers made it to the end. There will be a submission posted soon with the final product of this experiment...hopefully it works! - CC))
"Live from the Daytona International Speedway, this is FRN...the voice of FURCAR."
The arrival of the 4th of July weekend meant that it was time for the FURCAR Furry Cup Series to head back to where it all began, as the teams got set to duke it out under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway. The traditional mid-year 400-mile race has been held since the track's opening in 1959 under many names and is now the Coke Zero 400, but even with a hundred fewer miles than the marquee event in the stock car racing calendar, a win at Daytona still carries all the weight and prestige, and the pride of winning at one of the iconic motorsports facilities in the world.
The teams and drivers were eager to get out onto the track for practice, but there was a minor skirmish that forced a couple drivers to backup cars after Draco Potens and Ty Vulpintaur made inadvertent contact approaching Turn 3. Coco Bennington, who was one of the drivers involved, said that "this is ridiculous having to put cars at risk like this in practice," though she may have only been griping about being in the middle of the pack in terms of practice speeds. At the top of the heap was Shockey Rai and Jackie Caldoon, who ran identical laps of 202.215 mph in the session and were both feeling pretty good about their chances in qualifying to put down that good lap.
Unfortunately, they never got the chance as rain descended upon the Daytona Beach area and forced the cancellation of qualifying. As such, Rai and Caldoon would take the front row, with the #54 technically "winning" the pole on account of points. And the rains continued well on through the weekend, with the only break at least coming during the ARFA Grand National and FURCAR Furaffinity Series races on Friday and Saturday, though the former was completed early Friday afternoon before Furry Cup qualifying. The rains would continue through Sunday and into the evening, but that didn't damper the spirits of the fans...as well as a number of VIPs in attendance. There were a number of athletes from other sports at the track, namely UFFL quarterback Christina Carson and rising FBA star Jake Turner, who admitted to our FRN reporters that he wanted to try his hand at driving a Furry Cup car but would find it difficult given he is a couple inches over 7 feet. Other noted celebrities and VIPs included streer racer-turned-stunt driver and model Marcus Raithe, as well as famed astronaut Sandra Harris and entrepreneurial couple Ian and Fractal Rubin. And recently retired FHL defenseman and Florida native Chris Delucci was given the honor of driving the pace car during the warmup laps, having recently picked up on racing over the past couple of years.
But "Looch" as he had become known to everyone as would have to wait for over four hours for the rain to pass and the track to be completely dry. It was nearly midnight before the track was ready to be turned over to Shockey Rai and Jackie Caldoon, with the rest of the pack behind them...and after all that waiting, the green flag was finally out! Also 'out' was our race reporter...who had fallen asleep! He did catch the first incident at lap 3 when Potens and Wildfox came together exiting Turn 4, but neither had significant damage. The #35 of Kasey the Husky was not so lucky as he got clipped and turned up against the wall, and had to spend a lot of time on pit road getting repairs...but from what our pit reported learned when he DID wake up was that Kasey had fought his way back onto the lead lap and was able to stay in the lead pack. This was his account:
"Wha--what, did I miss anything. . .WHAT?!? There's only eight laps to go?!? How long was I out for? Anyway...looks like Eddie T. Wolf's leading the field, with Rai, Mitch Brown, Ty Vulpintaur and Croco Chilton the top-5, followed by E.J. Stripes, Iceroad Lion and Dart Wuffy all single-file. From that point back, they're all 2 and 3-wide behind them--oh! There's been an accident--OH! The 17 of Megarda just got airborne after getting nudged offline and digging the splitter into the wet grass...he got all the way off the ground before coming back on all fours a couple times during that excursion. But it looks like. . .nope, he won't be able to get it back to pit road. Looks like William Megarda's night is done here at lap 153."
It would take a while to clean up the track from all the grass and mud that had gotten onto the track surface...but it was the recipe to cook up a green-white-checkered run to the finish. Eddie T. Wolf had the dominant car once he got up to the front, and while a few other drivers had the lead over the course of the night, only Shockey Rai could pass him on the track. And while Eddie preferred the high line on the track, he knew he had to stay against the double-yellow line to hold onto the win. It would be exactly two laps to go when they took the green flag again, this time for the last time as the #53 got the jump on Rai, with Brown behind Eddie and Chilton behind Rai. Brown would pull up level with the 54, allowing Eddie to get away a little, but also forcing him to move up to cover both lanes. Chilton thought about poking the nose of his #15 Ford out to try and make it 3-wide, but was fearful of getting hung out as they came to the white flag. This was it. . .with the way the field had spread out behind them, it would be checkers or wreckers. As Eddie came onto the Superstretch for the final time...we'll take it to our FRN play-by-play team for the final half-lap...
"Now the high line's starting to come in, Shockey Rai leading that charge, nipping at Eddie T. Wolf's tail as they head into 3 for the final time! Eddie T. Wolf holds it on the bottom, keeping Brown behind him...will they have something for him as they come out of 4? We shall soon find out, as here they come for the flag! Eddie moves up high to cover Rai, then back down again...and Eddie T. Wolf will win the Coke Zero 400--AND THERE'S A CRASH BEHIND HIM AT THE LINE!!! BROWN GETS TURNED AROUND! RAI'S IN THE WALL--THIS IS THE BIG ONE--OHHHH! THERE'S A CAR IN THE CATCH FENCE TUMBLING DOWN THE FRONTSTRETCH!!! Someone just got airborne and into the fence--and the 34 just hit him on his roof! We don't know who that is as crewmen race out to attend to the driver. . .that looks like it could be the 88, but we'll have to get confirmation on that--yep, it's the 88 of Dart Wuffy, who is being shown as coming home in 8th according to our scoring monitors. But his situation is much more dire now..."
Not a single car made it through that wreck unscathed except Eddie T. Wolf, who won the race, as cars slid and spun through the short-chute leading to Turn 1, reminiscent of the epic finish to the fall race at Talladega in 2012 where Croco Chilton left the mangled field in his wake to grab the checkers. But everyone's attention was focused on Dart Wuffy and his completely destroyed #88 Chevy SS...and to everyone's amazement (and relief), he was able to extract himself from what was left of the vehicle and walk away to the ambulance. He will forever go down as having the most dramatic and destructive 7th place finish in FURCAR history after the final scoring was completed. They showed Mitch Brown as coming across in 2nd after getting pushed into the wally, then Shockey Rai in 3rd as he came across the line sideways before catapulting Dart Wuffy over three lanes of traffic and into the catchfence; fortunately there were minimal spectator injuries and only cuts and scrapes to report after that horrific crash. Croco Chilton and Ty Vulpintaur would round out the top 5, though their cars were severely damaged in the accident as well.
When Eddie T. Wolf got the Victory Lane, he was clearly relieved to hear Dart was okay after seeing the events unfold in his rearview mirror. He was also glad to know that he had taken the overall points lead back from Wildfox, who was caught up in another incident earlier in the race and went a couple laps down while fixing the damage to his car. In the current season, Mitch Brown would further expand his lead to 63 points over Shockey Rai, leaving many to wonder if he would be a serious contender for the overall title if he didn't miss any of the races early in Season 1. It would be wise for Shockey not to look over his shoulder, for it is only 35 points back to Dart Wuffy in 7th, with a hungry pack of drivers ready to overtake him. Next weekend's race will be at one of the newer tracks on the Furry Cup circuit as the teams will tackle the popular Kentucky Speedway in a Saturday night showdown.
54 - Shockey Rai (No time, qualifying rained out)