Slate places first among Pro drivers in Cordele

Rafe Slate poses with the trophy he earned for finishing first among Legends Pro series drivers at last Saturday’s race at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele.

PHOTO: Contributed

By Justin Hubbard

justin@lakeoconeenews.us

 

Rafe Slate took home some hardware last Saturday after placing first among Pro division drivers in a Legends series race at Watermelon Capital Speedway.

The race, held at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, pitted drivers from various classifications against one another. Slate was one of just two Pro series drivers but the field was full of talented racers from throughout the Legends racing series.

Slate said his No. 8 Solid Rock Racing car was the fastest it had ever been at the track.

“We were just really fast,” Slate said. “The track was about a tenth and a half (seconds) faster than it usually is. Doug (Stevens) had a really fast setup on the car this week and there was just so much grip on the track. We were able to run really, really fast.”

On the 19th lap of the 20-lap event, Slate posted a time of 18.382 seconds. It was the fastest of the race and possibly the best-ever time in the history of the Watermelon Capital Speedway.

Slate’s speed powered him to a strong finish. He placed second overall in the race, just .251 seconds behind race winner Cody Hall, who won the 2017 Semi-Pro championship.

Slate said he battled Hall for several laps and nearly passed him at one point but just couldn’t build up enough steam to clear him.

“It was really hard to pass,” Slate said. “I got up under the leader and got chopped off a little bit and just wasn't able to get back up under him. We were both really close in times and speed.”

The difficulty of navigating around other drivers stuck out to Slate right away when he first started driving in the Pro classification this year.

Slate finished ninth in national Semi-Pro points last season. He quickly made the jump to the Pro division, where he said he’s seen a step up in skill over the past several races.

“What I've noticed, the biggest thing, is you're a lot more comfortable racing around people,” Slate said. “Everybody runs really, really close, a lot of side-by-side stuff going on. It's really hard to pass, just because everybody's so fast and so skilled. ... When you get up on the outside, everybody runs that line as hard as they possibly can to keep from losing their position. It makes it really difficult but it made it really fun, since you know everybody around you, for the most part, is using their heads and they're not going to make any silly decisions.”

This weekend will see Slate’s return to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he regularly competes in winter races and the Thursday Thunder series in the summer.

The Legends series will run doubleheaders starting Saturday morning. Slate said he’s confident in his chances to potentially record the sweep.

“I think we're going to have a pretty good car this weekend,” he said. “Hopefully, we'll be able to pull out a win there, if not two.”

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