Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia: The Kobalt Tools 500 was run at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Henry County, Georgia. The 1.54 mile quad-oval is paved with asphalt and is banked at 24° in the turns and 5° in the straights. This would be a horrible track for me to begin to experience controller issues on.

My version of this event based on a 25% race length and a 4X pit stop frequency is an 82 lap race with a full fuel load providing an estimated 17 laps under green flag conditions. This would result in approximately 4.82 pit stops during the event.

I ran 23 total laps in practice having wrecked once and executing two pits stops. Somehow I managed to pull in the fastest lap at 29.950, 0.212 better than second place Michael Walt rip. Sadly though this did not convey into qualifying where I posted a lap of 30.034, 0.519 off of pole sitter Kevin Harvick and landing me in the middle of the field in 21st position.

On lap seven I would be lose control of the vehicle and take out Kasey Kahne for the second week in a row, as well as the Miller Lite car. After pitting for repairs I would take the green flag one lap down and the first car lined up on the inside racing line (I would have been better off going to the end of the longest line).

In short order I would cause the second accident and yellow flag of the race when I came down on the apron, shot back up across the track and took out Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon in a horrific upside down grinder of a wreck. Although I would manage to navigate the smoking hulk back to pit road, my crew chief Billy Bob Jo Beth Bill Bobby refused to work on it and my day was done.

The handful of laps and done effectively ended my season, dropping me down to 15th overall in the points standings at 455, 163 back from first place Denny Hamlin. Although I do have two wins on the year (the most of any driver), my recent finishes have virtually driven the death nail into the remainder of the season, assuming my sponsor does not drop me for a developmental driver.

Other thoughts: I first tried to run this event with my Microsoft Sidewinder Precision Racing Wheel, a controller device that has served me well for over eight years now but is finally showing its age. I grant that with realistic weather the cooler track temperatures caused fresh tires some time to build up pressure and achieve proper grip levels (something that is accurately modeled in this game); however there were greater issues to be had.

Atlanta is a track that I have raced on many times in NASCAR 2003, both against the AI and against human drivers in both public servers and in several online racing leagues. I have won several longer distance events at this track and feel quite comfortable making laps and working traffic. This time out however something was seriously amiss.

Coming out of turn three into the front stretch dogleg, I could never hold the car on the racing line without experiencing some severe over steer. I wrecked in practice and my first attempt at the race before exiting the game and recalibrating the controller both externally through Windows XP and also once back in the game. Something was simply wrong with my steering wheel and it was not the setup in the game, one I have raced with at this track for years.

There could be two things at play here: The controller itself is finally breaking down internally after years of (ab)use, or quite possibly I could also be breaking down in terms of being a gamer. Once you reach a certain age your reflexes and hand-eye coordination begin to deteriorate. This is simple medical fact which manifests itself in any physical and/or mental activity which requires user input and reaction.

This is why many first-person shooter players end up playing war games after they hit their 40’s – it's easier to order a chit to go kill something that dodge bullets and wall hacks on your way to killing a 13 year old noob in Twitch Shooter 6: Operation Bitch Slap.

I ended up pulling out my Logitech dual action gamepad which I use for sports games and Race 07 and actually faired pretty well with it, albeit with the same result as the first race. Perhaps TDU2 is more my speed at this point in life.

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