Cal came off the bank and down Pit Row like a bat out of hell, nearly running the car in front him over as they pitted.
“Watch your speed. You don’t wanna overshoot the box.”
“I know.” Cal grumbled, still trying to avoid hitting anyone while barreling down the lane.
“He’s going way too fast, boss.” one of the pitties mumbled.
Strip looked down and watched as half the team flinched away as Cal came screeching to a halt. He didn’t overshoot the line, but he left a good fifty foot skid mark behind him. They were going to have to work on that.
But right now Cal needed to focus. Strip knew it wouldn’t do either of them any good to mention it during the race.
“I’m feelin’ good today, guys.” Cal kept his eyes focused straight ahead of him as the crew changed out the last two tires simultaneously. “Real good.”
“Get back out there quick and you might have a chance, kid.” Strip said.
The forklift holding Cal off the ground while his tires were being changed lowered him the same second his wheels were secured. Just a few more seconds to top off his tank and -
The entire team jumped back as the sound of screeching tires against pavement launched Cal forwards. It was too much, too soon. The pittie with the gas can couldn’t remove the nozzle before Cal took off, and was dragged along. Screaming, he let go of the gas can as he fell onto his side.
“Sorry!” Cal yelled as he realized his mistake. He slowed down a bit as the nozzle finally dislodged itself from his body.
“Go, Cal!” Strip yelled back at him. “Don’t slow down! Get back out there!”
“Sorry!” Cal repeated, frazzled.
It was very clear the incident had lost team Dinoco a couple spots as Cal rejoined the field a little farther back than what Strip had hoped for. He sighed and looked back down at the disgruntled team. Todd was still laying on his side, completely done with everything.
“Someone help Todd up already.” Strip ordered. “We’re s’posed to be professionals here.”
“No, no, just leave me here.” his forks drooped as he wallowed in self pity. “You know, King, I realize you’re sitting right there, but man, we miss you.”
“Give the kid time.” Strip watched as another crew member propped him upright again. “I wasn’t any better than him when I started.”
The crew started murmuring among themselves. One of them went to shamefully retrieve the lost gas can, four boxes away. Strip couldn’t help but smile a bit as he focused again on Cal, pushing his way back through the ranks.
His time would come. What’s being a rookie if you don’t make embarrassing mistakes?