There’s nothing like a trip to Victory Lane to put disappointment in your rearview mirror.
Just ask D.J. VanderLey.
The 18 year old erased the pain of a settling for his second college choice with a dominant win in the Pro Late Model Division on Friday at Five Flags Speedway. VanderLey is now two-for-two with wins in each race this season.
“This definitely helps,” said VanderLey, who chose to attend Auburn when scholarship money wasn’t enough to enroll at Georgia Tech.
“Georgia Tech was my dream school, but it didn’t work out. But Auburn is going to be a really good education, too.”
Don’t pity VanderLey too much, though. He already has been awarded a presidential scholarship to Auburn and received admissions to its honors college.
Plus, he’s one heck of a racecar driver.
“All the stars seem to be lining up for us,” VanderLey said. “The first race out here, we were a little loose. Tonight, we were a little tight. We know where we want to be.”
A scary thought for the rest of the division.
After an early crash in the 40-lap feature, which did damage to defending series champion Ronnie Smith, VanderLey gradually worked his way to the front.
He finally got by leader David Jones at the start-finish line on Lap 19. As much as runner-up Keith Thorpe tried to cut into VanderLey’s massive lead, the kid just kept pulling away.
“Two poles, two wins. It doesn’t get much better than this so far,” VanderLey said.
He did in fact win the pole, but started sixth when an unlucky roll of the dice pushed him back to sixth for the feature’s start.
The dice roll nearly cost him when an opening-lap pileup caught Smith, Thomas Praytor, Kyle Bryant and almost included him.
“I sweat that was scary,” said VanderLey, who dodged trouble with some nifty driving. “I didn’t think I’d make it through. It was a headache.”
That’s about the only pain the young man felt Friday.
Pro Late Model feature - 1. D.J. VanderLey; 2. Keith Thorpe; 3. Tommy Rollins; 4. David Jones; 5. Shanna Ard; 6. Dillon Spreen; 7. Ronnie Smith; 8. Robert Royce; 9. Thomas Praytor Jr.; 10. Kyle Bryant