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Rexcor Raceway, home track ofteam Rexcor, shook to its foundation as the dozenUnlimited Division cars exploded past the grandstand on another pass. The cars entered a steeplybanked turn, practically flipping the drivers upsidedown as they negotiated the angle. It was a movethatwould have been impossible for any normal racecar. But these were no normal racecars.
These were the brand-new, high-tech marvels of NASCAR's experimental Unlimited Division, and they were capable of zooming around the track at speeds approaching 400 miles per hour. Behind the wheels of these modern miracles of engineering were no ordinary drivers, either. These steelynerved hotshots were as precisely equipped for their jobs as the machines they commanded.
Megan Fassler of Team Fastex gripped the wheel of her speeding machine and made her move. Megan, whose Team Fastex nickname was "Spitfire," was not only a highly talented member of the four-driver Fastex team. She was also a brilliant engineer who had designed many of the special features of her team's Unlimited Division racers.
"Come on, out of my way," Megan muttered, as she passed two slower cars and swept through a turn, passing another.
She glanced at the TV monitor and caught a glimpse of her Fastex teammates, Steve "Flyer" Sharp and Carlos "Stunts" Rey in the middle of the pack. They were gaining, too. Megan turned her attention back to what was happening on the track ahead of her. A high-speed battle raged between two cars jockeying for the lead. One car was driven by Megan's fourth Fastex teammate, Mark McCutchen, known to racing fans as "Charger." Charger gunned hisengine and slipped inches ahead of Team Rexcor's Hondo Hines, better known as "Specter." Hines was right on Charger's rear bumper now, pushing his vehicle and scraping, metal to metal, against the back of Charger's car.
Inside his car, Charger was jolted forward against the tight grip of his shoulder restraint. "Back off, Specter!" Charger shouted. "If I wanted to play bumper cars I'd go to the amusement park!'
Spying a sliver of daylight, Hines cut his steering wheel sharply to the left and floored his accelerator. "Move over, loser," he snarled venomously, as his racer shot forward.
Charger reacted instinctively. A third-generation NASCAR driver, racing was in Mark McCutchen's genes. He swiftly angled to his left, eliminating the daylight between his streaking racer and the inside edge of the track, leaving Hines stuck behind his right bumper.
Megan now gained on Hines, taking her cues off his moves, looking for an opening as the three supercars blasted down the track.
"Just give me some daylight, boys," Megan said, tight-lipped, her concentration fierce.
Like a three-car string attached by some invisible chain, the racers jockeyed for an opening, bashing bumpers and scraping fenders.
The three drivers hit a straightaway and Hines made a daring, sudden move. Pulling his steering wheel hard to the right, Hines cut sideways, sliding up toward the high side of the track, trying to pass Charger from above.
Megan spotted the opening she'd been waiting for. Her eyes widened as she mashed her foot down onto the accelerator, heading for the space vacated by Hines.
She flashed alongside Charger.
Charger turned his head and smiled broadly at Megan. "Duck did a great job setting your car up for the race!" he said into the microphone in his helmet.
Megan stayed focused on her driving. She returned a quick nod. "Everything's running right, Charger!" she shouted over the noise of her racecar. "I have a feeling today's my day!"
With that, Megan flipped a switch on her dashboard and her powerful rocket boosters flared to life.Whhhoooossshhhh!
A flare of red and orange tore from the back of her racer. She exploded past Charger into the lead, her rear end fishtailing as she overtook her teammate.
The Fastex Independently Mobile Pit unit, known as the IMP, sat just off the track. The IMP was a selfcontained garage on wheels. Each team in the Unlimited Division had an IMP and a pit crew waitMg inside to keep the supercars on the track moving at top efficiency.
Inside the Fastex IMP, Jack Fassler and Duck Dunaka watched the race intently. Duck Dunaka was Team Fastex's crew chief and head mechanic. Jack Fassler, the owner of Fastex Corporation, was responsible for the creation of the NASCAR Unlimited Division and sponsored Team Fastex Jack Fassler also happened to be Megan's father.
Jack Fassler frowned momentarily at his daughter's on-screen image. Megan had joined the team as a driver against her father's wishes. He felt that she belonged in the engineering lab, where her razor-sharp mind could be working on ways to perfect Unlimited Division cars. But Megan longed to drive, and she quickly earned her father's respect with her ability behind the wheel.
"She's going all the way, Duck!" Jack shouted. His frown was replaced with a proud grin as he pointed at Megan's car blasting past Charger's.
Duck's forehead crinkled and his lips pursed together as he gave Jack a skeptical look. "I thought you didn't want Megan to drive,' he said to his boss.
"I don't," Jack replied, his excited expression turning serious. "But if she's going to drive, I want her to win!"