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Druley: St. Charles driver looks to defend his Late Models title

There’s more to Sycamore Speedway math than points standings.

St. Charles driver Tim Ludke almost learned the hard way.

Now that he has a grasp on cross-weight percentage – in short, it affects balance, momentum and steering in those lifeblood left turns – Ludke can more comfortably defend his Late Models title at the speedway in Richardson.

“I love where I’m at right now,” he said, “especially since we got the car fixed and got the car back to where it’s going like it’s supposed to.”

Ludke credits fellow series racer Ricky Walters of Elgin for his optimism. It was Walters who allowed Ludke to come to his home and use the computer-based scale system that determines cross-weight.

While every car’s optimal weight is different, Ludke knew by his inconsistent acceleration that something was up. The scale figured the weight of the left rear quadrant multiplied by that of the right front quadrant and analyzed that total against the weight of the car itself.

The final number told Ludke one simple thing, more or less: he needed to increase his tire pressure.

“It’s good to know the competitors are still helping each other,” Ludke said. “No more calculations. It’s really great.”

Ludke’s sturdy No. 20 car wasn’t without other problems earlier in the season. He went through a pair of clutches, and in one instance, his clutch failed moments after he had won a feature.

Not exactly what Ludke wanted – or expected – in the usual upbeat sequence between crossing the finish line first and darting for a picture in victory lane.

A handful of challengers are close at hand – including series rookie D.J. Markham of Marengo and Jordan Jackowiak of DeKalb – but Ludke likes his chances now that everything – or at least his car – is in balance.

“It was amazing how much of a difference just that little bit of work made,” Ludke said.

Well said: Like many of his Latin American teammates, Cougars third baseman Jeimer Candelario admittedly has made strides with his English this season.

The parent Cubs have offered classes at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark at various points during the season, but you get the sense it was more than classroom comprehension that inspired the following from Candelario:

“It’s a long game. It’s nine innings, you know. You do the job and then win.”

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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