VIR Finally

Sorry to be so late in getting to this, but a LOT of things happened over the weekend that I needed to get organized:

Bottom line - the October 15-16 weekend at VIR brought an OUTSTANDING conclusion to the 2016 V8 Road Racing season!!!

Going into the weekend Dainton Brooks had already wrapped up the AS title, Ricky Sanders secured the GT1 title over Mark Mercurio and Zach Monette (none of whom had cars at the event), Larry Hoophaugh clinched GTSC when Chris Evans didn't make the Finale, Paige Monette Alexander took SPO over her dad Bob Monette, and Chris Durbin was our T1 champion even though he broke his race car loading it into the trailer. That left your faithful scribe with an outside shot at winning GT2 over Mike Attaway, but the REAL barn-burner was going to be in our most popular class, GTA!

In the V8RRS points scheme you count your best five races during the season and then add the points from both races at the season finale (VIR). A minimum of 50 points is available each weekend, so after the tenth round (Watkins Glen) each of the top six in GTA had a shot at winning the title:

1. Randy Walker - 142

2. Bobby Reuse - 138

3. Tyler Wilson - 131

4. Vern Smith - 124

5. Andy Trought - 118

6. Chris Gill - 105

Chris didn't make the trip from Buffalo to Danville (something about getting some real work done!) so the battle would be decided amongst the top five. All five ran the Friday test day and I don't have lap times for anyone, but Bobby decided to add a bit of a challenge to the proceedings by doing a close examination of the tirewall in the Uphill Esses in the first session. He and the crew soldiered on, however, and the #89 Camaro was ready for action on Saturday morning.

Our V8 racers made up thirteen of the 31 cars in the run group (and we generated a LOT of interest among our fellow ground-pounder drivers), so here's the V8RRS grid for Saturday's race:

1st GTA (4th OA) - Al Rowland, 1.59.484

1st GTSC (6th OA) - Willie Mullins, 2.00.491

2nd GTA (9th OA) - Andy Trought, 2.01.363

3rd GTA (10th OA) - Moe Colontonio, 2.02.353

4th GTA (11th OA) - Tyler Wilson, 2.02.390

5th GTA (14th OA) - Roger Reuse, 2.04.410

6th GTA (16th OA) - Bobby Reuse, 2.04.813

7th GTA (17th OA) - Randy Walker, 2.05.245

8th GTA (19th OA) - Steve Magowen, 2.07.294

9th GTA (20th OA) - Vern Smith, 2.08.718

1st GT2 (21st OA) - Mike Attaway, 2.09.761

2nd GT2 (23rd OA) - Butch Kummer, 2.11.967

2nd GTSC (30th OA) - Larry Hoophaugh, no time

I don't have many details about Saturday's race since I was (sort of) part of it, but I understand Randy Walker was on seven cylinders and there was a tremendous battle at the front of the GTA pack. As they lapped me, however, I did get to see Andy hounding (potential 2017 member) Bob Davis for the class win with Tyler not far behind. Here's the finishing order with each driver's best lap:

1st GTSC (2nd OA) - Willie Mullins, 1.57.692

1st GTA (5th OA) - Andy Trought, 2.00.238

2nd GTA (6th OA) - Tyler Wilson, 1.59.575

3rd GTA (8th OA) - Bobby Reuse, 2.02.907

4th GTA (9th OA) - Roger Reuse, 2.03.598

5th GTA (11th OA) - Randy Walker, 2.05.067

6th GTA (12th OA) - Vern Smith, 2.06.090

7th GTA (13th OA) - Steve Magowen, 2.04.996

1st GT2 (14th OA) - Mike Attaway, 2.08.161

2nd GT2 (16th OA) - Butch Kummer, 2.08.429

2nd GTSC (21st OA) - Larry Hoophaugh, 2.04.557

8th GTA (28th OA) - Al Rowland, 2.02.612 (dimpled the oil pan)

9th GTA (29th OA) - Moe Colontonio, 2.09.282 (lost fourth gear)

Mike Attaway clinched the GT2 championship by making one lap, so at Saturday evening's award party we presented all the awards that had been decided and read out the updated GTA points totals:

1. Randy Walker - 162

1. Bobby Reuse - 162

3. Tyler Wilson - 159

4. Andy Trought - 151

5. Vern Smith - 142

Any of the top three could win the championship by finishing ahead of the other two while Andy and Vern would "need help" to take the top spot, but all five still had a shot at being the first-ever V8RRS GTA World Champion!

The grid for Sunday's feature race was set by one's best lap to that point and I don't have the final grid sheet, but I do know Andy & Randy both went faster during the optional Sunday morning qualifier than they'd gone all weekend. At the green my car again got stuck in second gear going into Turn One (same issue as at WGI), so I pulled in at the end of lap 1 to watch a tremendous GTA battle from in front of the Tower.

Randy led early with Andy, Tyler, Bobby, and Roger right on him. I don't recall the exact order of happenings, but Andy and later Tyler got by Randy before Bobby slid off in Turn One and continued, then a few laps later Randy went off the end at Turn One and never came back around. Andy was hounding Bob Davis with Tyler right on his bumper, and even though I explained to Mark Mercurio (Tyler's crew chief) that Tyler would be champion even if he finished second to Andy, Tyler continued to run hard. Tyler turned his fastest lap of the weekend (1.58.832) on lap nine, then the next time by he had passed Andy for the V8 GTA lead! Tyler wasn't done, though, so after hounding Bob Davis for the overall GTA lead he passed him in Turn One as well. At the checkers the order was:

1st GTA (4th OA) - Tyler Wilson, 1.58.832

2nd GTA (6th OA) - Andy Trought, 1.58.555 (set on lap 15)

3rd GTA (7th OA) - Roger Reuse, 2.01.290

1st GTSC (9th OA) - Willie Mullins, 1.59.355

4th GTA (10th OA) - Moe Colontonio, 2.02.583 (using Tyler's spare transmission)

5th GTA (11th OA) - Bobby Reuse, 2.00.920

6th GTA (12th OA) - Vern Smith, 2.02.046

2nd GTSC (13th OA) - Larry Hoophaugh, 2.06.010

7th GTA (14th OA) - Steve Magowen, 2.05.779

1st GT2 (15th OA) - Mike Attaway, 2.06.391

8th GTA (22nd OA) - Randy Walker, 2.00.374

2nd GT2 (23rd OA) - Butch Kummer, no time

dns - Al Rowland

So after the dust settled and the roar of the crowd died down, here are the final standings in GTA:

1. Tyler Wilson - 192

2. Bobby Reuse - 182

3. Andy Trought - 179

4. Randy Walker - 176

5. Vern Smith - 160

Congratulations to all our 2016 V8RRS award winners:

AS - Dainton Brooks

GT1 - Ricky Sanders, Mark Mercurio

GT2 - Mike Attaway, Butch Kummer

GTA - Tyler Wilson, Bobby Reuse, Andy Trought

GTSC - Larry Hoophaugh, Chris Evans

SPO - Paige Monette Alexander, Bob Monette

T1 - Chris Durbin

And finally, while Tyler did not get a call from someone claiming to be Roger Penske, he DID get a call from someone claiming to be Tim Cendric, Head of Operations for Penske Racing. I'll let him tell you that story over a beer one evening…

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