I left the greater Saint Marys (GA) area around 5:45 AM Saturday morning and after dealing with South Georgia and North Florida finest staffs at two different McDonald's I arrived at the speedway just as the Big Bore group was heading out on track for qualifying. I got to the grandstands on driver's left at the Kink before the first hot lap, fired up Race Monitor, started looking for the V8RRS drivers I knew were pre-registered and (obviously) paid particular attention to them. Everyone seemed to be doing okay, but lap after lap Dick Ruckh in his GT2 Camaro was being held up in the infield by an ex-Cup car that was parking it in the corners only to blast away from Dick on the banking. I kept keying my (imaginary) radio to tell Dick to back off and create a gap so he could get a clean lap, but apparently that communication was never received.
Bottom line after the 20-minute session (of 26 total cars): . 1st ASR (3rd OA) - Jacek Mucha, JMS016CP Mazda; 1.57.055 . 1st GT2 (8th OA) - Joe Moholland, 2013 Corvette; 2.01.973 . 2nd GT2 (9th OA) - Mike Attaway, 2014 Camaro; 2.02.124 . 3rd GT2 (11th OA) - Dick Ruckh, 2014 Camaro; 2.03.432 . 4th GT2 (12th OA) - Danny Lowry, 2016 Mustang; 2.05.625
Not only were all four of our GT2 cars close enough to see each other at the green, they were all in garages within sight of each other. That made it easy for me to visit each of them and verify they all (a) were running restrictors and (b) they all were the proper size. ;D I also was visiting with Dick and his wife Pat while he was complaining about getting held up by the Cup driver, and when I asked him why he didn't back off about ten seconds to get a clean lap he had no answer!
Central Florida Region SCCA runs a very efficient program, so all six groups completed their qualifying sessions without many problems and our group rolled off grid for race #1 just after 11:00 AM (first race of the day). At the green Mike got a good jump to lead Joe into Turn 1, maintained it thru the infield, and then started pulling away on the banking. Dick also created a pretty good gap back to Danny on the first lap, so as the field came thru the tri-oval the first time it was Mike, Joe, Dick, and Danny. Dick got past Joe's Corvette as they finished lap 2, and they ran in that order until a FCY came out at the end of lap 4 for a GT2 car (not one of ours) off driver's left exiting the International Hairpin. As they came around to take the green one lap later Joe got past Dick again, then the next lap by (lap 6) Dick failed to come around. I was standing next to Pat on top of the garages and she said "the car just quit and won't restart".
The order remained the same (Mike, Joe, Danny) for the next two laps, then on lap 9 Mike came by almost 40 seconds behind where he should have been. It ends up he was exiting the infield onto the banking just as he'd done the eight previous laps and the car just came around on him. He managed to stay off the wall and out of the tires, but his race was essentially done at that point. Afterwards he thought maybe he'd gotten into some oil and we found out another car (again not one of ours) had been smoking heavily for 3-4 laps, so that certainly makes sense.
At any rate, at the checkers the order was: . 1st ASR (2nd OA) - Jacek Mucha, JMS016CP Mazda; 1.53.701 (also fastest race lap) . 1st GT2 (5th OA) - Joe Moholland, 2013 Corvette; 2.02.420 . 2nd GT2 (8th OA) - Danny Lowry, 2016 Mustang; 2.05.517 . 3rd GT2 (9th OA) - Mike Attaway, 2014 Camaro; 2.01.238 . 4th GT2 (23rd OA) - Dick Ruckh, 2014 Camaro; 2.01.870
Joe was only planning to run Saturday so he wouldn't be racing Sunday, but Dick found and (thought he) fixed a broken wire to the fuel pump (no fuel will certainly make a car hard to start) so he will be back in action. Cars will be gridded based on their fastest time to this point, so by my calculations (assuming everyone else shows up) Jacek will be on pole, then Mike, Dick, and Danny in positions 8, 9, and 13 respectively. They should be rolling off grid around 8:45 AM EDT, so those of you who want to follow along on Race Monitor will know when to tune in.
More later, but right now I hear a cold beer calling my name...
= = = = = =
As stated above, Joe Moholland only planned to run Saturday so we were already down to four entries for Sunday. Unfortunately, Dick Ruckh's fuel pump repairs didn't work and he was unable to take the green, leaving us with three entries - Jacek Mucha (ASR), Mike Attaway (GT2) and Danny Lowry (GT2). It was exciting nonetheless!
Jacek took the lead into Turn One from his pole position, but reportedly the second-place car was a bit anxious exiting that turn and tagged Jacek on the LR causing Jacek to spin. Jacek was able to restart the car and joined at the back of the field just as they went FCY to clean up an incident at the Bus Stop.
Again reportedly (since I couldn't see from my position on the front straight), one of the Cup cars made an "optimistic" move to try and outbrake V8RRS associate Lee Arnold for second place overall. Lee saw him coming and backed out early as the Cup car blew through the Bus Stop in the grass, but then Lee got tagged by the next car back (same driver that caused the FCY on Saturday) and was knocked into the tire barrier on driver's left. I did not get a chance to talk to Lee afterward, but while the damage appears to be cosmetic (no frame damage) his day was obviously done.
Mike Attaway had put a couple of cars between himself and Danny Lowry during the one green flag lap, but when the green flew again on lap 3 he appeared to stumble and (potential member) Carl Wingo got past him in his GT2 Mustang. As the race progressed Mike maintained his lead over Danny while Jacek made his way from the back of the field, then with about four laps left Danny started visibly closing on Mike. Danny was maybe a second back as they took the white flag so I was expecting them to be door-to-door at the checker, but next time by Danny came out of NASCAR 4 at speed while Mike trundled down pit road a bit farther back. It ends up that besides a plug wire coming off the gas was running away from the fuel pick-up on the banking, which slowed Mike at the end.
Bottom line on Sunday's race: . 1st ASR (5th OA) - Jacek Mucha, JMS016CP Mazda; 1.58.672 . 1st GT2 (9th OA) - Danny Lowry, 2016 Mustang; 2.04.396 . 2nd GT2 (11th OA) - Mike Attaway, 2014 Camaro; 2.05.590 . DNS - Dick Ruckh, 2014 Camaro; fuel pump issues . DNS - Joe Moholland, 2013 Corvette; only planned to run Sunday
As always I did some recruiting and we may have some new members in 2020, particularly since I anticipate a schedule that (unlike years past) will give our Florida-based drivers three in-state events evenly spaced throughout the season.
On to VIR...