2018 Champions Decided at VIR

As most know, the May 11-12 weekend at VIR served not only as a 2019 "regular season" event but (due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Michael causing last October's event to be cancelled) was also the Championship event for our 2018 season. Two champions (ASR and GTSC) were already determined prior to the first green flag of the weekend, so seven classes were still up for grabs.

GT1 was decided even before the SCCA portion (ably hosted by North Carolina Region SCCA - it's always a pleasure working with them) of the weekend started. Larry Hoophaugh was unable to get the car stopped after something broke in the transmission at the end of the back straight (a GT1 car is doing about a buck-eighty at the point) and tore the nose up after heading into the tire barrier, so his weekend was over. Had he just started both races he would have passed Zach Monette and Mark Mercurio in the points battle, but the Hoophaugh Racing effort packed up and went home after the V8RRS pizza party on Friday evening.

Speaking of pizza parties, thanks to Amy Mercurio for organizing an at-track social on Friday evening. We had beverages along with pizza and fixin's from Aunt Millie's Pizza & Subs in downtown Milton NC, and we probably had 35-40 people show up (including what was later identified as a couple of Miata guys who were paddocked nearby) and a good time was had by all. Look for these Friday night socials going forward as a benefit of being a V8RRS by WCIParts.com member.

Although heavy rain had been forecast for the weekend, Saturday morning qualifying was dry. The field lined up for qualifying by the timestamp on their registration, which NCR does to encourage early registration. The grid after the checkers flew on the 15 minute session: . 1st GTSC (1st OA) - (potential new member) Greg Richardson, XFinity Camaro, 1.55.222 . 1st GTA (2nd OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailers Camaro, 1.55.282 . 1st GT2 (3rd OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro, 1.57.734 . 2nd GTA (4th OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Brakes Monte Carlo, 1.58.730 . 3rd GTA (5th OA) - Randy Sampson, Custom Air Camaro, 1.59.195 . 2nd SPO (7th OA) - Ken Morgan, Morgan Lumber Camaro, 2.03.420 . 4th GTA (8th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Monte Carlo, 2.07.152 . 1st T1 (9th OA) - Chip Bozeman, Schrader Performance Cobra Mustang, 2.09.858 . 1st GT1 (10th OA) - Ron Fariss, Hall's Garage / Mark's Paint & Body Corvette, 2.11.801 . 1st AS (14th OA) - Dainton Brooks, Georgia Control Center Cobra Mustang, 2.19.385 . 3rd SPO (15th OA) - Jim Smith, Budweiser Monte Carlo, 2.19.889 . 5th GTA (18th OA) - Tim Hill, KTH Racing Monte Carlo, no time (transponder issues) . 2nd GT2 (no time) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressors Camaro, no time (engine misfire) . 3rd GT2 (no time) - Dave Bryson, Bryson Racing Monte Carlo, no time (engine issues)

We lobbied with the PTB to let us race before the lunch break (at 11:00) to maximize the chances of running all of the scheduled 12 laps of Saturday's race in the dry, but that request was denied. Then as our heroes rolled off grid at 12:00 confusion was created when the first three cars in the inside row (Greg, Andy, and Randy Sampson) were directed down pit road by the splitter. I was up in the Tower assisting Scott Conway in calling the race as we wondered why some of the cars had elected to start from pit road, but it ends up a "communication issue" caused the problem.

At the green Al pulled a solid lead over Chris while the field trailed safely into Turn One. The excitement in the first few laps was watching Greg, Andy, and Randy S move up from the back (Randy actually tried to work his way back up on the pace lap - obviously he's never seen the "I Was Seventh!" video on Youtube), but on lap two his transmission got stuck in second gear and he dropped to the back of the field. Both Ron Fariss and Dave Bryson had been chasing engine issues and each only made one lap before going behind the wall, then Greg Richardson came down pit road on lap 5 with an engine that didn't sound well. During all this Andy moved up to third overall and Chris stayed within 2-3 seconds of Al. Scott & I were commenting that we Chris seemed to be closing the gap when word came over the radio that lightning was detected on the back side of the course (SCCA will race in rain but not with lightning in the area). The starters missed giving the checker to Al as he and Chris completed lap 7, so we knew it was coming out next time by.

As he finished lap 7 Tim Hill broke something in the transmission and went off the outside of Turn 1. On the (now) last lap we had rain in Oak Tree and both Al and Chris "explored the limits of adhesion" (i.e. - they both bounced off the tires) as they went through there. Chris was closing in the braking zone and might have made a move had he known it was the last lap, but as they came under to checkers to end lap 8 the order was: . 1st GTA (1st OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailers Camaro, 1.57.595 . 2nd GTA (2nd OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Brakes Monte Carlo, 1.58.474 . 1st GT2 (3rd OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro, 1.56.590 (fast race lap) . 1st SPO (5th OA) - Ken Morgan, Morgan Lumber Camaro, 2.01.924 . 3rd GTA (6th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Monte Carlo, 2.06.361 . 1st T1 (7th OA) - Chip Bozeman, Schrader Performance Cobra Mustang, 2.07.869 . 1st AS (12th OA) - Dainton Brooks, Georgia Control Center Cobra Mustang, 2.14.993 . 2nd SPO (13th OA) - Jim Smith, Budweiser Monte Carlo, 2.19.793 . 4th GTA (15th OA) - Tim Hill, KTH Racing Monte Carlo, 2.14.913 . 5th GTA (17th OA) - Randy Sampson, Custom Air Camaro, 2.01.172 . 1st GTSC (18th OA) - Greg Richardson, XFinity Camaro, 2.02.855 . 2nd GT2 (19th OA) - Dave Bryson, Bryson Racing Monte Carlo, no time (engine issues) . 1st GT1 (21st OA) - Ron Fariss, Hall's Garage Corvette, no time (engine issues) . 3rd GT2 (DNS) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressors Camaro, no time (engine misfire)

Based on Saturday's results we determined six more champions (AS, GT1, GT2, ITO, SPO, and T1) which left second place in GT2 and SPO plus all three GTA positions up for grabs on Sunday. Frivolity abounded at the V8RRS Compound on Saturday evening as awards were presented.

Because of the dire weather forecast for Sunday the stewards decided to skip the morning qualifying sessions and go straight to the 30 minute feature races after two hardship warm-up sessions. Unfortunately Ken Morgan had left the track before that decision was made and didn't check his email during the evening, so he didn't get the word until too late to make it on time Sunday morning. Had he taken the green on Sunday he would have moved up to second place in SPO.

The field lined up based on fast lap turned during either qualifying or Race #1 on Saturday, but Al Rowland had changed cars and relinquished his position. Greg Richardson's issues were apparently terminal as well, so Andy Trought and Chris Durbin were on the front row coming to the green. Chris got a better jump (it ends up Andy was in third rather than first!) to take the lead into Turn One, but Andy got by on the back side to come by first at the end of lap 1. Chip Bozeman had installed his rain tires Saturday evening and didn't want to change them (he was the only car in T1), so he backed off the pace and drove around. Al moved up to fourth overall within a couple of laps but was fighting a very loose race car so his charge to the front stalled there. Dick Ruckh took the green and moved up early, but his engine woes returned after about four laps so he went into cruise mode for the remainder of the event. There was not a lot of drama until Chris Durbin drove off the outside of Turn One with about two laps to go, and we found out later his power steering had gone out on the second lap (I've had that happen and it's NOT a pleasant experience!). Andy led flag-to-flag and set the fast race lap but was found to be eleven pounds underweight (I've heard he's fired his fuel person - himself!) and was moved to last in class as a result. After all the dust had settled in Impound our drivers finished in the following order: . 1st GTA (2nd OA) - Chris Durbin, Hawk Brakes Monte Carlo, 1.59.382 . 2nd GTA (3rd OA) - Al Rowland, Superior Trailers Camaro, 2.02.699 . 3rd GTA (5th OA) - Randy Walker, Walker Properties Monte Carlo, 2.05.959 . 1st SPO (7th OA) - Jim Smith, Budweiser Monte Carlo, 2.10.654 . 1st AS (8th OA) - Dainton Brooks, Georgia Control Center Cobra Mustang, 2.12.235 . 1st T1 (9th OA) - Chip Bozeman, Schrader Performance Cobra Mustang, 2.15.668 . 1st GT2 (11th OA) - Dick Ruckh, Technical Compressors Camaro, 2.12.147 . 2nd GT2 (14th OA) - Dave Bryson, Bryson Racing Monte Carlo, 2.06.633 . 3rd GT2 (15th OA) - Andy Trought, Winfield Farms Camaro, 1.57.218 (underweight) . DNS SPO (DNS) - Ken Morgan, Morgan Lumber Camaro, didn't get word of the early start . DNS GTA (DNS) - Tim Hill, KTH Racing Monte Carlo, transmission . DNS GTA (DNS) - Randy Sampson, Custom Air Camaro, no time . DNS GTSC (DNS) - Greg Richardson, XFinity Camaro, engine issues . DNS GT1 (DNS) - Ron Fariss, Hall's Garage / Mark's Paint & Body Corvette, engine issues

So that wraps up our 2018 season and we're halfway through our 2019 schedule. Next event is May 30-Jun 2 at Mid-Ohio followed by Charlotte Motor Speedway the following weekend.

See y'all at the track...

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