Masters National at Mid-Ohio
Wednesday, September 06, 2006 LEXINGTON, Ohio – Peter Ludwig kept his championship hopes alive in the Skip Barber Masters National with a Saturday victory and a Sunday P2 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Points leader Chris Willcox – and three-time defending champion – came back from a lap one incident in race one on Saturday that saw him drop back to ninth to finish 3 seconds behind Ludwig. In race two, he and Ludwig banged wheels coming down to the finish line, which put Willcox off into the kitty litter. Dick Lippert took the win — by .001 over Ludwig!
Willcox came into the Mid-Ohio weekend with a chance to clinch the title, but now it’s going to go to at least the next event, at Road America the end of this month. And possibly down to the season finale at Road Atlanta in November.
With this year’s championship being 18 races – and each driver counting his best 14 results – the permutations are complex with four races to go. But one scenario is Ludwig taking the pole and winning the race in each of the last four. Not impossible. If he does that and Willcox finishes third or worse in three races and second or worse in one race, Ludwig wins the title.
Lippert, meanwhile, jumped up a spot in the standings, going from fourth to third, with another stellar Mid-Ohio effort. His first Masters National victory came in 2004 at Mid-Ohio, the year he finished second overall to Willcox. In 2005, Lippert again had a win in the series – at Mid-Ohio. This year, his Saturday race saw him start fourth, get up to third, drop to fifth – then sixth – get back to fifth, then with two laps to go, he inherited P3 with the retirement of John Peterson and Oliver going from fourth to seventh.
In the super-exciting Sunday race, moved quickly from seventh to third, stalking the battling Ludwig and Willcox. When those two had their coming together just before start-finish, Lippert got his ‘‘usual’’ M-O win!
Also having a solid Mid-Ohio was Mike Distaulo (well, at least on Saturday). He’d only entered the VIR rounds up to this point, but Distaulo kicked butt in race one at Mid-Ohio, going from 10th on the grid to fourth at the checker. Sunday, not so good; contact early in the race left him with an ill-handling car and he retired after nine laps.
Mike Edwards got back into the swing after missing three weekends, scoring a pair of fifths, but Quentin Wahl had seen better days. He was third in points coming into M-O, but a ninth and sixth weren’t good enough to keep him there. Jimmy Locke was up and down; out after 10 laps on Saturday, but a fine fourth on Sunday. John Mayes, a two-time polesitter (VIR) and racking up a nice collection of podiums and top-fives could only put a 10th and a seventh on the board at Mid-O. Chris Oliver pushed himself into the top 15 in points with a seventh on Saturday and a fine podium – P3 – in race two. John Peterson had an eighth and a ninth to remain eighth in points, while Ron Yarab’s sixth and eighth has him close to getting inside the top 15 in points.
The Masters National championship chase is now in the hands of Willcox and Ludwig. Will it be settled in rounds 15 and 16? Remember, Road America is a drafting track and you sometimes see surprise winners…