Midwest Finale at Road America
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 By all accounts, the Midwest finale weekend at Road America was one of the best ever. That includes the racing, the fun, the banquet – the whole kit-and-kaboodle. When the last race was checkered on Sunday, our champions were: Peter Ludwig, Championship Group; Mark Fee, Sportsman Group; Ludwig the Masters title-winner; and John Greist the Grand Masters champion.
Ludwig’s Championship title was by a scant 15 points over Revere Greist (who, trust us, is not crying in his beer, after having had such a tremendous victory in the National the week before!). In the Saturday race, when Ludwig DNF’d and Greist won, that put the pressure on Ludwig to finish – and finish well – in Sunday’s race. Which he did, getting P3 after climbing from DFL on the grid. Revere’s Pop, John, was third in Championship, with John Peterson fourth and Tom Brown fifth.
The Sportsman king, Fee, beat out Mike Kolacki and Dirk Daems, with Kasey Kuhlman and Rick Balsley fourth and fifth, respectively. Fee’s eighth on Saturday and fifth on Sunday easily secured the crown.
The Masters and Grand Masters sub-championships saw Ludwig (M) and John Greist (GM) on top. The 2006 Midwest Rookie of the Year went to Kasey Kuhlman, while the Most Improved Driver award was really a shout-out to when of the best people in the world, Dr. John Greist.
Thanks to all the Midwest Series drivers! From VIR in May, through The Glen, Road America and Mont-Tremblant, then finishing off at Mid-Ohio and Road America, you folks put on great racing and showed true sportsmanship. We saw 84 different people take Midwest Series green flags, and we very much appreciate you choosing to race with Skip Barber.
The son (Revere) and the father (John) had the front row. Points leader Ludwig was P3, west coast leading light Tom Roberts fourth. At the green Revere G. led, but Ludwig had snuck around John G. and lap one saw Revere, Ludwig, John, Quentin Wahl and Roberts your top five. Not for long, as on lap two Wahl went from fourth to second. This new order was short-lived, because the next time around Ludwig went from third to second. (All the while, Revere G. is galloping off into the sunset.) On the fourth lap of the scheduled 10, John G. took third away from Wahl, but it was lap five that changed the tenor of the race; Wahl and Ludwig had a real estate dispute in Turn Five, one that ended Ludwig’s race. The contact put John Greist into second, where he motored home about 8 seconds behind his son Revere. Officially scored third was Brett Fenske, after John Peterson was penalized for failing to pit following a Turn Eight four-off to avoid.
Revere G. and Wahl were going at it hammer and tongs for the lead through most of the race, but their chances for the win went by the wayside when they touched in T1 on lap six. The error meant John Greist got – then kept – the lead for the final four laps, finishing 11 seconds up on Fenske. Despite a four-off at Billy Mitchell, Ludwig was quick enough (well, he did set fastest lap) to claw his way to third, enough to clinch the championship. Tom Brown was a steady-Eddie fourth and Revere fifth.
G3R1 (‘‘Season(ed)’’ Sportsman)
Julia Landauer is actually gunning for the Eastern Region title, but she surely loves this track. She led flag-to-flag on Saturday, after poleman Kasey Kuhlman and Mike Kolacki got together in One right after the green flag. That meant laps one and two were FCY, so the end of lap three, the first full lap of green, it was Landauer, Dale Kistler-Collins, James BoothMark Fee and Ryan Rutzinski (coming up from a fifth row starting spot). Landauer would never lose the lead, partly thanks to Booth and K-C working hard to make the fight for P2 exciting. When the checker flew, K-C crossed the line P2, but he got busted for passing under yellow, which cost him two spots. That meant Booth was second, Rutzinski third, then Kistler-Collins and Rick Balsley (from 11th). Fee, who had been as high as fourth, fell off the road in Three and eventually came home eighth, behind Faith Pellien and Dirk Daems.
G3R2 (‘‘Season(ed)’’ Sportsman)
This was a good one, as we saw a bunch of lead changes. Booth didn’t let polesitter Landauer keep her spot and led the first three laps, with Kistler-Collins right behind, Rutzinski, Landauer and Balsley also in the mix. Booth was rockin’ but his fifth gear was knocking; he came into the pits but we told him, “Hey, get back out there, you don’t have to have fifth to finish!” (Booth would come home an admirable seventh.) That gave the lead to K-C, so he and Rutzinski went at it. This was fun to watch, and when Kistler-Collins went three and 7/8s off in T14, Double R took the lead and juuuuuuuuust held off K-C at the checker, a mere .041 ahead. Landauer was a solo P3, 4 seconds behind the leaders but more than 25 ticks up on fourth-place Balsley and fifth place Fee, good enough for Fee to win the Sportsman title.
G4R1 (‘‘Seat Time’’ Sportsman)
This was an enthralling battle between Tim George, Jr., and Ryan Booth. The last four laps never saw the same leader, as these two swapped it out till the end, with Jr. in front at the checker. Brent Borland was an unhassled third, Mark Repka an equally lonely fourth and Max Hyatt a solitary fifth.
G4R2 (‘‘Seat Time’’ Sportsman)
This race lost one of its contenders early on when Booth went agricultural in the Kink, leaving it to Borland and George, Jr., to produce the fireworks for the bulk of this race. Borland led the first two laps, but Jr. got a run out of 14 and got past him before the stripe to lead the third lap. They ran within inches of each other and during the seventh time around, Borland bored his way to the front. Jr. let him have it for two laps but then took the lead back again on the next-to-last lap. The race was Jr.’s to win, but Argh! George, Jr., spun it in Canada on the last lap! Borland would take his first-time win. Hyatt had been on the move and took over second place when Jr. spun (he rejoined and got third place). Repka got a fine fourth, while Booth recovered nicely from his excursions and took fifth.
G5R1 (‘‘Newbie’’ Sportsman)
Ryan Booth was doubling this weekend so he also ended up in this Newbie group. Rusty Ferguson was the poleman and duly led the first lap but he had Booth glued to his gearbox. Booth got around him on lap two, then Ferguson overcooked Canada and ended up beached. We had to go FCY on lap four to yank him out and following the re-start on lap five, Booth rocketed off into the distance. Even after the rain started around lap six, Booth was unfazed and eventually won – his first – by more than half-a-minute. The battle for P2 involved Jay Schuette, Zachary Ply and Gary Longo; it was Ply who got caught out by the rain (plus a bunch of others running behind this pack), so the last two laps saw Longo and Schuette in a mad scramble for second place, Longo prevailing by just a half-second. Patrick Dolberg and Gary DeWitt were impressive, coming from way back to come home fourth and fifth, respectively.
G5R2 (‘‘Newbie’’ Sportsman)
Although Booth won again, it was not as easy as Saturday’s race. Ferguson, in fact, was awesome as he came shooting up through the field, getting up to third in only three laps. Schuette in the meantime was maintaining second behind Booth. When we went FCY for laps seven and eight to take care of a Dolberg crash, the field of course was bunched. Green to start lap nine, the top three held station but on the last lap, P2 Schuette got it wrong in Turn Seven. New second-place Ferguson couldn’t do anything with leader Booth, nor could new P3 Tom Cochran make anything happen with Ferguson. Ply made up for his Saturday oof with a fine 10th-to-fourth effort, while Brett Liljegren rounded out the top five.
The Midwest Masters Finale
Tom Roberts led this whole damn thing, even after a re-start on lap seven following two laps of FCY. Well, all but the last one. Lap 10, Roberts and an on-fire James Booth – up from 11th, folks – heck, you could throw one Skippy car cover over the two of them from Canada onward. Through Billy Mitchell, down to 14, up the hill… up to the line, Booth bested Roberts. Good stuff! Tom Brown got third, Mike Kolacki garnered a fourth and Tom Cochran, from 10 th, was fifth.
The Great Un-Named Memorial
Big, big field of 18. Revere and HazMat must have had a blast with this one, taking turns at the front, with Revere having the last laugh with a last-lap pass for the win. Conrad Guardrail was third, trailed immediately by Lawrence Welk and Ryan Hall’s Mentholyptus.
Sorry about the delay with this story; our regular Midwest reporter, Reich Racine, suffered a detached rectum and was unable to complete the reportage until today…
The West Coast’s Ricky Lusso