Midwest Finale at Road America
Wednesday, October 05, 2005 At the Road America Midwest finale, titles had to be decided, Don Adams and Bob Denver had to be honored, and the stores of Jagermeister had to be depleted in storied fashion. When it was over, Timing & Scoring queen Kelly Deneen said it was one of the best race weekends ever. That means something, coming from someone who’s worked as many races as she has…
The Sportsman title was the tightest of the bunch: Coming into the weekend, with the drops accounted for, Steve Ablondi led Mike Gomez by just three points. After qualifying, Gomez had pole — and Ablondi was right next to him. Gomez led the opening five of the 10-lapper, then Ablondi snatched the lead and looked to be on his way to victory. But three corners from the checker he fell off the road in Canada! Gomez won, Carlos Llano took over second place and Mike Kolacki third. Ablondi got back on track to finish seventh, behind Rhonda Hill (fourth), Dirk Daems and Rick Balsley. The title battle would move to Sunday…
Ablondi was brilliant, shooting from seventh to third on the first lap, then taking over P2 from Gomez on lap seven (of nine). Ablondi had to win if he was going to have a legitimate shot at the championship, so when he got around Llano for the lead and the win with two to go, he had done all that he could do. But ultimately, Saturday’s spin had killed his hopes; Gomez came home fourth, just behind another fine effort by Kolacki, which won him the 2005 Midwest Sportsman title, 291 points to Ablondi’s 285. Well done, Mike!
All Revere Greist had to do was start the race and he would be champion. From P4 on the grid, Greist rolled off and clinched the title. But the competitive Greist was not going to be happy just cruising, so he hounded leader Charles Anti for three laps and on lap four grabbed P1. Anti hung on to second until Jonathan Gore went a bit over the top in Canada, forcing Anti off (Gore ended up with a 15-second post-race penalty). The final box score had Greist the victor, Jonathan Frost a terrifically recovered second (after spinning in T1, lap one) and Matthew Jordon third. Gore and Tom Roberts rounded out the top five.
Gore made up for his Saturday faux pas with a flag-to-flagger on Sunday, after taking the lead from polesitter Greist on the first lap. On lap two, Anti took over third place from Frost and that’s how they ran to the finish. Jordon started third but was shuffled back to sixth early on. He got one of the spots back, and when Frost “crossed over” into Canada (he got himself out eventually…), Jordon got fourth and Logan Gomez fifth.
So the final Championship standings saw Revere Greist at the top (590) — his second Midwest title in a row — Jonathan Gore second (441) and Charles Anti third, with 406. Great job, guys!
A true championship family… Dr. John Greist won the Masters title (his fourth in a row!), while son Revere took Championship honors — which was his second on the trot. Sister Alexia, who’s got a bit of R/T 2000 seat time herself, joins in.
The large Sportsman contingent at Road America meant a second group. What made G3 really cool is that half the field of the 12 starters were in their first-ever Skippy race! Eric Freiberg, Davis Parr, Brenda Duran Sanchez (15, and the little sis of A1GP frontrunner Salvador Duran, second in the 2003 National Championship), Brett Liljegren, Paul DeMeester and Fabio Santos. Two other drivers — Kasey Kuhlman and Ron Anderson — were in just their second Race Weekend. This race had three different leaders: “veteran” Dane Moxlow, laps 1-3, before spinning into the kitty litter; Santos (4-5); and winner Freiberg (the last six). Kuhlman took second, 1.3 seconds behind. Moxlow showed some real moxie, going from dead last to the podium after getting pulled from the sand trap! Parr and Duran Sanchez rounded out the top five.
Freiberg lost the lead just one time — Kuhlman led lap three — but took it back a lap later to score his second win of the weekend. Kuhlman and Parr went at it for P2, until Parr put it in the fence in T14 on lap seven. That gave Rick Balsley third, storming back from contact and gravel trap issues during the second lap. Duran Sanchez and George Graphos rounded out the top five.
Yes, John Greist won this race, leading from green to checker, and clinched the Masters title, but Mike Gomez (with a lot less experience than four-time champ John) gave him a helluva battle. Gomez put up the fastest race lap to boot! But by the end, Greist was six seconds to the good at the end. The battle for third, fourth, fifth and sixth was awesome, with Tom Brown taking the spot on the last lap, a 10th in front of Tom Roberts, less than a second in front of Martin Zimmerman, who was just half-a-second up on Ted Ballou. But big kudos to John Greist, the Masters champion for the fourth year in a row! Gomez finished second, just 22 points behind, and Tom Brown was a solid third.
The “Get Smarter Gilligan” Enduro Memorial
Doing Enduro Memorials are huge fun! Driver changes, fueling, car swaps, a couple drivers on more than one team… this one had it all. When this 80-minute racefest was over, the Rhonda Hill/Jim Pace pairing beat the team of Charles Anti, Jonathan Frost and Duncan Ende, with Mike Kolacki and Gerardo Bonilla taking the final podium step. There were a number of “Enduro” rookies in this one, including Eric Freiberg (teamed with Mark Hamilton Peters), Faith Pellien (with Mike Gomez and Carlos Llano), and Ashlei Newkirk (with Chris Peters). Here are the final results…
1. Rhonda Hill/Jim Pace, 1hr, 21:49.662/27 laps
2. Charles Anti/Jonathan Frost/Duncan Ende
3. Mike Kolacki/2005 SBNC Champion
4. Rick Balsley/Mark Fee/Curt Andrews
5. MHP/Eric Freiberg
6. Mike Gomez/Carlos Llano/Faith Pellien
7. Doppler Dave/Curt Andrews
8. Team Greist/Grant Maiman
9. Matt Jordon/Don Sharp/MHP
10. Dirk Daems/Martin Zimmerman
11. Chris Peters/Ashlei Newkirk
12. Wally/George Sladeky
So, another Midwest championship season is in the books. Revere Greist, John Greist and Mike Gomez are the finest of champions, and congratulations to the three of you!
A special thanks to the mechanics and crew for another great job this year. You guys truly rock.
With Road America being our Midwest home, we have to say the Road America track crew remains, in our mind, one of the best of any track in the country. They are always dialed-in and that makes everything better for everyone.
Thanks are also in order to our recently up-and-running engineering department, who are continuing to design improvements to the R/T, and our coaching and instructing staff are, no doubt, the finest in the land and remain key to helping you folks be the best drivers you can be.
Of course, the biggest thanks go to you, the Skip Barber Race Series competitor. We love seeing you folks get better, be faster and having fun. And for those climbing the motorsports ladder, thanks for carrying our name out into the professional racing world.
Coming up: The Eastern Region and Masters National finale at Lime Rock Park October 13-15 (it’s already got 55+ entrants). Soon after, the West and the South open their seasons. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, rounds one and two are October 21-23, while the Southern Series opens on Daytona’s high banks November 4-6 (note: the road course part of the 24-hour configuration was completely re-paved this past summer. It’s going to be great…).
One last thing; we’ll cover the East and Midwest Triple Crown Championships in a separate news story.