Road America East/Midwest Combo Regional
Thursday, July 05, 2007
The first Road America race weekend of the year was the combined Midwest-East event: 70-some odd drivers in five groups. The weather was terrific and the Osthoff BBQ-and-fireworks fest was its usual big fun. We saw five first-time winners, too. Below are the group re-caps…
G1R1 (Midwest Championship)
Clean start, single file early on with Revere Greist leading Kyle Longmore and Dale Kistler-Collins. We almost made it around the first lap but Ron Yarab had to put it in the beach at Canada to avoid a spinning Rick Balsley, so a one-lap FCY was called to get Yarab out. Green again to start lap two, the top three stayed the same for a couple of laps (but sneaking up from 11th on the grid was David Cox…). Then, a lap-four John Greist-Josh Sorter dispute over fourth place resulted in contact in the Kink. Full course caution again for lap five, a re-start on lap six, Revere Greist holding off Longmore. But the next time around Longmore had the lead – and Cox was up to third place! Now there were two laps to go and we had an awesome three-car battle going. Madly dicing, Greist, Longmore and Cox were trying everything – and local hero Andy Rossetto was lurking just behind. They raced up the hill for the last time and… it… was… Cox with the win by a nosecone over Greist, Longmore in third just a nose nipple behind Greist. Rossetto was just a couple 10s behind in fourth while John Potter juuuuuuuuust nipped DKC for fifth. Well done for Cox, his first win in the Race Series.
G1R2 (Midwest Championship)
This began as another R. Greist/Cox/Longmore dice, with each leading one of the first three laps. Then, on lap four, Cox spun in Steve DeBrecht’s corner (but did not go four-off) and everything went to hell in a handbasket as the other drivers were going four-off to avoid. When it all shook out, Greist led big over Kistler-Collins and John Potter. Lap five, Potter got around DKC, but it stayed that way for only one lap; while Revere was checking out, Rossetto rocketed from fifth to second – and Cox was recovering nicely. With one to go, the order was an unchallenged Greist, Rossetto, DKC, Cox and Potter. On the last lap, Cox grabbed two spots to finish second, eight seconds behind Revere, while DKC kept P3, Rossetto losing out as he fell from second to fourth. But prices were still to be paid for failing to pit for offenses: Rossetto and Kistler-Collins got 25 seconds added to their times so P3 was actually Potter, fourth was Kasey Kuhlman (from 10th) and fifth was Ryan Rutzinski. Zach Ply and Brett Fenske were classified in front of DKC and Rossetto, with Dion Von Moltke (setting fastest race lap – the only driver to get into the :32s) rounding out the top 10.
G2R1 (Midwest Sportsman)
Wow, this big group (19) put on a wicked good show with three different leaders and four lead changes over the 10 laps. Don Van snatched the lead from polesitter Marc Abernathy, who actually ended up sixth by the end of the first lap, Carlos Medina, Robert Grien, Tom Cochran and Scott Panzer getting around. Then Grien took over from Van but with the duking and dicing, that surely wasn’t going to last and sure enough, the scrambling left us with a third different leader in as many laps as Panzer took over on lap three, going from fourth to first. Panzer lasted three laps up front until both Van and Abernathy (steadily, relentlessly climbing back) got around him. The last four laps Van and Abernathy broke away, leaving P3 to be decided between Panzer and Grien, a battle eventually won by Panzer. Medina came home fifth, while the biggest gain was made by Blake Krieger, crossing the line sixth from his row seven starting spot. Cochran, Mike Kolacki, John Muehl and Tony Jarvis rounded out the top 10.
G2R2 (Midwest Sportsman)
This one had all the same players and all the same excitement as again lead changes were the order of the day: Van, then Panzer, then Grien, then Van again. In fact, not once during the first five laps was the top-five order the same from one lap to the next. Panzer was the first to drop out of the mix: He and Krieger went side-by-side into Six and it looked like Panzer was going to make it work but he ended up off into the litter and an FCY had to be called to get him out. Green to start lap seven, Van now had Krieger on his gearbox, Medina and Grien right there, too. On lap eight, Krieger made a mistake and fell to fifth. So now it was Medina, Grien, Abernathy and Krieger trying to track down leader Van. The group caught Van with one to go and then Medina grabbed P1 from Van while both Grien and Krieger dispatched Abernathy back to fifth. This was Medina’s first win, too!
G3R1 (East Championship)
With a field including Skip Barber National frontrunner Jeff Oleen and 13-year-old Gabby Chaves, coming off a podium finish in one of the National races at the Champ Car Cleveland Grand Prix, plus speedy Cox, Longmore and Revere Greist, we had the makings of a good one. And so it was, as all five were in the mix in this nine-lapper. Outside frontrowman Von Moltke got swallowed up at the start and even polesitter Chaves ended up acceding P1 to Oleen as the field completed lap one. Chaves took over first on lap two and held it for six consecutive laps while Oleen, Greist and Longmore disputed second place. On lap seven Greist dropped from second to fifth while Cox took over third, behind the battling Chaves and Oleen. On the next to last lap, Oleen took the lead back from Chaves while at the same time Longmore and Greist overhauled Cox, putting him back to fifth. But, this being Road America, it likely wasn’t going to end this way… and it didn’t. The last lap shuffle, saw Chaves take first from Oleen while Cox went from fifth to second. Longmore was able to hold station in third while Greist had to settle for fifth. Another lap and who knows what the order might have been? The fact is, the top five drivers finished well inside of 2 seconds of each other. And for Chaves, it was – you guessed it – his first win.
G3R2 (East Championship)
This was another frantically fought affair but one that was also joined by Jordan Taylor, Ricky’s younger brother. Chaves and Oleen went at it again, but at some point the two touched and both declined to pit during the race.(Also, Cox crashed in the Kink andlap four was a full course yellow.) The whole race however, Taylor was climbing the charts and on lap seven he went from fourth to second as Oleen and R. Greist dropped to third and fourth, respectively. By the checker, which Chaves went under first, Greist had made up one more spot (to third). The order at the finish line was Chaves, Taylor, R. Greist, Oleen, Longmore, J. Greist and Von Moltke, but following the failure-to-pit penalties earned by Chaves and Oleen, the victor was Taylor, his first. R. Greist was credited with second, followed by Longmore, J. Greist and Von Moltke. Bobby Ellis, Potter, Gregg Markarian and Reid Stewart were all credited with positions ahead of Chaves and Oleen, classified 10th and 11th, respectively.
G4R1 (East Sportsman)
Blake Krieger and Mike Denino were tradin’ places up front for the first six laps – until Krieger spun himself out of the lead! That put Denino in the lead for good (he won by 6 seconds) so the battle was between Scott Panzer and Mike Kolacki for P2, with Kolacki figuring out a way to get past Panzer on the last lap. Tom Cochran was a distant fourth while Krieger recovered well from his off and just nipped Robert Hill at the line for fifth. jeff Peitz was alone in seventh, but Walter Kuhn, Palo Orlandi and Ted Jewel were nip and tuck for remaining top 10 spots. For Denino it was… his first win!
G4R2 (East Sportsman)
More back and forth, as Krieger wasted little time working his way to the front to begin hounding leader Denino. The action was put on pause as, on the lap that Kreiger took the lead from Denino (lap four), Orlandi and Kuhn got into each other while duking it out for sixth and seventh. The re-start on lap five saw Krieger keeping the lead, with Denino second and Panzer third. Cochran did improve, though, getting past Kolacki (but Kolacki took it right back and stayed P4 the rest of the race). Meanwhile, the Denino/Krieger remained hot and on lap seven Denino went to the point. But that lasted just one lap, as Krieger went back to P1 with three to go. But it wasn’t over by any means: on the last lap Denino got a monster run out of 14 on Krieger, and up the hill they raced to the checker… Oh, Denino fell short by the smallest measurable margin – 0.001 of a second! Good stuff, regardless. Panzer was third, followed by Kolacki, Cochran, Jewel and Peitz, with eighth through 10th Doug Scovanner, his son Tim and Bob Gogerty.
Mechanic Chris Rallo pretty much walked this one, even after his lead vaporized due to an FCY to de-beach a car out of the Carrousel on lap three. The dicing was for second place, involving James French, Jason Drescher and Ben Smith. It ended with Smith taking second, a bit more than three seconds up on French. Smith also set fastest-lap. Drescher was alone in fourth at the checker, while Brett Liljergren was a solo fifth. Sixth and seventh were Dominic Rossetto and Mike Lattos, Rossetto just one-10th in front of Lattos. Amir Kermani and Hassan Jalali were on the lead lap coming home eighth and ninth, while Ashley Freiberg and Nick Brady rounded out the 11-car field. Rallo was (drum roll, please…) a first time winner too!
Very exciting stuff between Rallo and Smith in this one. Rallo led the first seven of 10 laps, hounded incessantly by Smith. Drescher had a piece of this action until he made a slight mistake – one that he thought was a four-off. So he dutifully came into the pits… Anyway, now it was just Rallo and Smith. And when Smith made the pop for the lead in One on lap eight, he held it – barely – the rest of the way, even when the two of them were side by side at various points on the track. One last shot for Rallo as they dove into and through 14… but Rallo dropped the left side at the exit and couldn’t get a real run on Smith up to the finish line. Smith was solid and finished 0.024 in front, a great drive. French came home third 16 seconds later, followed by Freiberg (she knocked 3 seconds off her fastest time from the day before), Liljergren, lattos, Drescher and D. Rossetto.
Eastern Series folks have their first stand-alone event July 12-14 at Lime Rock Park, followed by a Midwest-East combo July 27-29 at Mont-Tremblant, where the Champ Cars just ran. The next BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda rounds are at Road America August 3-5.
2007 Eastern Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 12-14, Lime Rock Park
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Oct. 11-13, Lime Rock Park