Western Series Finale
Wednesday, April 13, 2005 Congratulations to Tim Traver, the 2004-2005 Western Series Champion! Our Sportsman titlist was Sprague Theobald, while Jeff Kaiser was a deserved double-dipper: Masters Champion and Rookie of the Year, edging out Tom Roberts and Duncan Ende. And the irrepressible Dom Bastien was this season’s Grand Masters Champion. The Race Weekend itself saw Dimitri Delagrammaticus and Wayne Williams taking their first wins…
The first start was waved off and when the field eventually got going, Tim Traver matched National driver Paul Albert’s lap times but could not get close enough to Albert to challenge for the lead. Welcome returnee Bryan Hixon fended off Jeff Kaiser the entire race for third place. Kaiser ultimately went four-off at the Corkscrew when attempting to pass Hixon on the white flag lap, allowing Steve Sylvester to take the fourth spot. Further back Matt Ferratusco, Grand-Am race winner Milka Duno and Dom Bastien fought for sixth, ultimately taken by Duno. Milka later effused about how she enjoyed driving the R/T 2000 and how it helps her sharpens her skills for the Citgo Daytona Prototype she pilots.
The Man with Two First Names — Paul Albert (c.) — was the Man with Two First Places this weekend, taking both Championship Group races. In this Saturday podium shot, Albert, a 2005 National driver, is flanked by Tim Traver (l.), the Western Series Champion, and Bryan Hixon (r.). RotR was Matt Ferratusco (fr.), who came in eighth in a field full of vets.
After qualifying it was again Albert on pole with Tom Roberts beside him and Jose Guzman and Traver on row two. A last-minute change of car did not faze Albert but gave Roberts, Guzman and Traver a better chance to hold onto the leader whilst Albert acclimatized to the different car. Nevertheless, Albert led from the flag and behind him a train of cars headed by Roberts fought for P2. Guzman eventually passed Roberts in Turn Five and tried to get to Albert — recording fastest race lap in his efforts — but Albert made no mistakes on his way to his second win of the weekend. Kaiser latched onto the battling duo of Roberts and Traver; these two swapped places every lap, pulling the crowd to its feet as they ran side by side through Two and Three. When all was said and done it was Roberts taking P3, Traver fourth and Kaiser fifth — all recording nearly identical lap times. Behind them Hixon and Curt Berg had a great race until Hixon went four-off in T3, which dropped him to 10th at the flag.
John Scalmanini was on pole but it was Sprague Theobald who led from the start with Scalmanini, Duncan Ende and Wayne Williams hard on his heels. On lap two Scalmanini passed Theobald going into Two and a lap later Ende and Williams squeezed passed Theobald at Five. Behind these three Yukinobu Nakayama watched and waited, hoping for a mistake. Nakayama hadn’t long to wait as on lap five Williams spun out in Turn Six (re-joining in eighth following his pit). Fighting for sixth, Gray Gregory, Dana Rock and Serena Traver swapped places but on lap six Serena had a big slide through Five and losts touch with the battle. Meanwhile Williams gradually made his way back to fourth. Gregory and Rock caught Nakayama and three laps from the end, Gregory gets by to finish fifth, followed by Nakayama and Rock. Sarena T., Brian Smits and Rob Holland rounded out the top 10.
Williams takes pole with Scalmanini beside him. Behind these two are title contenders Ende and Theobald with only 1 point between them for the Sportsman honors. It’s a great start and all four pile into Turn Two. Williams gets through the corner in the lead but behind him Scalmanini and Ende tangle wheels and John’s car launches into an impressive barrel roll. Ende stops to assist and a black flag is displayed at all stations. Scalmanini emerges shaken but not hurt and Ende opts not to continue. At the restart Williams, followed closely by Theobald, takes off and behind are Nakayama, Gregory and Rock, battling mightily for the third podium spot. With Williams firmly in the lead and a win in the bag — his first; way to go, WW! — three laps from the end Gregory and Rock touch in T5; Dana pits to get a new nose and Gray continues unaware he had been hit. Meanwhile, Serena T. and Holland are nose to tail; Traver drives her hardest and most impressive race of the season to take fourth ahead of Gregory (with pit penalty for contact) and Holland.
New drivers Dimitri Delagrammaticas and Gavin MacGregor showed the way in this group full of novice drivers. At the end of the race it was a case of last man standing as almost every driver had a story to tell. MacGregor took the lead from Delagrammaticas on the first lap but immediately went four-off at Four. On the second lap Shanatu Reddy, ahead of Michael Sweeney and Matthew Seech, found the barrier at the exit of Four and brought out a full course yellow for two laps. On the restart MacGregor, back up to fourth, mixed in with the battling Sweeney and Seech while behind them Edwin Soto-Quinones and Ed Kim exchange places several times a lap. The pressure was too much for Kim and he eventually spun off in Five, dropping to eighth. A lap later Seech and Sweeney get together and when they make their pitstops, Soto-Quinones and Randy Dykstra are promoted to third and fourth. Regrettably, Dykstra ran wide in T3 and drops to 10th after his pitstop. Last lap: MacGregor starts to catch Delagrammaticas and in a desperate attempt to take the lead makes a late pass at the Corkscrew and hits Dimitri as he turns in. Both finish and receive penalties for contact. Delagrammaticas keeps his win but MacGregor is demoted to fourth, leaving Soto-Quinones a delighted P2 and Seech P3.
Delagrammaticas qualified on pole, while MacGregor after a spin in qualifying had to start at the back. But in two laps MacGregor got to second with Sweeny in third. Jimmy Thornton and Seech work together and catch Sweeney on lap five and Seech takes over third place. These three circulate together until they came up on lapped traffic. Seech got around on the entrance to Four — but spun at the exit! Kim had a sympathy spin and as Sweeny tried to avoid he was bumped by Kim mid-spin and hit the wall. The race continued under a local yellow and at the checker Delagrammaticas won from MacGregor, with Seech third. Thornton was fourth, Soto-Quinones fifth and Dykstra close behind in sixth.
Wayne Williams has a helmet paint job that’s supposed to look like dirt. Sprague “Spray” Theobald, however, has a helmet with actual dirt. And perhaps even a bug-looking thing on it! Regardless of any random flotsam and jetsam, Sprague won the Sportsman title and M.I.D. honors. Well done, you dirty old man!
Masters Regional Run-off Race
Eleven drivers took the green flag for the Masters race including John Scalamini, fresh from his rolled car. Scalmanini started fourth and was determined not to let the accident affect his racing and quickly leapt into third place, setting fastest race lap as he did. But it was points leader Jeff Kaiser who set the pace with Tom Roberts tracking his every move. Roberts took the lead at the half-way mark and that’s how it finished, Kaiser putting a stamp on his points lead to take the title. Behind these three Dom Bastien shook off the attentions of Steve Sylvester, Sprague Theobald, Jose Guzman and Wayne Williams to finish fifth, securing the Grand Masters Championship.
Prince Rainier Memorial Race
The Memorial race was run as a pursuit with Aaron Hollander leaving the pit first, closely followed by Jimmy Thornton, Ed Kim and Robb Holland. Then a gap to Michael Sweeny, Dana Rock and Gray Gregory and slowly each of the 18 drivers were released from the pits, with Tim Traver joining the track just as the first drivers were under the start finish stand completing their first lap. The idea was to have all the drivers together by the last lap, and it worked — but much sooner than expected! At about half distance there was a huge train as the faster drivers caught and passed the front-runners. The race was very exciting to watch, exhilarating to be in and almost impossible to record and at the checkered flag Tom Roberts up from 11th took the win. Holland was second (from fourth on the “grid”) and Steve Davis third (ninth). Great stuff!
Tim Traver’s Championship Group points total was an astounding 218 more than second place. Impressive, Double T., but you’re going to have a bit more competition next year, we bet! (Right,Curt and Jeff?) Congratulations again…
Most Improved Driver went to Sprague Theobald, who not only won the Sportsman title but finished seventh in Championship, and Kaiser and Dom Bastien deserve another round of applause for their Masters and Grand Masters titles.
Don’t forget — we’ll have “cars on course” soon, as the Eastern and Midwestern Race Series kick-off soon (April 22-24) at splendid Virginia International Raceway. We hope to see everyone soon!