Mid-States Conference, Spec Racer Ford
Driving in one of the most popular and closely contested classes, Keith Verges, of Dallas, had to fight tooth-and-nail to take home his Majors Mid-States Conference championship. A total of 104 drivers took the green flag in the 10 conference races. However, there was one driver that stood to Verges that may have posed a problem during his championship run.
“My real challenge was Denny Stripling,” Verges said. “A perennial front runner with huge talent, I finished where I did mostly due to being at High Plains when he was not. I know Denny pushes me to be faster than I’d be alone, and I suspect I have pushed Denny to up his game. As a result, we both seem to be faster at the out-of-region events than I think we’d be on our own.”
As far as individual races go, Verges had two events that made an impression on him. They came at the season-opening race at Circuit of The Americas and the finale at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“COTA and Gateway were a real Yin and Yang comparison,” Verges said. “COTA was a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming moment to win the inaugural race in an 85-car field with talent everywhere. It was a very close finish and everyone around me raced cleanly but fiercely, and I only wish I could have done a victory lap and podium, but I had to get to the SM grid.
“On the other hand, Gateway was my worst race weekend in eons. I went off during qualifying into the not-so-generous runoff that was wet to boot, and took a corner off the car before I could record any fast qualifying laps. Follow that up with a DNF, in the race, due to a chain-reaction when a car spun in front of me. The championship was suddenly in jeopardy, when all I wanted to do was circulate for points Saturday. Luckily, Tom Dalrymple brought another car for me to drive, Sunday, and I drove to sixth place, with no pace at all for the leaders. A pretty dismal way to cap off the season, but at least it was mission accomplished.”
Throughout 2013, Verges tallied six top-fives, including a win at COTA and a pair at High Plaines Raceway. He also scored back-to-back second-place finishes at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit driving the No. 69 Apex Driving Academy Spec Racer Ford.
Verges had some very important people to thank for his championship year.
“I never felt like I did it alone,” Verges said. “My wife Laurie is very supportive, and pretty much lets me do whatever it takes to race, with never a word about the expense or time apart (maybe the latter is a blessing). Tom Dalrymple has made the transition from Spec Miata very smooth, giving me a fast and reliable car every single time, and is quick to suggest adjustments as needed. Literally every other competitor (too many to name) has been supportive in the extreme anytime I’ve needed anything, especially the “Commune” of Denny [Stripling], Tim Blakeley, Kevin Ferguson, Brandon Piper and Kerry Bonner, whose help was almost worth their incessant presence.”