Edited to reflect Bruce Andersen as the STL winner.
MADISON, Ill. (August 3, 2013) – A number of SCCA U.S. Majors Tour Conference Championships tightened on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park, just outside of St. Louis, with the field gathered in a combined race for both the Northern and Mid-States Conference finales.
The doubleheader weekend began with seven group qualifying sessions on Saturday morning, followed by 28-lap feature races at the seven turn, 1.65-mile road course. Saturday’s races, followed by Sunday’s battles, are the last remaining point scoring opportunities in the season-long title hunts.
The battle early was for second overall and for the Touring 3 class win, where Tommy Boileau’s No. 43 BimmerHaus/BFGoodrich/Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving BMW Z4 battled with Mike Kramer’s No. 16 BFGoodrich Tires/Carbotech/VetteSport Saturn ION for the class lead. Boileau was in front at the start, thanks to his class pole, and steadily ticked off the laps to grow his lead. Eventually, Boileau stretched out the gap to take the checkered flag.
Denny Stripling cruised to a Spec Racer Ford win by over four seconds in the No. 4 Lightspeed Motorsports SRF, but the race had title implications in both the Mid-States and the Northern Conferences. A lap four accident wiped out five cars, including the No. 69 Apex Driving Academy machine of Mid-States leader Keith Verges.
The DNF for Verges puts his title in danger. Verges needs just a 14th place finish to clinch the championship, but if he doesn’t score points in Sunday’s race, a second-place or better by Stripling would earn him the crowd. Likewise, a fourth-place finish on Saturday for Adam Gottlieb’s No. 7 Flat Black Racing SRF leaves him in contention for the Northern Conference. Gottlieb needs a runner-up finish or a win to steal that crown from Scott Rettich.
Eric Prill’s F Production No. 7 Jesse Prather Motorsports/Hoosier/Hawk/Motul Mazda Miata bested Bill Allman’s E Production No. 28 CarStar/MAZDASPEED/Jesse Prather Motorsports in an interclass, intramural battle for the overall lead between the two cars that share a Topeka, Kan. home. Allman led his stablemate early, but once in front, Prill quickly stretched the lead.
The H Production race was a two-car battle between the No. 3 Hoosier/247-parts.com/AMT Engines Volkwagen GTI of Chris Albin and the No. 87 ReK Racing Triumph Spitfire of Aaron Johnson. Albin held the point for the early stages of the race, with Johnson closing close enough to challenge by lap seven. Johnson took the lead briefly into turn 1 on lap eight, but Albin used an over under move to reclaim the lead by turn three.
Albin look like he’d get away when traffic fell in his favor, putting a different class car in between them on the track. Johnson fought back valiantly, closing quickly and climbing into the lead at the halfway point.
Johnson stretched his lead, but then spun in turn two on lap 20 and gave the lead back to Albin. Trying to close again late in the race, Johnson again slipped off course, falling further back and letting Albin taste victory.
Jimmy Simpson’s No. 27 RacePro Marketing Swift/Toyota was the class of the field in the wings and things group. Simpson powered away from Jacek Mucha’s No. 01 Swift 016/Mazda at the green flag, and then continued to stretch his lead. With several laps to go, however, it became clear that Simpson was showing no signs of letting up.
With four to go, Mucha was the last car that Simpson hadn’t sent a lap down. Running the turns three-four-five complex flat out and much quicker than the rest of the field, Simpson caught Mucha and put a full lap on the field with three to go.
Simpson didn’t slow down until his victory lap.
The big bore group featured an early battle in American Sedan, when Jim Wheeler’s No. 20 Chevrolet Camaro caught up to the No. 54 Hoosier Chevrolet Camaro of Philip Smith mid-race. Wheeler had the lead on lap seven, and the two crossed the stripe side by side to start lap 10. Smith pulled in front, however, and then eased away from the Mid-States champion for the class win.
Michael Lewis earned the overall win in the group in the GT-1 No. 57 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Jim Drago drove his No. 2 East Street Racing Mazda Miata to a win in Spec Miata, but the five drivers up front are well on their way to deciding who takes each championship. An eighth place finish on Sunday will give Drago the crown in the Mid-States.
The Northern Conference is a three-way battle that’s even closer. Erik Stearns’ No. 97 East Street Racing/Ed's 24 Hour Service/Dick's Auto Salvage Miata finished second to Drago on Saturday, with Bruce Andersen’s No. 17 Senson Racing Grp/Autotechnik Racing Miata finishing third after a battle to the finish with Josh Bilicki’s No. 51 Trim-Tek Drywall Products Miata. Michael Novak finished in the top five in his No. 9 Roush/Caldwell Race Prep Miata.
The day ended with the small open wheel machines in Formula F, Formula 500 and Formula Vee, where a pair of brothers tried to take two of the classes.
Cliff Johnson pulled away from the field, even after a red flag to repair the tire wall in turn one after a lap four incident, to take the Formula F win in his No. 4 Alpine Litho-Graphics/Farley Engines Piper DF-5. Behind him, the battle for the final podium spots raged all race long, with Bill Kephart, Lewis and David Livingston each spending time in the second and third slots. Kephart finished as the runner-up in the No. 37 Vestial 10F, with Lewis’ No. 77 Red Line Oil/Cyclo Vestial 09F and Livingston’s No. 85 ThermaMasters Swift DB-3/89 crossing the stripe side-by-side at the checkers. Lewis had his nose in front for his second podium of the day.
Brother Bill Johnson looked like he had the Formula Vee race in control early on in his No. 42 Portable Work Tools Inc Vortech/Volkswagen. Late in the race, however, the No. 35 ACI Distributors Vortech/VW of Brad Stout closed the gap and moved to the lead with eight to go. Once in front, Stout kept Johnson at bay to take the win.
All seven race groups will run again tomorrow, beginning with 10 lap qualifying races at 8:00 a.m. The grids for the qualifying races will be set based on Saturday’s fast race laps, with the finishing order setting the grids for the Conference finales on Sunday afternoon.
Bob Schader crossed the finish line first as the overall leader in Group 1 and STL, but was penalized three spots by the stewards following the race. Bruce Andersen inherited the win.
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MADISON, Ill. - Provisional race winners from Saturday’s SCCA Northern Conference and Mid-States Conference Majors Tour races at Gateway Motorsports Park. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Philip Smith, New Albany, Ohio, Chevrolet Camaro
B-Spec: Mike Asselta, Overland Park, Kan., Mini Cooper
D Sports Racing: Richard Colburn, Northbrook, Ill., NosTendo 2
E Production: Bill Allman, Topeka, Kan., Mazda RX-7
F Production: Eric Prill, Topeka, Kan., Mazda Miata
H Production: Chris Albin, Maryland Heights, Mo., Volkswagen GTI
GT-1: Michael Lewis, Poway, Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo
GT-2: Keith Moody, Harrisonville, Mo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo
GT-3: Chad Bacon, Kingsport, Tenn., Toyota Celica
GT-Lite: Steve Sargis, Frankfort, Ill., Triumph Spitfire
Formula 500: William Cobb, Cambridge, Wis., CNB Milton Bana
Formula Atlantic: Jimmy Simpson, Indianapolis, Ind., Swift 016a/Toyota
Formula Continental: Robert Allaer, Lithia, Fla., Van Diemen RF02
Formula Enterprises: Henry Donohoo, Arvada, Colo., Formula Enterprises/Mazda
Formula F: Cliff Johnson, Stilwell, Kan., Piper DF-5
Formula Mazda: Alan McCallum, Houston, Texas, Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Brad Stout, St. Charles, Mo., Vortech/VW
Spec Miata: Jim Drago, Memphis, Tenn., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Denny Stripling, McKinney, Texas, Spec Racer Ford
Sports 2000: Rob Sherwood, Saint Louis, Mo., Carbir CS2/Ford
Super Touring Lite: Bruce Andersen, Sarasota, Fla., Mazda Miata
Super Touring Under: Tom Kraft, Des Moines, Iowa, Mazda Miata
Touring 1: Todd Napieralski, Chelsea, Mich., Chevrolet Camaro
Touring 2: Natha Waldbaum, Omaha, Neb., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 3: Tommy Boileau, Monument, Colo., BMW Z4
Touring 4: Greg Vandersluis, North Olmsted, Ohio, Ford Mustang