WILLOWS, Calif. (April 13, 2014) – The Sports Car Club of America BFGoodrich Tires Thunderhill Super Tour crowned 27 more winners on Sunday at Thunderhill Raceway Park and awarded points for the season long Western Conference Majors Tour.
A Thunderhill SCCA-event record 290 cars were on hand for the doubleheader weekend, which featured eight race groups on Sunday. Each of Sunday’s races were 16 laps or 40 minutes, whichever came first, and all ran the 16-lap distance on the 15-turn, 2.866-mile circuit.
Group 1: Like Saturday, Rylan Hazelton opened the day with a flag-to-flag Super Touring Under win in the No. 49 Driving Ambition/BFGoodrich Tires/HPD Honda S2000, joined by Spencer Trenery (No. 8 Fantasy Junction/TOP1 Motors Acura Integra) in Super Touring Lite and Jason Isley (No. 99 TRD/Hoosier/OS Giken/Racer.com Toyota Yaris) in H Production with a weekend sweep.
Joe Huffaker, quickly back up to speed with an eye on the 2014 SCCA National Championship Runoffs after taking time away from competition, drove his No. 77 Huffaker Engineering MG Midget to the F Production win on Sunday.
Derrick Ambrose and Kyle Keenan battled in B-Spec on Saturday, crossing the finish side by side after battling all race long, with Keenan taking the win. Ambrose evened the score on Sunday in the No. 71 CorkSport Mazda Performance Mazda2, catching the necessary breaks and moving away from Keenan’s No. 44 Kia Motors/Dick Hannah Dealers Kia Rio.
Group 2: The large “wings and things” group was split in two for Sunday’s races, but it didn’t slow Formula 1000 and overall winner JR Osbourne, who swept the weekend in his No. 3 Moon’s Supercycle/Hoosier Tire Citation F1000. Osbourne stayed ahead of his class competition from the start, and moved around eventual Prototype 1 winner Jim Devenport with four laps to go to take the overall win.
Devenport’s No. 231 Cranbook Group, Inc. Norma M20 inherited his class lead on lap five when leader Chris Farrell pulled to a stop with a mechanical gremlin. Farrell’s No. 58 C&M Mfg/GDR Engines/Hoosier Stohr WF1 refired after the stall, but left him two laps down and fourth in class. Devenport hung on for the Prototype 1 win. Running third overall was Vince Gaddini’s No. 43 Damon Racing Mazda PFM in Formula Atlantic, his second win of the weekend.
In group 2B, Fabian Okonski drove his No. 6 Simplicity in Sound Mobile Audio Stohr 1G to a well deserved win in the Prototype 2 class. Okonski and David Ferguson followed John Basso’s No. 96 B&B Racing/RedLine Oil/Hoosier Fox RF3 through the early stages of the race, until a water line came loose in the rear of Basso’s machine and he was forced out of the lead on lap six.
Ferguson’s No. 75 Veracity Racing Data/Hoosier Stohr WF-1/Suzuki moved around Okonski on lap 11, but the Saturday winner spun on his own on lap 12 and left Okonski in the lead. Okonski didn’t escape the weekend trouble free, as during Saturday’s qualifying session he was left with nowhere to go when a rival car slowed on the front straight. Okonski missed Saturday’s race, and ran Sunday with a nose piece seemingly held together with rivets and racer’s tape.
Bob Negron drove his Formula Continental to an early lead, pushing hard in his No. 8 Hoosier/Terri Negron Web Design Van Diemen RF99/Ford to put pressure on Saturday winner and 15-year-old Yufeng Luo and the rest of the field. The strategy worked, as Negron stayed in front to the end and a nine-second win.
Mel Kemper swept the weekend in Formula Mazda, behind the wheel of the No. 4 Goodyear/Mazda Formula Mazda.
Group 3: After falling just short in Saturday’s race, William Brinkov knew the strength of his No. 78 TC Design/Synergy Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette was to get an early lead and hang off the charging No. 15 Fantasy Junction Porsche GT3 of Trenery. His plan was working to perfection until an unwelcomed full course caution on lap seven.
Brinkov was not happy to see the double yellow flag, but as the cleanup stretched longer and his tires cooled, his advantage came back. Following a lap 12 restart, Brinkov again stretched his lead out to five seconds and beat Trenery to the finish line.
While GT-1’s Rob Davis (No. 95 RDavisCPA.com Chevrolet Camaro) and GT-3’s Collin Jackson (No. 53 Nissan 240SX) were sweeping the weekend, Dylan Olsen was pushing hard at the front of the American Sedan field. The caution erased a significant lead that the No. 2 Shock Shop/Nutter Racing Engines Ford Mustang had built, but Olsen picked up again right after the second green and rolled to the checkered flag.
Group 4: Spec Miata started with a line of 16 cars nose to tail, early in the race, and all looked like they had a chance to contend. Even at halfway, with four cars running nose to tail, a train of 10 ran just five car lengths back, waiting for a mistake.
The challenge, as always, is to maintain that pace for the full race distance. With just two laps to go, only polesitter Charlie Hayes’ No. 22 22 TFB/AIM Tires/RM Autosports Miata and Elliott Skeer’s No. 77 Rush Motorsports Mazda Miata were left and battling for the lead.
Skeer took some looks, but with Hayes driving flawlessly, was left with no reasonable openings. Quickest all weekend, Hayes was able to finish the job on Sunday and take the win.
Group 5: Still in the transformation from Super Touring Under to Touring 1 in his No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/NexGen Mazda MX-5, Marc Hoover led early and, for the first time all weekend, was able to put together more than just a few consecutive laps without mechanical gremlins.
By the halfway point, there was simply not enough tire under the turbo Mazda, and Hoover was noticeably sliding around the corners. That opened the door for Brinkov’s second win of the day and third of the weekend, driving his No. 78 TC Design/Synergy Motorsports/Abel Chevrolet Chevrolet Corvette around Hoover and stretching his lead to the finish.
Huffaker matched Brinkov with his second win of the day and third of the weekend, sweeping GT-Lite in the No. 77 Huffaker Engineering Huffaker Mini. Aaron Downey, who fell out of Saturday’s race early with a blown fuse in the No. 5 RoundPeg.com/MAZDASPEED Motorsports/Carbotech Mazda RX-3, had hardwired the ECU directly to solve the problem and found himself in a battle with Tony Jimerson.
Downey tried to use the traffic to break away from the No. 28 A.T. Mechanical Mazda RX-7, but every time Downey snuck past a slower car, it only opened the door for Jimerson to get through as well. Downey, on the same set of tires that he used to finish as runner-up at the 2013 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, was slowing dramatically near the finish as his old tires were down to the cords on the right front. Unfortunately for Jimerson, he didn’t know how dire the situation was. Still pushing hard, Jimerson spun with two to go, and Downey held on for the win.
A similar situation played out in Touring 2, but in this case, Don Van Nortwick took advantage from second place to earn his first career SCCA victory. Van Nortwick moved his No. 51 Tobar Industries Ford Mustang around David Ray’s No. 30 Hooked on Driving Ford Mustang with two laps to go. Ray won on Saturday and was looking for his third consecutive win on the same set of tires – a task that proved too tall.
On Saturday in Touring 4, traffic helped Lance Stewart’s No. 3 Specialty Vehicle Logistics Ford Mustang stay in front of Lee Niffenegger’s No. 42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si. Sunday looked like it could play out the same way, but Niffenegger closed the gap quickly with just a few laps to go, and moved around Stewart to take the win.
Group Six: The Spec Racer Ford started as repeat of Saturday, as well, as Todd Harris immediately walked out in front of the field on his own in the No. 24 Pro Drive Racing/HMS Spec Racer Ford.
With just a few laps remaining, however, John Black’s No. 17 Spec Racer Ford caught Harris “like he was driving a Gen Three,” according to Harris – a reference to the new, faster Spec Racer Ford expected to hit Majors racing next season.
Brown looked for a way around Harris, trying on the final two laps through turn three, but didn’t have a clear path against an expert driver. Instead, Harris stayed in front to the checkered flag, followed by Brown and Mike Miserendino’s No. 11 MBI Racing Spec Racer Ford.
Miserendino’s podium comes just a couple of weeks after an accident during a Sports Car Club of America Regional event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, home of October’s Runoffs, and massive repairs to the car.
Group Seven: The small formula cars set up the wildest showdown of the weekend in the final race.
A five car incident just after the green flag blocked the track through turn three and brought out a red flag, causing the full race to restart. All drivers walked away from the incident, and the race started from scratch after the cleanup.
Three more caution periods, including a spin by Formula F’s then-second place Dave Zurlinden’s No. 131 Pro Pack Systems/Fast Forward Piper DF5/Honda that also collected Alexander Kirby’s No. 81 Piper DF5/Honda and scattered those in pursuit, left the field with a final two-lap dash to the finish.
In Formula F, Thomas Merrill’s No. 55 Piper Race Cars/Fast Forward Engineering Piper DF5/Honda restarted ahead of Chuck Horn and Ethan Shippert. Unbeknownst to his rivals, Merrill’s machine had been hit under yellow behind the pace car and was struggling with his handling.
Meanwhile, Shippert had made his run to the front for the final restart after starting from the rear of the field in the No. 44 JBF Racing Swift DB5/Honda instead of his No. 95 Swift DB-1/Ford after Jon Brandstad asked to swap cars so that Shippert could give feedback on his machine. En route, Shippert ran through the grass to miss the Zurlinden/Kirby incident and was nearly collected himself, but survived.
On the final lap, Shippert drove around the oversteer that he battled all race long, nearly running off track through turn six in an effort to make up the two seconds he trailed Merrill. Shippert got a run out of the final corner and passed Merrill in the gap between the display of the checkered flag and Thunderhill’s finish line that is further up the track by a 0.069-second margin. Horn’s No. 54 Hotel California/Porter Racing Swift DB6/Honda was just one more car length behind in third.
Like Merrill in Formula F, Terran Swanson had his hard-earned lead erased with the caution flags and led Quinn Posner and Skip Streets on the final restart.
With one to go, Swanson’s No. 86 Toad Hall Enterprises/Swan Tech Graphic Co. Mysterian M4/Volkswagen dropped two wheels into the dirt through turn five and opened the door for Posner to sneak by and into the lead. Coming down the straight into turn 14, Streets’ No. 5 Hoosier Mysterian M2/Volkswagen pushed Swanson back into the lead around Posner.
The draft carried Swanson deeper than normal, however, and Swanson ended up off the track in 14. Posner’s No. 9 Protoform Volkswagen swept around Streets through turns 14 and 15 and back up the front straight to the finish line and the win.
Lance Spiering swept the weekend in Formula 500, driving the No. 28 KBS Mk VII/Rotax.
The next U.S. Majors Tour event takes place in the Eastern Conference at VIRginia International Raceway next weekend, April 18-20. The Western Conference returns to action in just two weeks at Buttonwillow Raceway, April 26-27.
Results and more information from this weekend’s BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour is available at SCCA.com/ThunderhillMajors.
Willows, Calif. - Provisional race winners for Sunday’s BFGoodrich Tires Thunderhill Super Tour, Round Six of the Western Conference Majors Tour at Thunderhill Raceway Park. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Dylan Olsen, Kelso, Wash., Ford Mustang
B-Spec: Derrick Ambrose, Vancouver, Wash., MAZDA2
E Production: Aaron Downey, Rosmoor, Calif., Mazda RX-3
F Production: Joe Huffaker, Petaluma, Calif., MG Midget
H Production: Jason Isley, Coto de Caza, Calif., Toyota Yaris
Formula 500: Lance Spiering, Beaverton, Ore., KBS MkVII/Rotax
Formula 1000: JR Osborne, Greenwood Village, Colo., Citation F1000
Formula Atlantic: Vince Gaddini, Auburn, Calif., Mazda PFM
Formula Continental: Bob Negron, Morgan Hill, Calif., Van Diemen RF99
Formula Enterprises: Jeff Read, Vacaville, Calif., Formula Enterprises/Ford
Formula F: Ethan Shippert, Petaluma, Calif., Piper DF5/Honda
Formula Mazda: Mel Kemper, Toledo, Wash., Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Quinn Posner, Camas, Wash., Protoform P3/Volkswagen
GT-1: Rob Davis, Sonora, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
GT-2: William Brinkop, Merced, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
GT-3: Collin Jackson, Langley, Canada, Nissan 240SX
GT-Lite: Joe Huffaker, Petaluma, Calif., Huffaker Mini
Prototype 1: Jim Devenport, Modesto, Calif., Norma M20FC
Prototype 2: Fabian Okonski, Los Gatos, Calif., Stohr WF-1/Suzuki
Spec Miata: Charlie Hayes, Walnut Creek, Calif., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Todd Harris, Portland, Ore., Spec Racer Ford
Super Touring Lite: Spencer Trenery, Berkley, Calif., Acura Integra
Super Touring Under: Rylan Hazelton, Santa Cruz, Calif., Honda S2000
Touring 1: William Brinkop, Merced, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Don Van Nortwick, San Jose, Calif., Ford Mustang
Touring 3: Scotty B. White, Auburn, Wash., Ford Mustang
Touring 4: Lee Niffenegger, Santa Clarita, Calif., Honda Civic Si
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