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Lee Niffenegger gets in front of Matthew Staal in Touring 4. (Dennis Baer image) Lee Niffenegger gets in front of Matthew Staal in Touring 4. (Dennis Baer image) View Full Size

 

Buttonwillow, Calif. (April 27, 2014) – The SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour leaves Buttonwillow Raceway on Sunday following Round Eight with just four races in the season-long championship remaining, and a number of drivers already thinking about the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in October.

With sunny skies beating down on competitors and grip at a premium, the 27 Majors classes were broken into eight groups, each of who ran 16-lap races on Sunday. Those races went a long way to establishing preliminary contenders for the Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this fall.

Highlights from Sunday’s races at the 15-turn, 3.020-mile circuit follow.

Group 1: Rylan Hazelton made it four Super Touring Under wins in a row during Western Conference action in the No. 49 Driving Ambition/BFGoodrich Tires/HPD/Comptech Honda S2000 to open the day, followed by some close battles behind him.

Spencer Trenery collected his second Super Touring Lite win of the weekend after running hard with Mark Drennan’s No. 10 NoWifeNoKids/TFB/Riverbed Mazda Miata. The pair ran nose to tail and, after Trenery’s No. 8 Fantasy Junction Acura Integra and Drennan went side by side down the front stretch on lap 11, Trenery moved in front for good.

In Touring 4, Matthew Staal qualified his No. 24 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si on the class pole by virtue of his fast lap during Saturday’s race, then kept teammate Lee Niffenegger’s No. 42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic behind him until lap 11. Niffenegger found his way into the lead at that point, and the nearly identical cars stuck close for the distance. Niffenegger held on for the weekend sweep.

Michael Tsay and Derrick Ambrose picked up their B-Spec rivalry again on Sunday, swapping the lead in the early stages. Tsay’s No. 45 Honda Racing/HPD Honda Fit worked in front and, despite a mirror full of the silver No. 71 Corksport Mazda/Monarch Inspections/BFG MAZDA2, held on for his second win of the weekend.

Group 2: Thankfully, the chaos from Saturday’s start didn’t resurface during Sunday’s race in the big open-wheel and prototype race, and a number of drivers reaped the rewards on Sunday – Mike Anderson and Randy Cook chief among them.

Anderson swept the Formula Mazda weekend in his No. 42 Formula Mazda, but without Saturday’s excitement. At the start on Saturday, Anderson narrowly split two formula cars that had spun and were facing the wrong way in turn one. Sunday, Anderson just walked away from the field to take the win.

Cook’s No. 9 Hoosier Tires JDR F1000 wasn’t as lucky on Saturday. He was one of the cars collected in the incident, and he and his small crew worked past midnight to repair essentially three corners of the car. The repairs were apparently top notch, and Cook earned his win.

Lee Alexander earned his second straight overall win in Prototype 1, working around Jim Devenport’s No. 23 Cranbrook Group, Inc. Norma M20FC on lap six and pulling away in the No. 48 Factory 48/APE Raceparts Stohr WF-Zero/Suzuki. Chris Emanuel inherited the win on Saturday in Formula Atlantic when the No. 43 Damon Racing Mazda PFM of Vince Gaddini’s day ended on lap 13. Gaddini, the Saturday winner, appeared to have the field covered when a different class car went off track in front of him. Gaddini, slowing to avoid him, stalled and ended his day, and Emanuel’s No. 36 Airguard/Hawn Racing/CER Inc. Swift 016a/Mazda went on to win.

Like Saturday, the Formula Continental battle was nose to tail for most of the race.
Tom Hope’s No. 18 H & M Racing Dart Carbir ZTec led early, but saw the gap disappear as the laps counted down. On lap 13, the front wing of Yufeng Luo’s No. 61 Van Diemen BP08 hit just inside Hope’s right rear wheel, dislodging Luo’s wing and leaving him out of contention while Hope swept the weekend.

Behind them, the fight for the final podium spot was just as intense. Coming to the one to go board, the No. 127 Van Diemen RF02 of Andrew Evans and the No. 8 Hoosier/Terri Negron Web Design of Bob Negron went side-by-side into the final corner, coming together and sending both off track. Each continued, with Evans in front at the stripe.

Group 3: Mike Lewis’ No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Red Line Oil Jaguar XKR swept the weekend with yet another overall win in GT-1 and Mike Henderson walked away with his second GT-3 win of the weekend in the No. 2 Mazda/Red Line Oil/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 while two of the group’s races came down to the wire.

Christopher Qualls led the American Sedan race in the No. 73 Hasa Chemical/B&D Racing/Hoosier Ford Mustang early, chased hard by Saturday winner Aaron Bailey. The two ran nose to tail for 13 laps, and with two to go, Bailey’s No. 21 BFGoodrich Tires/RentMyRV.biz/BRE Chevrolet Camaro moved into the lead. The pair continued in order to the finish, with Bailey sweeping the weekend in a hard fought race.

Chuck Matthews was looking for his second consecutive GT-2 win, leading the race but chased closely by Eric Joiner as they crossed the stripe with one lap to go. Going into turn one, however, the motor on Matthews’ No. 38 RecreationConnect.com/Esprit Cam Systems Chevrolet Corvette let go in a spectacular display of white smoke.

Joiner, close behind in the No. 31 Tool of North America Porsche GT3, slowed and snuck his way through the fog without contact. The slower-than-normal pace allowed the No. 19 Apartments247.com/RVParks247.com/StorageRentals247.com Viper ACRX of Michael Von Quillich to close his small gap, but Joiner was able to race ahead for the win. Matthews had completed enough laps to hold on to third, a small consolation.

Von Quillich’s runner-up finish was the highlight of the weekend that included two separate trips to his home in Pahrump, Nevada. The first trip, on Friday night, was to swap cars after his Viper blew a motor on the test day. He and his crew went back on Saturday night to get parts for the back-up car, and had it ready to race on Sunday morning.

Group 4: Spec Racer Ford was a three horse race almost from the drop of the green flag, with Mike Miserendino, Todd Harris, and TJ Acker out in front of the field. Harris, in the No. 24 Pro Drive Racing/HMS Spec Racer Ford, ultimately won out with a 0.084-second victory.

Each of the three took their turn leading the pack, with Acker’s No. 62 MBI Racing/Cindescency Spec Racer Ford leading the opening and fourth laps officially. Miserendino led the most laps in the No. 11 MBI Racing machine, with eight, but Harris’ six included the most important lap – the one that ended with the checkered flag.

Group 5: For the second straight day, Elliott Skeer used patience along with his quickness to take the win in Spec Miata driving the No. 77 Rush Motorsports Mazda Miata.

Skeer ran second or third for the early stages of the race behind Mark Drennan’s No. 10 No Wife No Kids/TFB/Riverbed Miata and Charlie Hayes’ No. 22 TFB/AIM Tires/RM Autosport Miata, who led the first 14 laps, officially. He was solidly second after lap 12, when Drennan pulled off course is a bad rear wheel hub.

By then, Tyler Vance’s No. 85 TMG/RM Autosports/Sparco/Carbotech Miata was coming quickly and in the mix. Skeer used the opportunity to pull around Hayes and stretched out two car lengths for the final two laps to take his win. Hayes and Vance completed the podium.

Group 6: Sunday’s Group Six was highlighted by battles up front in both Touring 1 and E Production, with repeat winners Kyle Kelley (No. 79 UPR.com/Apex Chevrolet Corvette), Tom Wickersham (No. 4 BFGoodrich Tires/Maine Straight Racing BMW Z4), and Brian Linn (No. 4 Hoosier/Red Line/Carbotech/Steve Hussey Lotus Super Seven) in Touring 2, Touring 3 and F Production.

Ken Davis steered his No. 64 Davis Stone Inc. Chevrolet Corvette around Marc Hoover’s No. 98 Hooverspeed/NRA/Nexgen/Red Line Oil Mazda MX-5 on lap eight, as Hoover tires started to slow and the pair caught lapped traffic. Once in front, Davis added almost a second per lap to stretch out at the finish.

The E Production race came down to the three eventual podium finishers duking it out for the win. John Longwell’s No. 38 Achilles Motorsports/Hoosier BMW 328is held it early after Saturday winner Aaron Downey pulled his No. 5 RoundPeg.com/Mazdaspeed Motorsports/Carbotech Mazda RX-3 to pit lane with a steering issue.

Longwell was caught, and eventually passed through the last corner of lap 11, by Phillip Royle’s No. 2 CureSarcoma.org/Electromotive/Fuel Safe Mazda RX-7, but retook the lead through turn three on the following lap.

Bruce Qvale’s No. 44 Jensen Healey joined the fight just a couple of laps later, moving around Royle as the Mazda’s tires started to fade. Qvale was close, but had to settle for second as he couldn’t find a way around Longwell. Royle, despite cords showing through on his well-worn tires, held on for third.

Group 7: Nikita Lastochkin kept his No. 2 Van Diemen RF02/Honda in front of Thomas Merrill’s No. 51 Piper Race Cars/Fast Forward Engineering/Speedbourne/Tracklogic Motorsports Piper DF5/Honda flag to flag to take his first U.S. Majors Tour victory, topping the Saturday race winner. Jeff Jorgenson won Formula 500 in the No. 84 Veskimo Invader QC-1.

After a thrilling Saturday race, Terran Swanson ran away with the Formula Vee race in his No. 76 Toad Hall Enterprises/Swan Tech Graphics Mysterian M4 after Brian McCarthy spun on lap two. McCarthy pulled his No. 05 BRM Engineering Anduril/Volkswagen back to the paddock, and Swanson thought he lost his drafting partner. With that in mind, he put his head down to stay in front, and stayed in front of the challengers for his weekend sweep.

The SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour continues May 24-26 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., with a Memorial Day doubleheader weekend. The SCCA Majors Tour has two events next weekend, including the Mid-States Conference Rounds Seven and Eight at High Plains Raceway and the Northern Conference opener at Blackhawk Farms Raceway.

Results and more information from this weekend’s doubleheader at Buttonwillow Raceway Park is available at SCCA.com/ButtonwillowMajors.

Buttonwillow, Calif. - Provisional race winners for Sunday’s Western Conference Majors Tour Round Eight at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.

American Sedan: Aaron Bailey, Shasta Lake, Calif., Pontiac Firebird
B-Spec: Michael Tsay, Irvine, Calif., Honda Fit
E Production: John Longwell, Kitteredge, Colo., BMW 328is
F Production: Brian Linn, Hermosa Beach, Calif., Lotus Super Seven
H Production: Jason Isley, Coto de Caza, Calif., Toyota Yaris
Formula 500: Jeff Jorgenson, San Francisco, Calif., Invader QC-1/Rotax
Formula 1000: Randy Cook, Palo Alto, Calif., JDR F1000
Formula Atlantic: Chris Emanuel, Huntington Beach, Calif., Swift 016a/Mazda
Formula Continental: Tom Hope, Downey, Calif., Carbir ZTec
Formula Enterprises: John Yeatman, Newcastle, Calif., Formula Enterprises/Ford
Formula F: Nikita Lastochkin, Russia, Van Diemen RF02/Honda
Formula Mazda: Mike Anderson, Anza, Calif., Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Terran Swanson, Petaluma, Calif., Mysterian M4/Volkswagen
GT-1: Mike Lewis, Poway, Calif., Jaguar XKR
GT-2: Eric Joiner, Torrance, Calif., Porsche GT3
GT-3: Mike Henderson, Alpine, Calif., Mazda RX-7
GT-Lite: Troy Ermish, Tracy, Calif., Datsun 510
Prototype 1: Lee Alexander, Las Vegas, Nev., Stohr WF-Zero/Suzuki
Prototype 2: David Ferguson, Paso Robles, Calif., Van Diemen RFS-03/Mazda
Super Touring Lite: Spencer Trenery, Berkeley, Calif., Acura Integra
Super Touring Under: Rylan Hazelton, Santa Cruz, Calif., Honda S2000
Spec Miata: Elliott Skeer, Carlsbad, Calif., Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Mike Miserendino, Bakersfield, Calif., Spec Racer Ford
Touring 1: Ken Davis, Escondido, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Kyle Kelley, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 3: Tom Wickersham, Piedmont, Calif., Honda S2000
Touring 4: Lee Niffenegger, Santa Clarita, Calif., Honda Civic Si
 

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Buttonwillow Majors
U.S. Majors Tour

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