Grids set for Championship Sunday
BRASELTON, Ga. (Aug. 30, 2014) – The National Auto Sport Association’s (NASA) ninth annual NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires Eastern States Championships has set the grid for the Championship races on Sunday.
Again, near 100-degree temperatures greeted the 300+ NASA Eastern Championships competitors at Road Atlanta for the final day of qualifying races. The competition on the track was just as hot as the air temperature. Drivers are ready for a Sunday full of Championship races.
American Iron Extreme, American Iron, Spec Iron, CMC
In the first qualifying race of the day, the American Iron Extreme, American Iron (AI), Spec Iron and CMC classes kicked-off the racing schedule. The Mustangs of Brian Faessler, No. 018 Mustang, and Chris Griswold, No. 71 Mustang, took turns leading the qualifying race. Both turning almost identical fast lap times in the 1:30 range with Griswold taking the race win. In AI Anders Sjoblom led flag-to-flag in his red No. 65 Mustang. In CMC it was Derek Wright in his No. 913 Camaro. In Spec Iron it was Corey Rueth taking the win in the No. 13 Mustang.
“It was a good time battling with Brian,” Griswold said. “I have been battling some mechanical issues. I think we were both kind of taking it easy at the beginning and then we started having some fun trading positions through the traffic. Tomorrow is going to be a lot different. He is going to turn up the boost and I am going to put some new tires on and we are going to have some fun.”
Super Unlimited, FFR ST1, ST2, ST3
In the Super Unlimited (SU), ST1-3 and FFR races, Ray Cocoziello was the class of the field in his No. 7 Crawford Daytona Prototype. He turned the fast lap of the race with a time of 1:28.063. In ST1 it was Rene Molina in the No. 27 Mustang, in ST2 it was Greg Vanucci in his No. 25 Lotus Exige, in ST3 it was Firouz Haghighi in the Ferrari Thunder Roadster and in Factory Five Racing it was the No. 5 of Paul Arnold.
“It was a little warm out there this morning,” Cocoziello said. “The little West car is quick through the turns, but I have more power down the straights. I was able to get down the straights through the traffic faster and that was really the difference today. My car is a 2006 Crawford Daytona Prototype. We bought the car on eBay with some electrical issues. We fixed it and have been racing it since 2006 without touching the motor or transmission.”
Spec E30, Spec 3
The Spec E30 race had a false standing start. The Spec 3 field left with no issues. The race was stopped and restarted by the NASA Officials. On the restart Erik Palacio took the lead in his No. 194 BMW 325. The top four competitors were in a bumper-to-bumper battle for the lead. In Spec 3 Barry Battle took the lead in his orange No. 23 BMW 325 and was able to hold it to the checker. Palacio led from flag-to-flag for the E30 win, posting a fast race lap of 1:45.165.
“It was a tough race,” Palacio said. “Robert (Grace, No. 174 BMW 325) and I hooked up and ran together and finished one-two. I switched cars yesterday. My father (Julio) and I both have cars. My original BMW had an engine problem, so he gave up his seat for me. I like his car better. I started 12th yesterday and was able to win the qualifier today. I am feeling good about tomorrow.”
Matthew Pombo, yesterday’s Spec Miata winner, brought the 34 car field to the green for the final class qualifying race. Pombo surrendered the lead on lap two to Danny Steyn’s No. 39 Miata. By lap four the duo separated themselves from the rest of the field. Pombo was able to come back and retake the lead three turns from the finish. Alex Bolanos finished third in his No. 57 Miata.
“It was great,” Pombo said. “Danny and I were upfront working together and the rest were racing behind us so we were able to get away. I felt bad. Danny ran an awesome race. He deserved to win that race as much as I did. Coming out of Ten B he slowed a little and I was able to get a run on him down the hill to take the win. I hope that two wins in qualifying doesn’t jinx you for the finals. I expect a few more guys upfront tomorrow. I am happy with the car and Tom Fowler and OPM’s tire strategy.”
PTB-F, 944 Spec
In the PTB Class, Jeremiah Fox jumped out to the early lead in his No. 33 Subaru Impreza. Fox was running lap times of 1:36, some two seconds faster than his closest pursuer David Schotz in the No. 34 Pontiac Firebird. On lap four Schotz passed the Subaru of Fox to take the lead and went on to win.
“It was a battle,” Schotz said. “That Subaru gets out the first couple laps and gaps me by about four seconds. Then I think his turbo heats up and I can reel him in. My car is nice and consistent. My Firebird has started a diet of an alternator a day this weekend and I think I have a cracked exhaust. I have some work to do before the championship race tomorrow.”
In Spec 944 the No. 76 of Daniel Williams led early in his red Porsche 944. Jason Stanley in his No.60 Porsche drove up to Williams by lap five. On lap eight Gary Barton moved to second place in the No. 90 Porsche. On lap 10 Williams pulled off course and into pit lane turning the lead over to No. 84 Neal Agran who went on to win the class.
HPD Honda Challenge Class 1-2, Spec Z
The No. 7 of David Isbell, Acura Integra, took the lead on the first lap over yesterday’s qualifying race winner Kris Popovic in his No. 9 Acura in the HPD Honda Challenge 1 category. By lap two, Popovic caught and passed Isbell to lead the field and win his second qualifying race of the weekend. In HPD Honda Challenge 2 Robert Paszkiewicz was the early leader in his No. 0 Acura Integra. On lap eight, Friday’s qualifying race winner, Jeremy Lucas passed Paszkiewicz for the lead in Challenge 2 in his No. 08 Honda S2000 for his second qualifying race win in as many days.
“That was a much tougher race,” Lucas said. “I got jumped on the start and was fourth or fifth on the first lap. I had to come back and chase them down. Tomorrow it is going to be hotter and longer, so I will have to focus on keeping the Toyo tires under the car for 40-minutes.”
“It was a tough race out there today,” Popovic said. “I managed to get out front and stay there in my Acura. I will see if I can keep it up for one more long race tomorrow. The tires get hot and that makes things slippery. Tires are going to win the race tomorrow. Some people say used tires, others are going new. We will have to see.”
In Spec Z Brian Kleeman, Friday’s race winner, took the early lead in his No. 23 Nissan 350Z and never looked back to sweep the qualifying races in his black Z-car.
“Today’s was a little easier than yesterday’s race,” Kleeman said. “I got a good start and was able to get a gap and hold it. Things went our way this afternoon. I doubt that it will be this easy tomorrow. The race is longer and brakes and tires will go away faster.”
Randy Mueller took off in his GTS4 No. 0 BMW M3 gaping the field by nearly 20 seconds by lap eight thanks to lap times almost five seconds faster than the rest of the field. Mueller’s fast lap was 1:31.860. In GTS3 it was the No. 22 of Hugh Stewart winning in his M3. In GTS2 Rafael Torres took the win in his No. 777 BMW 328. Tim Pruitt won GTS1 in his No. 329 Porsche 944.
“It was a pretty clean run,” Mueller said. “It was relatively easy, compared to yesterday, when I started at the back of the grid. I had to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes in traffic. For tomorrow I need to take care of the equipment and close the weekend out on top of the podium.”
Complete information on the NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires can be viewed at nasachamps.wpengine.com.
The weekend’s schedule from Road Atlanta can viewed at http://www.nasaproracing.com/nationals/East_Combined_2014.pdf
Live timing from the Road Atlanta Championships can be viewed at http://www.nasaproracing.com/liveresults/champs
Road Atlanta is a 2.54-mile, 12-turn undulating road course located in Braselton, Ga., just 50-miles north of Atlanta. Road Atlanta is known as one of the most exciting places to drive a race car. The ultra-fast circuit has only one slow corner, Turn Seven, which leads onto the long back straight. The approach to the fast downhill Turn 12 is blind challenging drivers to carry a lot of speed down the hill that leads to the front straightaway and in to Turn One. The stretch out of Turn One to Turn Five consists of a set of esses and lefts and rights that will reward a good handling car.
The NASA Championships presented by Toyo Tires Western States Championships will take the green flag at Sonoma Raceway, Nov. 7-9.
For additional information, please contact NASA Championships Media Director, Kyle Chura at [email protected] or (248) 821-0468. More detail can be found at nasaproracing.com or nasachamps.wpengine.com.
To qualify for the NASA National Championships presented by Toyo Tires, NASA competitors must compete in and score points in four regional races around the country, five for the Western States Championships. The 2014 National Championship presented by Toyo Tires Eastern weekend will feature over 300 competitors racing for the NASA National Champion trophy in 36 racing classes and nine Time Trial divisions around the famed Road Atlanta circuit home to Petit Le Mans.