PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa (August 19, 2008) – Mother Nature delivered the sun, and the Missouri Valley Race Group provided the fun at Mid-America Motorplex for the annual “Fun in the Sun National,” Aug. 16-17.
Tom Smith, of Springdale, Ark., started the National Championship racing off Sunday with a flag-to-flag win in the big-bore race group one, lapping the entire field in his GT-1 Chevrolet Camaro. It was only Smith’s second start of the season to go along with a second-place finish at Gateway, and he left with a new track record of 1:29.081 around the 2.23-mile track, breaking Bill Gray’s mark set in 2006.
Two drivers held on for group one wins after late-race spins. Jim Lynch held a comfortable lead in his Touring 1 Dodge Viper over Mike McGinley’s Corvette until he spun in Turn 11. Lynch got the Viper righted just as McGinley came within striking distance and held him off for the last couple of laps for a win just over 0.5-second. Likewise, and even more dramatic, was Jon Brakke’s route to the E Production win. Brakke had built a huge lead over the field, but spun in the final corner on the final lap. After watching several cars from other classes streak by, Brakke finally got his Mazda Miata re-fired and on track, just as brother Mark was entering the front straight. It was just enough gap for Jon, though, winning by 0.233-second. Charlie Clark came out on top of a race-long battle with Aaron Holstrom’s Porsche to take third in his Mazda RX-7.
Jim Wheeler (Pontiac Trans Am) took the American Sedan win, passing Kyle Watkins’ Mustang in the closing laps. Kirk Olson (Honda), Bill Allman (Mazda) and Jeff Demetri (Mustang) took the GT-3, GT-2 and B Prepared wins. Demetri set a track record in the process.
Race Two had the makings of a traditional stellar Spec Miata battle, but of the first four qualifiers, only Charlie James came around up front stretch at the end of the first lap. Both Chris James and Mike Asselta went missing and Sam Henry was trailing the field. Henry charged during the race, making it back up to fourth, but it was Charlie James who scored the runaway win by more than 23 seconds over Ray Yergler. James clinched the Midwest Division Championship with his third win of the season.
Steven Christopher ran uncontested in Touring 2 and John Saucier topped a three-car SSC field in his MAZDA3.
After finishing second in Touring 1 earlier in the day, McGinley went flag-to-flag for the overall and C Sports Racing win in race three. Mark Greb took Formula Mazda and was right on McGinley’s tail at the checkered flag, followed closely by Paul Leonard, who captured D Sports Racing. Lee Walther captured Formula Enterprises and Bob Henson won Sports 2000.
Group Four, with small bore fendered cars and Spec Racer Fords, was the most unpredictable of the National races. Kent Prather started from the pole in his F Production MGA, but knew he might have running problems in the race as a carryover from the end of qualifying. Ron Davis got the jump in his MGB, but spun out of the lead in Turn Five, forcing Prather and Randy Wagner’s Miata to the grass. Mark Weber took the point in his Sprite for several laps before Prather re-took the lead on lap five. Three laps later, the MGA slowed with a mechanical issue, allowing Weber and then John Steflik’s Miata through, with Steflik taking the lead in Turn Five. Steflik led the next 12 laps and looked to be on the way to his first National win when his car sputtered to a stop, out of gas, half way through the final lap. Weber held off Wagner for a 0.580-second overall and F Production win.
Ken Sellenriek started from the SRF pole in the split start and gave over the lead to Michael Wold Steele for a couple laps before re-assuming the point and streaking away to a four-second win over Ken Tripkos. Chris Albin won H Production in his Volkswagen Golf and Don Christman went uncontested in GT-Lite.
Like the opening race, the overall win of the final National race group was a runaway for Cliff Johnson’s Piper Formula Ford. Behind him, two excellent battles ensued for Formula 500 and Formula Vee.
Jack Walbran led all but two laps in Formula 500, and edged Richard Schmidt at the checkered flag by less than a second. Lisa Noble and Patrick Haughey traded the Formula Vee lead several times in their Vortechs before Haughey retired with just two laps to go, leaving Noble to take her third win of the season, extending her Midwest Division points lead.
In IT Tour action, Mark Kirby (ITE), Robert Herman (ITS), Chris Albin (ITB) and Mark Buffton (ITC) each scored a pair of wins on the weekend, with David Gird and Paul Sherman splitting the ITA wins in the same car Saturday and Sunday.
The final race for the Midwest Division National program is the Last Chance Double National at Heartland Park Topeka Labor Day weekend. Many Division Championships are still up for grabs and all eyes will be on Six Time National Champion Kent Prather, who currently sits 11th in MidDiv F Production points, to see if he will qualify for this year’s Runoffs.
For more information, visit www.midiv.org.