ALTON, Va. — With Friday evening’s foul weather clear, it was nothing but blue skies at the BFGoodrich Tires SCCA Super Tour at Virginia Int’l Raceway, Round Five of the Eastern Conference Majors Tour schedule.
The quickest group of the doubleheader weekend opened with a thrilling race, as Yelkin Sadat ran wire-to-wire for a Formula Atlantic win that was anything but easy.
Each time Sadat’s No. 75 Everclear Swift/Toyota began a new lap, Keith Grant’s No. 40 Hoosier/Hasselgren/Polestar Swift 014a/Toyota followed less than a half second behind. Fourteen times, Sadat’s machine popped up over the hill and down the front straight, counting off the laps until the checkered flag flew.
In the same race group, Glenn Cooper extended the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference to a perfect five wins on the season. Cooper’s No. 43 Ralf Firman Racing/Hoosier Tires RFR F1000 finished with a comfortable margin in front of Alastair McEwan.
VIR’s fast, flowing corners and long straightaways means that it always produces a good race with cars that draft well. The 45 cars that started Saturday’s Spec Miata race fit that bill, and lived up to the hype.
The lead pack in the race stretched up to nine cars deep through the midpoint of the race, with the No. 67 Auto Tecknick/Not East Street Miata of Andrew Charbonneau, the polesitting No. 01 Talley Land Development/US Marines Miata of Cliff Brown, and the No. 33 Ti-Speed Engineering Mazda Miata of Dan Tiley taking their turns at the point.
The lead group slowly shed one car at a time, until Charbonneau and Tiley were joined by Eastern Conference point leader Danny Steyn’s No. 39 ADEPT Studios/Rossini/OPM/Traqmate Miata – who had started the race 16th – for the final two laps. Charbonneau led the trio to begin the final lap, but Steyn drafted pass down the long back straight and into the lead.
Charbonneau and Tiley had one last shot at the lead, coming out of the final corner trying to move around Steyn. Charbonneau pulled event, but Steyn crossed the stripe about one foot in front for a 0.021-second victory. The win is Steyn’s second of the season, to go with three runner-up finishes.
The big bore group featured two different races with the second-place runner desperately chasing the leader from the green flag. In Touring 1, Jerry Onks’ No. 96 Wilwood Brakes/VetteSport/Hoosier Tire Chevrolet Corvette caught the lead, turning lap after lap with George Winkler’s No. 27 Winkler Automotive Service Center Ford Mustang Boss 302S filling his mirrors.
Onks was able to hold the lead to the finish and the win – which was the opposite of Simon Gregg’s race. The overall polesitter pulled away at the green flag in the No. 1 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette with Dillon Machavern’s No. 29 Heritage Automotive Group/Riggins Engineering Ford Falcon in tow for the GT-1 class battle. Gregg, unable to get away, finally fell victim to Machavern on lap 11.
Instead of trailing by two car lengths, Machavern reversed the position and held that gap instead to the checkered flag
In Spec Racer Ford, three former National Champions pulled away from the field in a line, content to ride together until the closing laps.
The strategy worked, as Franklin Futrelle’s No. 17 Meco Inc. of Augusta/Comprent Motorsports/Skip Barber Racing School SRF led Brian Schofield’s No. 61 PM Racing SRF and Cliff White’s No. 58 Thompson White Racing machine away from the field just as soon as the green flag flew. The trio followed each other’s tracks, stretching their gap over a six-car battle for fourth brewing behind them.
White, the defending National Champion, was able to move from third to the lead for one lap – but Futrelle was back in front the next time around. Despite the constant challenges and the one lap exception, the running order stayed at Futrelle, Schofield and White to the finish.
Formula cars filled two of the last three groups. Scott Rettich’s No. 71 Alliance Autosport/PDI Communications Formula Enterprises/Mazda, Robert Noell’s No. 27 Guest Concepts Star Mazda, and Michael Hummel’s No. 41 H2 Companies Van Diemen RF02/Ford machines ran away with the Formula Enterprises, Formula Mazda, and Formula Continental races, respectively, but the following group’s Formula F and Formula Vee races stayed tight.
Lewis Cooper III won his fourth consecutive Formula F race in the Eastern Conference, swapping the lead twice with Jason Generotti’s No. 13 Dangerous Cargo/Florida Fixtures Swift DB-1. Cooper, the polesitter, regained the lead in his No. 0 Polestar/Martini Van Diemen and kept pushing, holding the point as the pair worked through lapped traffic. The class point leader in the Eastern Conference finished with a 1.248-second margin of victory.
The Formula Vee battle was between three cars from the time the green flag flew. Eastern Conference class point leader Stevan Davis’ No. 80 Hoosier/Butler Engines/Roxannes Headers Racer’s Wedge/VW led early, but swapped the podium positions with Gary Blanarik’s No. 3 Sewickley Car Store/Silver Bullet Silver Bullet/VW and Donnie Isley’s No. 30 Agitator by Brookshire Agitator 016/VW.
Isley had been content to run in third place while Davis and Blanarik swapped the lead. With one to go, Davis led Blanarik and Isley across the stripe. Isley took advantage of the draft and the long straights on the final 3.27-mile loop, moving to the front in time to take the checkered flag and the win. Davis and Blanarik completed the podium.
Mike Flynn took over the Eastern Conference point lead with a win in Super Touring Under on Saturday, running away from the rest of his class in the No. 26 Irish Mike’s/BFGoodrich Tires BMW E46.