LEXINGTON, Ohio – Michael DiMeo, Jason Wolfe and Tyler Palmer took wins in round nine of the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car, Touring Car A and Touring Car B-Spec seasons Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
What started off as a challenging race, weather-wise, the 26-car starting field survived a light to moderate drizzle when the 40-minute timed race began but then all drove cleanly through the remainder of the race as the track dried out and the sun rose once more.
With wet conditions, Race Control made the decision to switch the start from a standing to a double-file rolling start, with several laps run under yellow flag conditions before the field got the green flag. Once the green flew, the action was able to begin as the majority of the field ran on the Pirelli P-Zero slicks on a wet track. With track conditions the way they were, green flag racing was preserved with some clean, safe driving throughout the field.
DiMeo, in the No. 71 Grand Alarms Honda Civic Si held the overall lead but the man on the charge was Wolfe, in the No. 36 Wolfe Trucking Kia Forte Koup, from 14th overall on the starting grid (fourth in TCA).
Wolfe, a TCA driver, weaved through the entirety of the TC field except for race leader DiMeo all the way up to second place overall. The Ohio native serves as a track instructor at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and additionally had three races under his belt in a USF2000 open-wheel car at this race last year, so his experience paid major dividends.
The other star of the early stages was Steven Doherty in the No. 94 Nissan/GT Academy/Skullcandy Nissan Altima Coupe. Doherty slipped, slid and nearly lost the rear of his car at least three different times in the opening laps but on each occasion managed to save the car from a full spin.
As the race track dried out, DiMeo maintained control and improved his times, while Doherty made it up to second overall. DiMeo won the race by 14.102 seconds at an average speed of 68.574 mph; he also captured the StopTech Brake Late, Finish First Award for his efforts.
Wolfe finished third overall to win TCA; meanwhile Doherty’s teammate, Bryan Heitkotter finished third in TC and fourth overall in the No. 93 Nissan/GT Academy/Skullcandy Nissan Altima Coupe.
DiMeo recapped his drive from the overall pole to his seventh win of the Touring Car season.
“We started on dries as just before the race it was only light spitting rain, but then as soon as we took to the track it started to come down heavier, and the spray from the safety car was even bad,” DiMeo said. “That was a wild first couple laps. Then a dry line started to form. Through mid-race, we ran the dry line again. I think that was the best call,” he added, referring to the call to switch to a rolling start. “With a standing start it would have been a lot of wheel spin and no one going anywhere. But everyone made it through Turn 1 safe behind me in my mirrors. It was a smart call.”
Doherty expanded on his early race slip-and-slide and how he was able to hang on. “That all goes back to my circle track experience getting punted every week,” Doherty said. “I have plenty of experience in a front-wheel drive car going sideways, so that definitely saved me on that one. It was super impressive driving by everyone. Three classes, 30-odd cars and no full-course yellows is a testament to the drivers in this series.”
Wolfe took home three awards following his fourth win of the season. His rocket start of 11 positions gained netted him the Optima Batteries Best Start of the race. Wolfe’s sequence of moves – all on dries – took home the Cadillac CTS-V Move of the Race. And, unsurprisingly, with a gain of 11 positions from 14th overall to third overall by the checkered flag, Wolfe was the Sunoco Hard Charger as well.