MILLVILLE, N.J. – Sunny skies heated up the Eastern Conference Majors Tour round nine on Saturday at New Jersey Motorsports Park, where eight race groups ran 30 minute races for points in the season-long SCCA Championship.
With the sun beating down, the track turned slick quickly, leaving drivers to find the available grip and get to the finish. Some drivers shined, and some struggled in the tough conditions, but at the end, 27 drivers took home trophies and wins.
The only drama in Group One was who would take the overall win – Formula 1000 and overall polesitter Alex Mayer or the second-starting Chris Fahan.
Mayer pulled away early and opened up a huge lead on his class, including eventual second place finisher Jason Slahor. Mayer held the overall lead until lap 15 of the 24-lap race when Fahan went past, and lead by 4.1-seconds at the checkered flag. Mayer’s victory was by 53.202-seconds in the FB class.
Jack Busch led flag to flag in GT-1 in the big bore group, driving his Ford Mustang to the win despite some slight mechanical problems bogging him down through the corners. The GT-2 class, however, was a battle start to finish.
Jim Boggs led early in the No. 48 Chevrolet Corvette, setting the pace with pressure first from Jim Goughary. By the middle of the race Randy Kinsland was right on his tail. Kinsland moved to the outside down the back stretch on lap 17, and stayed there in the turn to the right. That left him in prime position for the switch back to the left, and from there, Kinsland was in the lead.
Joe Aquilante, as well as teammate Preston Calvert, left the IMSA Continental Tire Challenge race at Kansas Speedway after Friday’s qualifying to make it New Jersey Motorsports Park in time for Saturday morning’s qualifying. The decision was a good one for Aquilante, who found himself alone in the lead after early contact from leaders George Winkler and David Sanders. With their days over early, Aquilante cruised to the win.
The mid-sized formula car race changed quickly on lap one when Chuck Moran and Paul Schneider went side by side through turn four on the opening lap. Schneider, on the outside, got into the marbles and lost grip, running off the track.
Moran held the overall lead, while Justin Huffman got in front of Schneider. Running nearly identical lap times, Schneider couldn’t completely close back up, and Huffman used some aggressive moves around lapped traffic to keep Schneider at bay. Moran and Huffman held on for their respective class wins.
Calvert’s frequent flier weekend was worth it, as he drove to the overall and Touring 2 win in the group. With the win in his pocket, Calvert hopped a flight back to Kansas Speedway for his night race, then will rush back to the East Coast to compete on Sunday.
The Touring 3 race was a mix of cars up front for the lead, beginning with Rob Hines. Hines, unfortunately, had contact with eventual Super Touring Under winner David Brand and then pulled off course. Just behind him was the battle between Kevin Fandozzi and Don Himes.
Fandozzi and Himes were different in opposite portions of the course, with Fandozzi holding on through the back, twisty part of the track and using power to get a lead on the front straight. If Himes had gotten around Fandozzi, the Honda may have gone on to win, but Fandozzi kept the point and escaped with the victory.