BELDING, Mich. – Heat and humidity were the first things drivers often mentioned after crawling from their cars following round 11 of the SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour races at Grattan Raceway on Saturday.
The effort it took to win on the physically demanding track was the second.
Twenty-four drivers scored wins in the penultimate round of the season-long Championship race on Saturday during 25 minute races at the Michigan track, with a handful clinching titles with the effort.
In group one, Jonathan Start got the jump on polesitter Tom Patton at the green flag, moving his No. 51 Kalin Construction/Hoosier/Carbotech Dodge Viper into the lead and setting the early pace overall in GT-2. Patton battled back however, taking the outside line through the final corner of lap four and running side-by-side with the Viper up the front straight. Under braking for the right handed turn one, the No. 50 Hoosier Tires/Red Line Oil Sunbeam Tiger moved into the lead.
That was short-lived, however, as Patton spun in the difficult turn three, just two corners after taking the point. Patton kept the Tiger running (and from collecting Start in the spin), and began the chase while Start worked through traffic. On lap 13, Start’s mirrors were once again full of Patton’s Tiger.
Patton regained the lead on lap 14 through turn 11, and this time, held on to the checkered flag.
Behind the GT-2 battle, GT-3 started as a terrific three-car battle. Rob Warkcocki’s No. 73 Deerfield/Hoosier/TRO/Mazda Mazda RX-7 led away at the start, with Paul Young behind after a great start in the No. 79 Young Racing/Hoosier Tire Ford Probe. That battle was quickly joined by Joe Kristensen’s No. 4 Acura RSX, and the three ran in a line.
The group was separated on lap three when Young spun in turn eight, just in front of Kristensen. Kristensen was able to avoid the spinning Ford, and quickly reclosed the gap to Warcocki. On lap six, Kristensen moved in front to take the lead, and stretched the gap slightly. That gap was closing with one to go, but Kristensen had enough to get to hold the lead.
Ed Hosni (No. 17 Lasco Ford/Hoosier Tire/Steeda/Ford Racing/Edelbrock Ford Mustang), Tom Stanford (No. 20 Pote-Stanford Reporting Chevrolet Camaro), John Buttermore (No. 52 Hoosier/Carbotech/StopTech Chevrolet Corvette) and Rich Rigda (No. 3 ChevyPerfParts/Caravan FM/Tremec Chevrolet Camaro) won American Sedan, GT-1, Touring 1 and Touring 2, respectively, going away.
Attrition and mistake-free races by the leaders in group two decided each of the races in the small formula group.
Russell Ruedisueli kept his No. 20 Van Diemen RF-99 just in front of Max Mallinen’s No. 10 Spectrum 014H early in Formula F, then at the end of the race ticked off laps that were just faster than the 16-year-old’s to bring home a win for the veteran’s and keeping his Northern Conference Championship hopes alive.
Brian Novak, fine tuning a car this weekend that hasn’t been his season-long chariot this season in Formula 500 and prepping for the Runoffs, clinched the Conference Championship with a win on Saturday in the No. 13 Hoosier/NovaRace/AiM NovaKar J360.