BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. – The SCCA Western Conference Majors Tour leaves Buttonwillow Raceway on Sunday following round eight with just four races in the season-long championship remaining, and a number of drivers already thinking about the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in October.
With sunny skies beating down on competitors and grip at a premium, the 27 Majors classes were broken into eight groups, each of who ran 16-lap races on Sunday. Those races went a long way to establishing preliminary contenders for the Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this fall.
Rylan Hazelton made it four Super Touring Under wins in a row during Western Conference action in the No. 49 Driving Ambition/BFGoodrich Tires/HPD/Comptech Honda S2000 to open the day, followed by some close battles behind him.
Spencer Trenery collected his second Super Touring Lite win of the weekend after running hard with Mark Drennan’s No. 10 NoWifeNoKids/TFB/Riverbed Mazda Miata. The pair ran nose to tail and, after Trenery’s No. 8 Fantasy Junction Acura Integra and Drennan went side by side down the front stretch on lap 11, Trenery moved in front for good.
In Touring 4, Matthew Staal qualified his No. 24 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic Si on the class pole by virtue of his fast lap during Saturday’s race, then kept teammate Lee Niffenegger’s No. 42 Honda Racing/HPD/BFGoodrich Tires Honda Civic behind him until lap 11. Niffenegger found his way into the lead at that point, and the nearly identical cars stuck close for the distance. Niffenegger held on for the weekend sweep.
Michael Tsay and Derrick Ambrose picked up their B-Spec rivalry again on Sunday, swapping the lead in the early stages. Tsay’s No. 45 Honda Racing/HPD Honda Fit worked in front and, despite a mirror full of the silver No. 71 Corksport Mazda/Monarch Inspections/BFG MAZDA2, held on for his second win of the weekend.
Thankfully, the chaos from Saturday’s start didn’t resurface during Sunday’s race in the big open-wheel and prototype race, and a number of drivers reaped the rewards on Sunday – Mike Anderson and Randy Cook chief among them.
Anderson swept the Formula Mazda weekend in his No. 42 Formula Mazda, but without Saturday’s excitement. At the start on Saturday, Anderson narrowly split two formula cars that had spun and were facing the wrong way in turn one. Sunday, Anderson just walked away from the field to take the win.
Cook’s No. 9 Hoosier Tires JDR F1000 wasn’t as lucky on Saturday. He was one of the cars collected in the incident, and he and his small crew worked past midnight to repair essentially three corners of the car. The repairs were apparently top notch, and Cook earned his win.
Lee Alexander earned his second straight overall win in Prototype 1, working around Jim Devenport’s No. 23 Cranbrook Group, Inc. Norma M20FC on lap six and pulling away in the No. 48 Factory 48/APE Raceparts Stohr WF-Zero/Suzuki. Chris Emanuel inherited the win on Saturday in Formula Atlantic when the No. 43 Damon Racing Mazda PFM of Vince Gaddini’s day ended on lap 13. Gaddini, the Saturday winner, appeared to have the field covered when a different class car went off track in front of him. Gaddini, slowing to avoid him, stalled and ended his day, and Emanuel’s No. 36 Airguard/Hawn Racing/CER Inc. Swift 016a/Mazda went on to win.
Like Saturday, the Formula Continental battle was nose to tail for most of the race.
Tom Hope’s No. 18 H & M Racing Dart Carbir ZTec led early, but saw the gap disappear as the laps counted down. On lap 13, the front wing of Yufeng Luo’s No. 61 Van Diemen BP08 hit just inside Hope’s right rear wheel, dislodging Luo’s wing and leaving him out of contention while Hope swept the weekend.
Behind them, the fight for the final podium spot was just as intense. Coming to the one to go board, the No. 127 Van Diemen RF02 of Andrew Evans and the No. 8 Hoosier/Terri Negron Web Design of Bob Negron went side-by-side into the final corner, coming together and sending both off track. Each continued, with Evans in front at the stripe.
Mike Lewis’ No. 12 Goodyear/Cyclo/Red Line Oil Jaguar XKR swept the weekend with yet another overall win in GT-1 and Mike Henderson walked away with his second GT-3 win of the weekend in the No. 2 Mazda/Red Line Oil/Goodyear Mazda RX-7 while two of the group’s races came down to the wire.