LINCOLN, Neb. – With National Champions crowned in half of the classes on Wednesday, another round of competitors took to the track on Thursday at the 41st Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships.
The Lincoln Airpark tarmac hosts two very different courses. At the Solo National Championships, competitors are given three runs on both the East and West course, concentrating on one course each day. A driver’s single best time on each course are added together to determine the Champion.
Like the ambient temperature, the Street Touring X class action was hot for the first thing in the morning. Following two of three runs on the east, less than 0.1-second separated the top four places in the class. Neal Tovsen, of Apple Valley, Minn., led the way in the Apruve.com/SoloPro Driving Schools/The Alignment BMW 325i, followed in a blink of an eye by Jeff Hurst, Lance Keeley and Andrew Pallotta.
On the long East course, the question was who could break into the 77-second range for the run. Hurst, of Hicksville, N.Y., was the first to do it in raw time, but a clipped cone in the ANZE Suspension Mazda RX-8 cost him the lead. Keeley, of Brookfield, Wis., couldn’t improve in the Bartuned Scion FRS.
Pallotta, of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, tripped the lights in 77.890 seconds on his final run in the StranoParts/Moto-East Scion FR-S, catapulting to the overnight lead by .347-second, followed by Tovsen, Hurst and Keeley.
In D Stock, defending champion Mark Smith, of Denver, Colo., and James Feinberg, of Fuquay Varina, N.C., walked away from the class in the first day, leaving the 15-car field with long odds to overtake them. Smith’s 3Zero3ms.com/SPE-ED/Customcraft Audi TT turned his quickest time on the third run to move into a 0.204-second lead over Feinberg. Feinberg’s SoloPro Driving School Audi TT sits 1.2-second ahead of third place, however, as the class shapes up into a two-man race.
Houston’s Daniel McCelvey drove his JFA Racing/TrackTime Performance Nissan 370Z to a .790-second advantage over defending champion Ryan Buetzer. Conventional wisdom is that Friday’s West Course will suit Buetzer’s ChaseCam/Albin Bowling Supply/The Dent Guy Pontiac Solstice. It will be up to McCelvey to minimize the damage and hold on for his first National Championship.
The Street Touring Sport class is up for grabs entering Friday’s final runs, where nine drivers are within a second after the Thursday. Ian Baker, of Herndon, Va., shot his Toyo Tires/StranoParts/SSC Tint Honda CRX Si to the top of the charts with a .408-second cushion. Baker will sleep tonight dreaming of his first National Championship, but knowing that defending champ David Whitener, of Fort Worth, Texas, leads the challengers in his Texas Track Works/Motion Control Suspensions Honda CRX.
The 50-car Street Touring R class is supposed to be dominated by the Mazda MX-5 and the Honda S2000, but, if that’s true, no one told Brian Peters, of Litchfield Park, Ariz. Peters moved to the top of the charts with a quick second run in the ProPartsUSA Nissan 350Z, and then tried to increase his lead with his third and final trip around the East course. He improved slightly, but clipped a cone in the early segments to incur a two-second penalty and stand on his second run. Colin Fieldler, of Pewaukee, Wis., sits second in the Evasive Motorsports Honda S2000, just .125-second behind Peters.