SONOMA, Calif. – Despite a late-race caution that eliminated a 30 second lead, Jacob Ruud cruised to victory overall and in the TCX class in TC America’s season-opening round at Sonoma Raceway Saturday.
“I think we have a strong car for the season,” said Ruud. “I was able to save my tires today, so I was still comfortable during the late caution and was able to pull it out, it’s great to get this first win.”
Ruud also ran the fastest lap of the race, giving him pole for Sunday’s second race of the weekend.
As the green flag waved, pole-sitting Ruud led the TC America presented by Skip Barber Racing School field and jumped out to a lead of nearly two seconds by the end of the opening lap over teammate Tommy McCarthy.
TC class leader Eric Powell put the hammer down at the start and by lap two would moved to third overall by putting a TCX-class machine between himself and rival Kevin Boehm.
Ten minutes into the race, McCarthy would spin out from overall at turn six, allowing Ruud to extend his lead and Roy Block to slip into second in class. McCarthy would quickly recover and get past Block three laps later.
As Powell and Boehm controlled the top two positions in TC, the battle for the final podium position raged on as Victor Gonzalez, Toby Grahovec and Rob Hines battled at the halfway point of the 40-minute race.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, Gonzalez and Grahovec would come together at the turn nine chicane, sending Gonzalez into the wall, bringing out the first and only caution of the race.
This caution would give McCarthy new life as Ruud’s TCX-class and overall lead would be slashed from more than 30 seconds as the field bunched together. The grid would get back to green flag racing with just more than five minutes remaining, making the restart critical.
Ruud would remain the leader over McCarthy in TCX, but Boehm would get the jump on Powell for the TC class lead, with Grahovec slotting into third and Hines fourth in class.
On the white flag lap Powell would place his car next to Boehm on the outside of turn one, setting himself for the inside of turn two, taking the lead in one sweeping pass. Boehm would hesitate with Grahovec, then pounce and take second in TC. Hines would finish fourth with Tom Capizzi in fifth.
The TCA battle would see pole-sitter Jesse Love claim a narrow victory over Mark Pombo by one-tenth of a second. Caleb Bacon would take the final TCA podium position.