Heat Four could only watch as Darren Seltzer, of Orlando, Fla., took control of the F Modified class. Seltzer had put a second gap on the rest of the field, then went for broke on his third and final run on the East Course. It paid off, as he lowered his fast time by more than an additional half-second to exit day one with a 1.637-second lead in his Raptor F500.
Jodi Fordahl, of Bremerton, Wash., is attempting to win her second C Street Prepared Ladies title in-a-row, her fourth National Championship in four years, and her lucky 13th career title in her Mazda Miata – but fellow competitor Sue Eckles, of Malcolm, Neb., isn’t just conceding victory. Eckles, a three-time champion in her own right, got a mechanical rerun in the AIM Tuning/Thanks Boreens! Mazda Miata, but coned away a chance to lower her time. Even so, she ended the first day just 0.212-second behind Fordahl in the race for the class crown.
The final heat suggested a Super Stock battle that was a can’t-miss for those spectating. Of the 37 cars in the field, participating driver represented a total of 43 National Championships (led by Mark Daddio’s 10), three former Drivers of Eminence as that year’s top Solo performer (Daddio, Sam Strano, and Gary Thomason), and Chevrolet Corvettes as the majority of the field.
No one told Thomason, of Oceanside, Calif., that the Corvettes were the cars to beat. Thomason, a nine-time National Champion, laid down his best time on the second of three runs in his ProParts USA Dodge Viper, vaulting to the lead.
Just after Thomason’s run, with both Daddio’s Chevrolet Corvette and Strano’s StranoParts.com Chevrolet Corvette on the course, the timing system temporarily failed and forced both cars to a rerun. Daddio improved, but Strano came across a felled cone and was sent to his third attempt at the second lap.
While Strano waited the allotted time for his run, defending champion G.J. Dixon jumped his Monticello Motor Club/Grand Prix New York Porsche GT3 to just 0.081-second behind Thomason. Strano, finally with a completed second pass, hit a cone and failed to improve his time.
With tension building, Thomason failed to improve on his third run. Daddio’s third run left him 0.212-second behind the lead, and Strano also improved on his final run to fourth, sitting just 0.087-second behind Daddio.
By contrast, the Elliott Speidell-designed West Course was shorter and tighter.
Among the first cars to hit the course during Heat One was the G Stock class, which was topped by co-drivers. Andy Thomas, of Adamstown, Md., and Michael Moran vaulted to the top of the class, with Thomas leading Moran by 0.203-second in their shared TeamZipTied/Andytooned Toyota Celica. Pre-event favorite Jonathan Rogers (Hoosier Tire/Redline Electronics Dodge SRT-4) sits in third, well within striking distance of the front runners.
Brian Burdette, of San Antonio, Texas, sits atop F Stock following the opening day, where a fierce battle for the National Championship could ensue Wednesday on the East Course. His StranoParts.com Ford Mustang GT tops a leaderboard where places one through six are covered by less than one second. Kevin Youngers is currently second in his Youngers Insights Ford Mustang GT, well within striking distance of Burdette on the time sheets. However, one slip from the favorites could open the door wide open for an unexpected winner.
Last year’s Super Street Modified National Champion, Carter Thompson, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., finds himself at the top of his class. He leads a SSM group in which the top-eight drivers are separated by less than 0.9-second. Heavy-hitters Brian Johns and Erik Strelnieks are among those lurking in the aforementioned top eight. For Thompson, that means he will need a top-notch performance Wednesday in his KAAZ USA/LMS-EFI.COM/HPP Mazda RX7 if he hopes to have a repeat of 2012.
Aaron Miller, of Auburn Hills, Mich., is in prime position to repeat as National Champion following day one of competition. He guided his Mitsubishi Evo 8 RS to a 0.169-second lead over Tom Berry’s Berg Family Racing/BFGoodrich Mitsubishi Evo 9 RS. Three other drivers, including Marshall Grice (ChaseCam/Berry Family Racing Mitsubishi Evo 9 RS), are within a second of Miller’s time.
Solo standout Bryan Heitkotter, of Fresno, Calif., finished day one of competition atop the D Street Prepared standings. Driving a BMW 325S that Heitkotter laid eyes on for the first time at the event, the four-time National Champion goes into tomorrow’s final runs with a 0.407-second lead.