Notching his third victory in only seven starts, Justin Kirby has turned a lot of heads in his first season with the Red Sox Racing League. Kirby started off the league’s 2011 Season Two schedule with a victory at the technically challenging layout of Spa, and then followed it up with another win at the Homestead B road course. Fast at every other track on the schedule, Kirby lurked near the front of most races before finally earning his league leading third victory when he held off some of the fiercest competition of the season in the “Glover Excavating 34” event.
Located in Lexington, Ohio, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course offers fans a variety of racing action within the thirteen corner 2.25 mile layout. RSR drivers are known for their courtesy, but the demands of Mid-Ohio are enough to make even the most patient driver lose his cool. The wide racing surface tempts drivers to consider passes at several different points on the course, but their plans are usually foiled by sharp corners and off camber banking. Many talented drivers have seen their races ruined after tempting fate to make an ill-timed pass.
For that reason, most seasoned drivers know the best strategy is to “drive the track” until tempo, pit stops, and unforced errors by the competition gives them a chance to take advantage of others mistakes to move up the score board. Most RSR drivers stuck to that theory in the first half of the race. Twelve drivers began the race, and all twelve were still racing when the checkered flag flew thirty-four laps later.
Kirby earned the pole position with a blisteringly quick lap time of 1:03.725. His teammate at Black Magic Motorsports, Brian Irby, started on the outside of row one after posting an equally impressive lap time of 1:03.998. Current overall point leader, Les Turner, earned the third starting spot with a lap of 1:04.031. The remaining grid positions were held by; John Koscielniak, Jim Albertson, Terry McCuin, Jeff Thomas, Terry Daul, Divina Galica, Andrew Feldman, William Kabela, and Mark Plank. RSR Oval course specialist, Wilbur Gildersleeve Jr. joined the practice session, but did not start the race.
Things started out smoothly for everyone as most escaped damage in the opening laps. After a few bobbles, the entire field managed to hold position until the mid-way point of the race. Battles for position really started getting interesting once the pit cycle began. Almost every driver saw themselves moving up and down the leader board as they began an earnest run for a top-5 finish.
Divina Galica was the first driver to fall victim to the track’s treacherous Turn Five when she went a little too wide on exit. Feldman was able to make a pass for position as Galica recovered, but the bobble would be the first of many headaches for the former F1 driver.
Koscielniak was the next to lose track position at Turn Five when he spun on Lap Fifteen. The mistake cost him fifth place as McCuin was able to make the pass while Koscielniak got his car pointed in the right direction.
Kirby and Irby swapped lead positions on Lap Fifteen, and Kirby fell all the way back to fifth place when he pitted several laps later. Turner inherited the lead on Lap Twenty. His pit stop gave the lead back to Irby, but Kirby was not to be denied as he quickly regained track position after the pit stop. Kirby recaptured the lead position on Lap Twenty-Six. He would go on to finish in first place, while Irby dropped all the way back to eighth place after crashing in Turn Twelve.
Turner posted clean laps throughout most the race, but Kirby was just too strong as he eventually crossed the line nine seconds ahead of Turner. Excellent driving by Albertson saw the league veteran return to the podium when he secured a third place finish.
Albertson’s steady racing moved him up two spots, into fifth place in the standings. “Well, this race turned out better than I expected. I got a huge start and paced John on the first lap. I was feeling a bit puny from the heat and had just gotten cooled off and rehydrated when it was time to qualify. I only got about 8 laps in when I lost it exiting a corner. I just wasn’t able to find the speed I had in testing, so the strategy changed to just bring the car home in one piece and let the positions fall where they may.”
“I love this track, but I also respect its ability to bite an inattentive driver. This is one track where the driver has to pay close attention not only to the track, but also become one with the car and feel it through each corner. After running the first stint in 4th, my spotter said I was in 3rd place. I thought he was full of beans until I realized that Kirby had short pit on Lap Eighteen. Pit stops came, and I was worried that Koscielniak and McCuin would beat me out of the pits, but somehow the crew got me in and out still in 3rd place.”
“As I exited the pits, Terry appeared in my mirror and I thought the cold tires would do me in, but again the crew sent me back out on the track with a great set of tires. The rest of the race saw a great battle between the two of us, but in the end the POW/MIA car prevailed. Three podiums in the last 3 races means the old guy may not be fast, but he stayed sneaky by keeping the paint intact.”
McCuin earned fourth place, while Koscielniak recovered from his early mishap to secure his second top-5 finish of the season. Thomas finished in sixth place. Daul finished in seventh, and was the last driver to cross the line on the lead lap. The 8th through 10th place finishers; Irby, Feldman, and Kabela, were all scored one lap down. Plank and Galica both finished the race three laps down.
Albertson, McCuin, Thomas, Kabela, and Plank all completed the race without collecting an incident penalty. Kabela’s clean record for the season earned him enough points to take over the third spot in the overall season championship battle. Turner left Mid-Ohio with a sixty-one point lead over Irby.
RSR drivers travel to Japan in week nine for the “Wil-Trans.com” at Okayama.
Rags to Riches Series News
July 5, 2011 – Story by Mark Plank
The Tuesday Night Thunder Series drivers traveled to Richmond International Raceway during the holiday weekend for the “Ghost Busters 40” the final event of the Rags to Riches Quest for a Nationwide Ride mini-series. Wilber Gildersleeve Jr. of TeamDraft dominated practice with a 22.700 lap time.
Several series regulars missed the event due to other Independence Day commitments. The race fielded only eight drivers but it was looking to be a battle of the fittest from the fast laps being put down in practice. With the mini championship on the line and only seconds to spare Justin Kirby from Black Magic Motorsports managed to make it through pre-race inspection in time to qualify.
Terry “Tank” McCuin throws down the gauntlet with a blazing 22.815 qualifying lap to capture the pole and stun the points leader Kirby. Les Turner of TeamDraft took the outside pole position with a 22.875 second lap but failed to take the grid and did not start the race. McCuin took the green flag and never looked back leading all 40 laps to capture the victory under the lights at Richmond.
Kirby was able to work his way through the pack after starting 6th and finished the event in 2nd place securing the mini-series championship for Black Magic Motorsports. Rounding out the top-5 finishing positions were Gildersleeve Jr. (3rd), Tracy (4th), and Plank (5th).
Terry McCuin of Hacked Domain Racing finishes the Late Model season in second place, while Wilbur Gildersleeve Jr. of TeamDraft finished third. Chad “I will start in the back” Tracy finishes the season in 4th, and the Sheepherder Mark Plank of Hacked Domain Racing finished the season in 5th place.
The Oval series drivers are moving up into the Impala B COT cars next week and will be racing in the “Alien Computer Systems 30” at Michigan. This will be the final 4 week mini-series to determine the overall Rags to Riches Series Championship. Good luck to everyone!
RSR F1 Series Overall Standings after eight races:
RSR TNT Series Overall Standings after eight races:
RSR YouTube Video Channel: