Members of the Red Sox Racing League traveled to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the league’s second multi-class race of 2012, “The Kettle Moraine 30 at Road America”. Family, friends, and fans enjoyed the beautiful countryside and attractions near the challenging road course while twenty-four RSR drivers practiced for the race. The track has three long straight sections broken up by several tight turns and high speed corners along a 4.048 mile layout. The track first opened in 1955 and is one of the few road courses in the world which has not changed its original layout.
Week one of the RSR multi-class experiment saw six drivers retire early from the Watkins Glen race as a result of damage. In what was probably the most incident filled race in RSR history, twenty-four drivers collected 159 incidents while completing 486 laps in New York. Only two drivers managed to complete the event without an incident.
With the costs of week one repairs still fresh in their minds, RSR drivers arrived at Road America with a renewed commitment to clean driving. Pre-race practice and qualifying were safer, but were still very exciting to watch as HPD drivers tried to figure out the best way to pass the slower Corvettes. Most teams were able to complete the sessions in one piece.
Gentleman Jim Albertson showed the newcomers that he was still a force to be reckoned with by earning the pole in Class A with a lap time of 1:50.823. Andrew Gantman was a close second with a lap time of 1:50.891. Les Turner, Terry Daul, Gary Jorgensen, Andrew Feldman, Kevin Kyle, Wilbur Gildersleeve Jr, Divina Galica, and Bill Pawluckie completed the starting grid.
Dustin McGrew took the pole position in Class B with a lap time of 2:02.254. Bruce Snelson earned the 2nd spot with a lap time of 2:02.338. Tommy Rhyne, Reed Rundell, Dean Moll, John Koscielniak, Corey A. Wolf, Scott Husted, James Prostell Jr, Bill Hadden, Jeff Thomas, Larry Krupp, and Ed Sutcliff completed the starting grid.
Gantman got a terrific jump on the start and stole the lead from Albertson heading down the front stretch. Albertson was surprised at his poor start and could be overheard asking his spotter who had put the anchor on his rear bumper during the pace lap.
The rest of the field maintained position as they successfully negotiated Turn One and made their way through the tight corner in Turn Three before accelerating up to speed toward Moraine Sweep. Some of the faster Corvette drivers found themselves mingling with the HPD cars in the early laps, but everyone remained calm as the field jostled for track position.
Things got interesting when Reed and Galica tangled while slowing for traffic in the sharp downhill leading to Turn Five on Lap One. The tight corner would continue to collect drivers throughout the event as they tried to calculate braking points and closing rates of the competition. The corner is one of the most demanding on the circuit, and is followed by an equally challenging corner at the top of the hill leading to Turn Six.
The race began to settle down as drivers sorted themselves out on Lap Two and the HPD cars slowly began pulling away from the Corvettes. Things were going well until Gantman began having issues on Lap Two. He gave up the lead and fell to 6th place after a spin exiting Turn Six, then had two more self-spins and dropped to 9th on Lap Three. Less determined drivers might have given up at that point, but Gantman regrouped and fought his way back through the field to earn a third place finish.
The rest of the race was fairly uneventful as Corvette drivers gave plenty of room to the faster HPDs. Final totals from the event bore out the effort everyone put forth to make the race safer than the first event had been. Once the dust settled, only three cars had retired before the race ended, and the field had only collected 100 incident points during 352 laps of racing. Even more impressively, five drivers (Albertson, Turner, Kabela, Snelson, and Sutcliff) all completed the race without any incidents.
Class A results:
With Turner hounding him the entire race, Albertson led 12 laps en route to winning the HPD Class. Les tried hard to make a pass at several points of the event, but never found an opening safe enough to take away the top spot. Turner led two laps during the pit cycle and crossed the line .591 seconds behind Albertson.
Turner was happy with his 2nd place podium finish, but a bit disappointed that the opportunity for an early season win got away from him. “Overall it was a good race for us tonight. We never got a chance to get a good qualifying lap in, and starting in the second row put us behind the 8 ball a bit. I stayed out when Jim pit and put my head down to put in some fast laps. We were held up by one car and that was the difference between coming out in front of Albertson and likely winning the race, or just chasing him to the end and finishing second. Congratulations to Jim for the well deserved Class A win!”
“The old guy was in the zone tonight”, said Albertson after the awards ceremony. “I was surprised about the great start Andrew got, but I didn’t panic. The goal was to bring the car home in one piece, so I just concentrated on hitting my braking points as the race settled into a rhythm. I started to catch up to Andrew, and then managed to get past him when he lost control. The car was really dialed in during the first fuel run. Les never lost contact with me during the race, but I was saving the car for the end because I knew he would eventually put the pressure on to make a pass. Les got caught in some slower traffic during the pit cycle and I was able to relax a little bit before he came storming back up to us. During the brief lull, I did some mental calculations and realized I was going to have to conserve fuel if I wanted to complete the race! We finished the race with 1/10th of a pound of fuel left in the tank. What a finish! Congrats to Dustin McGrew for winning the Corvette race.”
Gantman earned the final podium position after completing a late race pass of Daul. Terry held on for 4th place. Kyle finished in 5th place. Jorgensen, Kabela, Feldman, Pawluckie, Galica, and Gildersleeve rounded out the HPD Class finishing positions.
Gantman (66 points) holds a slim one point lead over Turner in the Class A championship battle. Jorgensen and Daul are tied for third place with 63 points.
Class B results:
McGrew led all but four laps on his way to a dominating performance in the Corvette Class. Snelson (2nd place) and Moll (3rd place), also led laps during the event.
Moll had a solid run, which was exactly what he needed after a DNF at Watkins Glen. “I saw Dustin passing some of the HPDs on the start and knew it was going to be a real race to keep pace in the opening laps. I did everything I could, including going three wide with Bruce and Divi between Turns Five and Six. That was crazy! I made a small mistake on Lap Three, but made a nice save coming out of Turn Six and only lost a couple of seconds. I spent the rest of the race focused on keeping my tires on the track, keeping the tires cool and giving the HPDs room to make safe passes. Congratulations to both Jim and Dustin on their wins.”
Rundell bounced back from a disastrous week one race to finish in 4th place at Road America. Wolf finished in 5th place. Prostell, Thomas, Krupp, Sutcliff, Husted, Rhyne, Hadden and Koscielniak completed the scoring in the C6R Class.
Snelson and Wolf are tied with 66 points and lead the Class B championship battle after two events. McGrew is in third place with 63 points.
RSR drivers head overseas next week for the “Gary W Clark Memorial 30 at Silverstone GP” on January 27th, 2012.
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