The second day of racing is complete at the ROAR Paved On-Road Nationals and we had a number of exciting results, close finishes and great racing. Today marked the last two rounds of qualifying with some extremely close finishes. In 1/10 Open Modified Sedan a tie-breaker had to be used to determine the overall TQ. XRay’s Paul Lemieux and Team Associated’s Rick Howart battled through every qualifier and were at the top of the sheets each and every run. In the final qualifier Lemieux had the lead with time winding down when a late race mistake cost him the lead. Howart didn’t just take the lead but laid down some extremely fast laps to TQ the round (we’re using qual-points to set the grid) and lay down the single-fastest qualifier of the weekend. That time was .032 faster than Lemieux’s previous class-best time and, in the end, helped Howart earn the overall TQ.
While to top position in Open Modified was extremely close other classes weren’t nearly as close. Andrew Knapp turned the only 22-lap run in 17.5T Touring Car en-route to the TQ and backed it up by also taking the TQ in the 1/12-scale 17.5T class.Team Associated’s Bob Stellflue, originally from the midwest, returned in-style and captured the TQ in 13.5T Sedan by just .362 seconds over TJ Bradley and his Corally teammate Brad Johnson who was 1.1 seconds back. David Arnold turned the only 30-lap run in 1/12-scale Modified proving that he was the class of the field to TQ that class. Finally Eric Gillespie took the final round in Vintage Trans Am which meant he would take the overall TQ there.
While the weather has been glorious the past several days there is a significant threat of rain and thunderstorms tomorrow. In a proactive move the ROAR Race Management Team decided to run one round of the triple A-Mains on Saturday. As such we do have some preliminary results for you in each class. The first A-Main was the 17.5T Touring Car main. TQ Andrew Knapp was sent back to ninth place early in this main as Dave Johnson made an early move to the front from his third starting position, bringing Brad Johnson with him. Michael Bruce made several terrific moves to move up through the pack and just over a minute in had moved up to second place from his ninth spot on the grid. Dave Johnson was able to pull out a lead, however the battle behind him for second, third and fourth was amazing as Knapp tried to muscle his way back to the front. First was an amazing battle with Blake Keulen for fourth that developed into a battle for third as they caught Brad Johnson. This is where Knapp made several aggressive moves and mistakes, costing him time with the front two. Eventually Knapp dispatched of both Brad Johnson and Keulen but had lost too much time to the front two. When the time expired it was Dave Johnson taking the A1 win followed by Michael Bruce, Knapp, Brad Johnson and Keulen.
Next up was A1 for the Vintage Trans Am cars. These cars lined up LeMans-style along the back straight and would have to race an 8-minute main. From the tone there were two races within this race. The battle for the lead was a great one between TQ Eric Gillespie and 2nd on the grid Tim Kowal and for third through seventh. Gillespie got off the line cleanly as the freight train formed behind him. Only Kowal was able to stay in direct contact with Gillespie as they were consistently the two fastest cars on the track. The battle for third was a great one as five different drivers were battling it out for the position. Fourth qualifier Rob King didn’t seem to have the speed in the car he did in qualifying as those behind him tried to take spot after spot. First Howard Lo moved by, then Peter Kerr, and finally Gary Katzer who actually got into the rear end of King’s car coming off the sweeper. Lo and Kerr would have a great battle for fourth with Katzer trying to stay in contact with the duo. In the closing laps Kerr made the move on Lo in the chicane on the left side of the track to take fourth from Lo, however this was all behind Gillespie who held off Kowal for the win. Jim Huggett ran third from tone-to-tone, followed by Kerr and Lo.
A1 of the 13.5T Touring Car class was next on-track. From the tone TJ Bradley shot to the lead with Brad Johnson and Bob Stellflue in-tow. Stellflue turned in a bit early in the sweeper on just the second lap, tearing the right front off his car. This left the battle for the lead between Johnson and Bradley, with Johnson getting by Bradley in the early laps. Bradley would patiently stalk Johnson as his car was clearly faster however Johnson was running a very protective. Bradley saw an opening and made a move in-front of the driver’s stand, making it stick and moving back to the lead. From her Bradley turned consistently faster laps than Johnson by a tenth here, two tenths there has he inched away from Johnson’s car. Johnson tried to answer back as he did everything he could to remain in-contact with Bradley. As time expired Bradley crossed the line first with Johnson less than a second behind. Ethan Erchinger moved up from sixth on-the-grid to take the third spot.
While the Touring Car classes tend to take the most prominent headlines at the Paved On-Road Nationals the 1/12-scale crowd showed they could get it done on the asphalt. In the 17.5T 1/12-scale class Andrew Knapp was the class of the field in qualifying and things didn’t change in the main. From the tone Knapp was consistently the fastest man on-track but the battle for second was a great one for 8-minutes. Brian Jucha moved from fourth on-the-grid to third in the opening laps and he and Shawn Rayfield battled it out all-race long. Rayfield would turn a faster lap, then Jucha, then back to Rayfield. In the closing minutes Rayfield started giving up more ground to Jucha which allowed Jucha to put on a daring last-lap challenge. As time expired Jucha was right on Rayfield’s rear spoiler however he couldn’t make a move and Rayfield would retain the spot.
As close as the qualifying results were we knew the A-mains for 1/10-scale Modified Sedan would feature some great battles between Howart, Lemieux and Kevin Hebert, and A1 didn’t disappoint. Howart shot to the lead from the tone with the field in-tow. The top two of Howart and Lemieux would distance themselves from the field as the battle for the lead heated up. It wasn’t just the battle for the lead that heated up but also the leader’s tires and, as they did, Lemieux grabbed the lead away from Howart early. Howart was not to be deterred as he stayed right on Lemieux’s rear wing lap-after-lap. Howart continued to apply the pressure, hoping to force a mistake and take advantage. Such an opportunity revealed itself as Lemieux missed his marks coming through the high-speed teardrop section of the track and clipped the curbing, sending his car airborne. That was the opportunity Howart needed as he moved back to the point. Lemieux recovered quickly and tried to reel Howart back in but the damage was done. One mistake was all Howart needed to take the win in A1, followed by Lemieux nearly 5-seconds back and Kevin Hebert in third.
The final A-main run today was A1 for the 1/12-scale Modified Class. The smallest class of the event only saw a 4-car A1. David Arnold got off the grid cleanly and was able to lap nearly the entire field in 8-minutes. Chris Mackenzie moved up from his fourth spot on the grid to take second in the opening lap as EJ Evans had problems and slid back early. Evan and Dan Louis would battle for third but, at the end of the main, it was once again David Arnold crossing the line first, followed by Mackenzie and Evans.
Most of the the lower mains were also run tonight, however there are still a few left to be run tomorrow. As of right now the game plan is for the race program to resume tomorrow morning after a controlled practice session to scrub the track in. With rain looming we’ll have to see whether we do actually get to run the full program or whether the final results will be determined by the results of A1. We will see tomorrow and will have a final update for you tomorrow evening. In addition we also have video of A1 for 1/12-scale 17.5T, Touring Car Open Modified and Modified 1/12-scale that we’ll be posting soon.