The fifth event of the NASA Midwest Spec Miata Challenge was held at Autobahn Country Club, a wonderful facility just outside Chicago. All races were held on the 2.1 mile south course, in the blistering mid-July heat.
Saturday qualifying showed that home track advantage can mean a lot, with Autobahn members taking the top 4 spots, although Brian Domont #08 was DQ’d for being underweight in post-qualifying impound. The majority of the field was split by less than a second, with Great Lakes regular TJ Graven #22 taking the highest qualifying spot among non-members in 4th.
At the start of Saturday’s race Domont #08 was able to make a significant jump in position by cutting to the inside in turn 1 and picked up 7 positions. Mid-pack the racing was very intense with 6 drivers juggling for position. A pair of spins late in the race by Graven #22 allowed multiple cars to gain position. Domont #08 was able to capitalize on his early jump and the long 40 minute race to re-capture the lead from club member Michael Brinati #008 and win the race with only 4-tenths margin of victory! Jack Kachadurian #80, Aaron Kaplan #18, and Ryan Groth #52 rounded out the top 5.
Slightly overcast skies and slightly cooler temperatures greeted drivers for Sunday qualifying. Again club members were able to take the top 4 spots with Domont #08 on the pole. The gap between Groth #52 in 5th and Jason Pulvermacher #25 in 8th was amazingly small, with only 2 tenths of a second between them. For the race Brinati #008 and Domont #08 started at the back of the field. At the start Groth #52 was able to slip by Kaplan #18, as was Graven #22. Kachadurian #80 and Groth #52 were left with lots of empty track to stretch their lead, while 3rd through 8th place battled it out with Brinati #008 and Domont #08 charging up quickly from the back. A late full course caution for a disabled Spec 944 bunched the field up and really made things exciting on the restart. Brinati #008 and Domont #08 were in a heated 4 way battle for 1st with Kachadurian #80 and Kaplan #18. In the end Brinati #008 was able to best Domont #08 for the win by only 2 tenths of a second! Kachadurian #80 finished 3rd, Kaplan #18 in 4th, and Matthew Erickson #8 was able to get by Groth #52 on the white flag lap to capture the 5th spot.
The next event of the NASA Midwest Spec Miata Challenge brings us to the newly reconfigured Gingerman Raceway, which means new track records and tons of great racing.
-------------------- Ryan Groth #52 SM NASA Midwest Series Director