This one ended up being longer than I anticipated, but here it goes:
It was great racing this weekend, and I was glad to see a good turnout in SM for the Midwest Division. We went into Saturday a bit behind the eight ball after not doing the test day. We made a slight adjustment after qualifying and had a decent car to race with. I got into a battle with Charlie and Craig for 3rd that provided lots of entertainment and activities! We each traded the point a couple times, but Craig and Charlie had a little contact in 4 and knocked Charlies toe out. I led Craig around for a while until we started hitting traffic. Then it was just survival mode at that point. Starting our 2nd lap, a T2 Mustang decided he wanted to show us how well his brake worked and how fast he could take turn one. I ended up 2 wide on the outside of 1 with this mustang, which then motored down to 2 leaving Craig on the inside. Perfect! Craig held me off for the remainder of that lap and the last to grab 3rd. Craig drove a smart race and deserved that last podium spot.
That has to be the tightest qualifying I have seen at Hallett ever. Top 7 all within 4 tenths of a second. A few hundredths and you were up or down a spot. Pretty incredible! Jim busted out a flyer at a 29 flat and grabbed pole. Haldeman and Charlie were close behind with 29.2s and the rest of us were in 29.4s. Anyone that has been to this track before knows that you are in the hunt if you are within 3 or 4 tenths of pole, so it was anyone's to win. I was up to 3rd after a few laps and noticed Chris looked quite comfortable running and Jim's bumper. It looked like he wasn't thinking of passing for a while so I knew I was in for some work. Shortly after Chris blew a transmission and retired. I was able to catch up to Jim after a few laps and took the lead. We started going through traffic and then I looked in my mirror and saw the T2 mustang coming up behind Jim and I. It looked like Jim took an inside line into 2 to prevent the mustang from parking in front of him; I drove a defensive line into there as well. I saw the mustang pop out going up to 4 and pass Jim, I dove to the inside to prevent him from trying to pass me going into turn 4. I was able to get through the next few corners without interruption from the mustang and created a huge 3 or 4 second gap to Jim. That guy really intervened in the race BOTH days and impacted the results of each. Soon enough we ran into more traffic going into 10 and 11 when two cars crawled through the turns and Jim was right back on my bumper. Jim got around soon after that as well and then one of those things happened...
...Just one of those things... I don't know if there is much more you can say about it. I do not like to take a pass or a win like that, and I don't think either of us expected to touch or even have a car spin that way from such minor side to side contact. We went around turns 2-4 inches apart; I let Jim lead into 4 so I could set up an exit out of 5. I had a slight run and took an inside line into 6, Jim gave me plenty of room and we entered it 2 wide. On the exit we were again side by side, again inches apart but this time we ran out of room and Jim got the short end of the stick. I am glad he was able to recover and make it on the podium! That is pretty impressive after a spin, but nonetheless it was unfortunate it happened that way.
I also firmly believe that our class MUST be separated from ALL other classes for our run group. You can not put guys out there turning laps with the most competitive class in SCCA. Patience was running thin this weekend and that can lead to very dangerous situations. If you leave out the reason of these other cars influencing the outcome of our race, you are left with safety. It is extremely dangerous to have cars that are not racing against anyone in their class, but come up to SMs and decide to get racey. I have heard from many that will not go back if it is not changed. This is something I hope the Midwest division looks into and takes very seriously.
Congrats to Jim, Charlie, Craig, and Chris on podiums.
Thank you Race Engineering and Carbotech Brakes for helping me finally get to the top step in SM this year! Two great companies that enjoy racing as much as we do!
Look forward to seeing everyone next time.