The green flag dropped and Haldeman went straight to the lead, followed by Reger, Ross, Reynolds and York. Haldeman and Reger were on the wood early and managed a small gap to Ross by the end of lap 1, with Reger in the lead. Reynolds got around York and fed him back to Stuart Robinson, Lap 2 finished with Reger and Haldeman clear of Ross by .5, who was clear of Reynolds by about 10 car lengths with another 5 car lengths to Robinson and York. Ross felt the pressure to get back on the leaders going into lap 3 and decided to push hard in the carousel to make up some gap, near the apex the rear end washed out leaving Ross traveling near perpendicular to the path of travel. Big save lead to big loss in time and which allowed Reynolds to close up half the gap. With vying for the win out of the question as the gap to the leader grew by almost a second, Ross settled in for a battle with Reynolds, who does not make mistakes. Coming out of Diamonds Edge Ross missed a shift and Reynolds sailed on by, putting about 6 car lengths on Ross while he was searching for a gear that was not 1st or 5th, preferably 3rd. Once rolling again the leaders were long gone and Ross was now in no mans land between Reynolds and York as Robinson broke down and had to retire. Meanwhile the leaders were driving away with clean lap after clean lap. Haldeman content to put pressure on Reger and hope to force a mistake later in the race as the tire wear took its toll. Haldeman new he couldn't win early in the race as his car was not the equal of Reger's and he was forced to be patient and wait for his opportunity. Reynolds was running smooth and clean ahead of Ross who continued to punish his car by overdriving as he slowly drifted back to York. Another missed shift by Ross on lap 9 allowed York around and the chance at the podium was gone for good. Ross fell in behind York and over the next 7 or 8 laps developed Haldemans tactic of applying pressure from behind, pushing York when he could backing off where his car was weaker, every 2 to 3 shift was now an adventure, the car had to be completely unloaded to make the 3rd gear gate. Haldeman kept probing to see where he could pass and got around Reger at lap 9 to give back the position by the end of lap 10. As the laps wore down Haldeman's constant pressure were starting to pay divedends as Reger's car started to loose its handling. Ross was having simliar results as York was working harder and harder to keep in front. Ross tried several attacks coming out of the carousel as that is where he had the greatest advantage on York, however York did not break and ran steady and Ross was the one who made the mistake with his peekaboo tactics and overshot the brake zone into Diamonds Edge, this allowed York to make 3 car lengths and forced Ross to hustle a shift at the exit, bad idea another 2 to 5 shift gave another 4 car lengths and the pressure was back on Ross. Haldeman managed to muscle his way past Reger in the sweeper and took the lead with 3 laps to go. Ross was back on York and applying pressure as the leaders started making their way through lapped traffic. With lapped traffic starting to play a role in passing Ross saw an opportunity to pass York in turn 16 if only he could cary enough speed from turn 13 to 14 (where his car had a terrible push all weekend), Ross left the pedal floored and tried to steer his way through offline, as the 3-4 shift was coming up the car was still bound up and Ross again missed a shift. York was gone and Ross just prayed all the money shifts don't pay him a visit at COTA. The checkered flag saw Haldeman holding off Reger for the win and Reynolds had a solid drive for the final podium spot.
Congratulations to my team mate and a great friend Chris Haldeman. He drove one of the best races of his short SM carreer. His car was not the equal of Regers' but through racecraft he managed to pull off the win. Reger is a very talented young driver and at his home track he is very hard to equal.
On a side note, I ran my 1.6 in STL on Sunday as I wasn't willing to risk my 99 in the chaos of the mixed class race. I don't know if its like that around the rest of the country but mixing drivers of different skill levels with cars that don't race well together lead to some of the scariest moments I have had in a car on Saturday. Saturday I just tried to stay out of the way an circle the track working on lines, that didn't work out so well as the cars I was around were constantly making me give up my entry or exit. In my 1.6 with no setup on the car I was able to run times that would have placed me 3rd in the SM race. With a setup I have no doubt I might have been in the mix for the win in SM. The 1.6 was a blast to drive and will definitely be my weapon of choice when we race MSRH again, provided I still own it.