Combined East & Midwest at The Glen

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Who is this mystery winner? Hint: G2R1…

Eagerly awaited every year is the Regional at Watkins Glen. Superb track, nice facilities and yet another chance to count the arrows shot into the Seneca Lodge’s bar wall. We had four large groups (average field size was 16) and two of those groups – East Championship and Midwest Sportsman – saw first time winners. Congrats Jeff Castallano and Marc Abernathy!

See all the photos here

Results, time sheets and qualifying are here

Here are the East and Midwest Region points standings

The Watkins Glen race group re-caps…

G1R1 (Sportsman East)
Leland Englebardt had taken pole in qualifying and cashed it in with a flag-to-flag victory in this 10-lapper, finishing almost 9 seconds up on P2. Speaking of second place… It was that battle that made the headlines here, as George Kline, Al Carter and Scott Panzer had an entertaining dice. Carter and Kline each had their various turns in the position but Kline’s last lap saw him go from fourth to second, which put Carter third. Panzer crossed the line in fourth but he had, um, ‘‘forgotten’’ to pit for a spin-and-four-off in the Bus Stop pass on lap nine. The penalty handed fourth to Russell Hodgson. New guy Mark Eickelbeck had the drive of the race, coming up from 16th on the grid to end up fifth. Tom Cochran, Gary Vizioli (new), Panzer, another Eickelbeck (brother Steve) and Brian Skinner rounded out the top 10. Kline set a wicked fast-lap mid-race, 7/10s quicker than next-best Panzer’s.

G1R2 (Sportsman East)
Englebardt rocked the house again with an 8-second win over Kline, who had to duke it out with Mark Eickelbeck but taking P2 for good with four laps to go. Toward the end Panzer had gotten himself into the podium hunt, setting fastest-lap in the process, but a four-off ended that bid (he wound up seventh), so Hodgson got a fine fourth and Cochran fifth, leading a battling group that included Stevie E., Bill Oliver (from 17th!) and Robert Hill, Jr. In 10th was William Scoville.

G2R1 (Championship East)
This was an exciting one, once it got started. Joel Jackson took the lead at the start but newbie Angel Benitez didn’t make it through the Toe and put it in the fence. The FCY flags flew with the order Jackson, John Greist, Quentin Wahl, Jeff Castellano and John Potter. Green to start lap three, there was no change up front – but not for lack of trying! Lap five saw two changes: Greist put the move on Jackson to take the lead while Castellano did the same to Wahl to snatch P3. Greist’s lead lasted all of one lap as Action Jackson greased past Greist. It was Castellano in third who was sizing things up, however; he popped for second with four to go, then one lap later Castellano put Jackson in his mirrors, leading the last three laps to take his first Series victory. Savvy Greist made his move for second on the last lap, putting Jackson to third. Potter was a close fourth, Eric Mayo five seconds back in fifth. Early contender Wahl slipped to sixth at the checker, followed by Brent Milner (fastest lap), Gregg Markarian, Tom Capizzi and new guy Jose Aoun.

G2R2 (Championship East)
This race had trouble getting started. Lap one was a no-start, but the field got the green at the beginning of lap two. It was four-wide down into One, but through the Esses it sorted out; Greist first, Wahl second and Potter third. Things were tight all through the field — and it bit Castellano and Jackson. They both took some hard hits in the last corner and we went red flag to clean up and to fix the barriers (both drivers were fine). On the re-start Greist kept his lead but was harried by Wahl, with Potter right behind him. From laps three to six, the top three remained Greist, Wahl and Potter though at various points other than at start-finish the positions were being juggled. A bit further back, however, Capizzi was making big moves and on lap seven, a lot of things happened… Potter went from third to sixth, Mayo took over third, Capizzi leapt to fourth, in front of Milner – and Angel Benitez crashed in Turn 10, where, of course, a local yellow would be flying for the moments of the race. On the last lap, not only did Potter spin, but Capizzi got a case of the low eyes and passed Greist for the lead in the incident corner! So after Capizzi’s penalty, the result sheet showed it Greist, Wahl and Mayo on the podium, Milner fourth and Markarian fifth. First-timer Enzo Potolicchio did great, starting 15th and finishing sixth, followed by Aoun, Mike Distaulo, Capizzi was classified ninth and 10th was Michele Marden.

G3R1 (Sportsman Midwest)
This was good one, where at the checker two of the top four drivers – Don Van in third and Al Carter in fourth – had come from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay downtown. Van started 16th, lopped off nine positions on the first lap and by lap four was in fourth. Carter was just as impressive; 17th to 12th to ninth to sixth in the first four laps. Meanwhile, up front, Mike Kolacki led early but succumbed to Marc Abernathy, who led the rest of the way. Carlos Medina did his best to catch Abernathy but in the end he came up 1.5 seconds short. Van’s charge to the front got him into third place with three laps to go, while Carter’s P4 bid had to wait until the last lap, when he got around Kolacki. Cochran, Brian Skinner, Oliver, Paul Subject and Bo Yaghmaie finished off the top 10 across the line. For Abernathy, this was a first-time win. Carter, by the way, set fastest race lap.

G3R2 (Sportsman Midwest)
Van, Abernathy and Medina put on a show in this one! The lead officially changed five times among these three, with the final lead change on lap seven, when Van got around Medina and made it stick. Abernathy was not going to be totally happy staying in third and so on the last lap he not only set the race’s fastest lap but took advantage of a small mistake by Medina to grab second. Coming in a lonely fourth was Kolacki, while Subject was an equally lonesome fifth. Yaghmaie and Andy Piscitello had a nice dice for sixth and seventh, while Eric Metzger in eighth gapped Barry Biggin and David Kamensky, who crossed ninth and 10th within a half-second of each other.

G4R1 (Championship Midwest)
Revere Greist never let anyone near him after the start as he waltzed to a 14-second win over Milner – who had his hands full with Potter. John Greist, Josh Sotor, Harsha Sen and Luca Orlandi had the crowd going with their fourth-through-seventh action, which changed complexion on the ninth lap when fourth-place Sotor went four-off. That put Greist into fourth, plus Sen put the pass on Orlandi to take over fifth. David Cox, Rick Balsley and Sotor came seventh, eighth and ninth, within a tick or two of the watch, with Kasey Kuhlman in 10th not that much further back..

G4R2 (Championship)
Holy Greist, Revere did it again, but the action in the rest of the field was good stuff. There was no holding the Mayo as he started DFL but knifed his way to fourth in the opening lap. J. Greist had held the P2 station for the first two laps but Milner mustered a move on lap three to demote him. By lap four Mayo caught and passed Greist Senior, then two laps after that Mayo managed Milner for P2. Revere was a few light years out in front and despite coming in for left sides and 6 seconds of fuel, he was in no danger of losing the lead. At the flag, Milner took third, Dad Greist fourth and Sotor the Motor fifth. Zachary ‘‘2’’ Ply had a great run, starting 12th and checkering sixth, with Kuhlman, Cox, Sen and Mark Fee rounding out the top 10.

Next up!
The cars don’t even leave Watkins Glen, as the Skip Barber ‘‘Open,’’ which is also a round of the Masters Division of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, supports the June 8-10 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car weekend. We did this two years ago and seriously, the SBRS races were the best of the weekend!

Then, the Skip Barber National goes to the Champ Car Cleveland Grand Prix, June 22-24. This is a first for the National, although the old Pro Series had supported this excellent race weekend from 1998 until 2003. NOTE: This will be the first event where all three series of the Mazda-driven motorsports ladder – the Skip Barber National, Star Mazda, and Champ Car Atlantic – are in the same show. Eleven of the 30 drivers that have entered the 2007 Atlantic Championship are Skip Barber trained, and in the Star Mazda points standings, eight of the top 11 come from the Skip Barber system.

In the Regional championships, the next show is the combined Midwest/East affair at Road America, June 29-July 1. This has always been a big, fun race weekend, so if you haven’t signed up yet you gotta get on your horse!

2007 Midwest Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Sept. 28-30, Road America

2007 Eastern Race Series
April 20-22, VIR
May 25-27, Watkins Glen
June 29-July 1, Road America
July 12-14, Lime Rock Park
July 27-29, Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant
Oct. 30-Sept. 2, Mid-Ohio
Oct. 11-13, Lime Rock Park

Rick Roso

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