HOMETOWN HERO

Race Winner Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson

Pole sitter Kyle Larson won Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Race at Sonoma Race in dominating fashion. He swept all three stages, and led 57 of the 90 laps. He only fell behind after pit stops but wasted no time in catching up and pulling away in his No.5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet. Each time Larsen pitted he fell back, and charged his way back up to the lead and stretched his gap. This was his first back-to-back race this season, his third victory this year, and his ninth career win. He now moves into second place for points with 617, behind Denny Hamlin who leads with 664. Larson’s teammate, Chase Elliot is in third place. Larsen, who hails from Elk Grove, CA first came to the track, then called Sears Point Raceway, at the age of five. He calls Sonoma his home track.

Elliott, who’s known as a good road racer, gave Larson a run for his money in the race, driving No.9 Napa Chevrolet. Martin Truex Jr came in third, driving his No.19 Bass Pro Toyota. Fourth and fifth were Joey Logano in No.22 Autotrader Ford and Kyle Busch in No.18 Sport Clips Toyota.

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott

There was a lot of good racing behind Larson in the first big pack, with passing and maneuvers, mostly clean. The Northern California racer said he’s been working on his restarts. One thing which has helped him this last week was the team hiring American road racer, Scott Speed to work with him. Larsen said it really helped, and he got better in outbreaking this weekend. He said he had to learn the track really quickly as there were some changes since he last raced here.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch

There were eight cautions for 18 laps, two coming in the last three laps, three within 18 laps of the finish. It seemed every time Larson got the lead and pulled away, another caution came to bunch of the field. Larson made some bold and daring passes when going for the lead after pit stops and was successful in fending off attempts to crowd or pass him in tight squeezes. The majority of problem-causing cautions came in Stage Three, involving multiple cars. Caution Six right after a Restart involved seven cars in Turn 11. William Byron went to the garage with severe body damage; Kevin Harvick pitted for removal of hood, fender and assorted parts – some of which were given to eager race fans hanging out by his pits. Corey LaJoie pitted for body work. Others were Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and Erik Jones. Caution Seven involved a bobble by Michael McDowell, and three cars were caught out – Cody Ware, who was taken to the infield care center and released; Ryan Preece and Matt DeBenedetto. The last caution in Turn 4 involved Anthony Alfredo, Bell, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman. The one incident in the first stage involved Ricky Stenhouse crashing in Turn One, bringing out the fork lift and assorted equipment.

DENNY HAMLIN

DENNY HAMLIN

Chase Briscoe, winner of Saturday’s ARCA race, was the Sunoco Rookie of the Race, driving No.14 Ford Performance School Ford. He started 25th and finished 17th, on the lead lap.

Other race stats: The race ran 3 hrs, 14 mins, 42 secs. There were thirteen lead changes among seven drivers: Kyle Larson 1-9; Denny Hamlin 10-11; Larson 12-21; Kurt Busch 22-27; William Byron 28-32; Larson 33-42; Kurt Busch 43-44; Chase Elliott 45-57; Larson 58-64; Joey Logano 65-66; Kyle Busch 67-68; Larson 69-72; Logano 73-75 and Larson 76-92. Thirty-three of the 37 starters finished the race, all on the lead lap. Two DNFs were accidents and two were mechanical. The average race speed varied from 70.430 mph to 89.755 mph.

Fox Sports broadcasters

Fox Sports broadcasters Jeff Gordon, Kyle Shanahan, Chris Myers, and Clint Bowyer

This weekend’s Cup race is the last regular Cup race for Fox Sports. After next weekend’s non-points NASCAR Cup All Star race in Texas, the TV coverage will be done by NBC. For Sonoma the booth talent was Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, and Mike Joy, who is also racing in the Historic Trans-Am. For the Pre-Race pit walk, Bowyer and Gordon were joined by host Chris Myers, to interview celebrities and guests. They had a good time among themselves, sometimes winding up each other and/or their guests.

Brehanna Daniels

Brehanna Daniels

During Pre-Race Ceremonies crews were making ready, warming up, putting things in place, and settling their driver. The rear tire changer on the No.52 Ford of Josh Bilicki is Brehanna Daniels, the first African American woman to work on a NASCAR Cup team. She was doing some high-stepping steps and prances to get ready for the race. She has been doing this since 2016, when she was recruited by the NASCAR Diversity program when they came to her college where she was playing basketball. NASCAR was impressed by her athletic ability and exceptional hand speed. She worked on ARCA and NASCAR Truck teams before moving up to Cup. Prior to being recruited, Daniels hadn’t followed NASCAR. When she’s not training for crew work, she’s a clothing entrepreneur, and been on TV. Maybe you’ve seen her in that Advil commercial showing her going over the wall.

Inspection in the NASCAR Cup Series garage is complete. There were no issues. The No. 19 had one lug nut not safe and secure.

The next NASCAR Cup Series points race is Nashville Sunday 20 June 2021.

Chase Elliott & Kyle Larson

Chase Elliott & Kyle Larson. Photo by Jim Fluharty/HHP for Chevy Racing

FANS IN THE STANDS

J Fanstand

It’s bright and sunny at Sonoma Raceway Sunday for the one and done Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Race. The breeze tempered the heat which is forecast to reach low eighties. The sold-out crowd of fans are out and about, and the Cardboard Cutouts are already enjoying their 15 minutes of fame in the main Grandstands H, I & J overlooking the pits. Do you recognize anyone?

NASCAR Tech Station

NASCAR Tech Station

NASCAR Tech Station

The crews for the 37 Cup cars are busy putting their respective car through their pace. There are four NASCAR tech stations the cars must visit.Then they line up in Pit Lane. For the sharp-eyed who noticed that the Cup war wagons were on site Saturday morning along the Pit Lane fence, while the Cup haulers didn’t start their slow, graceful conga line into the Cup garage area at 7pm Saturday night – there is an answer. A firm called Champion hauls and installs these items as well as garage setups from race to race independent of the team haulers. After each race they collect the equipment and transports to next event.

Kyle Larson Chevrolet

Kyle Larson Chevrolet

Kyle Larson will start on pole today in No.5 Hendrick Chevrolet, with Chase Elliot next to him on the front row in No.9 NAPA Chevrolet. Cup points leader, Denny Hamlin will start fourth in the FedEx Toyota, next to William Byron in No.24 Axalta Chevrolet. There are 17 Chevrolets, 15 Fords and five Toyotas. All will start the race.

Sunday’s race will be 90 lap/226.8 miles. The three stages will be 20 / 40 / 90, with a Competition Caution on Lap 10. The estimated time of the race is 2.42.09, and the race will be broadcast on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Pit Road speed is 40 mph and Caution Car speed is 45 mph. Let’s hope they don’t have to be admonished abut overdriving the yellow flags as was the cast with F1 this morning in Baku.

Ken Esman Tour Guide

Ken Esman Tour Guide

In the Historic Trans-Am race, it was the usual- lots of fast loud ground-pounding cars chasing each other, bobbing and weaving, passing and repassing. The two leading cars , Jim Hague in No.16 1970 yellow Mustang driven originally by Peter Greg, and Ken Epsman in his red/white/blue 1972 Javelin originally raced by Roy Woods. They swapped the lead nearly every lap. Epsman said later he hoped NASCAR was watching. AT the photo finish, no one knew who won. The Series doesn’t use transponders, didn’t know where was the timing light, and frankly didn’t care as they were just having fun. Afterwards Epsman was giving fans photo ops inside the yellow Mustang. The series is fan-friendly. Their next stop are the two vintage Reunion races in Monterey in August and then on to Road America.

H Fanstand

Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan, Head Coach for the San Francisco 49’ers, is the Grand Marshal this weekend. He met with media and said he’s been practicing “those four words.” He’s a bit nervous, as he doesn’t feel he has a good speaking voice. He’s used to talking and giving commands behind a clipboard on the field. He joked that no one could live up to Kevin James. Shanahan was really stoked to see all the NASCAR fans, as he’s “tired of cardboard cutouts.”

Another guest celebrity Sunday was Guy Fieri, renown Chef. He’s driving the Pace Car. He had a claque of foodies following him around.

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri

Sonoma Raceway announced today that it’s 30-year partnership with Save Mart will have another multi-year extension. The 2022 schedule has yet to be released, but track officials expect their date to be early to mid June, as usual. Executive Vice President and General Manager, Jill Gregory, said she expects next year’s race will be fully back to normal with capacity crowds. She said this NASCAR race is the last race under the current enforceable protocols. After this, there will be new rules.

I Fanstand

SMOKING HOT RACING

Briscoe Pre Race

Briscoe

It was smoking hot Saturday at Sonoma Raceway for the General Tire 200 ARCA Menards Series West Race. That refers to the grass fire started by Tony Toste when he pulled off on fire in Turn One on Lap 35. It refers to the hot, fast and furious race pace of the various packs of cars all vying for position. And it refers to the smoking burnouts performed by race winner Chase Briscoe, first parked at the Pit Wall on the front straight and then the smoking doughnuts performed on the Turn 11 infield. He led all 51 laps of the 50-lap race.

Chase Briscoe was the only Cup driver to enter Saturday’s ARCA race and was the leading driver for all but about two minutes of the Saturday ARCA track time. The only lap he didn’t lead in his No.14 Huffy-Parker Boats Ford was the last one in qualifying when he was pipped by Jake Drew in No.9 Sunrise Ford-Lucas Oil Ford for the pole position. Briscoe started the race third behind Todd Souza in No.13 Central Coast Cabinets Ford.

The Green Flag was delayed three laps for the Sonoma Stripe – a huge swath of oil laid down by Zane Smith’s MadoroM Wine-Best Western Sonoma Chevrolet from Turn Five all the way to Turn Seven. A wide ribbon of grease sweep aka oil dry covered the oil on the track. And then Souza was given a black flag penalty for jumping the start and had to pit. No sooner than the Green Flag was given, then the first of several cautions came out for Rod Kneeland’s Chevrolet which had to be towed after it parked unsafely with mechanical problems.

The field would bunch up for the restart, and Briscoe would take off once given the Go flag.This scenario was repeated and replayed six more time in the 50-lap race. It wasn’t a record for the Series. There was the scheduled half-time pit stop for the field. The drivers were frisky and tested their limits, against the track and with each other. Several had varying degrees of contact. There was some good close and tight racing, especially up in front.

Dylan Lupton in McAnally Toyota finished second, followed by Paul Pedroncelli Jr in his Chevrolet. Fourth was the top Rookie, Cole Moore in another McAnally Toyota, followed by Souza, who overcame his penalty push to the back.

Pole sitter Drew, one of nine Rookies, finished seventh, behind Rookie Dean Thompson’s Huddleston Ford.

Burgess Pit Stop

Burgess Chevrolet

Bridget Burgess overcame several setbacks to finish eighth, after starting ninth. She ran as high as fifth before being hit by Jesse Love’s McAnally Toyota and falling to 14th. She worked back through several restarts and got back up to tenth and then eighth. She spun out by herself, fell back and caught up. During the halftime stop, after her crew serviced her car, it went over to help out Bobby Hillis,Jr. who basically had little or no crew. After another caution she pitted while the parents checked front tires and under the hood before sending her back out. Burgess caught up again.

Ninth and tenth were Rookie Ryan Philpot’s Chevrolet and Bobby Hillis Jr’s Chevrolet.

Thirteen of the 22 drivers finished the race and all were on the lead lap. The other nine DNF. The top Rookie was Cole Moore in a McAnally Toyota.

Under NASCAR’s Covid protocols, drivers can’t interact with the media, so everything is done remotely. This means a short televised Victory ‘ceremony’ with the traditional Sonoma Wine Goblet and a brief Zoom post-race interview for the winner. Briscoe said a road course is more challenging. He definitely had more fun than he thought he would, and is looking forward to tomorrow (NASCAR Cup race.) He said Sonoma was a technical track, and he wished he could have had more practice.

In the Historic Trans-Am race with 22 starters, Jim Hague was on pole with his golden yellow 1970 Mustang. And it seems that nearly every time the field came by Start-Finish a different driver was ahead. Taking turns leading were Ken Epsman/No.2 red/white/blue 1972 Javelin; Bill Ockerland in No.6 blue 1969 Camaro, and Richard Goldsmith in No.77 green (slime) 1970 Dodge Challenger.

Richard Goldsmith #77

Jim Hague #16

Jeffrey O'Neill #15

Goldsmith squeaked by to finish first, followed by Hague, Jefrey O’Neill in No.15 red 1969 Mustang, Patrick Byrne in No.15 white 1967 Mustang, and Ockerlund. Mike Joy finished 18th in No.89 black 1966 Mustang.

Mike Joy #89

Sunday’s schedule calls for Trans-Am warmup, then half-hour race. The Pre Race Ceremonies start at noon, with Cup Driver Introductions at 1pm, followed by the three-stage race. The stages are 20/40/90 laps, for 226.8 miles.

The NASCAR garage is fairly quiet now, as the ARCA haulers move out. The NASCAR contingent comes in at 7:30pm local time.

ARCA pits

ON THE ROAD AGAIN ….

Welcome Race Fans

After 714 days, NASCAR has returned to the wine country road course known as Sonoma Raceway.It’s being called the biggest sporting event in the Bay Area, and the largest outdoor event in California since the pandemic started. Jill Gregory, the new Executive Vice President and General Manager of the track has been working with all the appropriate California and Sonoma County bureaucracies to meet the California Covid protocols.

Jill Gregory

Jill Gregory

For Sonoma Raceway, which has a 47,000 capacity, it means a 33% capacity this weekend to meet social distancing requirements. This translates to about 15-16,000 fans. Tickets sold out quickly for the one-day Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Race on Sunday. Tickets were still available for Saturday’s General Tire 200 ARCA Menards Series West race and Historic TransAm race. Gregory said the electronic/digital aspect made ticketing easier to manage with longer deadlines. Part of the Raceway’s protocols call for touch-less and digital processes. All ticketing, electronic waivers and signatures are digital to one’s phone. All tickets are reserved, with no General Admission. There will be a new clear bag policy for items being brought into the track, and no golf carts allowed this weekend.

Five hundred fans will be campers, who have to park in a designated area – the 50 Acre Campground. They will all face forward in the same direction rather than in circular compounds. Campers are limited to their own pod or family bubble, and the showers aren’t open. In the grandstands there will be Socially distanced seating, designated by tickets. Interspersed will be 200 Cardboard Cutouts that folks were invited to purchase for placement. Afterwards, they can be picked up and it’s estimated by Cheri Plattner, Community Events Manager, that 90% of them will be picked up and the rest responsibly recycled. The effort raised $50,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities. Friday, a non-track day, Sonoma Raceway hosted Laps for Charity which raised even more money for the Speedway Charities.

The ARCA cars arrived Friday night and are using the Cup garages and pit lane. Once their event is over Saturday afternoon, they will pack up and depart, allowing for the entrance of the Cup haulers and circus. The Historic Trans Am are paddocked behind the main grandstand, near the vendor area.

Sonoma is the third road course race on the Cup schedule this year, but is the only road course with a Cup history. Daytona and COTA were first-time events.

The ARCA field has 22 drivers, including Cup regular, Chase Briscoe. This is the ARCA Menards West Series, not to be confused with the ARCA Menards Series racing as we speak at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. That race just finished, with Ty Gibbs as the winner.

Todd Souza

Chase Briscoe

Left to right: Jake Drew; Todd Souza; and Chase Briscoe.

All 22 of the ARCA drivers participated in the hour-long practice/qualifying session. For 58+ minutes of the session, the fastest car was Stewart-Haas driver, Chase Briscoe driving No.14 Huffy Boats Ford. He was going 88.688 mph for a 1.42.191 lap around the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course, which includes the Carousel this year. But it’s never over until the Checkered Flag flies. Jake Drew from Fullerton CA, driving No.9 Sunrise Ford-Lucas Oil Ford for Bob Bruncati pulled out a 89.073 mph lap on the last go-around, taking 1:41.848 to complete the lap. And Todd Souza from Aromas CA pulled in second, driving No.13 Central Coast Cabinets Ford for Kelly Souza. Briscoe, who hails from Mitchel IN, ended up third.

Bridget Burgess

Bridget Burgess

The majority of the ARCA West drivers are from California, with one each from Arizona, Indiana, Japan, and Utah via Australia. The lone female driver, Bridget Burgess comes from Brisbane, Australia, and now lives in Utah, where she once dreamed of competing as a speed skater in the Olympics. Her mother Sarah and father are her crew. The two of them work on the race car, as does Bridget.

Twenty-three Trans Am drivers are entered, with many regulars in this popular series which has a whole tour this season. Included in the Sonoma field are Fox TV motorsports broadcaster Mike Joy in No.89 1966 Mustang; John Hildebrand driving the No.49 Gray Ghost 1964 Pontiac Tempest; and Ken Epsman in No.2 1972 Javelin. The Trans Am cars had a half hour practice and a half hour qualifying session in preparation for the Saturday afternoon race. Pole sitter for the half-hour race is Jim Hague in No.16 yellow 1970 Mustang

John Hildebrand

Left to right: Jim Hague’s No.16 Mustang; Mike Joy; and John Hildebrand and Gray Ghost.

The ARCA and Trans-Am races are Saturday afternoon. Trans-Am also has a second race Sunday morning before the Cup Pre Race ceremonies. This year most of the showy acts will go on, such as Parade Laps, Parachute drop and Patriots Jet Air Show. What will not happen is the Driver’s Meeting and Driver Introductions across the stage in front of the cheering fans. There will be Intros, but on camera for the big screen. The drivers are more regulated and somewhat isolated this year. They arrive at the track Sunday morning, stay within their own pods until the call to the cars. Their Video Meeting will be recorded and shared by NASCAR.

The weather was sunny and breezy all day with wisps of cloud streaks. It did not feel as warm as the low eighties showed on the thermometer. Tomorrow’s forecast is for more of the same, with fewer clouds.

ACURAS RULE!

Acura Team Penske cars

The Acura Team Penske teammates pretty much dominated the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, starting and finishing first and second – but not in their qualifying order. The winner was Dane Cameron from Northern California, with co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya in No.7 Acura. The pole position car came in second, with Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves. Third was Philipe Derani in No.31 in Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac with Felipe Nasr. He had been chasing Ricky Taylor/No. 10 Minolta Konica Cadillac for much of the race, and passed him in the last 11 minutes. The Margin of Victory was 9.84 seconds and the leader ran 121 laps. The top six cars finished on the lead lap.

Dane Cameron

Cameron’s victory cinched the manufacturer’s championship for Acura.

The weather was clearly much milder than previous days, at 71 F degrees ambient and 84 F track temperatures. The 270-mile race race green, with no Safety Cars.

This was the 15th sports car victory for Cameron, a lucky 13 in the WeatherTech Series. For teammate JPM, it was his sixth in sports cars, and third in WeatherTech. The veteran driver was motivated, as Montoya turned the fastest DPi race lap on Lap 5 at 105.096 mph.

Cameron said “It feels pretty good to win here. It’s especially satisfying to win here after giving away that one a couple of years ago. I grew up in Sonoma, just a few hours north of here. I spent a lot of times here as a kid watching Champ Car races and Formula Atlantics and stuff. I probably watched this guy (referring to his teammate) and Helio in IndyCars when they were here. So it’s nice to get the prototype victory.” Cameron has won here at Laguna Seca, but in GT cars. This was his first prototype win.

Montoya said “It’s a big relief before Petit (Petit Le Mans.) We made sure we had tires at the end.”

There were seven overall lead changes among four drivers: Cameron-75 laps; Ricky Taylor/No.7 Acura-38 laps; Jordan Taylor/No.10 Minolta Konica Cadillac-1 lap; and Tristan Nunez/No.77 Mazda Team Joest-7 laps.

No.52 LMP2 ORECA

In LMP2, with only the two ORECA cars, both made the podium. Matthew McMurray took the Checkered Flag in No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, with teammate Dalton Kellett. McMurray said the cooler temperatures didn’t help that much for tire management. Runner up was Cameron Cassels in No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports, with co-driver Kyle Masson, who turned the fastest LMP2 race lap of 101.764 mph.

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

Dirk Mueller & Joey Hand

This was the Joey Hand’s and his team’s first GTLM win this season in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, with co-driver Dirk Mueller. “I’ve been trying since 1998 to win here on my home track. This is more about the people around me, more so about the team. It didn’t start out well. It was pretty bad at first. We went from worst car here to best car here. This is my race for camping here, with my wife and friends. This one really feels really good. This track stands out on any race calendar, but especially for me a California guy.”

No.66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT

Tommy Milner/No.4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7 R ran the fastest GTLM race lap of 97.660 mph.

In the last ten minutes of the race, it was Gutsy GT driving, with the two factory Corvettes, Antonio Garcia No.3 and Tommy Milner/No.4 with John Edwards in No.24 Team RLL BMW – and slicing, dicing, chasing, side by side, nose to tail, nearly or maybe actually touching, but keeping it on the pavement and in forward motion. Fun to watch! In the end, Edwards prevailed ahead of Garcia and Milner, finishing second through fourth in class.

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Corey Lewis & Bryan Sellers

Bryan Sellars won GTD class in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, with co-driver Corey Lewis, who also ran the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race race. Lewis said each car completely different. The Trofeo series car was a street chassis. Sellars said their GTD win was a credit to the engineer, controlling tire degradation. “I think you have to look at this race, a lot of times it’s put on drivers. A lot of times it’s put on crew. But I have to say today it was all down to our engineer, Lars Giersing. He did a fantastic job, the car was great. One of the things we focused on this week was tire degradation and we were able to just run consistent and ultimately that was what was able to get us the win.”

No.48 Paul Miller Lamborghini

Sunday started very differently than the previous three days, in that not only was there fog, there was a deep layer of fog so pervasive that the start was delayed five minutes, after which the fog lifted just enough for visibility corner to corner. The ambient temperature was 57 degrees F and the track was only 60 degrees F. Five drivers chose not to go out. Felipe Albuquerque/No.5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac was the fastest DPi with a lap of 1:16.830; Dalton Kellett/No.52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Cadillac was fastest in LMP2, at 1:20.030. Joey Hand, a local NorCal driver, topped GTLM with a lap of 123.193 in No.66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. Joe Holton’s fast time of 1:25.751 was best for GTLD, driving No.76 Compass Racing McLaren.

IMSA Foggy Pre Grid

No.5, No.76 driving into the fog to Turn 4

Foggy Warmup

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

All cars passed Tech, and there are no updated standings for the Driver’s Championship.

The IMSA season finale is Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 10-hour endurance race on 12 October 2019. It will be televised live on NBC starting at noon ET.

RICKY’S RECORD RUN

Pole Car No.7 Acura Team Penske

Ricky Taylor put the No.7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi on the pole for Sunday’s IMSA Monterey Grand Prix with a record lap of 1:15.035. This broke the record set last year by his brother, Jordan.Taylor’s teammate is Helio Castroneves. The No.6 sister car will start on the front row based on the time set by Juan Pablo Montoya. JPM had been fastest overall Friday at 1:16.003 on the 2.238-mile elevated road course for the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which just happens to be running at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Montoya’s teammate is Dane Cameron who grew up racing on the Monterey race track.

Ricky Taylor

This is the fourth pole position for Team Penske, with each of the four drivers now having scored one. Taylor was the last of the four to get a pole, and he felt it was his turn “to pull his weight.” His race strategy includes “keeping the tires under us, and be there at the end.”

No.7 Acura Team Penske DPi

No.7 Acura Team Penske

No. Acura Team Penske DPi

Third through fifth in the DPi class were Jordan Taylor, with co-driver Renger van de Zande in No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R; Tristan Nunez in No.77 Mazda Team Joest DPi, with teammate Olier Jarvis; and Felipe Nasr in No.31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, with co-driver Pipo Derani.

Kyle Masson put No.38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA on the LMP2 pole at 1:16.817. His co-driver is Cameron Cassels.

Jesse Krohn is the pole sitter for GTLM in No.24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, with co-driver John Edwards.His lap was 1:21.557.

Corey Lewis is on the GTD pole with Bryan Sellers in No.48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, at 1:24.962.

Thirty-one of the 32 drivers qualified. Patrick Lindsey crashed No.73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in Turn 10. He spun out and hit the concrete wall near the grid gate hard three times. The car damage included all four corners with all wheels going in different directions. It took 13 people to load up the car onto the rollback tow truck.

Justin Bell & Tommy Kendall

Two people who will no doubt be talking about young drivers Ricky Taylor and Conor Daly are Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall, hosts of The Torque Show, which will air at least once daily during the Monterey weekend. It is live streaming and covers every round of the IMSA Series.

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Race was won by Conor Daly/No.46 Precision Performance Motorsports and teammate Brandon Gdovic, racing in the Pro Class. His Margin of Victory was 1.825 seconds ahead of Corey Lewis/No.29 and co-driver Richy Antinucci in the Pro/Am Class. Daly turned the fastest race lap of 1:25.865/93.830 mph. Gdovic had started the race third on the grid. The race was live-streamed on imsatv or squadracorse.lamborghini.com/live-streaming with commentary from IMSA Radio. Daly will start Sunday’s race on pole.

Other class winners were James Sofronas racing by himself in No.14 GMG Racing in the Am and he turned the fastest race lap in that class – 1:26.657/92.973 moh; and Ashton Harrison/No.43 Prestige Performance/WTR in the LB Cup class, who turned its fastest race lap of 1:27.730/91.836 mph. His co-driver was Stephanie Cemo.

Conor DalyAfterwards Daly said it was nice racing again on the iconic circuit. He hadn’t raced here for many years, the last being in 2004. Daly loves Laguna Seca, saying it is a very technical track.

Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport. The Lamborghini rounds at Laguna Seca being at Laguna one week ahead of Daly’s IndyCar run wasn’t part of the plan when Daly signed on for the Lamborghini series back in February. At that time he had nothing firmed up for the season. Daly is slated to race the Laguna round of IndyCar next weekend, reuniting him with Andretti Autosport.

Sunday’s schedule calls for Warmups, Driver Autograph session, another IMSA Fan Walk, track VIP Hot Laps, and some racing – Lamborghini’s second race, the feature Monterey SportsCar Championship Powered by McLaren race lasting 2 hours 40 minutes, followed by the second Porsche race. The IMSA race starts at 12:05 pm local time/3:05pm ET. This is the first time an IMSA race has been shown live on NBC TV.

ROOKIE REIGN!

Derek Kraus

Derek Kraus

TA2 driver, Derek Kraus, driving No.11 Shockwave Camaro won the Sonoma Raceway round of the Trans Am West Coast Series. The 17-year old, who actually had the fastest overall time in qualifying-1:38.183, had the pole position in the TA2 class, but was gridded fourth overall, in a split start, behind the top three TA cars for the start. Even with the split, the teenager ultimately worked his way to the lead which he held to the finish. Finishing second was TA driver and fellow Shockwave teammate, Chris Cook/No.15 Camaro.

Frank Emmett & Michelle Nagai

Frank Emmett & Michelle Nagai

The TA pole sitter, Michelle Nagai/No.72 Berkeley Jet Drive Inc. Corvette led the first lap, but experienced rear-end failure going into Turn One on Lap Two and was towed in. She was excited over her pole, but rueful that it was so short-lived. Frank Emmett, former owner of the car, came to watch. He said he was “proud of her and what’s she’s done. Finally, someone who can drive the car to its potential.” Emmett’s best lap time on this course was a 1:35.

TA West Coast points leader, Simon Gregg/No.59 Derhaag Motorsports Corvette, who gridded second, took the TA and overall lead. Kraus was “snookered” at the start, bested by Anthony Honeywell/No.76 TA2 Honeywell Competition Camaro. Kraus said “I waited for the green. We were three-wise going into Turn 1.” Soon after TA driver Michael Fine/No.66 AGS-Architectural Glass Systems Camaro lost brakes and pitted to retire. Fine had gridded at the back due to switching to his spare car, after missing practice and qualifying on Saturday due to two separate mechanical problems.

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai

Just prior to the Safety Car for Nagai, Kraus passed Honeywell and led for two laps, before Honeywell again repassed. Kraus retook the TA2 lead on Lap 7 and the overall lead on Lap 9, and never looked back. It was confusing to those watching, as Kraus’ transponder failed and he wasn’t being timed. Even the announcers had to scramble to sort it out. The race ran 38 laps, and short of its 70-minute limit.

Simon Gregg

Anthony Honeywell No.76 Camaro

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

Left to Right: Simon Gregg, Anthony Honeywell, and Michael Fine.

The race was electronically challenging. The track timing loops weren’t all functioning properly, one or more cars had no transponder signal, and the live T&S was never fully accurate during the race. The official results will be posted on the Trans Am website when available. The loops will all be replaced Wednesday before the big NASCAR weekend. The track is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Simon Gregg and Steve Goldman

Simon Gregg and Steve Goldman

Veteran Gregg won the TA class, finishing third overall, stretching his West Coast points lead. He was the only TA on course at the Checkered Flag, which was thrown earlier than the 40 laps/70 minutes limit. Finishing second in TA was Steve Goldman/No.13 LIG Racing Corvette, who pitted prior to the checkered as he had an oil line break and the oily tires scared him. At the start, Goldman was at the back of the grid by choice.

Chris Cook and Derek Kraus

Kraus won the TA2 class. Chris Cook, No.15 Shockwave Camaro, was second overall and in TA2 class. Cook had been Kraus’ driver coach when Kraus first came to the K&N Series three years ago. Like Anna sang in the musical, “If you become a teacher, by your pupils you’ll be taught.” That’s also when Kraus met David Smith, team owner of Shockwave. Cook has often coached NASCAR drivers, and has coached drivers for this upcoming NASCAR race, including the Penske drivers recently.

Michael Mihld, Derek Kraus and Chris Cook

Michael Mihld, Derek Kraus and Chris Cook

Third in TA2 was Michael Mihld/No.55 Michael Mihld Racing Camaro. Kraus said he “loves road courses” which is a good thing for a budding NASCAR driver. He’ll be putting that love and skill to good use next Saturday for the K&N Carneros 200 race at Sonoma Raceway, as part of the big NASCAR weekend. Kraus has been with Bill McAnally Racing for three years, and has already run two NASCAR truck races this year and two more are on the docket. He told PA announcer, Dave Vodden, that he plans to work his way up the NASCAR top tier to Cup racing.

Brad McAllister/No.24 www.PortlandImplantDentistry.com Mustang was fast, but a bit rambunctious; so he was penalized 40 seconds for several on-track incidents. He is credited with a seventh TA2 finish,

Roger Eagleton, Clark Nunes and Joe Bogetich

Roger Eagleton, Clark Nunes and Joe Bogetich

Clark Nunes/No.79 Premier Homes Camaro won the GT class, followed by Roger Eagleton/No.21 Five Star Property Management Company Mustang in second and Joe Bogetich/No.65 Westover Controls Camaro in third. Eagleton admitted he lured Nunes to the race by telling him if he got a better car, he’d win. Truer Words….Nunes said he had a perfect car, which needed no adjustments.

No.8 Crew Member and Oli Thordarson

No.8 Crew Member and Oli Thordarson

The SGT class added a second car Sunday morning – Carl Rydquist/No.8 Prototype Development Group FFR GTM. It is a kit car, and Rydquist, who originally hailed from Sweden before moving to Pleasanton CA, races it in the USTCC (United States Touring Car Championship) which is racing this weekend with NASA. Rydquist had the pole in that race, so he missed the Victory Circle ceremonies. He was gridded very last for the TA race, and ended up winning the SGT class, finishing fourth overall, right behind Gregg. Being a late entry in a brand new series brought some unexpected challenges, in addition to late entry fees. Rydquist had to change stickers and tires on his car, to run Trans Am. Easier said than done. Fortunately, with the help of the Flying Lizards race team which is based at the track, Rydquist was able to find Pirelli tires in the parking lot, and the crew swapped out the stickers. Second in SGT class was Oli Thordarson/No.22 Alvaka Networks Corvette – in the Shockwave stable.

The Shockwave stable came home with one first and two seconds.

Shockwave Stable

Shockwave Stable

ROOKIE RULES!

Derek Kraus

Derek Kraus

Young Derek Kraus of Wisconsin has the pole position for Sunday’s West Coast Round 4 of the Trans Am Series, presented by Pirelli at Sonoma Raceway, in his first-ever time in a Trans Am race car. His lap, which was for the TA2 class as well as overall, was 1:38.183. That time almost wasn’t recorded as the transponder in the No.11 Shockwave Camaro was intermittent. It had to be changed, during the qualifying session, as TA rules require that qualifying times all have to be through the same transponder system – they can’t be recorded manually. And this was the second change for the 17-year old driver Saturday afternoon, as he had to quickly change cars after the afternoon practice session as the engine blew in No.5 Shockwave Camaro. He’s a quick study.

Derek Kraus in No.5 Shockwave Camaro

Derek Kraus in No.5 Shockwave Camaro

Kraus was fastest in the afternoon practice with a lap of 1:38.389. That session had only ten cars. The high school senior is competing in his first Trans Am race, and it comes with help from Shockwave team owner, Dave Smith, who offered the ride to Kraus so he could get more track time in preparation for next weekend’s NASCAR K&N West Series race. Kraus is currently leading the points in that series, and also in the K&N East Series. Smith further offered his own race car to Kraus for qualifying, when the No.5 Camaro failed. The crew scrambled for sheets of foam for Kraus, who is about a foot shorter than Smith. There had been no time for a seat change. At this point, Kraus doesn’t know if he’ll stick with the padding or do a seat change for Sunday’s race. While the purpose is to get track time for NASCAR next week, Kraus said every seat he’s in he wants to win. so he’ll be trying for a Sunday victory.

Derek Kraus's qualifying Shockwave Camaro

Derek Kraus’s qualifying Shockwave Camaro

This is the first time Trans Am has raced at Sonoma Raceway since 2004, and this time there will be four classes – Trans Am West, TA2, GT and SGT. The TA class is the Trans Am we knew and loved back in the day. It’s back with 800 hp cars with no electronic driver aids. The TA2 Class is basically hot rod muscle cars, and the largest subscribed class within the series, as it is more affordable. GT is limited-preparation production street cars, the most affordable class within Trans Am. SGT is the Super GT class, with high end production cars with few limitations. They all run Pirelli tires. Their races are sprints, 70 minutes long or 100 miles in length, whichever comes first. The drivers this weekend come mainly from the West Coast, but as far flung as Florida, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai

Michelle Nagai No.72 Corvette

Michelle Nagai No.72 Corvette

Second on the grid, starting besides Kraus, will be Michelle Nagai of Loomis CA, who had the top time in the TA class, of 1:38.583, driving No.72 Berkeley Jet Drive, Inc Corvette. She was excited about her ‘first real pole’ in the car, which she bought this season from retiring driver, Frank Emmett. Nagai said she’s been working on tweaking it all year and especially this weekend, and she’s feeling more comfortable with the car. She said Emmett been helpful with the transition, and might come out Sunday for the race.

Trans Am points leader, Simon Gregg/No.59 Derhaag Motorsports Camaro was third fastest overall, at 1:38.713. The only other TA racing this weekend is Steve Goldman/No.13 LIG Racing Corvette, and he starts 4th overall.

Clark Nunes No.79 Camaro

Clark Nunes No.79 Camaro

The fastest GT car was Clark Nunes of San Jose CA with a time of 1:45.981 in No.79 Premier Homes Camaro. Oli Thordarson of Trabuco Canyon CA was the only SGT car, and his time was 1:46.306 in No.22 Corvette.

Several cars had transponder problems and fast Brad McAllister of Oregon was one in No.24 www.PortlandimplantDentistry.com Mustang. So he’ll plead his case with the Trans Am stewards.

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

Michael Fine No.66 Camaro

The qualifying weather was mild and sunny, 70 degrees F, with a brisk breeze. It had been cool (60F) and foggy for the morning 40-minute practice session. Morning practice was relatively uneventful, save TA driver Michael Fine/No.66 TAAGS-Arcitecture Glass Systms Chevrolet Camaro being towed in with a lot of smoke. His car remained in the garage for the afternoon sessions.

Roger Eagleton No.21 Mustang

Roger Eagleton No.21 Mustang

Anthony Honeywell/No.76 Honeywell Competition/TFB Perform Chevrolet Camaro was tops in the morning, at 1:38.216.He pipped Kraus at the last minute The top TA was Gregg, fourth overall. Roger Eagleton/No.21 Five Star Prop Mgmt/Energy Real Estate Ford Mustang was the top GT car. It was a last-minute substitution for Eagleton, who had been scheduled to drive No.98 Mustang. The lone SGT driver, Oli Thordarson/No.22 Chevrolet Camaro was seen on course, but had zero laps.

Local champion, Greg Pickett, had to withdraw prior to the event due to ongoing problems locating engine parts after his two earlier failures at Thunderhill earlier in the spring, forcing him to miss the rounds at Auto Club Speedway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Pickett is second on the all-time list of Trans Am starts. This leaves points leader Simon Gregg/No.59 without his strongest competitor. Gregg runs the entire Trans Am Series as well as the West Series. On the West Coast, he will be battling local drivers. Gregg originally hadn’t intended to run the full West Series, but after doing so well at first, he continued on and has now decided to go for the Championship. With Pickett absent, and Fine’s participation questionable, Gregg’s main competition will be Nagai.

Cameron Parsons No.83 Camaro

Cameron Parsons No.83 Camaro

Trans-Am qualifying was split into two groups – Three classes, TA/SGT/GT for the first 15 minutes, and the 13 TA2 cars for fifteen minutes. The TA2 session was cut short by a red flag for Cameron Parsons/No.83 Parsons Racing Camaro. He lost a suspension piece in Turn 7 and hit the wall hard in Turn 9. He is unhurt. Michele Abate/No.30 Grr Racing Chevrolet Camaro also had a throttle break coming out of Turn 11, and coasted towards the Starter stand. She said it could be fixed. The field pitted and then went out for their last five minutes. It’s unknown at this point if Parsons can repair the car. People had started arriving with parts, but it did look severe.

All the qualifying information is provisional, based on screen captures. The qualifying will be final Sunday morning.

Sidebar: The Trans Am Series is running with a NASA amateur event, and among the many entries in the multiple classes and events was a NASCAR driver – Current K&N West Driver, Hailee Deegan in a Miata. She’s won two races this season and currently is second in the standings, behind Kraus. They are teammates on the Bill Mcanally Race Team. No doubt she also is getting track time on the full road course prior to next week’s big NASCAR weekend which features the K&N Series West as well as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The track is going all out on a blowout event as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Another familiar name was Mike Bliss, who raced in all three top tier NASCAR Series, and was the 2002 Truck Series Champion. He’s racing his No.31 Legends car.

Sunday’s Trans Am race starts at 12:45 pm and will stream on MotorTrend TV.

SUNNY SWELTERING SONOMA SUNDAY

No.58 Wright Motorsports Pro Porsche 911

Pit Strategy paid off for Wright Motorsports Sunday noon and its Pro-Am team of Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove when they took their first win of the season at Sonoma Raceway in No.58 Porsche 911 GT3. When the pit window opened, Long was the first in the pits and co-driver Hargrove was first out, taking the lead from Wright teammates, Matt Campbell/Anthony Imperato in No.91 Pro-Am Porsche 911. Hargrove led the second half to take the Checkered Flag. The weather was in the mid nineties, but at least the smoke and haze from the Yolo County wild fires that enveloped the track Saturday afternoon had somewhat abated.

Dane Cameron & Memo Gidley

Dane Cameron and Memo Gidley

Also taking advantage of early in, early out were the Pro-Am teams, with Imperato & Campbell retaining their class lead, while relinquishing the overall lead. Moving up in class rank was Mike Hedlund, taking over for Dane Cameron in No.43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX. they moved into second place, ahead of GMG’s James Sofronas & Dirk Werner in No.14 Porsche 911.

Andy Lally/No.19 One11 Competition Pro-Am Porsche 911 didn’t make it past the exit of Turn 4 when he had an incident with Maxime Soulet/No.3 K-Pax Racing Pro Bentley Continental. Lally had to be retrieved from the corner, while Soulet continued. This brought out the first Safety Car for two laps, and a Steward’s Review post-race.

Guy Cosmo/No.31 TR3 Pro-Am Ferrari 488 pitted and retired after two laps.

No.19 One11 Competition Ferrari

Guy Cosmo & Patrick Byrne

No.3 K-Pax Racing Bentley

Left to Right: No.19 One11 Competition Pro-Am Ferrari; Guy Cosmo & Co-Driver Patrick Byrne; and No.3 Pro K-Pax Bentley Continental.

On Lap 6, Campbell set the fastest lap of 91.38 mph which held for the rest of the 48-lap race.

Two drivers drew drive-through penalties for passing during the Safety Car situation/on the restart: Kyle Marcelli/No.80 Pro-Am Racers Ed Motorsports Acura NSX and Alex Barron/No.38 KR2 Motorsports Pro-Am Porsche 911.

Caeser Bacarella/No.7 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 in the Am class brought out the Safety Car when he went off going into Turn 4. He got restarted, but the caution had already been called. Early on in the race, Bacarella’s teammate, Martin Fuentes, had turned the fastest Am lap of 88.69 mph.

The hardest hit of the race was David Askew/No.63 DXDT Racing Pro-Am Mercedes-AMG, spinning out and into the concrete wall on the drag strip going into Turn 7. This brought out the Safety Car yet again.

There was some nail biting racing which Werner hopes got caught on TV. He said there were three rows of two cars scraping mirrors going into Turn 6. He stuck his nose in there and took advantage. The RealTime Acura came home with doughnuts on the driver’s door, but Hargrove came second in class.

The podium winners for the Pro Class were Long & Hargrove in first, Saturday’s winners Toni Vilander & Miguel Molina second in No.61 R.Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 and K-Pax’s No.9 Bentley Continental with Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente. Vilander and Molina lead the Pro Standings with 148 points. Parente and Soucek are second in the standings, with 134 points. Long and Hargrove have 101 points for third place. With this being their last race of the weekend, many of the drivers had early flights and were faster out of the track or onto the choppers than they were on track.

Pro Class Podium

Left to Right: Andy Soucek, Alvaro Parente, Scott Hargrove, Wright Team Representative, and two team reps from R.Ferri Motorsports.

Hargrove credited their pit strategy to getting in front of the R.Ferri Ferrari as he didn’t think he could pass it on the track. He admits the strategy was different, leap-frogging in the pits, but it worked. It would have been even better if he hadn’t had trouble restarting the car. The track debris and marbles were a problem for him on the restart going into Turn 1. Tires were a key component for the team this weekend.

The Pro-Am podium winners were GMG Racing No.14 Porsche 911 with Sofronas and Werner, with RealTime’s Acura in second with Cameron and Hargrove, and Racers Edge’s No.80 Acura in third with Marcelli and Martin Barkey, despite their earlier drive-through penalty. Barkey and Marcelli lead the Pro-Am standings with 128 points.

Pro-Am podium winners

Left to Right: Anthony Imperato, James Sofronas, Dirk Werner, Dane Cameron and Mike Hedlund.

Sofronas said he really wanted to do this race, as he loves the Sonoma track. The pit stop was a bit of an issue for the team, as Sofronas admits he’s bigger than the other drivers; and it was a bit awkward during the driver change with him adjusting the belts. The cautions helped as it gave him time to work on the belts. He likes racing at Sonoma so much, he also ran in the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX race both days, coming in second in the Am class both days.

The GT cars sat on the pre grid in the hot, sweltering sun for more than a half hour. Some drivers took shelter in their pit shelters, while others were out talking to folks. Most of the cars had protective coverings to help cut the heat for the driver who took the first stint.

Patrick Long & Justin Bell

No.91 Wright Motorsports Porsche

Colin Braun and Team

Left to Right: Patrick Long & Justin Bell; covered-up No.91 Wright Motorsports Porsche; and Colin Braun and DXDT Racing Pro-Am team.

The next race for the series will be Rounds 9 & 10 over Labor Day weekend at Watkins Glen International.

No.34 Murillo Racing Mercedes

No.34 Murillo Racing Mercedes

In other Sunday races:
The Pirelli GT4 America SprintX race was won by Christian Szymczak and local driver Kenny Murrillo, overall and in the GT4 West ProAm category, driving No.34 Murrillo Racing Mercedes-AMG. They had also won on Saturday. In other classes, the winners were Preston Calvert and Matthew Keegan/No.51 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT in the GT4 SprintX Am class; Jarrett Andretti and Colin Mullan/No.36 Andretti Autosport McLaren 570S; and Jeff Burton and Vesko Kozarov/No.91 Reardon Racing Audi R8 LMS in the GT4 West WAm class.

The largest race entry, with 25 cars, was for TC America-TCR & TCA Classes. This race was for single drivers, no co-drivers. It was won overall and in the TCR class by Mason Filippi, another local driver, racing No.12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster. The TCR Cup class was won by Bryan Putt/No.15 eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing Audi Sport. Tyler Maxon/No.74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda Global MX5 Cup won the TCA class.

Ian James won the Pirelli GT4 America race over 20 other drivers including Spencer Pumpelly/No.66 TRG Porsche Cayman and Matt Brabham/No.20 CRP Racing Porsche Cayman. James drove No.50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano to win overall and in the Pro Class. Drew Stavely/No.12 Ian Lacey Racing Ford Mustang won the Am class.

In the TC America-TC Class race, Cameron Evans won in No.82 Copart/BimmerWorld Racing BMW M240iR Cup. All but one of the 12 drivers ran a similar car.

SPORTY SONOMA

Sporting a new name and format, the Pirelli World Challenge has evolved into the Blancpain GT World Challenge America. Rounds 7 & 8 are this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Nineteen bright and flashy GT sports cars are entered with many familiar names. Saturday they had qualifying, after two practice sessions on Friday. The qualifying was broken into two sessions, one for each of the two races – Saturday afternoon and Sunday noonish. After their qualifying they joined all the Blancpain drivers for a well-attended autograph session in the cool shade under the grandstands. It proved so popular, it ran 40 minutes past time.

This weekend Sonoma Raceway, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, ran a different configuration. It is 2.50 miles long, incorporating Turns 7, 8, 9 and the Bus Stop/chicane in Turn 10 plus long 11. This no-name configuration hasn’t been run in recent memory.

No.61 Pro Ferrari Blancpain GT

Miguel Molina of Spain had the pole for the first GT race Saturday afternoon, in No.61 Pro R Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3, with a lap of 1:37.310. He and teammate Toni Vilander of Finland kept their lead after their pit stop for driver change. Scott Hargrove/No.58 Wright Motorsports Pro Porsche 911 GT3 started second, but soon was passed for position by two Bentleys, Rodrigo Baptista/No.3 Pro and Andy Soucek/No.9 Pro. They ran together for the first half of the race. After the pit stops sorted out the order, it was again the Ferrari, with the two Bentley Continentals in second and third with drivers Maxime Soulet and Alvaro Parente. Vilander won the Pro Hard Charger Award for the fastest race lap of 90.70 mph.

Blancpain GT podium winners

Left to Right: Andy Soucek, Alvaro Parente, Toni Vilander, Miguel Molina, Rodrigo Baptista, and Maxime Soulet. Plus Happy Team Representatives with their Blancpain clock for top team.

In the Pro-Am category, Pole sitters Mike Hedlund/No.43 RealTime Racing Acura NSX started the race, with co-driver Dane Cameron finishing. The two are about as local as one can get, with Cameron growing up 15 miles from the track, and Hedlund hailing from Silicon Valley’s Redwood City. Cameron said he hasn’t raced at Sonoma Raceway for ten years, but back in the day when he worked for the Russell School, he ran every course configuration the track had. Hedlund also has many laps on the wine country circuit.

Blancpain Pro-Am Podium winners

Left to Right: James Sofronas, Dirk Werner, Dane Cameron, Mike Hedlund, Matt Campbell and Anthony Imperato.

Second and third in Pro-Am were Anthony Imperato and Matt Campbell in No.91 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3, and James Sofronas and Dirk Werner/No.14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3.

No.7 Squadra Corse Ferrari

No.7 Squadra Corse Ferrari

The lone entry in the Am category was Martin Fuentes and Caeser Bacarella in No.7 Ferrari 488 GT3. They finished 13th.

Toni Vilander & Miguel Molina

Toni Vilander & Miguel Molina

This was the first time for R.Ferri Motorsport at Sonoma Raceway, for the team and for the drivers, so they had no experience with the track. They also had a fill-in engineer as their regular European engineer had family business back home. Vilander said the Ferrari handled well in the corners, whereas some of the other cars had more power on the straights. Despite the track surface, the Ferrari drivers were able to manage the tire degradation fairly well. Vilander said that qualifying was important, and their car has had no reliability issues so far. They see little improvements with each race.

Dane Cameron and Mike Hedlund

Dane Cameron and Mike Hedlund

Cameron said they were able to keep their lead after the pit stop, and then stretch it out. They also were able to manage the tire degredation. Team Owner P.D. Cunningham was on hand for the celebration. No one knows just how many victories this makes for his long-running RealTime team. Something to check.

While the GT Series is international with all foreign manufacturers, 23 of the 38 drivers are American, with another five coming from North America. Other countries represented are Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Portugal and Spain.

One11 Competition Pro-Am Ferrari

Dane Cameron & Son autographing posters

Ferrari GT steering wheel

Left to Right: One11 Competition Pro-Am Ferrari during pit stop; Dane Cameron & son signing posters; and GT Ferrari steering wheel.

The TC Class race Saturday afternoon was uneventful, with the 12 cars mostly parading around the road course. These sprint races have single drivers with no scheduled pit stops. Pole sitter Johan Schwartz/No.80 Rooster Hall Racing BMW M240IR Cup won the 40-minute race, leading flag to flag. Second and third were Teammate Steve Streimer/No.81 BMW, and Robert Nimkoff/No.20 Auto Technic Racing BMW M240IR Cup. The only incident was with third-place Toby Grahovec/No.26 Classic BMW BMW M240IR Cup came together in Turn 7 with Shaun Webster/No.31 Hard Motorsport BMW M235IR Cup. Webster spun but both cars continued.

EYE CANDY COURTESY THE BENTLEY BOYS
1951 Bentley

Black Bentley

1935 Bentley

Left to Right in Bentley Corral: 1951 Bentley; Black Bentley; and 1935 Bentley.