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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.