Unexpected winner welcomes return to racing in Spec Miata class
Richard Spaeth capitalizes on mistake from previous race winner
After months away from the track due to the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers returned full force to Atlanta Motorsports Park on Saturday with one of the largest entry fields in recent memory.
Fifteen drivers took the green flag in the Spec Miata class with Bill Miller leading the field to the line. Miller’s lead was short-lived as Jose Garcia took over the lead on Lap 2 and after starting in seventh position, Jason Bergstrom had quickly made his way up to second on Lap 3.
The battle between Garcia and Bergstrom was fierce. Over the next two laps, Bergstrom was all over the bumper of Garcia just itching for an opportunity to pass. The two were racing side-by-side on Lap 6 until Bergstrom was finally able to make the pass for the lead that had been three laps in the making.
Once past Garcia, Bergstrom started to pull away. The lead quickly grew to two seconds and by the time the checkered flag waved, the winning margin for Bergstrom was six seconds over Garcia with Keith Williamson finishing in third place.
After Race 1 saw the usual frontrunners pace the field, Race 2 turned into a five-man race with Steve Kaney and Richard Spaeth joining the party.
Bergstrom started the second race in position to sweep the race day as he has done several times before, but the veteran made an uncharacteristic mistake heading into Turn 1 on Lap 3. The Race 1 winner was late on the brakes forcing his Mazda Miata to run wide allowing Spaeth, Kaney, Garcia and Williamson to all drive under the No. 12 car and in one turn Bergstrom went from first to fifth.
The new running order would remain the same until a pair of passes were made in Turn 6 on Lap 7 with Garcia getting around Kaney for second place and Bergstrom doing the same to Williamson for fourth. The pack of five cars lead by Spaeth had created separation on the field but could not create much separation from each other as it looked like it would all come down to an exciting finish.
That finish came prematurely, however, as Keegan Hall spun out in Turn 10 on Lap 10. Hall had been making moves all race zipping his Legends car around almost every driver in the field but the open class entrant’s untimely spin late in the contest caused the race to finish under yellow with Spaeth as the winner followed by Garcia’s second runner-up finish of the day. Kaney ended in third place with Bergstrom, unable to recover much from his earlier mistake, finishing fourth and Williamson fifth.
John Mcaleer laps the field in Downforce class
John Mcaleer was in a class of his own both figuratively and literally as he drove his DP02 car to a pair of dominating victories over the field of Radicals. Mcaleer lapped the field in Race 2 and the only thing that prevented him from doing the same in Race 1 was a full course caution which shortened the 20-minute race by a couple laps after Tim Stafford spun out early in Turn 6.
The Radical portion of the Downforce class was a close contest between a trio of drivers. John Pearson, Noah Ping and Nicholas Pearson finished Race 1 in that order while Race 2 started with Nicholas Pearson in second place ahead of Ping and John Pearson.
The three Radical SR3 drivers were locked in a close contest the first half of Race 2 albeit with no changes in the running order. That is until Lap 6 when John Pearson made his move or more accurately moves. First was the move past Ping in Turn 6 and then around Nicholas Pearson in the carousel on the following lap to move John Pearson up from fourth into second place over the span of less than a lap.
John Pearson would remain in second place for consecutive runner-up finishes on the day while Ping would make his move around Nicholas Pearson in the carousel on Lap 9. The trio would finish in the same order as they did in Race 1 although Nicholas Pearson almost made it back around Ping finishing side-by-side as the two crossed the finish line.
Ty Young dominates busy Spec E30 class lineup
Twelve Spec E30 class entries took the track on Saturday joining the 15 Spec Miatas and one Legends car to fill the Atlanta Motorsports Park course. Despite 28 cars sharing the track, Ty Young left little doubt as to who was the cream of the Spec E30 crop.
Young had two dominating drives but the action behind the winner saw some variety. In Race 1 it was Jack Stanford who finished runner-up while in Race 2 it was Jeff Tyrrell and newcomer Daniel Vallejo who finished on the podium behind last year’s Spec E30 series champion.[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”24″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]