May 162012

With 16 cars entered for the weekend, everyone was looking to make an impact right out of the gate.  Qualifying for the first race had the top 7 drivers all within 1.5 seconds of each other.  There was no surprise on the front row, with Michael Iamundi starting on pole with teammate Phil Wang beside him.

Right off the start of race 1 saw a 7 car breakaway with Iamundi, Wang, Spencer Todd, Andrew Waring, Andrew McMurray, Steve Bamford, and Kevin Kapelke.  Not far behind the lead group would be a strong second group consisting of Bill Mitchell, Kevin Deevey, Noel Brigido, David Taylor, and rookie driver Reid Arnold.  Rookie Matt Garwood and Frank O’Hanlon would have a spirited battle all race long as the third grouping, with Rob Murray bringing in the rear of the field.

The lead pack saw lots of passing and lots of very fast laps.  Phil Wang reset the lap record on the current Falken spec tires at 1:41.9. Arnold and Taylor would both be forced out of the race early with engine issues.  Bill Mitchell also fall to mechanical problems with just two laps remaining.  In the final lap, Wang would start the lap in the lead, with Iamundi and McMurray close behind.  McMurray would get the best jump out of 5, passing and holding off the teammates until the finish line, taking the win.  Iamundi would follow close behind for 2nd, with Wang in 3rd, Todd 4th, and Bamford rounding out the top 5.  Deevey would take the win in Master’s class, and Garwood finishing as top rookie.

Race 2 saw much of the same up front, with the same 7 drivers swapping positions through the entire race.  Adding into the second group is Steve Legate.  Rookies Garwood and Arnold would find each other, trading positions nearly every lap through the race.  The lead group became shuffled around slightly after Bamford and Todd came into contact with each other, and Todd had to retire with a brake failure.  The top three of McMurray, Iamundi, and Wang would get away, and end up finishing in that order, mimicking the first race.  Bamford would hold off Kapelke and Waring for the 4th spot.  Mitchell would work his way through the pack to take the 7th overall and 1st in Masters.  Arnold would end up inching out Garwood for top ranked rookie.

Race 3 began with the lead four cars of McMurray, Iamundi, Wang, and Bamford quickly built a 5 second lead over the following cars of Todd, Waring, and Kapelke.  The second pack would work very well together, and slowly close the gap on the leaders by the end of the race.  Iamundi came into engine problems two laps from the finish and force him to retire. Bamford  found some final lap speed coming out of 5, and would take the lead into 8 and hold off the contenders for the win.  Wang, McMurray, Todd, and Waring rounded out the top 5.  Mitchell would again take the masters win after Deevey had a final lap accident exiting turn 3.  Arnold would again take the top rookie spot.

Looking into Round 2 at Shannonville, McMurray (278) has a healthy lead over Wang (244), with Bamford (234), Iamundi (204), and Waring (184) following.  Mitchell (278) is closely followed by Deevey (266) in Masters.  Garwood (118) takes an early lead in Rookie points over Arnold (80).