Saturday’s qualifying session saw the fastest lap times of the weekend by any Spec E30 driver. At the top of the list was Steve Stepanian posting the fastest lap of the weekend with a 2:09.905, and claiming pole for Saturday’s race. Only a half second behind was Matthew Theimann, who has been out of his car for a little over a year. Larry Fraser and Steve Agoston rounded out the top four with times that were .017 seconds apart at 2:10:338 and 2:10:345, respectively. Not to be outdone, Michael Mihld and Charles Buzzetti in fifth and sixth also were .01 seconds apart on and only .2 seconds of a second off Mihld and Fraser.
In the middle of California’s Central Valley lies Buttonwillow Raceway, a technical circuit with 16 different race configurations and the option to run clockwise or counterclockwise. With so many options, it’s possible to run the same track several times a season and still experience new challenges.
Now that officials have revealed which configurations we’ll be running at the Western States Championships in October — No. 1 and No. 25 counterclockwise — we can offer NASA members a tutorial on how to get around the track as fast as possible. Fortunately for those racers coming from another NASA region, these two configurations are rarely used. That means there won’t be much home-field advantage for Southern California racers.
The bump draft giveth and the bump draft taketh away, and that was true at Auto Club Speedway in May. Brett Becker took advantage of it and snared his first pole position for Saturday’s race. Ryan Pond was second and Steven Champlin qualified third.
Becker led the first three laps, but Pond pushed Champlin around him to take the lead as the trio headed into the infield. Pond also sneaked around Becker into Turn 13.
A lap later, Pond bobbled in Turn 6 and Becker slipped underneath to retake the lead, then had difficulties in Turn 13 when he had to cut the corner to keep the car under control. Pond and Champlin teamed up to draft past Becker in Turn 2 of the last lap. That put Pond in first, Champlin in second and Becker in third.