I woke up excited for day two of the Pirelli World Challenge and NASCAR Nationwide, but came to a quick halt when I looked outside my hotel window. It was pouring down rain, and was so foggy I couldn’t see past 40 yards out my window. I immediately knew it would be a very interesting day. Day two was scheduled to be practice, qualifying and race day for the Pirelli World Challenge. After that, the NASCAR Nationwide participants would be hitting the track for the first of two sessions before race day on Sunday the 21st.
Thanks to the weather (and luckily thinking ahead to grab some rain gear), I arrived at Road America wearing a full rain suit and had prepped the camera for a wet day. As I was walking through the NASCAR pit lane, I could see that all crew members were hustling trying to get the cars ready to pass through inspection. It was impressive to see how hard these guys worked in these less than ideal conditions.
The track opened a couple of times for testing while the rain was falling, but for the most part, it was closed down due to the sheer amount of water on the track. Many teams were forced to just wait it out to hear what the decision would be when made by track officials. After what seemed like most of the day, I heard some roaring in the distance and then was told the track would open up for practicing in the rain. While a few teams took advantage and went out to test out the wet track, most opted to stay dry and wait it out.
With no end to the rain in sight, the qualifying races were canceled and the vehicles were slated to race at using their current point standings. Immediately, there was a massive accident involving #0 Marcelo Hahn in his Lamborghini Gallardo FL2. He ran off to the left of the track in the wet grass where he lost control and ran head on into the wall. While a lot of cars ran off into the wet grassy area, all but Hahn were able to get back on the track. The Lamborghini suffered massive amount of damages, but Hahn was ok and was able to limp the car back to the pits where the crew immediately started to take it apart and determine the full extent of the damages.
The constant throughout the races was the battle for traction. Several cars lost control and had accidents, though some worse than others. Roush Performance driver #60 Jack Roush Jr had solid impact with #50 Dean Martin, both in Ford Mustangs. Both were able to continue, but #60 had a good amount of damage that limited his performance. Both Dean and Jack finished the race at 6th and 15th place, respectively, in the GTS Class. Kia Racing dominated the class by taking 1 and 2 on the podium with #36 Nic Jonsson and #38 Mark Wilkins in the Kia Optima. Coming in 3rd was #20 Andy Lee from Crown Racing in his Chevy Camaro.
In the GT class, #2 Mike Skeen from Hawk Performance took the checkered flag with his Audi R8, followed by #6 Robert Thorne with K-Pax Racing in his McLaren in second, and #31 Tim Bergmeister from Effort Racing in his Porsche GT3r rounding out the top three. Such a battle in the class, and I have to give an honorable mention to Team Dyson Racing for the 6th place finish in its first race in North America with #8 Butch Leitzinger in the beautiful Bentley Continental GT3.
In the GT-A Class, #54 Tim Pappas from Black Swan Racing took first place in his Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, coming in 2nd was #95 Bill Ziegler from Swisher Racing in his Audi R8 Ultra, and in 3rd #99 Jeff Courtney, a local driver from Milwaukee, WI racing with Kenda Racing in his Audi R8 Ultra.
The TC, TCA & TCB classes raced during the heavy rain showers. All drivers battled their way throughout the track and taking the checkered flag in the TC class was #94 Steven Doherty with his Nissan Altima, #71 Michael Dimeo with Grand Alarms came in 2nd with his Honda Civic SI, and coming in 3rd was #11 Adam Poland with Eastex Motorsports in his Mazda MX-5. In the TCA class, #67 Shea Holbrook with her Radium Honda Civic SI took top honors followed by #98 Ernie Francis with Breathless Performance Mazda MX-5 and #13 Jason Cherry with his Autism Society of America Mazda MX-5. And finally, in the TCB class, #65 Paul Holton with his Radium Honda Fit took first place, followed with #58 Glenn Nixon with Racing.CA Mini Cooper and #37 Tuler Palmer with Mini USA Mini Cooper. Congratulations to all for their incredible driving in this wet track.
Near the end of the day, the NASCAR Nationwide cars were able to get on the track to practice. Many took the time to tune and make proper adjustments for race day. It was a VERY difficult practice session since although it hasn’t rained for few hours, there was still a lot of moisture on the track. All were competitive and aggressive despite the wet conditions, as track time is very important when it comes to race time. Watching the practice got me really excited to see how the race would play out the next day. The weather for Sunday called for 80 degrees and sunny blue skies. All drivers were sure to enjoy the warmer and drier weather.