For Immediate Release May 19, 1997 Smokin' Buckeye captures victory at Southern National Speedway Kenly, North Carolina - The Ohio State University Formula Lightning electric race team extended its points lead in...
For Immediate Release May 19, 1997
Smokin' Buckeye captures victory at Southern National Speedway
Kenly, North Carolina - The Ohio State University Formula Lightning electric race team extended its points lead in the ABB University Spec Series with victories in the heat and feature races on Saturday, May 17, at Southern National Speedway. The University of Oklahoma took the pole position for Saturday's heat race with a surprising lap at the end of Friday's qualifying session. During that run, Oklahoma used a brake caliper borrowed from the Smokin' Buckeye to replace the one that they broke earlier in the day. West Virginia University also benefited from some OSU spare parts after their driver spun, and bumped the wall during practice, causing minor left front suspension damage.
Saturday's heat race began with Ohio State driver Craig Taylor taking advantage of his starting position on the outside of row one on the .4 mile oval. Taylor made a spectacular move on the outside of Oklahoma driver Richard Harrison at turn one on the first lap. The battle for the lead was always close, with Taylor holding a slight advantage. On lap 10 of 20, Harrison made an unexpected dive into the pits for fresh batteries, in hopes of the OSU car slowing due to a no pit stop strategy. After rejoining the race, Harrison pushed hard while trying to catch up. On lap 13, the Oklahoma car went high in turn two and struck the outside wall with the right side of the car. As a result, the car spun down the backstretch, and came to rest against the inside wall. Harrison escaped without injury, but was very disappointed. Following the red flag period to clean-up the accident, Craig Taylor easily led the remaining laps to the checkered flag.
During the three hour gap between heat and feature races, the Smokin' Buckeye crew once again aided Oklahoma in repairing their vehicle. A heroic effort was made by the Oklahoma crew to fix the substantial damage to the car in hopes of running the feature race, albeit at reduced pace. Oklahoma succeeded in making the vehicle operable by the time that the field was ready to roll off of the grid for the start of the feature race. Taylor once again timed the start perfectly and took advantage of his pole position to gain the lead at the green flag. During the race, the Ohio State car consistently gained a small advantage each lap over IUPUI and the rest of the field. Around the halfway point of the 40 lap race, The Ohio State University pit crew made a spectacular 21 second battery change, which further increased the lead. A slower pit stop for IUPUI allowed Taylor to once again cruise to victory with an eventual two-lap advantage over second and third place finishers IUPUI and Bowling Green State University, respectively.
Following the weekend's activities, Taylor was very pleased with the results. He called it the best car that he has ever had on an oval. A number of changes were made following Friday's qualifying session and once again between Saturday's races. "It is a continuing educational process with the team and car. That is what Formula Lightning is intended to do. One subtle change made a dramatic improvement in the handling of the car," said Taylor. The next race for the team will be the Cleveland Formula Classic on July 10-13, held in conjunction with the PPG CART World Series Grand Prix of Cleveland.
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