USTCC: Annual karting challenge notes

Arsham wins Annual Karting Challenge among USTCC Teams. May 3, 2003. Portland, Oregon -- An annual tradition has been developing in the US Touring Car Championship (USTCC) series. At the Portland round, the teams like to visit their favorite ...

Arsham wins Annual Karting Challenge among USTCC Teams.

May 3, 2003. Portland, Oregon -- An annual tradition has been developing in the US Touring Car Championship (USTCC) series. At the Portland round, the teams like to visit their favorite indoor karting facility at Hot Track Karting located about 10 minutes from the facility. This is where the drivers get to race each other with equal equipment. This is also where often the crew members beat their drivers. And of course when you get a bunch of race drivers together, even when it is just for fun, the intensity level goes in the red. The format was simple. Everyone would get a qualifying session. The top 50% would move to the Main race. The bottom 50% would race in the B-Main with the winner advancing to the Main race.

The top qualifying spot went to one of the crew members, Joel Gast. Joel is the Crew Chief on Gary Sheehan's Subaru WRX. Joel managed to beat out his driver handily by a good half second. Second was Anthony Vanni, co driver of the Honda Accord of the Eagle Awards team. Third was Andrew Gillis who drives the Ford Focus and is one of the top rookies in the series. Others who made it to the Main race were Neil Vanni, Gary Sheehan, Emmett McKnight, Ali Arsham, and Race Director and Spec Miata driver Dave Balingit. The entrants in the B Main were in order, Phil Malgren, Scott Vanni, Charles Fernandes, Ramsey McKnight, Tom Lepper, Morgan Gillis, Patrick Sharp, Chris Drysdale, and Becky Arsham.

First to race was the B Main and there was a lot of action as you might expect. Finishing in first place and taking the free ride into the Main race was Chris Drysdale, one of the crew members of the Andrew Gillis Ford Focus team. Chris turned a blistering lap time of 28.74 on the way to the win. Second was Ramsey McKnight with a fast time of 29.14. Finishing third was Scott Vanni.

The highly anticipated Main race was next. You just knew that there were some very aggressive drivers in this group. The start even featured Andrew Gillis grabbing the kart of Anthony Vanni to slow him down. At the first turn, there was plenty of contact and there were at least three karts who ended up in the tire wall. By lap 1 the order had shuffled and Gast was leading with a good margin. By the middle of the race, the pace had settled and Gast was still leading with Ali Arsham second and Gary Sheehan third. Sheehan was in pursuit mode and set the fastest lap of the night with a 27.93 lap as he caught and passed Arsham for second. Then he set his sights on Gast. Sheehan made a pass under braking but squeezed Gast in the process which spun Gast. By the time Gast got going, Arsham and Anthony Vanni had sneaked by. Now it was Sheehan, Arsham, A. Vanni, and Gast. With only seven laps to go, Sheehan's kart possibly due to the hit on Gast started sputtering. That was all Arsham needed as he passed the helpless Sheehan. A. Vanni also made the move and in an instant, Sheehan went from first to third. Sheehan was not done as he turned up the wick and set his fastest time trying to reclaim the lead. But time was running out and at the checkered flag Ali Arsham took the win with Anthony Vanni in second and Gary Sheehan in third. These drivers can talk smack for one whole year until we can redo the entire process once again.

-ustcc-

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Series General
Drivers Neil Vanni , Ali Arsham , Gary Sheehan , Phil Malgren , Andrew Gillis