Hutto scores first USTCC win in Portland. RICHMOND, CA- The second round of the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) traveled north to Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR. Fighting off numerous challenges for the lead, Gary...
Hutto scores first USTCC win in Portland.
RICHMOND, CA- The second round of the United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) traveled north to Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR. Fighting off numerous challenges for the lead, Gary Hutto driving the Global Motorsports Group/Hutto Motorsports/Intrax BMW 328i took his first career USTCC victory.
Weather is always a factor when the USTCC teams travel to the Pacific Northwest. This weekend however, the skies stayed dry and beautiful for this exciting round of the USTCC. The teams would have two qualifying sessions to determine the field. The top three cars in first round qualifying were all within a second of each other. Leading the way was Hutto in his BMW followed by Neil Vanni's Hopkins Honda Performance Parts Civic, and Ben Ho in his Autotronics Honda Civic. A couple of drivers moved up during second round qualifying including Thomas Lepper's Impact Engineering/H&R Springs Honda Accord into third on the grid and David Lang's Miracle Auto Painting-Napa/Pier Market-SF Honda Prelude into the fourth spot. The top five were set with Hutto leading the way. Followed by Vanni, Lepper, Lang and Phil Malgren's Collision Craft Acura Integra Type-R to round out the top five. Due to the regulations at the track, the USTCC drivers were unable to have a standing start. For this race in Portland, the drivers would have a rolling start. At the start Vanni got around Hutto to lead the first lap, also getting a good start, Lang moved into third with Lepper following. Close behind was Ali Arsham in the Gogogear.com/Miracle Auto Napa/Specialty Products Honda Civic. Having motor problems all weekend Jeff Lepper driving the ModernPerformance.com Dodge Neon pulled into the pits after taking the green, he was done for the day. On lap two going into turn one, Tom Lepper in his Accord was trying to make a move on Lang and outbraked himself going off track. He was able to continue and get going again but moved back to ninth right behind Tom Pitre's Gogogear.com Acura Integra. After having electrical problems all weekend, Gary Sheehan's Subaru of America/Stoptech/Serious Auto WRX was moving up through the field fast. Within a couple of laps he was right behind Lang and Ho fighting for third. He soon got past Lang and set his sights on Ho. Going into turn nine, Ho got loose and made a great save, but lost third place. Vanni was still leading the way when Hutto's BMW got a run on Vanni's Civic and was able to get around Vanni for the lead.
Further back a great race was going on between Albert Betesfandiar's Al's Body Shop Mazda 626, Lepper's Accord and Malgren's Integra. Lepper was still playing catch up from his earlier off track adventures, and was able to get by both drivers and continue his charge to the front. Malgren later retired with a broken camshaft
The lead pack of four had broken away from the rest of the field with Hutto extending his lead. Sheehan's WRX was getting better and better and was soon pressuring Vanni for second. Sheehan was able to get under Vanni in turn nine. It was a long drag race down the front straight. The Civic had the horsepower on the WRX, and was able to make it past Sheehan going into turn one. Vanni was having brake problems so Sheehan was able to get around Vanni in the tight turn 2,3, and 4 corners. Still every lap Vanni was able to pass Sheehan at the end of the long straight, with Sheehan's WRX, the better handling car, able to fight back to keep second place. With the leaders battling up front, Lang was able to close the distance between the top three and himself. It was all for naught when Lang developed a mechanical problem, yet another lost CV joint and pulled in, done for the day.
At the finish it was Gary Hutto in the Global Motorsports Group/ Hutto Motorsports /Intrax BMW 328i taking the checkered flag. Gary Sheehan's Subaru of America/ Stoptech/ Serious Auto/ Kartboy.com WRX was second with Neil Vanni's Hopkins Honda Performance Parts Civic taking third. Rounding out the top five was Thomas Lepper in the Impact Engineering/ H&R Springs Honda Accord battling back for fourth over Ali Arsham's Gogogear.com/ Miracle Auto Painting-Napa/ Specialty Products Honda Civic.
The USTCC teams next traverse rivers, mountains and airport security on the long haul to Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, West Virginia on June 22nd and 23rd.