SCC: VIR Planet Earth review

Gator Mitchell, in only his sixth race ever, professional or amateur, captured the victory in the C2K class as he was teamed up with C2K points leader Will Nonnamaker</A>. Test Day The USFilter Planet Earth Motorsports effort took...

Gator Mitchell, in only his sixth race ever, professional or amateur, captured the victory in the C2K class as he was teamed up with C2K points leader Will Nonnamaker</A>.

Test Day The USFilter Planet Earth Motorsports effort took advantage of the pre-race test day to fine-tune drivers to the full Virginia International Raceway (VIR) course. The team had ran the North Course of VIR last fall, but the full course provided some new challenges. In the afternoon session of test day, the Virginia weather brought rain, and the team utilized the wet track to further fine tune their rain set up in the Comptech Sport</A> Acura</A> Integra GS-Rs.

Qualifying Qualifying saw Wayne Nonnamaker</A> grab the pole in the #43 Orangefield Citrus by over a second over the nearest competitor. For "Gator" Mitchell the Virginia race marked his third race with the USFilter Planet Earth Motorsports effort, and only his sixth race ever. Mitchell put the #42 Orison</A> Acura</A> Integra GS-R in fifth place on the grid.

The Race Making it through the first lap in the Virginia International Raceway three hour enduro was a challenge in itself. A spin by a Saleen SR in the high speed esses left him stranded on the track in the middle of oncoming traffic. Two thirds away around the track, a Ford Mustang left the racing surface, bounded over the tire wall, and ended up in the trees. Thankfully the driver was unhurt.

By the time the race went green again, the #43 Orangefield Citrus Acura</A> Integra started by Wayne Nonnamaker</A> began to open up a lead over its competitors. By lap twenty, the gap back to second place had opened up to a 20 second gap, and it looked like the #43 Integra was on its way to its first win.

Unfortunately on lap 24, the Integra caught fire under the hood. Nonnamaker escaped unhurt, but dejected after losing such a strong lead.

The yellow flag condition caused by the #43 catching fire allowed C2K points leader, Will Nonnamaker</A> to take over the controls of the #42 Orison</A> Integra being driven by Mitchell. Mitchell had been running in fourth place, closely following the two factory Honda Civics.

Nonnamaker came out of the pits in third place with almost two hours of racing remaining in the three hour endurance event. For the next hour of the race, Nonnamaker had a spirited battle with ex Indy 500 driver, Pete Halsmer, in the HART #69 Honda Civic Si.

On lap 55, the USFilter Planet Earth Motorsports effort caught a lucky break as the #69 suffered a driveshaft failure while leading Nonnamaker by less than five seconds. Nonnamaker now had a lap lead over the second place car, and he safely brought the car home for the teams' fourth win this season.

For Gator Mitchell, this marked his first win in only his sixth race ever. For Will Nonnamaker</A>, it was his fourth win this season, and his sixth in his career. The win, coupled with Halsmer's fifth place result, put Nonnamaker eleven points ahead in the Driver's Championship.

The win was also the third win in a row for the #42 Orison</A> Marketing LLC Acura </A> Integra GS-R. The two previous wins had come at the hands of Will Nonnamaker</A> and Mike Fitzgerald</A>.

The next race for the team is this weekend's three hour endurance race at Road America.

-<A HREF="http://www.theracesite.com/">TheRaceSite.com

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Pete Halsmer
Teams HART