McQuarrie Wins Big at Thunderhill Claims '99 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro-Series Title Willows, CA -- Tyler McQuarrie captured the 1999 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro-Series Championship by winning the final race of the series at Thunderhill...
McQuarrie Wins Big at Thunderhill Claims '99 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro-Series Title
Willows, CA -- Tyler McQuarrie captured the 1999 Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro-Series Championship by winning the final race of the series at Thunderhill Park Raceway on September 25th. Starting from the pole, McQuarrie from Walnut Creek, Calif. led every lap of the 19-lap race in his Jim Russell-sponsored car winning by 2.289 over second place finisher, Timothy Barber of San Francisco, Calif. in the Sunset Garages Formula Russell car. Dave McEntee of Novato, Calif. finished a close third in the Edaten.com sponsored machine.
"Winning the Triple Crown Championship means a great deal to me after struggling to stay in the top ten this year racing a Formula Vauxhall in England," said the '98 USAC Formula Russell Champion. "My goal was to take my prize of a sponsored ride in this series and parlay that into more racing next year either here in the U.S. or back in Europe. This professional title along with last years amateur title should make my goal to continue racing a little easier." McQuarrie plans to use his prize of a full day of testing with a top US F2000 team, courtesy of series sponsor Yokohama Tire, to impress some prospective sponsors for next season.
Winning the Triple Crown was by no means a cakewalk for McQuarrie. Nathan Smith of Escalon, Calif. was ahead of McQuarrie by two points going into the third and final round. Each driver had a win and a second place finish -- McQuarrie won the first race at the NASCAR event at Sears Point in June, Smith won the second race, also at Sears Point during the American Le Mans Series weekend in July. Smith's two-point advantage was gained by besting McQuarrie's fastest lap for the pole in each of those races. To win the championship, Smith just needed to finish ahead of McQuarrie.
During practice, McQuarrie was the quickest driver in every session. Smith used every practice session to learn the hilly 3.0 mile track and improve the chassis setup. When it came to qualifying, McQuarrie easily captured the pole, eclipsing the lap record he set the year before by 1.17 seconds with a 1:50.852, 1.651 seconds ahead of Barber. Up until the last few moments of qualifying it was McQuarrie and Smith on the front row. But Barber caught a draft on his final lap stealing the outside front row berth from Smith by .189 seconds.
At the start, McQuarrie, Barber, and Smith pulled away while McEntee slipped to fifth in the first corner. Smith got by Barber on the second lap and charged after McQuarrie who had 3.5 second insurance margin over the rest of the field. Smith reeled in McQuarrie to within two seconds. His only hope to get ahead was for McQuarrie to make a mistake, or have a yellow flag come out to bunch up the field and pass McQuarrie on the restart. On the lap 14, the track went full course yellow, unfortunately, it was because Smith's right front wheel parted company with his Nelson Staffing Solutions/Gogdill & Giomi-sponsored car. Smith watched the rest of the race from the Turn 2 flag stand -- his championship hopes dashed by a broken wheel center.
"It was disappointing not to finish the race for my sponsors Nelson Staffing Solutions and Gogdill/Giomi, but I'm happy with my win and second place finish in the first two races," said Smith. "Tyler drove a great race and we had some fantastic battles together during both races at Sears Point." Smith's two pole points and two podium finishes gave him a total of 40 and second in the championship.
With Smith out of the race, that left Barber and McEntee to fight for the two other podium places -- the driver that finished ahead would also make the top three in the overall standings. After clearing Smith's car from the track, the green and white flags were waved on lap 18 and the two drivers hammered each other for one final circuit of the twisty road course. "Unfortunately, I bobbled the exit going onto the long straight when the green came out again and that gave Tim a little advantage," said McEntee who finished third. "I caught back up to him by Turn 6 and pressed him hard the rest of the way looking for the slightest opening to make a move." At the checkered flag it was Barber ahead of McEntee by less than a car length.
Barber, a former kart champion and the youngest driver in the field at only 17, knew that he had to keep McEntee behind him for a chance at third in the final standings. "I just focused on the road ahead and didn't let up until I saw the checker," said Barber. His second-place finish gave him a three point advantage over McEntee and third in the championship. Rounding out the top five of the race were Rafael Navarro of Concord, Calif., and David Farley of Yorba Linda, Calif. in the zcurve.com car. Chris Pettet of Napa, Calif. who was third in the standings going into the Thunderhill event ended up fifth in the series points because he retired in the early stages of the race with a broken gearbox.
Russell/USAC Triple Crown Pro-Series presented by Yokohama Tires Race Results Thunderhill Raceway Round 3 of 3
Pos Driver/Home town Sponsor pts 1 Tyler McQuarrie, Walnut Creek, CA Jim Russell Racing School 20 2 Timothy Barber, San Francisco, CA Sunset Garages 15 3 Dave McEntee, Novato, CA Edaten.com 12 4 Rafael Navarro, Concord, CA 10 5 David Farley, Yorba Linda, CA zcurve.com 8 6 Jeff Oppenheim, Sulphur Springs, TX 6 7 Ken Snyder, San Andres, CA Robert Quinn Associates 4 8 Nathan Smith, Escalon, CA Nelson Staffing/Gogdill Giomi 3* 9 Chris Pettet, Napa, CA Platinum Autobody DNF**
*out lap 14, broken wheel ** out lap 5, broken gearbox
1. Tyler McQuarrie 56 11. Bob Hagerty 5 2. Nathan Smith 40 12. Ken Snyder 4 3. Timothy Barber 31 13. Patrick McDowell 1 4. Dave McEntee 28 Chris Miller 1 5. Chris Pettet 24 15. Charles Marovic 0 6 David Farley 13 Ric Rushton 0 7. Toshi Kanamoto 12 Todd Clark 0 8. Jeff Oppenheim 10 Rafael Navarro 10 10. Warren Washer 8