Jim Rainey overcame the jinx of leading on the last lap to post his second career ProVee win Feb. 15 at Texas World Speedway in College Station. His other ProVee win came last year at TWS as well. "I didn't think there was any way I was going to...
Jim Rainey overcame the jinx of leading on the last lap to post his second career ProVee win Feb. 15 at Texas World Speedway in College Station. His other ProVee win came last year at TWS as well.
"I didn't think there was any way I was going to win that race, leading to start the last lap," a jubilant Rainey said in the Winner's Circle.
Rain fell Friday afternoon and evening, making the track slick for Saturday morning's qualifying. As a result, times were all over the place, with little clustering.
After a couple of seasons racing in other SCCA classes, Darren Brown has returned to vees and to the ProVee series. Brown, from Flower Mound, Texas, looked like he hadn't lost a beat as he posted the "fastest" slow time in qualifying, 2:10.852 in his Protoform DB-3. (On a dry track that afternoon, Darren turned the fastest lap of the race, more than 12 seconds quicker than his pole qualifying time.)
Second fastest qualifier was Don Schanche, a St. Louis-area driver who now shows Marco Island, Fla., as his hometown. Schanche pushed his Vortech to a quick lap of 2:11.427. Steve Oseth, Leesburg, Va., qualified third, driving the Vortech of Hugh Sutton, who was unable to compete at the last minute, at 2:11.973. Rainey, from Palmer, Texas, was fourth in his Protoform P-2 with a fast lap of 2:12.094. Fifth fastest time belonged to Houston's Dan Allford, who turned a 2:13.483 in his Vector GB-4.
Brown led the first four laps before sliding off the course, with Schanche taking over. Rainey led laps six and seven, but Schanche retook the point for laps 8-13 and moved out to a two-second margin, the largest of the race.
"I think there was a little traffic behind me and it held up the guys running behind me," Don said about his big lead. "I tried to stay smooth but obviously didn't stay smooth enough because I didn't maintain the lead."
Brown was able to reel in Schanche and take over the top spot again on lap 14. Rainey moved back in front again on the next-to-last lap (15) and swapped it during that lap. He retook the lead on the back side when, according to Jim, no one else wanted it.
"They let me have the lead because that's the dead-meat spot (leading to start the last lap)," Jim said. "When you have the lead then, you hope something happens that allows you to stay in first."
As they crossed start-finish to begin the final circuit, the first group was Rainey, Schanche, Oseth and Brown. While setting up to enter turn one, that "something" Jim hoped would happen, did.
"I wiggled to warn Don I was going to move up because I needed more space," Rainey said. "As he started to move up, I started to move up the hill a little bit, too, and Don just didn't get over fast enough."
Schanche and Rainey touched wheels and Don got airborne.
"I was trying to draft by Jim. When I pulled out to get around, I think he moved up a little bit," Schanche said. "I just got too close and my left front tire hit his right rear tire and jumped me up in the air."
Schanche quickly returned to earth and continued, finishing second. But any chance of anyone catching Rainey disappeared with that touch of tires, as both Oseth and Brown lifted to avoid Don.
"I really got out of it and went clear to the right - twice - to make sure I didn't get involved with Don," Oseth said. "It absolutely affected the outcome of the race."
Still in front, Jim kept on the gas and sprinted to a lead large enough to hold off the pack at the finish.
"When I saw him (Don) go up I was still on the gas, so I wiggled the car around to make sure it was still all there and everything," Rainey said. "I had time to check my mirrors and noticed they'd dropped way back. I thought, 'here's my chance, I gotta keep them from catching up.' I don't think they gained on me coming around the whole lap."
Rainey took the checker 0.445 of a second in front of Schanche. Oseth, the defending series champion, edged Brown by 0.001 of a second for third in an unfamiliar car, while Allford was fifth.
"It was my intention to just feel things out and see how the car reacted to everything," Steve said. "I just sorta laid back and stayed in third, fourth and fifth, and just tried to stay out of trouble."
Steve had planned to make a move for the lead at the start of the final lap.
"I was in the process of passing Don when he got together with Jim," Oseth said. "It was my intention to take the lead going into one.
"Jim was very fortunate. How he came out of that with nothing more than a tire mark on his car, I have no idea. The gods were with him today."
David Zavelson started and finished sixth, running about as consistent of a race as you can. He was in sixth place for 15 of the 16 laps. . Bill Noble was seventh, moving up only one spot because of a broken left rear brake rotor. . Ed Ziegler came home in eighth, after starting 22nd in the field, passing 12 drivers on the first lap to move into tenth. . Troy Fleeman was ninth after starting 16th. . Finishing tenth was Charles Billington, moving up one spot from an 11th-place start.
Of the 25 entries, 21 were from Texas. Nearly half the field, 10 drivers, also competed in the Eagle One. The top three Eagle One drivers were Darren McDonough, who was 14th overall; Shawn Hokanson (15th) and Greg Smith (16th).
The series resumes April 5-6 in Summit Point, W.V.; followed by the June Sprints at Road America, June 20-22; and concludes July 5-6 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.