SBRS: Midwest edges East at Mid-Ohio

Midwestern Regional racers won the Midwest shootout over their Eastern Regional counterparts at the Mid-Ohio Road Course. Championship contenders in both series were rewarded for taking on the increased competition since the fields were double...

Midwestern Regional racers won the Midwest shootout over their Eastern Regional counterparts at the Mid-Ohio Road Course. Championship contenders in both series were rewarded for taking on the increased competition since the fields were double deep. Winners were awarded three bonus points over the normal 20 point gain. Second and third place finishers received an additional 2 and 1 points, respectively. The unusual running of two series at one track featured a packed field. 36 Midwest and 37 Eastern racers, including 7 newcomers, suited up for action on the popular 2.40-mile road course.

Ernest Viso, who was in a position to clinch the Eastern championship this weekend, increased his chances with a win from pole over Chis Baker and Brian Milligan. The 16-year old Venezuelan led 17 laps and set fastest lap with a time of 1:40.699 sec.. Baker, who had started from the second spot, never closed the gap enough to apply any pressure and could only watch as the Eastern Regional Series leader motored to a 3.4 sec. margin of victory. First year racer Chase Patzer overcame a back-of grid start to finish in seventh, thereby earning most progressive distinction.

Brazilian Daniel Lancaster eeked out a thin 0.642 sec. over a feisty Norio Takedo in group 3 race 1 action. Lancaster started third and would leap past Alex Donnini on the first lap before besting Takedo on lap 8. Lancaster then led the balance of laps, holding off the aggressive efforts of Takedo to the flag. Dave Zuber drove a brilliant race finishing in sixth after starting in the number 15 spot.

In group 4 race 1, Scott Poirier executed an exciting late pass outside of turn-1 to snatch victory away from Burt Frisselle. Frisselle, who had started from pole, drove a fantastic race, leading 15 of the 17 laps, before succumbing to Poirier's race savvy and finishing second. Poirier set a new track record of 1:39.616 sec. eclipsing the old mark of 1:39.709 sec. John Mefford followed Frisselle home for the final rostrum spot. Steve Ivankovich, owner/co-driver of the Zip Pumpelly race team, continued to improve his race craft. His advancement from 17th to an eighth place finish earned him most progressive driver distinction.

Tim Traver kicked off the day's last race from pole, a spot he never relinquished despite furious attempts to upset him by Mike Marino. 12th place starter Roland Isra, also contesting the Masters National Championship, continued to impress as he moved through the field to a third place result, securing the Regional Masters win along the way.

Day two of racing started similar to the day before except for the heightened awareness that Ernesto Viso could clinch the championship in group 1 race 2. Viso gridded from the pole position with Chris Baker and Brian Milligan in positions 2 and 3, determined not to let the Venezuelan get away. Baker got a great jump at the green flag and assumed the point he would hold for the first lap. But the lead was short-lived. Viso rebounded to resume the front of the running order leaving the field to chase him. Milligan and Baker were engaged in a battle for second place to the final flag, which was eventually secured by Milligan, competing in only his second race weekend. Baker lowered the best lap mark to 1:39.615 sec. with his strong run. Rick Gilhart advanced an improbable 12 spots to finish in the top-5.

In group 3 race 2, second place starter Norio Takeda led all 16 laps to victory over Andy Newell and Alex Donnini. Takeda exuded confidence in the R/T 2000 throughout the contest as he never put a wheel wrong, consistently tripping fast laps. His best lap time of 1:38.929 sec. established a new track record to that point. Donnini's third place is the Italian's second podium in two days and third of four races dating back to Putnam Park. Tom Sands moved through field nicely to finish sixth after starting in 12th on the grid. Daniel Lancaster had a firm hold on the lead until a mechanical failure with two laps to go.

Burt Frisselle used a full-course yellow to reel in Scott Poirier and take the win in group 4 race 2. Frisselle was able to overcome Poirier's lead and avenge his previous day's loss to the Floridian. Poirier led 12 of the contest's 17 laps but couldn't hold off the wily Frisselle. Dave House and Tom Lehmkuhl deserve honorable mentions for their inspired drivers. From 18th, House advanced to finish fifth and earn most progressive driver distinction.

In the day's last action, polesitter Daniel Lancaster checked out to a 0.26 sec. margin victory over Boby Sayers and Roland Isra. The pole position was decided by a coin toss between Lancaster and previous day's winner, Tim Traver. Lancaster checked out from the start, leaving Traver and Marino to fight it out for second. The stakes were high and the racing tight until Traver spun in turn-11 leaving Marino nowhere to go but into the wall. Mike Johnson improved from an 18th place start position to finish in 11th.

-Barber

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Rick Gilhart , Roland Isra , Burt Frisselle , Scott Poirier , John Mefford , Mike Johnson , Tim Traver , Ernesto Viso , Dave House