Marino sets sights on Isra. Mike Marino swept both rounds of the Masters National Championship at Watkins Glen International Raceway to narrow the once dominant lead held by defending champion Roland Isra. Although Isra still holds a substantial...
Marino sets sights on Isra.
Mike Marino swept both rounds of the Masters National Championship at Watkins Glen International Raceway to narrow the once dominant lead held by defending champion Roland Isra. Although Isra still holds a substantial 40-point margin over Chris Willcox and 45-point gap over Brian Shepherd, Marino's strong result allows him to pull within 62 points of the defending Champion and remain mathematically in contention for the series crown with four rounds remaining. Only one of the aforementioned racers can secure the title. The 14-round series makes its final two stops at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca and Daytona 24-Hour Course.
Bob Sayers started the weekend with a win from the third position in the group 1 opener. Sayers measured David Kaemmer carefully before executing a clean pass of the polesitter on lap 4. Sayers then led the balance 7 laps on the 3.40-mile track to claim victory, leading Kaemmer to the checkered flag by a 1.5-sec. margin. Tom Sands improved from fifth to follow in third place. Ken Cloonan ran the most progressive race of all, advancing from 19th to claim a top-10 result as well as the Masters win.
Kaemmer was back in the car immediately for subsequent group 2 competition, where he set a fastest lap time of 2:12.218 sec. en route to victory from the pole position. Kaemmer led all laps handily, building a sizeable margin over Abraham Zimroth, who followed in second. John Angelone continued to impress, overcoming his P16 start position to land on the podium. Chris Oliver was best among the Regional Masters set, claiming the win in the 40-plus category with his third-place overall result. Oliver was joined at the final stripe by John Angelone, who finished with an identical time, causing an unprecedented tie result.
In a match-up with championship implications, Mike Marino bested Roland Isra at the green flag to take the point in the Masters National Championship opener. From there, Marino led all 12 trips to pace Isra, who had started on pole but failed to improve position and eventually finished second. Grand Master Brian Shepherd, who set the fastest lap time of 2:13.145 sec, advanced from seventh to earn a well-deserved podium result and pad his points tally. Chris Willcox and Mark Patterson, both Grand Masters themselves, rounded out the top-5.
The day's last race featured a spirited win by Masters racer Chris Oliver, who led the final 5 laps to hold off a gritty effort by Deyne Bentt and claim the win. Bentt started 17th but leapt through the 18-car field with purpose, as if he had money on the outcome. So effective was Bentt's drive that he slotted into sixth by lap 5. From there, he endured a brief joust with Steve Vajda before eclipsing Tom Sands for second position. Sands remained in third until the final stripe while Vajda finished in fourth. Roland Isra led the first eight laps before having contact with Antoine Bessette, disabling his car and ending his race.
Day two's racing action saw David Kaemmer avenge Bob Sayers' result from a day earlier. Sayers had his mirrors full of Kaemmer over the first seven laps before a pass for the point on lap 8. Kaemmer then used a fastest lap time of 2:10.642 sec. to bolster his lead, eventually taking the flag by a 2.3-sec. margin. Fourth place starter Jerry Molitor improved to finish in third. Brook Halvorson sliced through the field to land in sixth after a start from 13th. Mike Wert finished eighth overall to take the Masters win over Alan Zieker.
The seemingly indefatigable Kaemmer continued to play his hot hand in group 2, where he paced the field from pole, setting fastest lap to record a 5-second margin win over Abraham Zimroth. Masters racer Chris Oliver was less than a second behind to take a third place podium result. Steve Vajda advanced from seventh to fourth to claim most progressive driver honors. John Angelone led the first four laps before suffering a crash in turn-9 while leading early on.
Marino was preparing to run the table as well, matching Kaemmer win-for-win. Marino led an extremely competitive Masters National Championship group, any and all, looking to capitalize on a Marino bobble. Instead, Marino turned in a flawless performance, leading 13 laps to claim the win over Chris Willcox and Roland Isra. Isra, perhaps indicating that he still is the Championship favorite, turned in the fastest lap time of the group at 2:12.216 sec. Overcoming his 14th place start position, Mark Patterson promoted himself nicely to claim a fourth place result.
The weekend finale featured an epic battle between Chris Oliver and Deyne Bentt. Although Oliver started from pole, Bentt quickly found the point on lap 1. Oliver recaptured the lead on the following lap, setting the tone for the entire 13-lap contest. The two volleyed the lead until lap 12 when Oliver established himself as the leader and kept clean air between his R/T 2000 and the checkered flag. Steve Vajda put an exclamation point on a strong weekend by rounding out the podium in third. Roland Isra broke into the top-5 emphatically, gamely charging there from 17th on the grid. Antoine Bessette had an"off" on lap 1 that damaged his suspension, taking him out of contention for the race.