ACRL: Las Vegas East-West finale report

ACRL Wraps Season with Combined East-West Race at Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV, November 3, 2001 - Team Fresno's John Ostlund captured his second victory of the season in his Carbir Super Sports 2000 in a 30-lap dash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway...

ACRL Wraps Season with Combined East-West Race at Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV, November 3, 2001 - Team Fresno's John Ostlund captured his second victory of the season in his Carbir Super Sports 2000 in a 30-lap dash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 1.07 mile, eight-turn infield road course. The event, held under National Auto Sports Association (NASA) sanction and dubbed the "From Sea to Shining Sea" race in honor of the September 11 terrorist victims, was the first combined race for the Eastern and Western Divisions of the ACRL. The course, described by most drivers as "very busy," minimized the effect of the extra horsepower enjoyed by the Cosworth-powered Super Sports 2000 cars. At the green flag, Team Las Vegas driver Peter Zarcades led the field into Turn One from his sixth pole position of the seven-race season. Zarcades had clinched the SS2 Drivers Championship the week before, so was racing primarily for bragging rights. San Diego's Margie Smith-Haas squeezed by Team Hollywood's John Lombardo Jr. for second spot at Turn One, with Lombardo's teammate Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi, Ostlund, Las Vegas driver Brad Pierce, Dave Jansen of Salinas, and Denver's Marvin Jones right behind. Jones' race only lasted a lap, ended prematurely by yet another gearbox failure. On lap three, Smith-Haas became the meat in a Hollywood sandwich as they went three wide in Turn One. Everybody held their breath, but heading into Turn Two, it was Lombardo in second, followed by Tirinnanzi and Smith-Haas. Ostlund tookover fourth in the Carousel, while Smith-Haas and Pierce battled over fifth until Pierce's engine went off song. The order remained the same until lap 10, when Lombardo passed Zarcades for the lead. A lap later Ostlund took over third from Tirinnanzi, and the front pack eased away from the second battle. Zarcades hung on grimly to Lombardo, getting alongside on lap 17, but was unable to repass. Then, as Zarcades' tires started to go off, Ostlund slipped by him on lap 22 and began to pull away. Three laps later Lombardo went wide on the entrance to the front straight, and Ostlund pounced, taking over the lead and holding it to the checker. Zarcades hung on for third, with Tirinnanzi 11 seconds back in fourth, Smith-Haas a further three seconds behind in fifth, and Pierce sixth. Jansen was seventh in class, and eighth overall, finishing on the lead lap.

The Sports 2000 Drivers Championship in both East and West divisions were up for grabs in the final race of the season. Dan Dubrovich of New York and Philadelphia's A.J. Smith were the Eastern contenders, while Jeff Littrell of Denver and John Fujii of Las Vegas battled for the West S2 title. Drivers overheated several calculators trying to figure out all the points scenarios and permutations. Smith was the fastest S2 in qualifying, leading the split start field to the green. The East points battle was over almost before it started, as Dubrovich got out of shape in the first turn and was collected by teammate John Burke.  Dubrovich would pit for repairs and finish three laps down. Smith quickly showed his heels to the rest of the S2 field, cruising to a seemingly easy win. Littrell, who had started at the back of the field, set off in pursuit of Fujii. Within a few laps Littrell had passed eight cars, and was right on Fujii's gearbox. New York's John Burke, who escaped the first turn melee without damage, joined up and split the pair on lap 12, staying between them until he spun on lap 18.  Littrell made his move on lap 26, charging into the lead. It looked as though he would take the West S2 Championship with a win, but Fujii made a banzai move on the last lap to take the victory. Littrell was philosophical on the podium, noting that while Fujii won the battle, he won the war. San Diego's Jay Messenger finished third in the Western group, ahead of Fresno's Fred Michael, who was two laps down in fourth. First time ACRL runner Bernie Sunier took second in the East aboard Duke Johnson's St. Louis "loaner" car, and Burke, despite his earlier excursions, finished third in the East. Duke Johnson (Team St. Louis) had moved up eight spots overall in the first two laps when Burke (who was following him and on the sameradio frequency) told him he was on fire. Johnson pulled over at the starter's stand, then made a quick pit stop, but the fire had apparently gone out. He continued, but succumbed to handling problems nine laps from the finish. While Smith cruised to the win and the Championship, the rest of Team Philadelphia, all ACRL rookies, didn't fare as well. Former Trans-Am driver David Seuss, who was running in close company with Jim Stengel, was out after only nine laps.Tom Lutzi finished seven laps down after a lengthy pit stop, while Stengel finished three laps behind, fifth in S2 East. Rookie Paul Schroeder, the lone Sports 1600 in the field, came home 19th overall. He plans to move up to the S2 class for 2002.

In the City Team Competition, Western Division Team Las Vegas won their seventh Team trophy, completing a sweep of the season and clinching their second consecutive City Championship. Defending 2000 East Team Champion Philadelphia took their first 2001 Eastern team win, and New York hung on to win the 2001 Eastern Team Championship.

The American City Racing League, using a unique team racing concept, races Cosworth-powered Super Sports 2000, Ford-engined Sports 2000, and Toyota-powered Sports 1600 cars, with drivers required to run Hoosier ACRL-stamped R-45 compound tires and Union 76 110 octane Racing Fuel.

-ACRL-

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Series SCCA
Drivers A.J. Smith , John Burke , Duke Johnson , Bernie Sunier , Marvin Jones , Paul Schroeder , Margie Smith-Haas , Dave Jans