ACRL: Thunderhill race report

Ostlund,Littrell Capture First Season Wins, Las Vegas Takes Team Victory at Thunderhill Willows, CA July 1, 2001 - Team Fresno's John Ostlund not only broke Peter Zarcades' string of ten consecutive pole positions, but ended the Las...

Ostlund,Littrell Capture First Season Wins, Las Vegas Takes Team Victory at Thunderhill

Willows, CA July 1, 2001 - Team Fresno's John Ostlund not only broke Peter Zarcades' string of ten consecutive pole positions, but ended the Las Vegas driver's five-race winning streak as well. It almost didn't happen, as Ostlund was one of the victims of  engine problems on Saturday that left several teams scrambling for spares and parts. Ostlund's Cosworth ingested a rivet that came adrift from the air intake plenum, Denver driver Marvin Jones' Cosworth started spewing water after a missed shift, and the Cosworth of Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Hollywood) and the Ford of David Ferguson (Salinas) both seized during the first practice session.  But by Saturday morning's qualifying session, everybody was ready to go. Zarcades, who planned to run an abbreviated session, set the early pace at 1:46.797, but ran out of fuel on course ten minutes short of the checker. Ostlund continued to shave tenths every lap, and snatched the Super Sports 2000 pole from Zarcades on the last circuit with a1:46.641. John Fujii (Las Vegas) turned an impressive 1:52.050 on the last lap to capture his first Sports 2000 pole, while Ferguson's new engine wasn't quite up to the task due to some minor misadjustments. Denver's Jeff Littrell also outqualified Ferguson for the second spot with a 1:52.337.

Ostlund took off at the green and led every lap, but it was by no means a runaway. Team Hollywood driver John Lombardo Jr. put serious pressure on Ostlund, pulling alongside more than once in the very fast Turn One and setting fast race lap in the process. Zarcades had a toughrace, spinning out of second back to fifth on the third lap. Playing catch-up, he reeled in Tirinnanzi for fourth, only to spin again when he stuck his nose under the Hollywood car at Turn 5A and made contact. His teammate, Brad Pierce, held took second spot after Zarcades' first spin, but suffered a miscue at the kink on lap six, and Lombardo pounced, taking over second. While Lombardo closed on Ostlund, getting alongside under braking in Turns 10 and 14, Pierce was able to maintain contact, but couldn't close. "It was hot, and I was having trouble keeping my concentration," said Pierce. That problem was evidently affecting other drivers as well, as Team Salinas' Dave Jansen had an off-course excursion requiring a change of front bodywork and costing him two laps, while letting Fresno's Brad Krause and Denver's Marvin Jones pick up positions. Late in the race, Lombardo's brakes went away, causing him to display some pretty spectacular driving. On the final lap, with the brakes completely gone, Lombardo bounced over the curb at the Cyclone, and Pierce recaptured second spot. Coming onto the front straight Zarcades (who had by now passed Tirinnanzi's evil-handling Carbir) pulled alongside Lombardo, challenging for position. There was apparently contact between the two, and Lombardo's front bodywork departed for the infield while Zarcades crossed the finish line in third. Lombardo limped home fourth, just ahead of Tirinnanzi. "The guys at Auto Spa put a great car under me today," said a jubilant Ostlund of the Paul Evert's RV Country/ Monaco Motorhomes/Easy Care/California Pistachios Carbir.

The Sports 2000 pros staged one of the most exciting races of the season. Polesitter Fujii dropped to third at the start. "I was too polite...I won't make that mistake again," he said after the race. Littrell took the point with Ferguson in hot pursuit. Ferguson had corrected the niggling problems in his replacement engine, and he had it right for the race. He took the lead on the second circuit, and set S2 fast lap shortly thereafter. Fujii dropped back a little from the lead pair, and Team Denver's Doug Ota ran alone in fourth. Further back the Team Hollywood cars of Joe Casanova and Gary Holcomb were having a great dice in fifth and sixth until Casanova spun in the Cyclone.This allowed Fresno driver Fred Michael into sixth, but Casanova was able to catch him and pass late in the race. The big surprise came on the final lap, when Ferguson, under pressure from a charging Littrell, made an uncharacteristic mistake and spun in Turn 10. Littrell and Fujii were both by before he could recover, and the defending Sports 2000 champion had to settle for third. Ota was fourth, and Holcomb finished a season-best fifth. Littrell was delighted with his first ACRL S2 victory, which moved him into the points lead, and Rookie of the Year leader Fujii was very happy with his pole position and third podium finish in three ACRL races.

By virtue of Pierce's second place, Zarcades' third, and Fujii's eighth overall, Las Vegas took their fourth team victory of the season, extending their points lead to 137 over second-place Denver.

The American City Racing League Western Division will return to action at Sears Point October 27-28, with a double-header sanctioned by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). In the meantime, several Western Division drivers are planning the trek to the East/West combined race at the famous Daytona International Speedway. The ACRL series, using a unique team racing concept,races Cosworth-powered Super Sports 2000, Ford-engined Sports 2000, andToyota-powered Sports 1600 cars, with drivers required to run Hoosier ACRL-stamped R-45 compound tires and Union 76 Racing Fuel.

-ACRL-

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Series SCCA
Drivers David Ferguson , Marvin Jones , Brad Krause , Gary Holcomb , Dave Jans