ACRL: Watkins Glen pit notes

PRACTICE: The American City Racing League Eastern Division got off to a slow start in their morning practice session at the Watkins Glen season finale. Duke Johnson of Team St. Louis lost an oil fitting on his Carbir's engine, fortunately...


The American City Racing League Eastern Division got off to a slow start in their morning practice session at the Watkins Glen season finale. Duke Johnson of Team St. Louis lost an oil fitting on his Carbir's engine, fortunately just before the pit entrance. As Johnson pitted, leaving a trail of oil down the pit lane, Craig Chima of Team Columbus spun his Lola into a gravel trap, bringing out a "black flag all" and halting the session until he was towed back to the pits. Unfortunately, this activity cut the 20 minute session short, and most drivers only got two or three laps. Team Philadelphia's A.J. Smith, who always comes out of the chute fast, was the only driver under the two minute mark, turning a 1:58.751 on the first lap in his Pratt-Miller. Right behind him were the other two of the top three points scorers, John Fergus (Columbus, Carbir) at 2:00.213 and Dan Dubrovich (New York, Doran) at 2:01.588. Fourth quickest was Martin Ryba (Chicago, Lola), with Jeff Clinton (St. Louis, Lola) rounding out the top five. John Burke (New York, Carbir) was sixth, and Gerry Green was the fastest of three ACRL first-time competitors, setting seventh fastest time in his Team Philadelphia Pratt-Miller. Bob Liebert (Columbus, Miller) was eighth, Duke Johnson set ninth quickest time before his oil line let go, and Joe Blacker (Washington DC, Lola) completed the top 10. Newcomer David Shaver was eleventh in his Washington DC Swift. First-time ACRL competitor Jeff Wayland set the pace for the Classic Sports 2000 class, besting points leader Jack Banha (Philadelphia, Swift). Dag Grala topped the S1600 category in his Team Boston SVC.


Sports 2000 points leader John Fergus served notice that he's the man to beat, turning a provisional pole time of 1:56.590, almost two seconds quicker than A.J. Smith's fast lap of 2:58.207. Smith set his quick time in the very early laps of the session, while Fergus turned his fast lap on the seventh of nine timed laps in the event. Behind these two was a mad scramble for position that changed almost every lap, with quick times set very late in the session. Craig Chima turned a 1:59.007 on the next to last lap, good for third, while Dan Dubrovich set a 1:59.138 for fourth on the same lap. John Burke grabbed fifth on the final lap with a 1:59.510 clocking, followed by Jeff Clinton (1:59.744), Martin Ryba (1:59.812), Gerry Green (2:00.467), Duke Johnson (2:01.359) and Joe Blacker (2:01.775) taking sixth through tenth respectively.

Jeff Wayland barely edged Jack Banha for the Classic Sports 2000 provisional pole, 2:04.559 to 2:04.612. Adam Burrows took the Sports 1600 provisional pole on lap four, but ran afoul of one of Watkins Glen's guardrails shortly thereafter. Bill Haney whittled away at Burrows' time, setting a 2:05.574 on lap 7. Mid-Ohio winner John Faulkner was third and Dag Grala fourth.


While other drivers bettered their times, a confident John Fergus turned only a few laps, scrubbing tires. Sure enough, his time held up for the pole, although A.J. Smith knocked a few tenths off his earlier qualifying time and remained in second position. Craig Chima was almost a full second faster, and remained in third, while Dan Dubrovich improved his time but not his fourth-place qualifying spot. Jeff Clinton did move up a position to fifth with a 1:58.803, bumping John Burke out of the top five. Martin Ryba held on to his seventh qualifying spot, while Duke Johnson moved up to eighth, relegating Gerry Green to ninth. Bob Liebert moved up from 11th to capture a top-10 qualifying spot.

In the CS2 category, Jeff Wayland bettered his time by 1.1 seconds, finishing .8 seconds quicker than Jack Banha and taking the class pole. John Faulkner stepped up to the plate and hit a home run, taking his first S1600 pole with a 2:04.697, a full second faster than his earlier time and four tenths quicker than Burrows' time in the first session. Burrows got a late start and only turned a few laps, due to his first session accident.

The scene was set for some epic battles in all three classes for Saturday's race. Although Banha and Burrows have already clinched their respective class drivers' championships, the Sports 2000 crown and the team title are still very much up for grabs.

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Series SCCA
Drivers A.J. Smith , John Faulkner , Bob Liebert , John Burke , Duke Johnson , Jeff Clinton , John Fergus , Craig Chima , Joe Blacker , Adam Burrows