A.J. Smith Scores First Watkins Glen Victory, New York Takes Team Honors Watkins Glen NY, August 25, 2001 -- Team Philadelphia's A.J. Smith held off a charging Duke Johnson of Team St. Louis to capture the first race of the American City Racing...
A.J. Smith Scores First Watkins Glen Victory, New York Takes Team Honors
Watkins Glen NY, August 25, 2001 -- Team Philadelphia's A.J. Smith held off a charging Duke Johnson of Team St. Louis to capture the first race of the American City Racing League's Watkins Glen doubleheader by less than three-tenths of a second. It was Smith's first win and first pole of the season, and he won it wire to wire. Bob Liebert of Team Columbus held second spot for the first eight laps, while Johnson shadowed him, then pounced on Lap nine to take over second, setting fast race lap in the process. Liebert hung on to score his first ACRL podium finish, four and a half seconds behind the lead duo. S2 points leader Dan Dubrovich of Team New York was fourth (fifth overall), with his teammate John Burke a further finishing fifth in class. First-time ACRL competitor Jeff Staley of Team Washington DC was unable to start due to clutch problems.
ACRL first-timer Buzz Hooker surprised everyone by qualifying third overall in his Classic Sports 2000 Team Boston Lola, setting a new CS2 qualifying record. He finished fourth overall, only half a second behind third-place Liebert. Points leader Jeff Wayland of Team New York drove a steady race to second in CS2, ninth overall, and helped New York to the Team victory.
John Faulkner, after breaking his own Sports 1600 qualifying record, had a rather inauspicious return to the series, sustaining body damage in a guardrail contact on the first lap. He retired his Team Boston SVC Sports 1600 at the end of that lap.
The Team Points battle tightened considerably, with New York picking up a lot of ground on the leading St. Louis squad. Only 19 points separate the two teams, with two races to go in the season. 2000 City Team Champion Philadelphia moved into the third spot.
This was the fifth in a seven-race series for the American City Racing League Eastern Division, sanctioned by Grand Am. The ACRL series, using a unique team racing concept, races Ford-engined Sports 2000, and Classic Sports 2000 cars, as well as Toyota-powered Sports 1600 cars, with drivers required to run Hoosier ACRL-stamped R-45 compound tires and a spec fuel.