RACE: Mid-Ohio Runoffs Friday notes #2

Runoffs Notes - 17 - Friday copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon F440 preliminary results: First: Jack Bennett Second: Wesley Wilfong Third: Howell Jones III Howell Jones: started 12th on grid. Had front row seat for fracas in Turn...

Runoffs Notes - 17 - Friday copyright 1996 John P. M. Dillon

F440 preliminary results: First: Jack Bennett Second: Wesley Wilfong Third: Howell Jones III

Howell Jones: started 12th on grid. Had front row seat for fracas in Turn 7. There were broken cars everwhere, I actually got caught in it, and hit somebody too.

To Wilfong: Rear bodywork was adrift at the end. Did that cause a problem for you? Yes, it happened at the start, when I was 10th. First car I saw sideways was Rusty [Cook]; I slowed down as the mess got worse and got hit from back. Came out of the mess in fifth. My car has larger front brakes than KBS. I can outbrake 'em so I just picked 'em off one at a time. Near the end something broke or came apart, maybe a header, so the car faded at the end.

Wilfong started driving for Sidewinder last year, got first two wins for them last year, but none this year. Mid-Ohio is really suited for this car; it has a lot of downforce. We're at a disadvantage at Atlanta.

Jones: My first year of Nationals, first time here.

Wilfong: Cold track for qualifying was tough. I was just getting up to speed in when the car siezed a piston. It stuck together today. These are the old pistons.

Both Jones and Wilfong are gonna stick with F440s next year. Wilfong started in F440 in 1987. Wilfong qualified on pole in '90, "escorted off the track" at the start of the race.

Wilfong: the piston issue was a timing thing. They submitted paperwork too late. It was technicality, but it's gotta be legal. I wish they would have allowed them since some guys were stuck without 'em. But it makes for colorful comp board meetings.

Jones: We were late getting car together, couldn't get on track until 4 laps into qualifying session. Last time the car was together was in March, before I got crashed out real hard in Atlanta.

Jack Bennett: It was a great race, really clean except for the start. A lot of good cars got taken out at the start. 6 cars involved, only one didn't continue. Racing is a matter of luck. This track's never been easy for me, I come here a lot, I'm fortunate I live close. Keep coming back and try to get better. Not sure if I'm gonna stick with 440 next year. I like the class, fastest class for the money, good competitive racing. But Continentals look pretty attractive, given some thought to Atlantic too. Formula Mazda is an attractive class, but doesn't have the speed of Continental and Atlantic.

The piston thing really took a lot of fun out of the week for me. THe idea of a sealed motor spec motor is awful nice to know car won't become obsolete. Down to you, driver skill and preparation. I had a son in January. 8 hours on Saturday is allocated for race car time, that was the extent of it. Pretty well stuck with it, broke the rule only a few times to get ready for the runoffs, but you have to balance racing with the rest of your life.

Attended comp board meeting this year. There's a lot of fuss. I think the 18 class thing is fantastic. After all, you race to get track time. You wanna get some time. I raced from 80-82, 88-90, 92 to now. We used to have 5 groups on a weekend, get a lot of track time, but now there's just not enough track time. Not real happy about yet another motor. I've got every motor ever approved for F440. Expected SCCA to work together with AMW to get a reliable motor. There's an obvious decline in the relationship. If new engine Rotax is as good as reliable that's fine. But I don't want to spend another $3000 for a motor in order to be competitive. I don't want to see more weight added to the car either, where would we put it? I've already added more tubing. I call my car "the chicken coop". Like to see them allow AMW more fliexibiility, more repeatability in performance.

Our class has rules that don't represent the start of the art. You get Formula car rules every year, you expect to see updates, never are. Then to suddenly have them enforce at the Runoffs after several years. We need to get better rules.

I'm really bummed that Speed Vision is not covering any of Friday's races!

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Knell's wife went into labor this morning, he kept his cell phone on the whole time, but his wife said she wouldn't call after 9 AM. He came up fairly far up the field.

John Dillon Mostly SoPac (Hawaii, Las Vegas, San Diego, Cal Club)

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