Burlington Ontario's Chris Holman arrived on the west coast sitting fourth in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup standings and hoping to better his position on the demanding Portland International raceway. Unlike round 2 at Mosport the weather was hot...
Burlington Ontario's Chris Holman arrived on the west coast sitting fourth in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup standings and hoping to better his position on the demanding Portland International raceway.
Unlike round 2 at Mosport the weather was hot and dry, and the track had significant rubber build up from a long period of dry weather. Following an early morning track walk on Saturday the drivers belted in for 9:45am practice. Holman held his own and brought his #31 Jetta in 11th fastest. "This is an awesome track," commented Holman. "The Jetta's are doing 130 mph at the end of the straightaway and the chicanes are very challenging. The draft is definitely going to be a factor in the race."
Qualifying went at 4:15 on Saturday on a track made greasy by Star Mazda and Formula Drift rubber cooked by the 88° Portland valley heat. A number of offs kept the corner marshalls and pit crews busy. At mid-way Holman clipped the curbing in turn 3 and knocked his alignment out. After a short pit stop he returned to the track with cool tires and hooked up with the eventual pole sitter to lay down several fast laps. With 5 minutes remaining in the session Holman was P3 on the time sheets, but 2 drivers nailed their last laps and bumped Holman to 5th. "I am happy with a third row start" said Holman. "The drivers up front are all experienced and we should have a clean race." The spread of one second between pole and 22nd was testament to the identical prep of the cars in a spec factory race series.
The race went Sunday at 3:30 under clear, sunny skies. As predicted, the lead group got away cleanly and proceeded to distance themselves from the main pack. Holman slotted into P5 and hunkered down to stay in the lead group. In what was a 30 minute green flag contest, there were a few minor incidents but mostly fast, clean racing. The biggest incident occurred in a battle for the lead late in the race which forced Holman to slow, creating a gap too large to make up before the end. "It was a big hit into the tire wall and there were corner workers near the edge of the track, so I expected a full course caution" explained Holman, "but it remained a local yellow and the lead pack was too far ahead to catch."
With the field now bunched up behind Holman, the pressure was on for the dash to the checkered flag. As Holman lead a 4 car pack through turn 12 and up the straightaway, 2 cars tried to draft by for position. The ensuing drag race saw Holman retain 5th by 4/1000 of a second.
"That was mentally tough race" Holman explained later. "the lead pack was so tight I knew it would not be wise to force the issue and I had lots of cars behind to deal with." "Again I want to thank the pit crew from Arciero- Miller who gave me a great car today."
After Portland, Holman stands fourth in points, 27 points out of first, 10 points clear of second and 3 out of third. Next race is Lime Rock on August 16-17.
-credit: holman motorsports