NASA Great Lakes’ 2016 944 Spec season opened March 19-20 with a fantastic weekend at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park.
In race one, Neal Agran and Dan Piña stormed side by side into the Turn 1 chicane at the start, with pole-sitter Agran edging Piña to take the lead through the Turn 2-3 hairpin. Jeremy Pohlman settled into third just behind, while a tightly clumped Ed Baus, Bob Keller, Shannon McCue and Michael Cooper began a race-long, nose-to-tail battle for fourth. Michael Dearstyne, who started from the back row due to transponder issues in qualifying, surged eight positions in the opening laps to the head of the scrum for fourth when a full-course caution for debris removal interrupted the action in lap three.
On the restart, Piña and Pohlman muscled past Agran as the freight train for fourth resumed. Agran took advantage of a bobble by Pohlman to retake second in the 85-mph Turn 16 sweeper, at which point a fierce battle for the lead developed.
After multiple attempts, Agran put together an over-under pass to retake the lead in the Turn 2-3 hairpin on the penultimate lap, while Pohlman entered the mix in the battle for third. At the line, Agran beat Piña by a few feet in a drag race to the checkers, where Piña reset the lap record. Dearstyne crossed third after charging from the back, but was DQ’d for a pass under yellow, which put Baus in third.
In-car view from Neal Agran’s No. 84 car:
Sunday dawned with a soaking rain that never relented. Agran and Piña started on the front row again, followed by Baus, Keller, McCue, Dearstyne, Cooper, Pacholek, Pohlman, Simmons, Moody and Magruder. Agran and Piña again ran door-to-door through the Turn 1 chicane, where Agran emerged with the lead and Keller moved ahead of Baus for third. The dynamic shifted in the 100-mph “Faux Rouge” kink, when streaming water and cold conditions unleashed chaos as Agran, Pohlman and Pacholek spun. Fortunately, all three missed each other, but a full-course caution reunited the field.
On the restart, Piña sneaked away while Keller led Baus, Dearstyne, and McCue battled for second. At the checkers, Piña took the win, followed by Keller, and Baus. Moody retired in the caution period, as did Agran, Pohlman, and Pacholek.
Besides having an outstanding time, Great Lakes 944 Spec drivers took home $2,200 in Toyo, Hawk, and Winding Road Racing contingency dollars this weekend. A special thanks is due to Jim and Kelby Hartman of Pine Tree Motorsports, who offered technical support to all competitors during the event.