NASA’s Race for the Pi kicked off Saturday with Danny Steyn running a 1:43.582 to win pole position, followed by Teen Mazda Challenge driver Connor Zilisch, John Allen, Camden Gruber, Keith Williamson and Travis Wiley.

On the start, the inside lane got a clear run through Turn 1 as Zilisch bobbled a shift, with the order shaking out as Steyn, Allen, Williamson, Zilisch, Gruber and Wiley. Zilisch quickly recovered and bump-drafted Williamson coming out of Turn 7 to close the gap to Allen. Zilisch then passed Williamson approaching the brake zone of Turn 10a and dropped in behind Allen. On lap two, Zilisch pushed Allen on the back straight and the pair closed up to about two car lengths behind Steyn. Zilisch looked to pass Allen in the brake zone of T10a, but dropped back in behind Allen and waited until Turn 1 to make the inside pass on Allen.

Zilisch then chased Steyn down and started pressuring him for the lead as the pair gapped the rest of the field. Meanwhile, on lap four, Gruber caught Williamson coming out of Turn 3 and passed in the Esses for P4. Two laps later, Wiley got a run on Williamson coming out of Turn 5 to pass Williamson for P5. Williamson then pushed Wiley on the back straight and they closed up on Allen and Gruber as the pair got checked up between Turn 10a and 10b by 944 traffic. The four then raced to Turn 1 where Wiley made the inside pass on Allen and Gruber, with Williamson following through as well.

Zilisch made a couple mistakes, but each time was able to chase Steyn down until finally getting badly checked up by traffic. One lap later, Danny Steyn got boxed in by traffic on the last lap and Zilisch was able to close, but he couldn’t quite get there, and had to settle for P2 and a new NASA Road Atlanta track record of 1:43.548. Travis Wiley followed up with P3, Keith Williamson P4, Camden Gruber P5 and John Allen P6.

On Sunday we saw blistering fast qualifying times with the top four drivers all in the 1:43s. Danny Steyn again won pole position with a 1:43.020, followed by Zilisch, Wiley, Gruber, Williamson and Scott Carlisle.

As Sunday’s race started, Wiley got a great run through Turn 1 on the inside and passed Zilisch going up the hill. Wiley got to Steyn’s bumper on the back straight as Zilisch pressed hard to close the gap on Wiley as the three lead cars started to gap Gruber. On lap three, Zilisch got a run coming out of Turn 10b and made the inside pass on Wiley as they approached the bridge.

Unfortunately, Wiley had to pit for mechanical problems on lap four. Zilisch was able to hang with Steyn for the most of the race ,but Steyn eventually stretched out a 10-second lead by the end of the race. Danny Steyn took the win again with Connor Zilisch P2, Camden Gruber P3, Keith Williamson P4, Robert McDaniels P5 and John Allen P6.


Teen Mazda Challenge driver Connor Zilisch (black car) finished second both days, but captured the NASA Road Atlanta track record of 1:43.548.
Image courtesy of Jim Voss

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