Race winner Sandro Espinosa, left, retakes the lead from No. 414 Ryan Whitinger on the front stretch of Carolina Motorsports Park, with Scott Gress, Fred Smith, and Fred Switzer, rounding turn 14 in hot pursuit.

On Sunday, 10 Spec E30s sat on the track poised to launch from a standing start. At pole was Sandro Espinosa, having set a new track record in qualifying. He was followed by Ryan Whitinger, Scott Gress and Sumpter Smith. A green flag that failed to go stationary before dropping surprised some of the drivers, allowing rookie Jeff Retey to move to third, while Gress fell back to sixth. Espinosa and Whitinger were side by side until Whitinger slid off the track at the exit of Turn 3. Whitinger recovered quickly enough to retain second place. By Turn 7, Gress had regained two of his lost positions and moved into fourth.

For several laps, it was Espinosa with a gap, then Whitinger, Retey, Gress, and Smith in a train behind. Then Espinosa exited the track on Turn 11 and Whitinger took the lead. Gress passed Retey on lap four to move into second. The race was now Whitinger, with a gap, followed by a train of Gress, Retey, Smith, and Fred Switzer.

Smith then made a run on Retey in Turn 8. Fighting hard to salvage exit speed, Retey went two wheels off and had to feather the throttle to retain control. This allowed Smith and Switzer to move into third and fourth. It was now Whitinger, Gress, Smith, and Switzer, while Espinosa fought his way back to the leaders from midpack.

In lap eight, Espinosa retook the lead by getting past Gress in Turn 4 and then past Whitinger on the front stretch, to the delight of the crowd. On the next lap Gress succumbed to Smith and the race order became Espinosa, Whitinger, Smith, Gress, and Switzer.

With Gress in hot pursuit, Smith attempted to take Turn 14 from Whitinger. At turn-entry, Smith was ahead by a nose but Whitinger fought hard to hang on to his place by braking quite late. Whitinger couldn’t hold it together and got sideways at turn exit. While Gress dodged Whitinger, Smith slid two wheels onto the very aggressive exit gator and then beyond into the dirt. Smith was able to stay on the throttle, though, and still entered the far turn ahead of Gress. That set the finish order a few laps later, Sandro Espinosa, Sumpter Smith, Scott Gress, and Fred Switzer. So closed a terrific weekend of perfect weather and incident free racing.



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