The penultimate race weekend for NASA Great Lakes landed at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., and the 15-turn, 2.1-mile south course. Chris Finnigan found the perfect setup and executed perfectly over the three-race weekend.
The weather for all three days could not have been better, with sunny skies and high temps in the upper 60s. Saturday qualifying kicked off at 11:20 a.m., with Teen Mazda Challenge racer Jack Dorsey posting the best lap with a 1:39.6 followed by John Allen in P2 and Finnigan in P3 each with 1:39.7’s. With five hours between qualifying and the race, drivers needed to think about any setup differences due to changing track conditions.
At the green flag, Finnigan and P5 TMC driver Nate Nicholson were the most successful, jumping to P1 and P2 respectively during lap one. Only 0.6 seconds separated P1, P2, and Allen in P3 for the opening seven laps. Nicholson would take P1 for three laps, but Finnigan re-took the position on lap seven and built a 2.5-second lead. Nicholson eliminated that gap and would grab P1 again on lap 17, but Finnigan would not be denied and grabbed P1 on lap 18, the final lap. The contest for seventh was also hotly contested between Dan Mount and John Poppenhouse. Poppenhouse took seventh briefly due to faster traffic coming through, but then traffic returned the favor for Mount shortly after.
Race two was scheduled for 25 minutes Sunday morning, but unfortunately ran only three green laps due to two separate incidents on track. During that short time, Nicholson took advantage of the minimal running time, to find P2 from P6, and Randy Summerville made it to P6 after starting in P9.
For the weekend finale Sunday afternoon, Finnigan, TMC driver Wyatt Wood, and Ryan Roberson would lead the SM field onto the racing surface. Wood grabbed P1 from Finnigan on lap one, but could only hold him off for a lap. Nicholson made a late race challenge for P1, but Finnigan prevailed for the weekend sweep. Michael Dale and Ryan Waldo contested each other the entire race, with less than 0.5 seconds separating them most laps. The duo eventually caught TMC driver Aryton Grim in 10th, and Dale overtook Grim for the 10th spot with two laps remaining.
The Spec Miata field again saw some great racing through the entire field. Only two more points races remain in 2022. Who will grab bragging rights for the year? Join us at the track to find out!