Putnam Park is notoriously hard on tires, so it seems somehow poetic that tire wear was so high while racing in the “Hoosier State.”
Saturday’s race started with Zach Hillman on the pole and Scott Berkowitz alongside. GTS4 driver Brad Waite and GTS3 driver Dann Nelson were next. At the start, Berkowitz got the jump on Hillman, as did Waite, who used his car’s superior power off the line, but Hillman was having none of it. He soon passed Waite and took off in search of Berkowitz. Those two battled for the overall lead for the first two-thirds of the race, with Berkowitz using his experience to hold back Hillman in what was clearly the faster car.
Eventually Hillman got by and opened an 8.5-second gap by the end, followed by Berkowitz and Nelson for the GTS3 podium. Mike Ward came out on top in GTS2, with Chris Fries Sr. in second in the two-car field. In GTS4, Danny Pedri finished first, followed by Brad Waite in second and Timothy Haines in third in the three-car field.
At the start on Sunday, Berkowitz got another jump, but this one didn’t last. By Turn 5, Hillmann found a way past and then just left him, going on to the overall GTS win with a margin of 47 seconds over the rest of the field! Berkowitz retired after a dozen laps. Nelson was second in GTS3, followed by Paul Davison in third, but the real battle on Sunday was in GTS4.
Brad Waite bought two new rear tires for Sunday’s race, but his fronts were badly worn, and by this time there were just two cars in class, Pedri and Waite. Pedri had been battling setup issues all weekend, so Waite thought they would have a pretty good battle — and it was, with several lead changes, close racing and lots of side-by-side dicing.
“I spent much of the second half of the race trailing Denny so close you couldn’t fit a fart between our bumpers,” Waite said. “Denny’s car was clearly becoming a handful for him, so I saw an opportunity late in the race coming into Turn 9 as we were approaching slower traffic.”
Waite took the line inside of Pedri to go around the other two cars as they entered 10. Having a run on him coming out of 10, Waite won the drag race down the straight and entered Turn 1 in the lead. They ended the race in this order, giving Waite his first win in his new 911. Ward won GTS2 easily, with a three-lap margin back to Fries, Sr.