Round two at Carolina Motorsports Park was cold and wet, and soaked the competition in H1 and H2. Saturday morning everyone was busy applying Rain-X and anti-fog to their windshields before heading to grid for warmup. They’ve raced this track one time since the repave, but that was in dry conditions, so they didn’t know what to expect in the wet. Turned out the rain showed them many new rivers crossing the track in not-so-perfect locations.
Pole position for H2 was set by Team Moar Door, with Shane Lovely at the wheel followed by John Putnam in P2, Jason Scarbrough in P3 and Michael Kramer in P4. H1 pole was set by Andrew Hicks, followed by Jeffrey Bankston in P2 and Rob Oxford in P3. To make things interesting, they inverted the field, with H2 leading the pack so the faster H1 class cars had to work their way through the field, if they could!
When the green flag dropped, everyone charged toward Turn 1 and Team Moar Door took the lead under braking. Putnam looked to the inside of an ST3 Corvette, but backed out while Scarbrough took the long way around, overtaking Putnam for Turn 2. Kramer stayed as close as visibility allowed directly behind Scarbrough. Putnam did not let Scarbrough get away as he pulled right back beside him for Turn 3 and they raced door to door through the next three turns.
Putnam closed the distance between their doors at the apex of Turn 7 so Scarbrough, still on Rookie status, decided to back out and race nose to tail. Now Putnam set his sights on Team Moar Door, who had pulled a 3-second lead by the time they reached the “Kink.” A few laps later, Scarbrough and Kramer lost touch with the leaders and settled into their own race. Both mini races continued without any passing and everyone on their best behavior due to the limited visibility and traction.
With a few laps to go, Putnam got within 1.5 seconds of Team Moar Door and started to taste victory. Team Moar Door was watching and just continued to race consistently with no mistakes lap after lap and held on to take the win, with Putnam in P2. Scarbrough’s visibility continued to diminish and he was unable to confidently defend his position. Kramer pulled along beside Scarbrough and made the pass, moving into third place.
Andrew Hicks led H1 into Turn 1 followed by Rob Oxford then Jeffrey Bankston, who slipped past Oxford going into Turn 3 and set his sights on Hicks. Half way around the second lap, Bankston put a pass on Hicks to take the lead. By lap four, Oxford had dropped back 10 to 12 seconds behind Hicks struggling with traction and visibility from rain and spray. Bankston had stretched his lead close to the same gap. On lap five, Oxford stepped up his pace getting around a few cars, clearing up his vision and began to close in on Hicks by one second or so each lap. Hicks saw Oxford in his mirror and sped up to keep Oxford behind him. Bankston ran a flawless race with a comfortable lead and took the win, followed by Hicks in P2 and Oxford just a few seconds behind in P3.
Sunday’s weather was the same so they were in for another wet and cold race. In H2 Kramer set pole followed by Putnam then Team Moar Door with Melissa Lovely at the wheel. Sadly, Jason Scarbrough had to leave early due to a sick family member and an early flight out of town. Putnam developed a brake issue in qualifying, and could not start the race. In H1 Bankston set pole followed by Oxford then Hicks.
The rain picked up right before the race, so there was more water to deal with than the day before. The H2 cars started in front of H1 Sunday again, but when the green flag dropped the H1 cars jumped ahead quickly. Bankston gained a 3-second lead before they exited the Carousel at Turn 7. When Bankston led the pack through the Kink they noticed a larger than normal overspray. Trying not to let Bankston run off and hide, Hicks went too fast, took the wrong line and put four wheels off, but luckily avoided the sand trap.
Oxford took over P2, 5 seconds behind the leader and had clear vision to hunt down Bankston. On lap three, Oxford was back on the rear bumper of Bankston looking for a way around. He followed Bankston for four or five laps. Then, out of nowhere, the motor let go and Oxford dropped out of the race and parked behind the corner station at Turn 8. Bankston continued with his lead to take the win two days in a row followed by Hicks in P2.
Not far behind was Kramer and Lovely in H2 watching Hicks testing out the grip in the grass to the left of the Kink. They raced nose to tail until lap four when Kramer put four wheels off and slowly recovered getting back on track. Melissa ran consistently, making no mistakes and making it impossible for Kramer to reclaim his position from Melissa. Way to go Melissa for taking the Win in H2! Kramer took P2.