NASA Great Lakes visited the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park over the July 4 weekend for some fireworks of our own, with a rare four-race event. The consistent rain we’ve seen all year was again present, but this time only on the Thursday load-in day, clearing out by 6 p.m., leaving the competition with sunny weather and a dry track for the remainder of the weekend.
Saturday qualifying witnessed John Allen top the field by 1.4 seconds with a 2:28.1, followed by Ryan Roberson at 2:29.5 and Teen Mazda Challenge driver Camden Gruber just a shade behind Roberson. At the start of race one, Gruber got around Roberson on the initial lap and from there both Allen and Gruber started to gap the field and at race end that gap would be just shy of 16 seconds. Gruber bested Allen on lap five and held on for the win. The two were never separated by more than 0.4 seconds for the bulk of the race. Meanwhile behind them, fast laps for P3 through P10 separated by only 1.1 seconds.
Allen held P1 from flag to flag in race two, with Gruber closing hard from P4. Allen edged Gruber by the slimmest of margins at the flag, a paper-thin 0.042 seconds. The pack edged closer to P1 and P2, with rookie Chris Finnigan breaking into the 2:28s, and Brian Silvestri in the 2:29s, but all others were running no better than 2:30s. During the middle of the race, Roberson and Kyle Webb battled for fifth separated by less than 0.5 seconds for four consecutive laps. Roberson ultimately held the position.
During Sunday’s race three, Allen held P1 from flag to flag while Gruber searched for ways to get around the veteran, but did not have any luck. Right behind P1 and P2, were Silvestri and Finnigan battling hard for P3 every lap, less than 0.5 seconds separating them. Silvestri held P3 for his second podium of the weekend.
The Sunday finale was no disappointment. The story at the top for P1 was just as exciting, with thin margins separating Allen and Gruber. But there were two other races in the Spec Miata pack just as exciting. Bruce Myrehn worked his way around Jeff Wood on lap nine after some great racing for seven laps, then picked his way by TMC driver Wyatt Wood on the final lap. A great drive by Myrehn, and great, tough racing by both Wyatt and Jeff Wood. Meanwhile, Andy Sellers and Peter Lygrios couldn’t be separated for eighth and ninth. Andy ultimately took P8, but Lygrios was ready to take the position if Sellers bobbled in any way.
Lygrios made some big strides in lap times and race craft at NCM after overcoming an electrical issue early in the weekend. Thanks to Roberson for loaning the needed sensors. Rookie Chris Finnigan continued to show speed, with another podium on his second race weekend.