Ken Dobson won the GT class and Tim Barber won the Touring class at round three of the Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. For round four, it was Dobson once again with the win in GT, but this time, Michael Whelden won the Touring Car class.
Round three was difficult for everyone due to numerous cautions and a full-course yellow. Tim Barber took the early lead in his TNI Racing Mazdaspeed 3, but as the race went on, his lead seemed to be diminished. Soon the MBO Motorsports Honda Civic of Pete Bovenberg was charging hard through the pack and was on Barber’s rear bumper. Barber had a mirror full of Bovenberg, who at that time was almost a second a lap quicker. It looked like it would just be a matter of time until Bovenberg made the pass but suddenly one of the other competitors blew an engine coming into Turn 10, which dumped oil all over the track. At least six cars ended up spinning in the oil, but amazingly, no one hit anything. The full-course caution caused mass confusion among the spinning cars and the amount of debris on the track.
Meanwhile in the GT class, Dobson’s FFR GTM was leading, but his biggest challenger, Daniel Akhromstev’s Red Star Racing BMW M3, broke a half shaft right at the start and could not even take the green flag. That gave a bit of breathing room to Dobson, but behind him a battle ensued between the Life’s Good Racing Chevrolet Camaro of Dave Brown and the Achilles Motorsports BMW M3 of VJ Mirzayan. Brown looked strong and it looked like he was going to win it until his Camaro spun in the Turn 10 oil, giving second place to Mirzayan, who was slick enough to avoid trouble.
Once the cars were bunched up behind the safety car, something unusual happened. Bovenberg’s Civic was now in the lead in front of the Mazda. After the race it was shown that the Civic driver had made a pass under yellow-flag conditions. Bovenberg was handed a penalty that put him to last place and the victory went to Barber. Beau Borders in the Hawk/Competition Clutch BMW M3 finished second and his teammate Justin Crickenberger in the other Hawk/Competition Clutch BMW M3 finished third.
Roger Eagleton managed to win the Sportsman class in the GoGoGear.com/UTI BMW M3 with Jim Stevens in the Achilles Motorsports BMW M3 finishing second and his teammate Gregg Hughes in the other Achilles Motorsports BMW M3 finishing third.
Round four was a brand-new day and in the GT class. Dobson, driving the My Race Shop/TelTac Factory Five GTM, started on pole and pulled away from second-place finisher Dave Brown, who was driving the Hawk Performance Chevrolet Camaro. VJ Mirzayan finished in third place in the Achilles Motorsports BMW M3.
Whelden won the Touring class in a different car than what he started the weekend in. Whelden usually drives the San Rafael Mitsubishi Lancer, but when the car experienced mechanical issues in qualifying, the team switched to a backup BMW M3 to keep his chances of a championship alive. Whelden had to work for the win because at least five people held the lead during the race at some point. What matters most is who has the lead at the end, which was Whelden’s Sparta/CCI BMW M3. Teammate Beau Borders finished second in the Hawk/Sparta/CCI BMW M3 and Roger Eagleton’s GoGoGear.com/UTI BMW M3 finished third.
With his third place, Eagleton also won the Sportsman class with Gregg Hughes driving the Achilles Motorsports BMW M3 finishing second and Jim Stevens in the other Achilles Motorsports BMW M3 finishing third.