Saturday qualifying took place right before lunch and it appeared the track was showing more grip as times were slightly quicker than those posted in the morning practice session for most of the drivers. NASA Southeast regular Terry Mathis was able to capture the pole position with a 1:18.4 in his 2002 Camaro. The other three competitors, all from the NASA Florida region, were within seconds of Mathis’ time. Saturday’s race was basically clean with all four participants battling close early on as Mathis got a good start and led the pack into Turn 1. As the race progressed, Mathis, Pat Wehmeyer and Bruce Byerly all battled nose to tail, swapping positions for basically the whole race with Dennis Ramsey hot on their heels just waiting for one of the top three to make a mistake. Late in the race, Ramsey got his wish when Wehmeyer suffered an on-track incident in Turn 1 and lost the third position he was running at the time. Several laps later when the checkered was shown, Mathis was able to hold on for the win with Byerly finishing second and Ramsey finishing third.
Sunday’s qualifying saw Mathis once again taking the top spot with a hot lap of 1:17.8. However, the Florida racers were only tenths behind, which was going to setup a very interesting start for the race. When the green flag dropped, Mathis again jumped out in the lead.
However, the Florida boys were not going to have any part of that and after a slight hiccup in Turn 1 by Mathis, all three Mustangs jumped ahead of him with Ramsey leading the way. Wehmeyer, who was able to repair the minor damage he suffered in Saturday’s race, moved into second and Byerly in third. After several laps of battling in the top three, Wehmeyer overtook Ramsey for the lead while at the same time, Mathis was able to catch the trio and get around Byerly, dropping him to fourth.
Mathis continued working his way through race traffic to eventually pass Ramsey to take the second position. He then set his sights on Wehmeyer who continued to thrash his Mustang and hold onto the top spot. As the race began to wind down, it was evident that the ending was going to be a showdown between Mathis and Wehmeyer. Both were battling nose to tail with Mathis right on the bumper of Wehmeyer when the white flag waved. Mathis knew that if he was going to make a move, he only had one more lap to do it. As the two rounded the last turn before the long straight heading for the start/finish line, Mathis was kissing the back bumper of Wehmeyer and setting up a draft move. This strategy would pay off as he pulled out just before the two passed the checkered flag and was able to get there first by half a car length! Therefore, Mathis would take the win, with Wehmeyer securing second and Ramsey, holding off Byerly, finishing out the top three.
Five participants registered for SI, with two coming up from the NASA Florida region. Saturday’s fastest qualifying time would go to the current NASA Southeast Spec Iron points leader Robert Miller in his 2010 Mustang with a time of 1:20.4. When Saturday’s green flag waved, Miller checked out early and stayed there until the checkered, taking the win. Although Cash Canada and Carmine Pace would keep Miller in their sights, they just didn’t have the total package needed to catch him. Thus, they would end in this order, Canada in second and Pace rounding out the top three. A special “hats off” to Pace who was in a new car for the first time, as well as a first time for him at Roebling Road. Definitely a respectful and deserved third-place finish for this FL region racer.
Sunday’s qualifying and race were almost carbon copies of Saturday’s event. Miller once again set the pole with a little slower time of 1:21.5 because of a more slippery track. When the green flag was shown, both he and Canada once again checked out, with Miller leading the way to the checkered flag and Canada close behind finishing second. However, NASA Southeast’s John Coulter, in his 2005 Mustang, battled with Pace early on before pulling away from him as the race continued. He would hold onto third for the rest of the race and be there as the checkered was flown. Kudos are also in order for Coulter for a strong third-place finish as this was also the first time he’d been to Roebling Road and also in a relatively “new” car.
Round four of the AI/X/SI/CMC NASA Southeast championship will be held at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC, May 16-17. As the point standings remain tight, this promises to bring yet another exciting and action packed event!