Spec3 drivers were excited for their second race weekend of the season at VIRginia International Raceway March 23 and 24. However, as in February, the weather would again be a factor. On Saturday, conditions were near perfect for qualifying and the 25-minute sprint race.
George “Grampa” Widas made a great start and took advantage of a bobbled shift by Mark Hilburger going into Turn 1 to take second behind pole-winner, Jon McAvoy. Will Haden and Rookie Rob Talastas rounded out the top five. McAvoy built a five-car-length lead while Hilburger battled to get past Widas on lap two. Hilburger was able to catch up with the No. 07 car of McAvoy, going side by side into the braking zone on the back straight, but McAvoy had the preferred line into Roller Coaster and maintained the lead. The two cars ran within car lengths of each other for the rest of the race, with McAvoy finishing first and Hilburger finishing a half second behind in second. Congratulations to Widas for grabbing the third spot in his first race back for 2013.
As for Sunday, well, it was a different story. A cold front dumped rain and sleet with temperatures in the mid 30s for most of the day. Nearly half the paddock cleared out, including several Spec3 competitors. Those who stayed, braved some difficult driving conditions with an unyielding rain/sleet mix falling all day and slush and standing water accumulating on the track.
During qualifying, Hilburger spun off track midway through the uphill esses and hit the outside tire wall, sustaining damage to the rear of his car. However, he continued and qualified on pole for the 40-minute race.
On the opening lap, Hilburger spun at the exit of Turn 1. Rob Talastas did some heads-up driving to avoid contact. Widas capitalized and went from third to first, followed by Haden, Talastas, and Hilburger after he got going again.
Standing water on the straights kept the top speeds low due to hydroplaning and drivers used the slippery curbs sparingly. After one lap of racing, the order reshuffled, with Hilburger in first, followed by Talastas, Widas, and Haden. The racers maintained those positions, managed back-marker traffic without incident and finished in that same order. It was an intense 40 minutes of racing without a doubt.
For more Spec3 racing news, photos and video, go to www.spec3racing.com or on Facebook at NASA Spec3.