Two 944 Spec cars participated in the fourth round of the Midwest Endurance Challenge the Friday evening before the September sprint races at Autobahn Country Club. Gary Barton ran the 2.5-hour event as a test and tune, while Neal Agran and Eric Kuhns continued their pursuit of the E3 championship in the 4.5 hour “Day into Night” endurance race.
Barton was able to hone his skills and setup with help from Kuhns, who offered Traqmate coaching in the pits and setup help. A sway bar adjustment and data analysis shaved 8 seconds off Barton’s lap times, eventually netting him a fourth place finish in the Saturday sprint race.
Agran and Kuhns faced tight competition from Miatas fielded by last year’s one-two finishers in E3, a team headed by Brian Domont and the ever-competitive Kaplan Racing. These two Miatas were separated by only 9 seconds at the conclusion of last year’s 4.5-hour event and promised to put forth a battle royale this year.
The three teams ran nose to tail for the first several laps, when the Kaplan car retired with an engine failure. Agran subsequently passed Domont for the E3 lead, igniting a 90-minute sprint race. Domont and Agran traded the position multiple times and were never separated by more than five car lengths as darkness fell and the Domont car made its first stop. The pair both recorded their fastest lap 75 minutes into the race, separated by only a tenth of a second.
When the dust settled, quick pitwork by the Pine Tree Motorsports crew, the consistency of Agran and Kuhns, and the 944’s larger gas tank prevailed. Kuhns and Agran took the E3 win with a 103-second margin over the Domont Miata, with the E3 Miata of Mark Gritter one lap behind. The trio took second through fourth overall behind Charles Margosian’s ES BMW M3.