SoCal Spec E30 converged on Buttonwillow Raceway in April, and with 24 racers in the Spec E30 field, outnumbering all other classes, this was going to be some exciting racing for everyone.
Saturday’s configuration was 13 clockwise, which is one of the more traditional configurations for Buttonwillow Raceway. This configuration has the Bus Stop and Phil Hill, which are corners that I like to describe as confidence based. You need to commit early on these turns and the results are not immediate. Usually the racers with the most laps through these sections tend to have more success. They also usually include cars going two-wheeling if done right.
Since 2020, there has been a new style of qualifying, which takes your two best times of the session, one for the Saturday’s main race, the second fastest lap for the qualifying race on Sunday. With that said, the usual suspects found themselves at the top for Saturday. Neil Daly, 2020’s regional champion showed dominance from the start with a qualifying time of 2:04.266. A whole .750 seconds faster than the next four drivers, Ed Sukchai, Mickey Miller, Forenz Arabian and Andrew Clark, who were all within a half second of one another.
Once the green flag dropped for the first race, Daly took a commanding position up front and never gave it up. Sukchai unfortunately was boxed out early in the race, allowing both Miller and Arabian by him. Miller spent the rest of the race defending second and keeping Arabian away from his tail. Even with the large gap, Clark was able to drive back up to the lead pack and put pressure on Arabian, who was already busy, but wouldn’t let go of third. Daly won flag to flag with a lead of 10 seconds, with only a few tenths separating Miller, Arabian and Clark for second, third and fourth, respectively.
Sunday’s race had a change of configuration to 14 clockwise, with the A Section. This configuration replaces the slower bus stop with a long high-speed, dog-leg back straight, which allows the Spec E30s to reach 110 mph.
Given the new nature of qualifying, your second-fastest lap time from Saturday is used for your grid position on the qualifying race. Arabian took pole by having the fastest, second-fastest time. Arabian was followed by Miller, Clark, Daly and Jeremy Patterson.
During the qualifying race, the inexperienced leader managed to hold off the horde of Spec E30s for a single lap. Arabian lost the lead while defending a pass from Miller. Close behind, Clark was able to pass both heading into Turn 1 as they lost momentum from the battle. The following laps were punctuated with emergency vehicle flags and yellow flags.
From the lead-pack perspective, it was confusing because we could not see the incident’s location because it was way off track outside Riverside. Within this chaos, Miller and Daly were able to get by Arabian. What followed was a continuous battle for second between Daly and Arabian. On the white-flag lap, you could see Miller’s tires dropping off, and Daly managed to get a better exit onto the back straight right before a yellow flag station, cementing his position. Finally, with those overworked tires, Arabian managed to set up a pass starting all the way down from the Sweeper and finishing in Sunset to get by Miller and regaining a spot on the podium.
At first glance of the results, Sunday’s main race looked a little more relaxed, because the top five drivers finished in their respective starting positions, with only Sean Aron breaking the mold with a hard charger award by gaining four positions. But in reality, Daly and Clark were bumper to bumper for the entire race, battling it out, with only one large mistake from Daly that allowed Clark through. Daly decided to test his skid plate to see if it worked as shovel and went straight off after Phil Hill, kicking up a large dust cloud, blinding Arabian in third, who was spectating this battle of the gods. Once Clark was ahead, he just needed to hold out for two more laps and he won the race. Daly finished in second, but he went away with a new track record in the configuration.