2022 Spec E46 National Champion Casey Mashore could use a Cool Suit system — but he doesn’t need one to win races. Mashore racked up two wins over an unseasonably hot weekend in October during the California Cup Presented by Bimmerworld at Buttonwillow, a showdown between NASA NorCal and NASA SoCal drivers, with Jared Zakem picking up the win in Sunday morning’s qualifying race.
But the California Cup Presented by Bimmerworld is structured like a Championships event, where the points accumulated over three races all weekend long determine the overall winner. In addition, all the Spec E46 drivers were limited to one set of tires for the whole weekend.
In Saturday’s race one, Mashore and Zakem swapped the lead back and forth a few times, but as the old adage goes, victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake. Mashore trailed late in the race, but Zakem overcooked the entry Cotton Corner and went four off. Mashore drove on for the win.
“I burnt it down into Star Mazda,” Mashore said as he downed water after the race. “He got me on the inside there and then I was chasing him back down through Cotton Corners and I was able to push on him a little bit and then coming down the back straight, he kind of blocked a little bit. He went right and then back left, but he messed himself up and ended up going off.”
Zakem acknowledged the late-race error — among others — and seemed pleased with second place on Saturday.
“He made one kind of big mistake. I made three, so that’s kind of where it came off,” he said. “I had three big offs.”
Starting from fourth, Phillip Buffington was focused on getting a good position, establishing some distance between himself and the car behind, and holding onto it while preserving his tires.
“Once that gap happened, just keeping those couple of guys behind me, I was satisfied with that,” Buffington said. “We got two more races left. It’s California cup. So it’s this set of tires. This is all you get except for practice. So tomorrow morning we’ll practice, we can change that. So today you have to run that set for qualifying in today’s race. And then we have to run that set tomorrow as well. So if you can save a little bit of tire, it’ll be helpful tomorrow.”
Team Abuse of Power finished fourth. Remember that name. It’ll come up later in the story.
For Sunday morning’s qualifying race, Jared Zakem took the win, followed by Jonathan Perichon in second and J.P. Cadoux in third, and Team Abuse of Power in fourth. For Sunday’s main, that qualifying race finish set the grid, which put Zakem on pole.
Mashore started from seventh because of contact in the qualifying race.
“I had some contact in qual race and I got pushed way out on the outside of Sunset. Way out there. I was checking out the neighbor’s property, so I made my way back on track and got to seventh and then that’s where we started,” he said.
That meant he’d have to work hard to get to the front of a competitive field to have a shot at the California Cup Presented by Bimmerworld. And that’s just what he did, marching forward all race long to take first place in the third race of the weekend.
Jared Zakem had calculated where he needed to finish to capture the California Cup Presented by Bimmerworld, and so when he got to where he wanted to be, he kept his eyes on the prize and J.P. Cadoux in his mirrors.
“Basically, I had to get fourth or better. So I wasn’t trying to make any risks or anything like that to even letting Casey get by. I still ended up getting the California Cup.
JP Cadoux, finished third Sunday, but not on the podium for the Cup.
“I got behind Jared and just kind of followed him for a while and then he kind of checked out on me,” Cadoux said. “I saw Casey start to come up halfway through the field and then he finally caught me and I had nothing for him. I figured I’d just tuck him behind him and try to follow him, which I was for a while. And it was good. And then we started getting into the E 30 traffic and then it kind of just broke us all apart.”
So, for Sunday’s race it was Mashore in first, Zakem in second and Cadoux in third.
When the points were tallied for the California Cup Presented by Bimmerworld, it was Zakem with the big win, followed by Mashore and Team Abuse of Power and its driver Steve Stepanian, whose four fourth-place finishes were good enough to get him third for the Cup, where it counted most for that weekend.