NASA Texas Spec E46 headed back to a familiar track for the second event of the 2022 season, but this time with another new racer joining in on the fun from the Colorado region. Four racers again were present: Texas veterans Jason Rikke, Pat Welch, and Hank Smith joined the Colorado guest, Josh Finkelstein.
NASA Texas Region veteran Pat Welch led the field in all Saturday sessions, but was pressed in race two by Jason Rikke, who actually had the fastest time in Saturday racing, keeping the pressure on Welch coming in second by only three tenths at the checkers. Finkelstein spent Saturday fighting power steering issues, which set the Colorado driver back on getting up to speed on the Texas track.
For this event, the Spec E46 field only had American Muscle Car Masters and Camaro Mustang Challenge on track at the same time. This gave the Spec E46 field ample clear track to battle it out on Sunday. For Sunday’s race two, Rikke started on pole, followed by Finkelstein, Smith and Welch.
The start flag at MSR Cresson is thrown one turn earlier than Start/Finish to give the field ample time to figure things out before everything stacks up heading into the tight Rattlesnake section that doesn’t promote side-by-side racing. After the green flag dropped, through the first lap, the start order remained unchanged as the four waited to see how the race would play out.
On lap two, Welch attempted an outside pass on Smith at the entry of Rattlesnake, but ultimately wasn’t far enough alongside and was pinched by the tight first left-hand corner of the section. Ahead in second, Finkelstein continued to maintain pressure on the leader, Rikke.
Still on the second lap, out of the fast left-hander, Ricochet, Finkelstein got the better run to Little Bend, allowing him to have the inside advantage on Rikke making a pass for the lead. However, the four continued to be separated by less than a second. Welch, who had success all weekend and was in fourth, was desperate to make headway. Unfortunately for him, the faster AMCM class cars had caught up and were now making their way through the Spec E46 field.
On lap three, with the field beginning to string out due to faster cars making their way through, Welch found his way past Smith also on the inside into Little Bend. It was time to play catch-up. By the start of lap four, the top three had all bunched up again for a three-way battle for the win. Welch got a slightly better run out of Tombstone, allowing him to pull along the inside of Rikke through Big Bend. Unfortunately for Welch, Big Bend is just as it sounds, wide and large radius so Rikke was able to maintain the outside forcing Welch to work hard in the following braking zone to complete the pass.
By lap five, Finkelstein was in the lead, followed by Welch, Rikke, and Smith. Finkelstein had grown his lead out to almost four seconds. With Welch now ahead of Rikke, the pair pushed lap by lap to reduce the lead of Finkelstein. In the process, both ultimately posted lap times under the track record.
Heading into the penultimate lap, Welch had caught up to the bumper of Finkelstein and had a small run heading into the Rattlesnake braking zone, but wasn’t able to capitalize. With Rikke still close behind, Welch played it safe for the right opportunity.
Again heading into Rattlesnake, this time on the final lap, Welch had a better run and was able to pull alongside Finkelstein in the braking zone. However, unless you have the pass complete by the left hand portion of the flowing chicane, the looming high curbing makes you back out. Welch did yield, which allowed Finkelstein to continue in the lead. The resulting gap for the remainder of the lap was too much for Welch to overcome, handing Finkelstein the win.
Not to be outdone, Pat Welch set a new MSR Cresson CCW Spec E46 track record of 1:22.781 lowering it by .2 seconds.