Six drivers were up to the challenge for the NASA Great Lakes event at Mid-Ohio in August. Brad Raum, Shannon McCue, Steve Brewster and Rick Briggs from the Great Lakes Region and Dan Piña, and newly minted 944 Spec racer Mike Cooper, from the Midwest Region took to the track.
Saturday’s qualifying put Piña on the pole followed by Raum, McCue, Cooper, Brewster and Briggs. The 944 Spec racers brought up the rear of the first wave of Honda Challenge and Performance Touring cars. At the start of the race, Piña and Raum bolted down the backstretch and into Turn 1 with Piña edging out Raum and McCue getting a nose in the mix. Piña masterfully weeded his way through the slower traffic of the first wave with Raum in hot pursuit.
A pitched battle took place between McCue and Cooper who swapped position several times. Briggs learned that making major suspension changes before the race wasn’t the best plan and suffered from handling issues with the new setup. Other than a couple local yellows, racing was clean and the track stayed green for the duration of the race. The finishing order ended just as it started with Piña taking the win, followed by Raum, McCue, Cooper, Brewster and Briggs. Many drivers posted faster lap times in this race than in previous races. The conditions were right and the new TOYO RR tires were working great.
On Sunday, Piña shot out to the lead at the start, followed by Raum and McCue. The slower traffic proved a challenge early on and Piña nearly got tangled up with a slower GTS2 car at the entrance to Thunder Valley. Raum was determined not to let Piña outdistance him as in Saturday’s race. Lap times were improving for the entire field on Sunday.
Piña had a slight mishap into the entrance of Thunder Valley and went off course and Raum seized the opportunity to take the lead for the better part of four laps until Piña came roaring back and he managed to take the lead and the win for the second day in a row. The finishing order was the same as Saturday, but not before a lot of good racing had taken place.
Briggs was able to test his driving skills after a bold inside move by an out-of-class driver ended up destroying a right front fender and sending Briggs off track at the top of the Keyhole. Piña finished with a blistering best lap time of 142.927, followed by Raum at 143.160, McCue at 144.490, Cooper at 146.558, Brewster at 146.772 and Briggs at 151.790.
For complete results and lap records, please see www.nasagreatlakes.com.