Several 944 Spec drivers ran round two of the 2013 Midwest Endurance Challenge Friday afternoon. Neal Agran teamed with Eric Kuhns in his No. 80 car for the three-hour event, while Ward Herst teamed with Sam Grant in his No. 51 car. A thunderstorm preceded the race, leaving the track slippery with standing water and runoff.
Never having seen the course, Herst started fifth, with Agran beside him in sixth. The pair worked their way through traffic in the early laps, eventually rising to fourth and second, respectively. Agran and Kuhns were sidelined by an unplanned stop on lap 50 to inspect the car after minor contact with a spinning back marker, followed by a 5 minute fuel-spill penalty. Herst and Grant climbed to third, only to be felled by falling oil pressure at hour two. Kuhns assumed third from Grant and held it to the checker.
On Saturday, Eric Kuhns took the pole, followed by Dan Pina, Angel Blazquez, Ray Freundt, Sudhir Chhikara, Ward Herst, Brad Raum, Steve Brewster, Shannon McCue, and Rick Briggs. Kuhns held the lead over Pina through the opening turns, followed closely by Blazquez. The racing for fourth through 10th was intense from the get go.
As the race settled, three major battles emerged: Pina and Kuhns nose to tail exchanging the lead; Chhikara and Freundt nose to tail for fourth, with Raum only two car lengths behind; and newcomer Herst, a Putnam rookie, stalking McCue for seventh. After several attempts, Pina made his move around Kuhns in lap seven. Five laps later, Kuhns retook the lead in traffic. Pina wasn’t having it. After testing Kuhns in turns 7 and 8 multiple times, Pina used traffic to his advantage to take back the lead for keeps six laps later. At the flag, Pina had drawn out a 2.70second lead, but was piped by Kuhns for the lap record by 0.02 seconds.
Qualifying times were ripping for Sunday’s race. Kuhns earned the pole with a sub-lap record 1:21.6, followed closely by Agran and Pina.
At the start, Kuhns’ hopes came to fruition as he gleefully watched Agran and Pina engage in a nose to tail battle for second while he opened up a small gap. Behind the dueling pair, Blazquez moved inside Chhikara in the opening turns to take fourth, igniting yet another race-long, nose-to-tail battle. While neither of these battles produced a pass, the racing was ferocious – no mistakes, no opportunities, just endless nose-to-tail running through traffic at full speed.
At the flag, Kuhns took the victory with a 3 second lead, while Agran took second while holding off a charging Pina at the line by 0.1 second.