NASA Spec3 closed out its Mid-Atlantic season among the rolling hills of Virginia International Raceway. The emerging colors of autumn meant low humidity, low temperatures and more horsepower. Competition was fierce because each of the top five positions in season points would be determined on the final weekend. Series leader, Jon McAvoy, took full advantage of the “horsepower weather” and set a new Spec3 qualifying track record of 2:10.784.
The front row for race one consisted of McAvoy on pole and Sean O’Hara on the outside. The field following consisted of Joey Thomas, Taylor Johnson, Sean O’Connell, Jake Thiewes, Thomas Norton and Alex Wieland.
McAvoy and O’Hara had similar standing starts and went side-by-side through Turns 1, 2 and 3 with McAvoy pulling ahead just before Turn 4 while Thomas and Johnson battled behind and the rest of the field sorted themselves. O’Hara briefly took the lead down the back straight but McAvoy took the position back under braking into Turn 14.
McAvoy then experienced a brake booster failure, resulting in a functional but unassisted middle pedal, which dropped him from first to seventh while figuring out the situation. Right behind the first two, Johnson and Thomas were in a dead heat battling for positions three and four, which quickly turned into a podium duel.
Racing throughout the Spec3 field was intense for the length of the midday session. Following the top three, the voice of NASA Mid-Atlantic, and co-founder of Out Motorsports, Jake Thiewes was turning consistent laps to escape the challenge of other competitors running fifth through eighth – O’Connell, Norton, McAvoy, and Wieland. By the time the white flag was waving on the starter stand, Norton had closed to within four car lengths of Sean O’Connell and Jon McAvoy had determined his brakes still functioned, thus enabling him to be within a similar distance to Norton.
The battle for second still raged between Joey Thomas and Taylor Johnson with a drag race down the back straight on the final lap. The two racers navigated turns 14-17, colloquially known as the “roller coaster,” with Johnson taking the lead position coming onto the front straight to receive the checkered flag 0.2 seconds ahead of Thomas. Also on the last lap, heading into Turn 3, Norton lost the rear end of his car into a soft spin, enabling McAvoy to pass and go on to catch and eke beyond O’Connell at the checkers to finish fifth behind Thiewes. As usual, the intensity of Spec3 battles raged from green to the end.
Results of race one: O’Hara, Johnson, Thomas, Thiewes, McAvoy, O’Connel, Wieland, Norton
Race two for the season was equally as fun to start, but unfortunately was cut short and ended up yellow due to another class incident.