The race started with Eric Palacio on pole with a time just .76 seconds off of the track record. Next to him was his father Julio. Behind them were the consistently fast Ryan Whitinger, Michael Harness, Jared Stoops and Sandro Espinosa. Qualifying seventh was new to Spec E30 mystery man A.R. Hoshmandy and his DriveGear SpecE30 rental.
Eric Palacio pulled out to an early lead while the others fought it out behind him. Then in lap three, Eric attempted to take Turn 3 from a Honda Odyssey minivan, visiting from the Honda manufacturing facility in Alabama and racing in HC1, and the move went poorly. As Eric limped his damaged car toward the pit entrance, Ryan Whitinger passed him for the lead with Eric’s father Julio Palacio on his rear bumper. A moment later, Julio Palacio fell back a couple seconds and was never able to catch up to the podium fight.
With the Palacios no longer a threat, Ryan Whitinger had the lead and Sandro Espinosa passed Michael Harness to get on Whitinger’s bumper. Espinosa got Whitinger in lap six and the lead changed multiple times as they fought back and forth, with only inches of separation. After 20 minutes of intense contact-free fighting for the win, and one lap until white flag, Espinosa exited Turn 12 only inches ahead of Ryan, slid wide on exit and in front of the grandstands and went into a tank slapper at well over 100 mph.
Espinosa had intended to retire his car at the end of this race weekend, so the heavy impact on the inside wall caused a retirement only one race early. In that same lap, Hoshmandy got by Michael Harness. Whitinger flew solo for the last two laps for a comfortable win, followed by A.R. Hoshmandy in his rental SpecE30, and Michael Harness.
Congratulations go to Eric Palacio, the 2013 points champion for NASA Southeast Spec E30. Eric won 12 of 15 races he entered. He and his father Julio shared the podium eight times in this highly competitive region in the third largest race class in the nation. Espinosa was third in 2013 points, edged out by Julio Palacio by a DNF in the last race of the season. A total of 61 Spec E30s raced in the Southeast region during 2013.