Round three of the 2014 Spec E30 season brought racers back to Buttonwillow Raceway Park. The group welcomed newcomers Robert Davis, Jerick Javier, Greg Strelzoff and Robert Lazar, who all made their SoCal Spec E30 debut.
As he did at Auto Club Speedway, Charles Buzzetti went out in the morning warm-up and laid down a blistering time. Legend has it that this track is nick-named “BuzzettiWillow,” and the group was starting to see why!
The qualifying session put Buzzetti on pole with a 2:07.219. Steve Stepanian was .1 seconds behind him and Andrew Clark was less than .1 seconds behind Stepanian.
Saturday’s standing start race had 17 cars charging off in the clockwise direction. For the first three turns, the racers went two and three wide! Right from the start, Buzzetti and Stepanian were up front and walking away from the field where battles raged for third through seventh place, having no less than five position swaps in the first two laps.
Stepanian trailed Buzzetti all race long until the very last lap when he passed Buzzetti in Sunset to take the win. In addition to the win, Stepanian also set a new track record of 2:07.038. Andrew Clark held off Mitch Pepper and Robert Davis for his first Spec E30 podium finish!
The top nine cars were inverted for Sunday’s qualifying race, giving Nick Steel his first Spec E30 pole with JoJo McKenzie outside of him. As an added bonus, a mystery guest driving a Toyota Celica somehow found his way into the grid of the Spec E30 race and tried to start from the outside of the second-position car, that is until he got waived out by the starter.
When the green flag dropped, Steel charged out in front and held the lead with McKenzie right on his bumper. Buzzetti, Michael Mihld and Pepper were engaged right behind them. Unfortunately, Steel spun exiting the Bus Stop and almost collected Stepanian, who was in third. Buzzetti took the checkers with Stepanian right behind him. McKenzie held on for the third spot for his first Spec E30 podium finish!
Sunday afternoon brought an unfamiliar sight at Buttonwillow: Buzzetti actually watching his rear view mirror as he and Stepanian, yet again, pulled away from the group to do battle. On the next to last lap, Stepanian passed Buzzetti in Sunrise for the lead. Stepanian then took advantage of lapped traffic and pulled off a text book braking maneuver on three cars entering Cotton Corners. In the end, “the pass” and lapped traffic enabled Stepanian to take the unpressured win. Clark and Pepper raced to the finish with Pepper holding onto the last podium spot.