Qualifying proved to be a busy task with more than eight classes grouped together on Saturday. The top four qualifiers were separated by a second each, yet Andrew Clark posted the fastest lap of the session, claiming pole position with a 2:03.769, a time that was almost 2 full seconds faster than the 2016 lap record of 2:05.559 set by Michael Mihld. Steve Stepanian secured the outside pole position. Next on the grid was a newcomer to the Spec E30 group, however nowhere near new to racing. After taking only a few laps, Mickey Miller showed he brought his A game by capturing third starting position with cagey veteran Sean Aron on his outside for the start of Saturday’s race.
At the drop of the green, Clark, Stepanian and Miller gapped the field and found their own rhythm for a majority of the race. Stepanian led though the first half of the lap, but Clark pulled off a bold pass going into Riverside to take the lead. Stepanian patiently stayed in second for most of the race and patiently waited for the right time to make his move on Clark. Later in the race, Clark gave him the opportunity he was waiting for, and Stepanian took full advantage to make the pass. Clark was having none of that and quickly repassed Stepanian, shaking his finger at Stepanian in the mirror saying, “Not today sir. Not today.” Miller wasn’t close enough to benefit from Clark and Stepanian battling it out corner after corner and stayed in third.
“I had the best seat in the house,” Miller said. “Those two looked like they were in a cage match, winner take all!”
With two laps to go, Stepanian used traffic to his advantage and squeaked by Clark to take the lead as he waved his finger in his mirror saying, “Yes sir, today is the day!” At the finish, it was Stepanian taking the win. Only .3 seconds behind, Clark grabbed the second-place spot, with Miller rounding out the podium in his first Spec E30 race! The hard charger award went to Mihld, who moved up six spots from his 11th-place starting position, which stemmed from a mechanical issue that caused him to miss qualifying. Stepanian also ran the fastest lap of the race and set a new Spec E30 track record with time of 2:05.457! Clark’s fastest lap also broke the old track record by .01 seconds.
Sunday’s qualifying race set the grid for the main race. The interesting thing is that the top eight finishers all broke the track record with the fastest lap being reset again by Stepanian, with a blistering time of 2:02.673! Clark finished second, with third place going to Miller.
After the green flew, Clark got out in front, beating Stepanian to the lead in the first turn. “I did not want to spend the whole race behind Steve, because the longer you sit there, the wider his car just seems to become.”
Instead, Stepanian chased Clark all race long with Miller in third place again. Meanwhile. On lap 10, a car put oil down in the Riverside turn, which put many cars off track. The dust cloud that ensued collected a couple of cars, even with a local yellow. Just past the incident, Stepanian caught Clark in the wrong gear and passed him going into the sweeper to take the lead. A full-course yellow came out soon after, effectively ending the race. At the checkers, Stepanian completed a clean sweep of all three races. Clark took second, with Miller in third.
This also finished out the season points Championship, and Neil Daily, driving his Black Swan Research car, took the 2018 season points championship. Clark took second in points with Aron in third in what was a fantastic season for SoCal Spec E30.