After being out of their race cars two and a half months, the SoCal Spec E30 gang was not only looking for their mojo, but contending with a newly resurfaced section of the track approaching Cotton Corners. In qualifying Saturday, Rius Billing earned pole position, followed by Matt Thiemann and Steffen Thompson in third.
The green flag dropped for the Spec E30’s traditional standing start, and all made it through without incident, except Matt Thiemann, who missed his one-two shift. As the group rounded Turn 1 with the Off Ramp turn quickly approaching, Mitch Pepper got into the passenger side of Sean Trapp’s newly built car. Mitch was overheard saying “I thought I warmed my brakes up enough,” he said. “I guess I didn’t.”
The race was tight up front until Steffen Thompson moved over on Steve Stepanian in the front straight, which knocked Stepanian out of the race with just three laps left. Thompson spun into the infield, but still finished. However, it was too late to catch Rius Billing and Matt Thiemann as they pulled away from the pack. Billing and Thiemann battled right up until Billing broke a rocker arm and had to retire, so Thiemann took the win, posting the fastest lap time of the weekend being within .016 seconds from breaking into the 2:07s. Unfortunately, Pepper was disqualified for avoidable contact with Trapp. Thompson also was disqualified for passing Stepanian under yellow, which meant Frank Reed and Erick Strong finished in second and third.
On Sunday, Rius Billing again qualified on pole, again trailed by Thiemann and Thompson.
As the green flag waved, Billing and Thiemann went after each other. Right behind them, Stepanian and Reed took flank positions on Thompson. As the field entered Turn 1, Billing and Thiemann were nose to tail. However, third place was up for grabs as Stepanian, Thompson and Reed went through Turn 1 three wide with what looked like only a coat of paint between them. Sean Trapp tucked in behind Stepanian at the start and was just waiting for a mistake so he could capitalize on it. By the end of lap one, the order would be Billing, Thiemann and Reed up front.
After a full-course caution that separated the front three from the rest of the field by nearly a lap, racing resumed with some of the best driving of the season. On the final turn of the last lap, Thiemann made his move on Billing with a fabulous exit out of Sunset. The two had a drag race to the finish with Thiemann just barely edging out Billing, who was just ahead of Frank Reed in third.