The Nitto Tires United States Touring Car Championship has two classes, Touring and GT. The top five qualifiers in each class raced for pole in Saturday’s race. Positions six on down would have to qualify again on Sunday. So Saturday’s race means nothing for the slower cars but everything for the top five.
Tim Barber took the pole by .374 seconds over two-time USTCC champion Dave Brown in the Touring class. Brad McClure, Doug Makishima, and Ali Arsham rounded out the top five in the Touring class who would race for pole. In the GT class, Andrie Hartanto got the pole by .1 of a second over Geoff Sykes. Sean Yepez qualified third, Dave Lang was fourth and Karl Chicca was fifth.
At Saturday’s race, all eyes were on the pair of TNI Racing Mazda Mazdaspeed3s. Barber won and took Sunday’s Touring Car pole over his teammate Makishima’s TNI Racing Mazdaspeed3. Brown and McClure followed and would start third and fourth, respectively. Arsham had a tire puncture and was forced to pull off and would start fifth. In the GT class, Hartanto won easily over Lang and Chicca as Yepez and Sykes had mechanical problems that shortened their session.
For the main race on Sunday, McClure, who is the Touring Car points leader, blew up the transmission in his GoGoGear.com/UTI/BTM Motorwerks BMW M3 and was forced to use his teammate’s BMW M3 instead. This meant that he would have to start from the back of the field. We had a word with Barber before he went out and he told us that he was also having transmission problems and he would have to start in second gear.
In the Touring class, Dave Brown got a great launch and jumped to the lead at the start but the overall pace of Barber was too much and he was passed for the lead in Turn 6. From there a huge battle ensued between Brown’s Competition Clutch BMW M3 and the TNI Racing Mazdaspeed3 of Makishima. The pair traded positions several times which allowed Barber to get away. With about five laps to go, Makishima had turbo hose problems and was forced to retire the car. Brown was right behind Makishima and a few laps earlier had seen smoke out of Makishima’s car. As all of this drama was happening up front, McClure was charging up the field. After the first few laps he was in fifth and after Makishima’s retirement he was in fourth behind his teammate Arsham. McClure was trying to catch his teammate for those extra points in the championship, and on the last corner on the last lap, he played drifter.
“I was trying to reel in Ali in the Hyundai,” he said. “I came in a little hot and accelerated a little too much and did a little sideways action coming out of the turn. It was kind of fun.”
Despite the transmission issues, Barber won by more than 25 seconds. Brown finished second and Arsham finished third in the GoGoGear.com/UTI/Konig Wheels Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
The battle for the GT class was tight as the CT Engineering Honda S2000 of Andrie Hartanto was shadowed by the Performance Technic BMW M3 of Sean Yepez lap after lap. Hartanto kept the lead but Yepez was quicker and posted a best lap of 0.5 seconds quicker but was unable to make the pass. Hartanto said afterwards that he had to drive at qualifying pace during the entire race to keep Yepez behind. Sykes maintained his points lead in the driver’s championship points by finishing third in the Replay XD BMW M3.