In a typically terrific Southeast Region showing, 28 Spec E30s took to the grid on June 4 to battle with their buddies. Qualifying was close. The first 15 cars were covered by just 2 seconds.
On pole was Sandro Espinosa, 2015 Spec E30 Champion on both coasts. By Espinosa’s side was Ryan Whitinger, who made the podium at both the Eastern and Western States Championships. Inside on the second row was Rob Eskew, who recently set the track record at Roebling Road. Outside of Eskew was the always-fast David Walsh. In the third row was 2015 Rookie of the Year, youngster Alex Barroso, and new father Mark Issa.
At the green, Whitinger got a terrific start, held it through the outside of Turn 1, and got past Espinosa. The leaders started catching slower traffic early in lap two. Walsh and his Group3 teammate, Steve Lako, pounced on Espinosa when he got slowed by traffic in Turn 5. Lako, who lost the 2014 Eastern States Championships due only to an innocuous technical violation, had, in the first lap, moved all the way up from eighth.
On the long back stretch, Espinosa caught up to Walsh, and they were three-wide with slower traffic when Espinosa got bumped into Walsh, putting the latter into a wall. Espinosa’s video showed Walsh’s car receding in the rearview mirror as Espinosa pounded his steering wheel with frustration at the bad luck that had befallen a Spec E30 buddy. As a full-course yellow turned to red, the order was Whitinger, Lako, Barroso and John Clark. Clark had only raced a couple times in the last year, but at fourth of 28, he seemed to remember which way to turn.
Two laps after the restart, Lako over-cooked Turn 1 and ended his race. The order was now Whitinger, Barroso, Clark and Mid-South Spec E30 Director Brian Edmonds. The final change among the front runners was Eskew getting by Barroso.