When the green flag dropped on the Spec E30 race, 40 cars did a clutch dump on the front straight, and the race was on. Competing that day were three previous National Champions, among them Anthony Magagnoli, Robert Grace and three-time Champion Chris Cobetto. The top 10 cars registered lap times all within one second of one another.
Eric Palacio had earned the pole position, followed by Robert Grace and Peter Thibault, whose car suffered mechanical trouble early in the race. Steven Lako took the early lead, followed by Grace and Magagnoli.
Lako said there was a lot of cooperation among the top five drivers. Drafting on the back straight allowed them to gap the second half of the top 10 cars.
“There was a lot of back and forth,” Grace said. “I led the race for a little while, then contact from another driver sent me back a little ways.”
Meanwhile, Sandro Espinosa, who started from the 39th position on grid, had been diligently working his way forward. And by the time the white flag came out, he was in sixth, but he wasn’t done. Espinosa capitalized on a competitor’s mistake in Turn 7, got a good run down the back straight, which put him in fifth. When he crested the hill under the bridge, he could see third and fourth place cars battling each other. Somehow, Espinosa got by both of them to take third place.
“The last lap was very interesting,” he said. “I was in sixth, and Fraser got a little sideways out of Turn 7, and I got a run and then I was in fifth. Then the guys in front of me were battling and I just sneaked in and took it at the Start/Finish line.”
Lako finished first, with Grace just behind in second. Or so it seemed. Post race inspections revealed noncompliant parts on Lako’s and Grace’s cars, as well as Magagnoli’s car. That meant Espinosa moved up into first place, Robert Gagliardo into second and Eric Palacio into third.