Anthony Zwain was a busy man during the 2015 Eastern States Championships. He drove his Mini Cooper in TTE, GTS1 and PTF. He scored a third in TTE and GTS1, but things were looking a little better in PTF because he was on pole.
NASA Southeast’s Ron Nielsen started from second and Chi Ho was in third at the start.
Nielsen and Ho were 2014 PTF and TTC Champions, respectively, and had just faced off at the Mazda Race of Champions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.
When the green flag dropped, Zwain dueled with Ho for the first 10 minutes of the race, but Ho couldn’t hold him off and Zwain took the lead. A few mistakes cost him the gap he’d worked so hard to build, but in the end he took the PTF win and the Championship. It was his last race of the weekend, which turned out to be a good thing.
“It was pretty spectacular,” Zwain said. “It was a whole lot of fun for me. These guys put a whole lot of pressure on me. I had a little off there, racing with some out-of-class guys, and I think I busted my oil pan, but we finished in P1. It was a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile, the battle between Ho and Nielsen was unfolding. Nielsen was running an engine straight out of a junkyard, and was slowly gaining on Ho all race long. The engine in Ho’s car sounded as though it wasn’t firing on all cylinders. With just a couple of laps left to go, Nielsen overtook Ho for the second spot. The two diced for the position, but Ho couldn’t power around him. When they reappeared on the front straight, Ho was back in second, which he would hold till the end.
“Unfortunately the car started to misfire on and off here and there with like 35 minutes to go,” Ho said. “Throughout the race I was trying to find ways to make it come back, like running on the rumble strips to shake it up a little. The last time I went through Oak Tree, it just came back really enough where I could get past him.”
That last-lap pass put Nielsen in third in PTF. However, Nielsen was disqualified after the race, bumping Cale Phillips into third.