Marcelo Vine came to Austin with the mindset to win. After all, he just missed a 944 Spec Championship at Thunderhill last year when John Pentelei-Molnar got past him in traffic late in the race, and Pentelei-Molnar left with the big trophy.
By the time the 944 Spec cars came across Start/Finish on lap one, Vine was already way out front, and he held the position and maintained similar gap all race long.
That meant most of the racing was taking place behind Vine. Charlie Buzzetti jumped from this third-place starting position to grab second, followed by Darren Griffith and Norm Hamden. Farther back in the field, another story was developing. When two-time 944 Spec Champion Dan Piña’s car blew an engine, fellow racer Steve Brewster loaned Piña his car for the Championships race, saying he wasn’t going to be competitive anyway.
“I would never have asked. He offered It’s a lot of risk, right? But he wouldn’t have it any other way,” Piña said. “I don’t even know how to thank that guy enough. It’s very humbling. I’m very lucky to know people like Steve Brewster. It makes me emotional. You get choked up. People are just so kind.”
Starting from last, Piña wasted no time and began clawing his way forward. He had picked up five spots and continued his charge. Up front, Vine continued to run away. Not far behind, Buzzetti got caught out by a Spec E30 going slowly through Turn 20. That allowed Phil Hanson to gain ground and pass Buzzetti on the ensuing front straight. The two battled until Hanson suffered a mechanical failure and dropped out.
That put Buzzetti in second, where he finished. Vine was way out front at checkers, and Piña finished third.
“It’s my first time here. The track is pretty tough. It takes a bit of time to get comfortable with it,” Buzzetti said. “Phil’s a good driver, solid. He’s been here a lot. He had something for me, so I’m not sure why he fell back.”
However, post-race tech inspections revealed an illegal part on Vine’s front suspension, which resulted in disqualification. That bumped Buzzetti up for the win and his third 944 Spec Championship. Piña moved up to second and Great Lakes driver Michael Cooper moved into third.