Daniel Goldburg enjoyed something of a dream weekend in which everything fell together. He scored the top time in qualifying Friday, and won Saturday’s qualifying race. Everything seemed to be firing off right. He’s had some experience putting together a championships effort. He raced at Mid-Ohio in 2008 and then raced at the Eastern States Championships at Sebring in 2017, where he took second. Last year at COTA, he finished seventh. This year, he takes his first win as a national champion.
“I had a good start, not as awesome as yesterday and No. 2 came through the first corner next to me, but I edged him out into the Keyhole and came through there in a better run,” Goldburg said. “He then had people around him after that, I had a couple car lengths, head down and after a few laps I had a pretty good gap and I just managed it from there.”
As Goldburg pulled away, it was game on for the next five positions behind him. Olivier Bellanger, Robert Grace, Eric Pennington, Sylas Montgomery, Robert and Brian Casella and Carlos Mendez were nose to tail and exchanging positions all race long. Olivier Bellanger held on to finish second.
“Starting fifth I knew it was going to be hard. But once I got into second, Dan was miles ahead,” Bellanger said. “I knew it was going to be tough to get him, so I just tucked in and tried to get my head down and do what I did, but obviously it wasn’t enough. I mean, he had quite a lot of time on us. But after dropping back to I think sixth or seventh at the start, it was tough to fight back up, but I just, I wanted that podium.”
The cars in Bellanger’s mirror changed, but toward the end of the race, it was Robert Grace, who was tailed by Pennington, Montgomery, Robert Casella and Mendez, all of whom were close enough that Grace could tell what color driving gloves each of them was wearing. Pennington was hounding Grace till the very end, but Grace prevailed to finish in third.
“He was all over me,” Grace said. “Oh, it was a dog fight. I mean, I knew coming into the week I maybe didn’t bring the fastest car, but you know, I’ve got a lot of laps here. I’ve got a lot of laps racing, so I knew I’d have to rely on some race craft and be in the right spot.”