If the whole point of spec-class racing is to keep competition as tight as possible, then nowhere else was that more prominently on display at the Eastern States Championships than in 944 Spec. Four drivers had scored 165 points in the qualifying races leading up to the Championships race.
Jason Stanley, Jason Walsh, Dan Pina and Gary Barton all were tied for pole, which meant lap times were the deciding factor. That put Stanley on pole, followed by Walsh and Pina — and the stage was set for the Championship race.
Pina got a perfect start, and he was right on Stanley’s tail, gunning for P2 by Turn 2. Walsh would have none of that, and stuck to the outside line and edged Pina out by the time they approached Turn 2. Pina ducked back in line with Barton on his rear bumper. They ran nose to tail a couple of car lengths back from Stanley and Walsh. As the two approached Turn 9, which is little more than a gentle bend, Barton bump-drafted Pina assertively enough that Pina was able to pass leaders Walsh and Stanley in Turn 10 and Turn 11.
“As we approached Turn 9 I could see Gary had a great run off the draft and gave me the hugest shove!” Pina said. “I was flying!”
Debris on the course at Turn 2 sent Stanley off track. At that point, double-yellows and a pace car came out for three laps. Once the course went green again, Pina led for five laps until Daniel Williams, who had come from his fifth-place start on grid was all over Pina.
Pina drifted wide coming out of Turn 7 and that was all it took for Williams to overtake him. Williams held on for the win, with Pina in second and Barton in third.
“This is my second Nationals event,” Barton said. “And I can say with certainty that the four days’ worth of driver education with this group of racers both on and off track surpasses any other race weekend or driving school I’ve attended, bar none.”