Drivers squeezed the most from their cars and themselves as they took to the track at Mid-Ohio for Friday’s qualifying sessions at the 2019 NASA Championships Presented by Toyo Tires. Drivers had two sessions on track Friday to set the fastest time and earn the coveted pole positions for Saturday’s qualifying races.
Here’s who came out on top.
Super Touring 1
It’s been 16 years since Mark Burt has raced at Mid-Ohio, so he is having to relearn the track, and the Chevrolet Corvette he’s racing over the weekend. He posted his best time yet, turning a 1:26.97 lap on the road course.
“I’m just getting better with time on the track because I haven’t been here since 2003, so it’s new to me,” Burt said.
In the day’s first qualifying session, Dmitri Goliakov was the fastest qualifier turning a 1:30.27 lap during the first session.
“I was pushing it all the way through because yesterday I couldn’t get it up to speed at all, I was like 3, 5 seconds slower than everybody else in my class,” Goliakov said. “Yesterday I watched some of my videos, found some mistakes I was doing and just applied it. I’m happy because yesterday I thought I have no chance, but today I have a chance.”
Super Touring 2
The second lap was the charm for Anthony Magagnoli to be the fastest qualifier in Super Touring 2. Magagnoli turned a 1:28.41 lap, a second faster than Chad Gilsinger (1:29.64) during the Friday morning qualifying session.
“We’re trying to show what we’re bringing to the table. We’ve been developing this car all year with 5.2 Motorsports and this is showing the path of the work we’ve been doing,” Magagnoli said. “Every time we go out, we get faster and faster, and I think we just showed how much we’ve really progressed.”
Magagnoli considers Mid-Ohio his home track and expects a competitive race with Gilsinger.
“Chad Gilsinger is a pro, and I’ve got a ton of respect for him, and I hope to have a good race with him,” Magagnoli said. “If you’ve got a little speed in hand, that’s exactly what I want to start with.”
Super Touring 3
The Super Touring 3 had one of the tightest qualifying sessions on Friday with less than a hundredth of a second separating the top two qualifiers. Luke Rumburg put up the fastest qualifying lap, turning a 1:30.322 lap on the 2.258-mile road course. The second-fastest qualifier was Ross Thompson (1:30.388) in the afternoon session.
Rumburg said his team kept tinkering with the car to find some extra speed.
“We practiced yesterday and we kept messing with the car,” Rumburg said. “These cars are just amazing, the Volkswagen GTi cars are amazing and they’re really fast, so it makes it easier to drive. Last year we came and ran an (International Motor Sports Association) race here, and being with all those pro drivers really helps you get around the track.”
Super Touring 4
Matthew Wasilewski preaches patience when qualifying on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wasilewski knows the higher speeds come after four or five laps in his BMW E36.
“The track was definitely a little more loose than I thought, but I’ve been here enough times to know that the first session you don’t really touch the car, second session that’s when you figure out what the track is doing, what the car is doing,” Wasilewski said. “That’s my approach for the qualifying session, other than making sure your tire pressures on historical pressures, your shocks are set to historical settings and stuff like that.”
Wasilewski led both qualifying sessions Friday with his top lap of 1:32.634, but three drivers were within 1 second of Wasilewski’s best time, including Team Edge Motorworks ‘n Tagen (1:32.988), Team ST Edge MV (1:33.755) and Jeffrey Birdwell (1:33.929).
After coming off the track as the fastest qualifier in Super Limited, James Paul was quick to credit his team for helping him log the 1:22.816 lap. Just 24 hours earlier his team was tearing into the new Elan RSR car after the clutch had given out.
“It’s a tribute to the team here and the guys that built the car,” said Paul, who races in NASA’s NorCal Region. “We actually split the car yesterday because we had no clutch. We were able to get on track and then we had no clutch.
“We split the car yesterday right in the middle of our practice day and put a whole new clutch system and clutch lines in. These guys are very, very good at what they do, it’s because of them that we’re doing well.”
Chasing Paul is Brian Faessler from nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. Faessler’s best lap came on lap five in the second qualifying sessions, posting a 1:24.787 lap.
Sam Mangiameli and Barry Brooks may be the only drivers entered in NP01, but that doesn’t mean they are taking it easy. A little more than a second separates the competitors, with Mangiameli notching the fastest qualifying lap (1:34.970) during the Friday morning session.
Mangiameli expects more out of his car, but knows Brooks is looking for some extra speed too.
“I’ve working on setup, getting a little more grip levels,” Mangiameli said. “The track is starting to come to us. We made a few adjustments from practice (Thursday) and we didn’t get to test out because we were having battery charging issues but we got that sorted out.
“(We) made a few adjustments, starting to get a little bit faster and faster. We’re going to go out this afternoon and see how it goes and if we can pick up a little more speed it would be great.”
In the fist qualifying session, Jim Drago took the top time, and he was so satisfied with it, he didn’t go out for the second session. As air and track temperatures go up, it gets more difficult to set a fast time, but that’s exactly what Jared Thomas did, besting Drago’s time by just .300 seconds.
“The first qualifying session we missed the setup a little bit, so we came back here in the next session and put it together,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t easy. He made me work for it, but I ended up clipping him in the last lap.
In Spec Miata, the rest of the top drivers were Matthew Dirks, Jonathan Davis and Ryan Roberson. Saturday’s qualifying race will be a delicate dance for drivers to do well, yet keep their cars out of trouble to make it to Sunday’s Championships race.
A.J. Hartman has one of the most unique American Iron cars on the track this weekend, or any weekend. Unlike most American Iron cars, which are powered by thunderous V8 engines, Hartman’s car uses an EcoBoost V6.
All he needed was one lap to take pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race. His lap time of 1:34.733 was about a half a second faster than Michael LaPaglia in second. Jeff Wood was third fastest with a 1:35.369.
American Iron Extreme
Robert Shaw is one of the biggest proponents of the American Iron Extreme class. He loves the big power and the freedom of the rules set to be able to build a car as fast and as crazy as he wants, and his car was fast enough to take pole for the qualifying race Saturday.
“We’ve got more to bring. We’re getting more comfortable because Mid-Ohio is a pretty scary track,” Shaw said. “This car kind of shines on the longer straightaways and faster turns where you can really use the aero. When it comes to the short turns and rolling turns, when you have close to a thousand horsepower you’re laying rubber over the hills. We’re on the slow tune and it’s still just lighting them up everywhere.”
Shaw will have his hands full keeping Paul Faessler and son Brian Faessler behind him on Saturday.
Kent Owens races at Mid-Ohio a lot, and it showed because he nabbed pole position for the qualifying race on Saturday. Seven cars are expected to mix it up for the National Championship on Sunday in CMC, which is some of the best racing in the Great Lakes Region.
Bryan Curtis will be right there up front as will Derek Wright.
“Thursday was my first day on the track,” said Curtis, who races the Colorado region. “(The track is) pretty technical. Being smooth I think is the key for me. I have to try to be smooth for 35 minutes of that 45-minute race and get it done in the end.”
Robin Burnett is counting on his past experience at Mid-Ohio to be the difference when Sunday comes for the National Championship race. A member of the Great Lakes Region, Burnett said he knows the track well.
“I’ve been racing a long time, the silver hair is showing,” Burnett said with a laugh. “We’ve been here a lot. I’m a Great Lakes Region guy and I’ve had a bunch of races here against some tough competition locally, so now that we have the guys coming from all over the country, it feels pretty good to be up in front.”
Burnett had his best time on lap two with a 1:38.150 time in the first qualifying session. Bryan Curtis was a touch behind with a 1:38.788 lap and Derek Wright turned in the third-best run with a 1:39.532 lap.
It’s tough to run at the front in 944 Spec, especially at this year’s Championships. For one, many of the competitors are from NASA’s Great Lakes Region, so they know the track well. Marcelo Vine took the top spot in morning qualifying, but was DQ’d for a dyno violation. That meant the afternoon qualifying session was all the more important.
Michael Cooper ended up getting the job done and earning the top time and pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race.
“I just keep looking at data and video review,” Cooper said. “I’m using Apex Pro to help review my data and help others review their data to help get everybody faster.”
He’ll have his hands full on Saturday. Vine will be in his mirrors, as will Derrek Morehead.
In a class with more than 30 cars, Daniel Goldburg is showing he might be the driver to beat come Sunday. Goldburg won both of his qualifying races on Thursday, even though the Florida residents has raced Mid-Ohio in more than a decade.
Goldburg had the top time in the first qualifying session (1:41.593) but was disqualified after the tech inspection. He went out in qualifying session two and tallied a 1:42.492 lap, topping the 1:42.501 set by Robert Grace in the first qualifying session.
“We had been really preparing for this most of the year. My team, Performance Tech, and I put a plan together and the season was built around coming here to nationals,” Goldburg said. “I did some time on the simulator to be up to speed with the track, some people had some good track videos online, I watched those and come here and get to it.”
With 12 cars in the Spec E46 class, Michael Kanisczak knows there is little room for error to win a National Championship. Kanisczak won both qualifying races in Spec E46, producing the top lap time of 1:37.535.
“This has been a season long effort,” Kanisczak said. “My goal from the very beginning of the season was Nationals. The second I knew it was at Mid-Ohio, I set my sights on that. This is a brand-new car to me. This is my first season racing it. Autosport in Connecticut set it up extremely well, so it got me to the point where I don’t have to spend a year, two years catching up in development.”
Honda Challenge 1
Jose Suero raced at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time in August to get ready for the National Championships. The decision paid off as Suero was the fastest qualifier in Honda Challenge 1. Suero’s best lap on the day was 1:36.482.
Suero said his team made some major setup changes to the Honda S2000 prior to returning to the track.
“Between alignment, suspension, so far we’ve changed the whole car except for the engine,” Suero said. It’s working out, thank God. It’s working out for the best. We can’t ask for anything better.”
Suero said he’s still learning the track and figuring out the lines but likes the position the team is in. “I’m just going to go out and see what the (car) can do and push more,” he said.
The second-fastest qualifier in Honda Challenge 1 was Kevin Helms, who had a fast lap of 1:38.734.
Honda Challenge 2
Hopping behind the wheel of the Honda S2000 took a little adjustment for Nicolas Hammann. Last month he was driving a Xfinity car at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas, the site of the 2018 NASA National Championships.
“The first session was a good warmup and getting used to the car a little bit,” said Hammann while waiting for his car to go on the dyno. “I actually ran an Xfinity, so the last car was a little different than the Honda S2000, but I love the car and I love this class.
“It’s a whole different ballgame, but it’s such a tightknit group. Someone blows an engine and other people help, the spirit of NASA I think is present in Honda Challenge a lot.”
Hammann recorded his best lap on five, where he laid down a 1:38.301 lap. Close on his bumper was Robert Paszkiewicz of Six Mile, N.C., who turned his best time on lap four (1:39.372).
Honda Challenge 4
Rob Krider was running out time in qualifying when he found the magic in the second qualifying session. On lap seven, Krider put up his best time on the road course with a 1:42.866 run. His run was a half-second better than Steve Peterson who earned the fastest lap of 1:43.357 in the first qualifying session.
“It was all done based on telemetry and video work. My partner Keith got me in the first qualifying session, so I had to pick up the pace,” Krider said. “I watched some video and learned where I was kind of wussing out in a couple of corners, and this last session I just went for it.”
German Touring Series 2
Zach Hillmann wasn’t sure he was even going to make it to grid. Car trouble the day before left him and his crew to make overnight repairs to his GTS2 Porsche 944 Turbo.
“We broke a stub axle yesterday, so we had to thrash all through the whole night. We weren’t even sure we were going to make it to qualifying. The car was all over the place, from a handling standpoint. I think the alignment’s off because of all the work that we had to do. I definitely think there’s more time in the car.
Hillmann likely will be dialing in his car more so he can stay in front of Michael Sousa in his M3 and Scott Blair, who’s also driving an M3.
German Touring Series 3
Eric Magnussen is a one-man show, so he’s crew chief and driver. He’s also fast, which helped him a great deal in qualifying on Friday. Magnussen put together a lap that was good enough to put him on pole for Saturday’s qualifying race.
“In the Northeast, we have a really big GTS3 field, a lot of fast cars a lot fast drivers,” he said. “The car and driver development in our region has been awesome.”
Look for Magnussen to be working hard to fend off Rob Williams and Tyler Clarke.
German Touring Series 4
NASA NorCal driver Michael McAleenan came a long way to race at Mid-Ohio, a track he had never been to until this weekend. That made scoring pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race all the more difficult, but he nailed it.
“There’s so much to learn along the back section. Every time I go out, I either follow somebody or see something new and it adds to the game plan,” McAleenan said. “We’ve been kind of nibbling at it, taking slow steps to get there, but it’s coming along. For our first time at the track, we’re getting the hang of it.”
Super Touring 5
Cagri Yilmaz has had some ups and downs this season, but qualifying seemed to come together for him because he qualified on pole for the first qualifying race on Saturday.
“We came here to do the best we can obviously, so let’s see how it’s going to go,” Yilmaz said. “This year we’ve been dealing with some issues, but hopefully we were able to fix the car. It’s running well, so we want to get through Friday and Saturday and take the win on Sunday.”
In just its first year in existence as a NASA class at the Championships, ST5 has five cars in it, including past champions and podium finishers. Yilmaz will have to keep an eye on Team Rotary Heads and Thai Depp in his Mazda RX-8.
Super Touring 6
Marcelo Vine is double dipping in two race classes again this year. He finished on top in 944 Spec, but was DQ’d due to a dyno violation. In Super Touring 6, Vine came out with the top time again, but this time he kept the top spot for the start of the qualifying race on Saturday.
“I think I did pretty good. We’re going back out. We’ve got another qualifying session this afternoon,” Vine said. “The car feels really good right now, so I’m very happy with it, thanks to 7’s Only Racing.”
Thunder Roadster GTR
James Wheeler was the fastest qualifier on Friday in Thunder Roadster GTR, but he knows it means little come Sunday’s final race. He motioned at the line of Thunder Roadsters and contends the other nine cars in the class are equally capable of winning a National Championship.
“We’ve got 10 cars and we’re all spec obviously,” Wheeler said. “We’ll run very, very close and it doesn’t really matter if somebody is quicker now or slightly slower because it’s all going to be what happens in the race and how you deal with traffic.”
Wheeler’s fast lap came in the first qualifying session when he turned a 1:35.743 lap, a half-second faster than Jason Oehler, who posted a best lap of 1:36.144. Wheeler said it wasn’t until late in qualifying that his tires were ideal.
“My rears were almost gone, so I got a decent lap and then I got a really nice lap,” Wheeler said.