It was a battle of two Midwest heavy hitters in Performance Touring E. NASA Great Lakes/Midwest driver Jason Kohler was chasing Championship No. 2 in PTE in his Miata. Brett Westcott was looking for his first championship in a class in which he has long performed well.
Westcott took second in the qualifying race on Saturday and first in the rain-soaked race on Friday. Those two finishes put him in second for the start, behind Kohler, but ahead of Aaron Johnson.
Westcott jumped out to an early lead, but Kohler capitalized on the differences between his Miata and Westcott’s Sentra SE. Kohler drafted Westcott down the back straight and passed at the entry to the “roller coaster.” That’s where Kohler took the lead he never relinquished.
“Brett got by on the start, but I was able to get by a lap or two later in the draft on the back straight,” Kohler said. “It’s pretty track dependent, but most places we’re within a second of each other. It’s a little different. A front-wheel-drive car has to manage tires a little bit differently.”
Westcott worked every angle he could, including carrying just enough fuel to finish the race. Westcott ran out of gas on the checkered lap and had to be towed in, but still finished second.
“It was a really tough race,” he said. “I was hoping for rain, to be honest. I was doing really well in the rain. Jason was just so fast, I knew it was going to be hard to keep up, so the plan was to go out there and run as hard as we could. Everything worked out well. I kept my nose clean and kept it on track and just barely made it.”
That left Aaron Johnson, who spun in Turn 1 late in the race, to finish in third, the same place he started.
“I had a really bad start. Brett and Jason got a pretty good gap on me and I got caught up in some traffic,” Johnson said. “I got clear of that and I think the gap was 12 seconds. I got it down to 5 seconds by braking deep and trying to make up every second I could, and I just got in deep and couldn’t make the corner. I had to settle for third after that. I’m pretty happy with the finish. It’s my first Championships race, and being on the podium is excellent for me.”