The NASA Prototypes had to endure one of the wettest qualifying races anyone has ever seen, which made getting a good grid spot enormously difficult. The start for the NP01 race was no better. A collision in Turn 1 in the Super Touring class brought out the pace car for a few laps.
When the pace car pulled off, the NASA Prototypes had regridded two by two and finally got the start they were looking for. Jeremy Croiset had pole, followed by Sam Mangiamelli, Alex Wright and Chad Plavan.
By Turn 1, Mangiamelli had taken the lead with Francis Hu rounding the corner behind him and ahead of Croiset. However, Croiset had taken over second place by the entrance to the Esses and set his sights on Mangiamelli. The two went side by side into turns 10 and 11. Mangiamelli got by him on the Back Straight, but Croiset was able to get under him in 13, take the inside and pull away.
“Then I just put a series of really good clean fast laps together and built a gap,” Croiset said. “My brother was calling it for me. Then I started getting held up in traffic and my brother told me Sam was closing in. So, I had to pick the pace up, and with the lapped traffic it was pretty difficult.”
Mangiamelli had set up his car to come on strong late in the race. He changed the rear wing angle, bump and rebound settings and softened up the track bar and went with higher tire pressures.
“I was setting my fastest laps of the race in the last 10 minutes of the race. The long full-course yellow at the beginning was what really kind of killed it,” he said. “By the time the car came in, it was just too late. We started reeling Jeremy in and traffic was coming up on us, so that’s kind of what slowed us up again.”
Plavan overcame a bad start from fourth on grid, and worked his way up to third, where he finished.
“I did lose two places then gain one back after the second lap,” Plavan said. “I was chasing Francis and traffic was good to me for once, and I got by him and then I just had to keep it in front of him.”