When you see a yellow Penske rental van towing an equally yellow PTB Pontiac Firebird, you know 11-time Champion Dave Schotz is in the house. Towing all the way from his home state of Arizona, Schotz entered Performance Touring B and Time Trial B competition at the 2016 Eastern States Championships Presented by Toyo Tires.
Schotz had pole for the race, and P1 overall followed by Anthony Zwain in a E46 M3 and Nicholas Barbato in a Hyundai Genesis, the sister car to Jeff Ricca’s Hyundain Genesis, which started from fifth due to a lack of points accumulated on Friday.
At the green flag, Schotz shot out to an early lead and by the end of lap one, he had gapped Zwain by four or five car-lengths. Schotz was looking good, but every time he would take the steep right-hander into the Uphill Esses, a small trail of smoke would drift off the left rear of his car, as though the tire was rubbing. Would it hold till the end of the race?
In fact, had there been no lengthy caution period in the middle of the race, Schotz’s tire might not have made it. However, the double-yellow that came out when PTB driver Anthony Zwain got into the back of Honda Challenge 2 driver Helen Nester kept the field circulating at a slow pace for about 10 minutes.
On the restart, one of the PTB cars dropped some fluid in the braking zone to the Bus Stop, but Schotz was already well ahead, and on the way to his 12th NASA Championship.
“There was no lifting,” Schotz said. “I set my fastest lap of the weekend in that race, even faster than my TT lap. I just couldn’t be happier. This is the last year for PTB, so I’m glad to have the Firebird — it’s been raced in NASA since 2008 — finish on the podium again.”
Barbato finished second because his teammate dropped out at the Bus Stop on the restart. Barbato scored the first podium finish for a Hyundai Genesis in PTB.
“I was having problems at the start of the race getting a jump on the STI, so I knew if I could get a good jump and hold my third position, I could tuck into the slipstream of the higher horsepower cars and hang on, and that’s where I was for the whole race,” Barbato said.
Amy Dilks benefited from Ricca dropping out and took third.
“I’ve been having a lot of issues with the brake system on my car all weekend,” Dilks said. “Right before the start of the race, I made the executive decision to replug all of the ABS wiring back in. With it there, I think the ABS is tied to the diffs, and it was driving not the best with it unplugged. So I decided to plug it back in. It turned out to be the right decision because the car cooperated the entire race.”