While you were probably relaxing with a cocktail Saturday night during the NASA Championships, GTS1 driver Michael Dearstyne was on his back changing the transaxle in his Porsche 944. In Saturday’s qualifying race, Dearstyne’s transaxle failed, and if he was going to be able to start the Championships race, he was going to have to swap transaxles.
That meant he had to start from last on grid, and claw his way forward through the field, then deal with traffic and keep everything together for the full 45-minute race. Dearstyne finished first to take the Championship.
“There was a lot of fast cars a lot of traffic. These guys here gave me a hell of a fight for quite a while,” Dearstyne said. “Even though I got my transmission fixed, my clutch was still ailing. So I was out there, trying to nurse the clutch and trying to keep this guy off my butt. It was a fun race.”
Driving a 944 Spec car, which can be a little outgunned in GTS1, NASA Mid South racer Christopher Simmons gave it all he had, but Dearstyne established a bit of a gap toward the end of the race and Simmons finished second.
“There was a lot of traffic, a lot of speed differentials,” Simmons said. “So you know, had to make sure the faster guys had a clean pass and whatnot.”
Shane Denney, who won Saturday’s qualifying race, lead the race in the early stages, but finished third. Denney had his share of trouble during the Championship race. He got a meatball flag for a loose tailpipe, which he and a NASA grid worker fixed in the pits. Then late in the race, he avoided a crash in the Keyhole, but someone came from behind and damaged the right front of his car.
“I drove it back in, but the wheels destroyed, and the tire,” Denney said. “When the smoke started to come up, I was running 100 miles an hour with the wheel shattered, you know it sucked, but you know it’s all left loaded there so, hey it works. We finished I mean, yeah, got to the podium.”