Standing atop the podium is a familiar spot for Michael McAleenan, who had four championships coming into Mid-Ohio. McAleenan, who lives in Washington and races with NASA NorCal, was quick enough to take the top time in Friday qualifying, and to get pole position for the Championship race on Sunday.
This was McAleenan’s first time racing at Mid-Ohio. His lap times were just a tick quicker than Great Lakes GTS racer Ed Baus. McAleenan jumped out into the lead and within a few laps, found himself mixing with traffic from other classes.
Six laps in, Robert Thorne spun on the front straight and lost two positions. By the time the white flag came out, he had caught up to McAleenan and was within striking distance. Unfortunately, as Thorne was coming into the Keyhole on the last lap, he got tangled up with H4 driver Kallie Kanakos, and that ended both their races then and there. McAleenan powered on for the win and his fifth NASA Championship.
“(Robert), who was chasing me, knows this track and he knew where to pass, so it took me a while, but at the end I knew I could turn just as fast of lap times as him and keep him behind me, so that was the game plan,” McAleenan said. “We knew all we had to do was get to the Championship and be there at the end and it all played out.”
After starting from sixth, and fighting tire issues all weekend, Ryan Upham had advanced to third and with the last-lap crash ahead of him, he finished second.
“We came with some non DOTs, couldn’t get them to work. Last minute decision, put R comps, you know, a DOT tire back on,” Upham said after the race. “But then we were way down on power, got on track, figured out the fastest I could go, and just clicked that same lap time, lap after lap. And the race came to us.”
After starting ninth in the 11-car field, Great Lakes racer Vytis Aranauskas finished third, the same position in which he finished GTS4 at the 2018 Championships at Circuit of the Americas.