With 21 cars in the Spec E30 field, Justin Ross knew getting the early lead would be key to winning the Western States Championships. Ross’ game plan was right on as he took the lead on the first lap Sunday morning and never looked back.
Ross was the favorite going into the race after earning pole position after a flawless performance earlier in the weekend by winning both qualifying races. Ross was planning to race with some Spec E30 racers but they got caught up in traffic.
“The racing has been really tight all weekend,” said Ross, who turned a best lap time of 2:05.8. “I got a great start and was able to get clear while they were two wide behind me. We were able to just keep chipping away and pulling away, and everything went flawlessly.”
The fight for second-place between Michael Mihld and Michael Shawhan was some of the best racing of the day. Mihld and Shawhan traded positions three times in the first 10 laps before Shawhan took over for good to win the 19-lap race.
“I worked with Michael (Mihld) trying to bring Justin back, and he was just too quick,” said Shawhan, who collected a second and fifth place in qualifying. “So I moved back around Michael on lap 11 and put my head down and went for it, but it wasn’t enough.
“(Justin) had a flawless day,” Shawhan added. “I made a mistake and that’s what did it. Cheers to Justin, he had a great race.”
Mihld, who took second and seventh in qualifying, said it came to a small mistakes and Ross capitalized on it.
“Mike made a little mistake and then I made a mistake and that kind of left Justin the gap there,” Mihld said. “He just kept that gap and we tried to work together to pull it in but we couldn’t do it. We were hoping for lapped traffic to kind of slow him down a bit, but he weaved through there and didn’t lose any time.”
Ross credits the lapped cars for staying clear as he wound his way through the Buttonwillow racecourse.
“The lapped cars were very nice once they saw me coming through. They went ahead and moved out of the way and that made it easy for the guys behind me too,” Ross said.