The NASA Great Lakes Thunder Roadster Series began the 2018 season at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Ky., in cold and rainy conditions. Saturday’s race featured some of the worst conditions we’ve seen on the tour and especially at the NCM facility. Standing water made the straightaways even challenging during the race.
Defending series champion, Jason Oehler, and 2017 series runner up, Phil Gehlhausen were the only two drivers who took the green flag in Saturday’s race. Oehler and Gehlhausen slowly and cautiously stayed on track completing the race with Oehler first and Gehlhausen second.
Sunday morning saw the rain subside as track officials began drying the massive puddles. By race time, the unseasonably cold Kentucky wind helped to finish drying the track. Sunday’s race featured all the series regulars and showed the competitiveness of the series. Oehler was on pole, followed by three-time series champion Brian Bohlander, Gehlhausen and Tom Byrns.
At the start, Bohlander led into Turn 1 until his car pushed out, allowing Oehler to retake the lead. As the two frontrunners began to catch the Spec Miatas, Bohlander continued to fight the handling of his roadster, allowing Oehler to pull out to a 14-second lead, which he maintained to the finish. Once both car’s handling came in, Oehler and Bohlander ran equal pace, with Oehler taking a class track record at 2:18.802 followed .039 seconds behind by Bohlander at 2:18.841. Phil Gehlhausen finished third followed by Tom Byrns who had carburetor issues during the race.
Jason Oehler picked up where he left off in 2017, on top of the points standings heading into the next Thunder Roadster Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, April 21-22.