Round 3 of the Southeast Region 944Spec season included the largest field of 944Spec cars ever assembled for a Southeast Region race at 11.
Saturday qualifying saw the regular front runner Jason Stanley as fastest and a Southeast Region veteran of Brian Evans on outside pole, but then the next 4 cars all qualified within a second of each other led by the rookie Kyle Kimball.
|#444 K. Kimball (R)||#17X J. Pohlman|
#521 J. Barber
The start of the race saw the Mid-South Champion Jeremy Pohlman trying an inside pass in the grass around Joel Barber and Pete Yousko for fourth. Cars remained two wide up all the way up the steep hill through Turn 3 where Stanley maintained the lead, followed by the rookie Kimball, and ‘he who gives no quarter’ Barber. B. Evans fell back to 7th after carrying too much speed out of T7 and losing momentum running down that long Road Atlanta back stretch.
Exit of Turn 5 - Road Atlanta
At the start of lap 2, Kimball fell back to sixth after getting no quarter from Barber who executed inside pass in Turn 1. Kimball ran wide on the exit as a result taking the safe way out. With Yousko now in third, he worked an excelled launch off T7 to use a drafting pass into second past Barber finishing it off with a late braking maneuver down the inside of T10a.
Saturday Race Videos
View from J. Pohlman, #11X, 2nd Place
View from J. Werner, #117, 4th Place
With Barber sliding back at the start of Lap 3, Pohlman used the opportunity to try an inside pass on Barber going into T1 for third, but had to abandon the maneuver when no quarter was given. Meanwhile also at the start of Lap 3, Werner was successful with a T1 pass after B. Evans locked up an inside front wheel ruining his crucial momentum up to T3. Werner and Pohlman began to mix it up for a couple of corners allowing Barber to catch his breath and focus on trying to chase Yousko for second. After catching some traffic, Werner and Pohlman ran side by side from T1 through T4 but Pohlman kept the better line down the esses. Undeterred, Werner tried a very late braking maneuver into T7 but parked it at the apex allowing Pohlman to carry a better exit speed.
Having caught some Miata traffic on Lap 5, Barber was reeled back in by both Pohlman and Werner. All three tried to make the most of the traffic with the same goal of hopefully catch one of the other competitors in a bad spot by slower traffic. Pohlman got the first break with an excellent draft on Barber, but chose the outside for a pass attempt which allowed Barber to have the inside line to T10b. Given no quarter from Barber, Pohlman had to check up to fall back in line which gave Werner the run he needed to make a pass on Pohlman. Werner used this same momentum enter lap 6 to make a pass for third by Barber in T1.
Barber came back the very next time through the T10 Road Atlanta chicane complex to pass Werner back. Having gotten no quarter in T10b by Barber, Werner decided caution was better than valor and escaped the showdown in T10b by going through the grass. This allowed Pohlman to charge back past Werner and set up for one final chase after Barber. Having settled into following Barber around for the final 2 laps, Pohlman finally got the break he needed when Barber’s car all of a sudden started missing between T5 and T6 handing Pohlman second place in the final standings. With cars 2 through 6 all battling it out with each other, Stanley had checked out for the win. Pohlman would go on to place second with Barber in third.
Sunday’s grid was set by a wet qualifying which was just the right amount of wet to not matter which type of tire you went out on. In these wet conditions, the king of the wet Pete Yousko started on pole beating out the rookie Kyle Kimball by just one tenth. Region hot shoe Jason Stanley posted the next fastest time over 3.5 seconds slower after having some extra fun with a Miata in T10a.
Right on the start the rookie Kimball jumped out into the lead having a little better pace in the dry than Yousko. Stanley played it safe in T1 and found himself in fourth behind Pohlman in third. Pohlman takes second by performing a late braking maneuver on Yousko the first time through T1 at speed. Yousko then falls further back to fourth after Stanley gets a better run down the long back stretch.
On lap 3, Stanley gets a good run up the hill to T3 alongside Pohlman who gave no quarter causing the pair to take T3 2 wide. After a small side to side touch which folded his side view mirror in, Stanley falls back in behind Pohlman knowing that the esses are best taken single file. On the entry to T5, Stanley gives himself a little extra room to get the best run through corner setting up a pass down the short T5 to T6 straight on Pohlman.
The running order now Kimball with a 4 second lead, followed by Stanley, Pohlman, then Yousko. With Stanley closing in, he decides to sit back and pressure Kimball for several laps to see if the Rook would make a mistake. The first two laps Kimball made all the right moves, not getting flustered when Stanley bump drafted him down the back stretch and was appropriately aggressive through some Spec E30 traffic.
On lap 6, a gaggle of Spec E30s were caught at the top of the hill in T3. Kimball chose to follow the right lane of cars and Stanley the left. At the exit of T3, Kimball was forced to check up allowing Stanley to take the preferred line down the esses handing Stanley the lead of the race.
Meanwhile, Pohlman, Yousko, and Werner were in a 3 way fight for the final podium spot. Werner and Yousko traded spots several times behind Pohlman in third before a missed shift allows Yousko to pass Pohlman down the back stretch on lap 7. Yousko wouldn’t last long in third after he became the victim of some traffic which killed him momentum on the exit of T10b allowing Pohlman to take the position right back for good. Stanley would go on to win, with the rookie Kimball taking second, and the Mid-South region champ Pohlman in third.
Sunday Race Videos
View from J. Werner, #117, 5th Place
View from J. Pohlman, #11X, 3rd Place
View from J. Stanley, #60, 1st Place