Clear skies, warm temperatures, and an off-seasons worth of anticipation greeted the drivers for race #1 of the Spec:RaceAtom Series at VIR presented by Honda Racing/HPD.
Heading into the third season of SRA competition at VIR brought a mixture of old faces, and a few new drivers looking to shake up the finishing order. The 1.65 mile South course was the configuration used this weekend; a twisty, and undulating track that is very well suited to the nimble SRA racecar.
Two practice sessions during the morning gave drivers a chance to get reacquainted with both car and track. The South course is only used by the SRA series for two races per year so it is important to maximize track time and learn the course. The top 3 quickest drivers after practice were Tyson Bytzek, Christian Shield, and David Chen.
At 1:50pm the track went green for an entertaining qualifying 20 minute qualifying session. During the session, four separate drivers took turns posting the fast time with Bruce Duff eventually settling at the top of the time sheet.
19 SRA cars lined up and took the green flag just after 4:00pm to kick off the season. Close racing action took place throughout the field with 16 laps being completed caution free.
Pole Sitter Bruce Duff worked hard to stay out front but was eventually reeled in on lap 5 by Tyson Bytzek who took the lead and held it to the end. The top 5 were Tyson Bytzek, David Chen, Christian Shield, Bruce Duff, and James Williams. David Chen is credited with the fastest race lap.
Race #2 – June 2, 2013
Changing weather conditions had drivers working on their cars throughout practice to adapt to the cloudy skies. The threat of rain had many people guessing what strategies may play out during the day.
Qualifying strategy appeared to be to get out early in the session and avoid traffic on the shorter South Course. 17 year old David Chen was able to take advantage of clear track early in the session and place his #21 SRA car at the front of the field. Tyson Bytzek, Christian Shield, James Williams, and Bruce Duff rounded out the top five.
Race #2 went green at 2:24pm with David Chen leading the field into turn one. Christian Shield was quickly able to reel in the leader using the draft up the straight. Chen and Shields would trade the lead numerous times during the race. Lap 6 would see a full course caution situation as two drivers in the middle of the field battled for the same piece of pavement.
The cars were bunched up behind the Honda Racing/HPD CRZ pace car for four laps while the track was cleared. Racing resumed on lap 11 with Christian Shield getting an excellent start that put him in the lead. After 16 laps the checkered flag was shown to Christian Shield followed closely by David Chen, Tyson Bytzek, James Williams, and John Williams.
The next race in the series takes place on the Full Course at VIR on July 6th & 7th.
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