With the only two rounds down and the points super tight, we had another great driver showing on February 1st for the 3rd round of the Rockstar New Year League at Unser Racing. With the original qualifying system back in place, there would be a 4-minute practice followed by 4-minute qualifying. The top 9 fastest drivers would be seated into the A main, and there would be an additional 3 mains for the other 21 drivers to compete in.
With 4 spots left in the C main, there would only be 2 drivers not transferring out of the D main. Brian C. would hold pole position for this race. This was his lowest qualifying position ever in leagues. When a smooth fast driver gets a clean track in front of them, they can be tough to beat as we have seen in the past. And that’s exactly what Brian C did. He gapped a lead from the first lap and lead from start to finish. This main was not just a one-man show, however. With 3 spots left there would be a heated battle between 2 drivers and with 10 laps to go another driver would join the battle. Brian M, and Dan T. started the race out next to each other and couldn’t seem to separate for the battle for 2nd. Michael G qualified in 30th position but showed that he knew how to race. Dan T was trying to make the pass in the last hair pin turn on Brian M during the first half of the race. Michael G was picking off drivers and closing the gap on them. With 8 laps to go Dan T’s heavy pressure on Brian M would pay off as he finally got by him across the finish line. On the same lap Michael G snuck by pushing Brian M back to 4th. With two laps to go, Michael G showed he had one more trick in his bag as he pulled to the inside of the split forcing Dan T to the outside. Michael G came out of the split first and clamed 2nd place. Even though Michael made it around Dan T and Brian M, they were awarded the rivalry award for their close racing and battle for 2nd for most of the race. Dan T would hold down 3rd when it was all finished.
Tripp G would be in pole position for the C main followed by 9 other drivers all fighting for 1 transfer spot to the B main. The start of the C main was not clean; this let Tripp G put almost 2 seconds between him and 2nd on the first lap. The race was red flagged because of timing transponder issues on one of the karts. The drivers were re-gridded in qualifying order and another stopped start would take place. The restart was clean. Tripp G would have no problem opening up a 3 second lead, 3 laps into the 20-lap race. The “no contact” sign would be shown to most of the field 6 laps into the race. Dan T, Brian C, and Shawn N would later be black flagged for contact. The black flag that Shawn N received hurt his chances of closing the gap on the leaders. Shawn N was slightly faster then Tripp G and Tyson W in front of him, yet Shawn N would never be able to make a pass attempt for the lead. Shawn would finish 3rd and Tyson G 2nd.
The B main was one to watch tonight. The point’s leader Bob S was sitting in 2nd grid position. With a past league night winner Jesse R sitting in 3rd grid. Andrew B would be the first kart to pull up to the starting line in the B main with a qualifying time of 20.372. Bob S held a tight line coming across the finish line, which seemed to be faster and this is where he would try to make the pass for the lead on Andrew B. Unable to make the pass, Andrew B and Bob S tied each other up letting Jesse R pull up on them. Jesse R would dive under Bob S on the final corner taking over 2nd place. With 19 laps to go the 4th place driver Jon R was holding the fast lap time. Scott R spun out Derek B while the 2 were battling for 5th place. From 4th place to 1st place the gap was 1 sec with 15 laps to go. Andrew B started driving a defensive line with hope to hold the lead down. Jesse R would use his patience and racing background to wait for a clean opportunity to make the pass. Jesse R has been known to receive a few black flags during leagues, but this pass was clean and on the last corner before the finish line. With Jesse R out front Bob S and Tripp G were still looking for away around Andrew B. Tripp G had made a strong charge from 10th to 3rd. Tripp G was on his way to winning the most passes award until he took himself and Andrew B out before the split. Andrew B who had pole position and a great chance at winning was taking out with just a few laps left. This was a tough break for Andrew B who later would finish 10th, this might be the round he drops in points but won’t soon forget. Jesse would cross first; Bob S in 2nd and Ryan G would be gifted 3rd from the accident with Andrew B and his brother Tripp G.
Greg W posted the fasted qualifying time with a 20.034. Since he drew a 5 for the invert he would start in the 5th grid position. This gave a new driver to leagues Tyler E pole position. He pulled to the finish line for the start a little wider then most others, this gave the drivers at the back a great chance to dive inside on the start and maybe come out of the start in the top 5. Jereme W who later had the fast lap time would be taken out down the first straight away on the start. Just a couple of laps in and the front 5 were tight and only half a second apart. Greg W was trying to make his pass on Tyler E. He set up inside of him coming into the last 180, but Tyler E was able to hold his line in the last corner and keep Greg W from passing. Greg W would attempt the same pass the next time but this time he was able to tuck under Tyler E in the last corner and make the pass. Tyler E showed great speed for little time on the track and might be able to score a win before the leagues were over. With 20 laps to go the top 4, Jace H, Tina R, Greg W, and Dominic U’s lap times were all 20 seconds flat. Greg was averaging a tenth of a second faster then the 2 drivers in front of him. Closing up on the leaders wouldn’t be the problem for Greg W, but lappers would be. As he went to make a pass around a lapper they spun out leaving nowhere for him to go but into him. He would get unstuck from the lapper but not until Dominic U went past him. The race was coming up on the finish and Tina R could not find away around Jace H. The battle for 5th was going to go to the finish line where Jesse R would tuck inside Cory M. Cory M would try and shut the door but it was a little to late as Jesse R was along side of him. Cory M crossed in 5th and Jesse R in 6th but later Cory M would be docked 1 position for his contact across the finish. Greg W wouldn’t be able to pass Dominic U back and Greg W would finish 4th. Jace H did what he needed to from the start to the finish and won the 3rd round.
Feels like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Another 3 rounds down and a new winner every round just like the winter league. The points have tightened up and we are unsure how they will play out because everyone will have to drop one round of points. Bob S leaves with a 7-point lead after 3 rounds.
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