Under Clear Blue Skies, the USTCC East Series Slides into 2023 at Summit Point Motorsports Park
Summit Point, WV – The United States Touring Car Championship East Region jumped headfirst into 2023 with Round 1 at Summit Point Motorsports Park located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley.
The weekend started off with clear blue skies and mild temperatures for Spring in the Northeastern United States. Friday saw our teams setting up their spaces within a very crowded Summit Point paddock. The event was slated to have 300+ entrants, and the USTCC was prepared to put on a show for both the fans in the stands as well as the other entrants at the event. Roger Maeda and Coyote Black were able to secure paddock spaces next to each other, while Andrew Conner arrived later in the day Friday, and was quick to find a space in the unpaved runoff paddock.
Saturday qualifying saw the three USTCC entrants mixed in a 34-car run group of solid local IT mainstays, as well as a healthy B-Spec turnout. The weather was excellent, lots of sunshine, and track temperatures were ideal Coyote Black in his Porsche Cayman S (ST) was able to pull away from the pack and lay down solid initial qualifying. Andrew Conner in the BMW E90 (ST), was only able to get 2 laps in and was forced to retire due to losing a radiator hose. Roger Maeda in his Honda Prelude (SP) was unable to grid due to an alternator failure. Saturday also provided a qualifying race, which is a second chance for drivers to enter a 12-lap Heat Race around the 2.0-mile Summit Point Circuit and improve positions for the Sunday Feature race.
The qualifying race saw Coyote Black in P2 overall, Andrew Conner tucked in behind in the pack in P30 with Roger Maeda in P33. The 12-lap race was packed with plenty of excitement, and true to form the Porsche Cayman of Coyote Black found itself at the front of the pack, while Roger Meada was able to find daylight and move quickly to mid pack, and Andrew Conner was busy fighting his way to join the fight at the front by finding day light within the crowded field. The race was red flagged on lap 2 due to a car fire, which was a reset for all cars, the 23-minute wait made for cold tires and even cooler driver adrenalin. Once the red flag was tucked away, the car quickly regained race speed only to be met with darkening skies. By lap 7 the rain had moved in, and track times quickly suffered. As the heavy rain and subsequent lightning moved in, the session was stopped, all cars dove into pit lane, and with the USTCC Cars on Hankook F200 full slicks, all teams agree the right choice was made.
Sunday’s weather was cool, temperatures in the low 60s but the skies were minus rain, and the track was dry. The feature race grid was set, Coyote Black in his Porsche Cayman S (ST) was positioned in a tidy P1 ahead of Roger Maeda in his Honda Prelude (SP) in P6, and Andrew Conner in his BMW E90 (ST) starting P11.
Upon rolling out of grid to start a pace/formation lap, Coyote Black fell victim the dreaded cold tire blues and had the misfortune of having a grid out mishap that ended his race very early. Roger Maeda quickly found himself P5 and was able to get to the front at the drop of the green and fought to a solid P3 overall. Andrew Conner again had his hands full battling through the mix of IT cars but was able to lay down some fast lap time and get within Roger’s mirrors ending in P4 overall.
Round one of the US Touring Car Championship was enjoyed by all, some had the opportunity to sort a new car and gain some valuable data, even though some heartache was felt, while other were able to add to their war chests with fine tuning or already proven machines. The excitement in the paddock as well as the stands was measurable, the USTCC has started to gain a fanbase, although small, the buzz is there.
The teams now will prepare their cars for Round 2 in June at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ on the 1.9-mile Lightning Speedway, where we expect a few more USTCC teams to be in attendance.