US Touring Car Championship East Rolls into Round 2 at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s 1.9 Mile Lightning Raceway
Millville, NJ – The United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) East Region rolled into Round 2 at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Lightning Raceway located on the grounds of the historic former home of the Millville Army Airfield famous for the P47-Thunderbolt WW2 Fighter Aircraft.
The weekend started off with the USTCC teams arriving trackside into a crowded paddock for the start of Round 2. The teams were separated by a few yards of paddock real estate, but all teams made it a point to stop by the paddock spaces of their fellow competitors and help with unloading or to just add a few words of encouragement as a show of sportsmanship and camaraderie.
Saturday qualifying race saw the three USTCC entrants on track with clear blue skies and optimum track temperatures. The USTCC teams were able to lay down fast times in moderate traffic. Coyote Black in the Mezzanine Motorsports Porsche Cayman was able to set a fast lap of 1:14.344 during initial qualifying to secure a P11 Grid overall (P1 ST) for the Heat race in ST later in the afternoon. Andrew Conner in the On Q Racing E90 BMW was in the hunt during the qualifying session but came up just short with a fast lap of 1:14.084, placing him P19 overall (P2 ST) for the heat race. Martin Szwarc in his new build Honda Civic Si found more speed with each lap of the qualifying session and laid down a fast lap of 1:19.429 putting him P21 overall and P1 in SP. Roger Maeda was unable to be on track for initial qualifying and would be placed last on grid for the Feature race on Sunday in his Honda Prelude.
On the out lap, Coyote made it clear that he and the Mezzanine Motorsports team had come to New Jersey with one thing in mind, and that was to show the crowd what their Porsche Cayman S was able to do after a less than satisfactory end to Round 1 at Summit Point. From flag to flag, Coyote piloted the Porsche with precision. Amid a full grid, the Mezzanine Motorsports Porsche made quick work of the Saturday heat race and placing themselves in a solid P8 for the Sunday Feature Race. Andrew Conner in the Red E90 was only able to watch the Porsche for a distance, being stuck behind slower cars fighting for every second he could find, making finding clean air for the E90 more difficult after every passing lap, landing a solid P12 for the Feature, smack dab in the middle of the pack.
Martin Szwarc in his Honda Civic placed every wheel right, working his way past some faster cars fighting for every second in his Civic. Martin had dual duties, fighting the track for a fast lap as well as sorting his car for the Feature, both were accomplished handily, finishing P19 on the grid, and making it just a bit harder for Roger Maeda who will be staring from the back of the grid for Sunday’s Feature.
Sunday’s feature race grid was set, Coyote Black in his Porsche Cayman was in P8 overall on the Grid, and P1 ST for the USTCC groups, Andrew Conner in the red E90 was P12 overall, and P2 in ST, Martin Szwarc in his Honda Civic Si was P19 overall and P1 in SP with Roger Maeda sitting P24 overall and P2 in SP in his Prelude.
The USTCC was alive with excitement both in the paddock and the stands. The teams and fans alike were chatting about where their favorite driver/car would end up, as well as the dog fights between Coyote and Andrew in ST and the SP matchup that was brewing with Martin and Roger in a battle of the Hondas. Once the green dropped, the Black and white Cayman was off, slicing the track up like only a Porsche can. Coyote was putting space between he and the Red BMW early, knowing Andrew likes to make a run late in the game. Coyote prevailed; Andrew’s BMW was no match for the Porsche. Coyote secured this first win for the 2023 season, and Andrew finished a respectable 2nd in ST. The ST race was incident free, and extremely hard fought, and not a wheel dropped off track.
The weekend’s SP action was a tight battle. Martin Szwarc in his Civic was working hard to not only dice through the pack, but also keep Roger Maeda in his Prelude in his mirrors. As the laps clicked down, Roger was able to get to the rear of Martin’s Civic by lap 5 and claim P19 and hold off Martins advances only to succumb to a failed axle allowing Martin to secure an overall P19 (P1 in SP) during his 1st event with the USTCC. Roger was able to come away with solid P2 SP points for his efforts and get the car on the trailer and back to the StudioVRM shop for some needed repairs.
Reports from the stands were that the fans were excited to see the US Touring Car Championship teams fighting their way through the field of high-powered Porsche Cup and Cayman GT4, Spec Corvette’s, and GT1 tube frame high horsepower cars, cheering their favorite teams as they came by the different viewing areas showing that Touring Cars are gaining support and will be a crowd favorite during the upcoming races.
The teams now will prepare their cars for Round 3 in July at Summit Point Raceway in Summit Point, WV.