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Lyle Riggen Sweeps Autobahn

Joliet, IL - Lyle Riggen and Brian Sanders rolled into Autobahn Country Club on Friday for a head to head shootout. This was another of NASA’s three race weekends. The pair had decided before the season started to run complete seasons in both the Great Lakes and Midwest Regions after Lyle threw out a challenge to see if one of them could win a dual Region Championship. Lyle is the only FFR driver registered in the Midwest Region. So the trade off was that Lyle would run the Great Lakes schedule and Brian would run the Midwest giving Lyle at least one competitor. Joining the duo was Lyle’s wife, Julie Riggen, in her Baby Grand.

The weekend started out rough for Brian when he discovered the kill switch had been left on for the past week and the battery was dead. Over the next three hours the car sat beside Lyle’s trailer with the generator and charger running. This put Brian at a disadvantage, missing the morning practice session. This was very apparent when Lyle qualified three seconds ahead.

NASA gridded the race by class so Lyle and Brian started the race from the sixth and seventh positions, so qualifying was of little importance. Julie’s class was put up front so she started on the front row. As most readers know, the FFR Challenge Car makes incredible starts, whether rolling or standing. So at the drop of the green flag we were able to grab several positions by flanking the cars ahead of us.

But this was the closest the pair would be for the entire race as Lyle clicked off significantly faster laps. In the end, Lyle crossed the finished line twenty-three seconds ahead for his first win.

The second race on Saturday was gridded by finishing position of the first race. Lyle started in the second row, while Brian found himself in the fifth. As the race got underway Lyle missed a shift and Brian took over the lead. But that only lasted for two laps as Brian ran out of road in turn one and gave up numerous positions. That was all she wrote. Lyle drove off, never looking back, to his second race win under double yellows. This was caused by a couple of 944 spec cars coming together and collecting a couple more right in front of Brian. Fortunately Brian came away unscathed.

Sunday brought a new day and a much faster track. Lyle and Brian both qualified within tenths of the track record. And these qualifying times put both drivers on the front row for the race. Brian got a bad jump and ended up with a few cars between him and Lyle which allowed Lyle to get away again. Over the next eight laps, Brian worked to reel him in but threw it away with another big off. This gave Lyle his third win of the weekend.

Now, what impact did this have on the Midwest Region standings? Well, the two drivers are dead even again. So, it will take the last two events of 2009 to determine who will win the Midwest Region and if one of them can win both Regions. The next stop for the pair in the Midwest is Blackhawk Farms on August 8-9.

Brian Sanders

Great Lakes/Midwest FFR Challenge Series Director

Page last updated: 07/22/2009

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