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FFR Drivers Battle at Putnam

Mt. Meridian, IN - Five Factory Five Racing Challenge Series drivers travelled to Putnam Park to do battle in the second round of the Great Lakes FFR Challenge Series. Peter LaRose and Brian Sanders showed up Friday for a day of practice with another organization before the NASA weekend. Later, Gregg (Sr) and Greg (Jr) Wellinghoff and Lyle Riggen made their appearance.

Saturday morning open with a misty rain falling. This continued for most of the day but stopped long enough at times for both qualifying and the race to be dry. Brian took the pole followed by Lyle, Peter, Gregg Sr. and Greg. Greg Jr. During both the morning practice and qualifying, Greg retired with a smoking car. At first it was thought to be oil spraying on the headers from the gauge sending unit but later it was determined to be the power steering pump leaking. However, the true cause was not determined before the race and ultimately Greg was black flagged and retired from the race.

When the green flag dropped Brian took the lead as Lyle’s side of the track had a bad start. Peter was also able to get past Lyle. But Lyle was determined to get back to the front. On Lap 4, he caught and passed Peter and by lap six was right behind Brian.  Brian and Lyle ran nose to tail for several laps with the only distance between them coming as other cars were passing or being passed. In the end, the race finished the same way it started, Brian taking the checkers followed by Lyle, Peter, Gregg and Greg, who retired early.

Sunday the drivers arrived at the track with beautiful weather. In an interesting twist, qualifying produced the exact same order as Saturday. Brian again claimed the pole, this time by more than 2.5 seconds over Lyle. Something worthy of note, Lyle was running on the R888 and Brian was on very old RA1’s. Lyle’s tires were new on Saturday and he was able to run with Brian, often turning faster laps during the race. But Sunday was a completely different story.

At the start of the race, Brian’s line had the problems and Lyle easily took the lead but Brian quickly recovered and settled in behind Lyle with Peter following third. The order remained unchanged for over half the race. On lap 14, Brian decided he was second long enough. Getting a run off turn 10 and drafting down the front straight, Brian pulled out and late braked Lyle in turn 1 for the lead. After taking the lead, Brian began to set fast lap after fast lap increasing the distance over Lyle. Again, Brian took the checkers and a new track record of 1:21.875.

“I knew I had him (Lyle) anytime after the half way point in the race. The R888’s are just not living up to the promise Toyo has made,” said Brian after the race. “Lyle is a much better driver than the results and times show.”

The next stop for the Great Lakes FFR’s is Grattan on June 5 & 6. The Midwest region will be at BlackHawk on June 13-14.

--Brian Sanders

GL/MW FFR Challenge Series Director

Page last updated: 05/22/2009

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