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Southern California Region: Buttonwillow Raceway Report


Strong winds swept across the Buttonwillow track on Friday afternoon, but Southern California FFR Challenge Series racers TC McNett, Mike Beeler, and Karen Salvaggio were greeted with sunny skies and warm weather by Saturday morning. Spec racers were slated to run in Race Group A for the weekend, which included a mixed field of Camaro Mustang Challenge (CMC), American Iron (AI), GTS, Super Touring (ST) and Super Unlimited (SU) racers.

It was clear from early in the morning practice that Mike Beeler was on a mission to continue the marked improvement he had demonstrated at California Speedway last month. He quickly proved he was up to the task by turning in his best laps to date in Saturday qualifying. TC McNett was in his usual top-notch form, and set himself second on grid, while Karen bested the group and snagged pole position for the feature race with a new track record time of 2:03:6X.

When the green flag fell, TC dove in front of Karen and dashed into the lead, while Karen took the opportunity to slip by the CMC guys on the inside row going into Turn 1. Mike snaked his way through traffic as well, and made some great moves on the CMC drivers to stay with Karen and TC as all three picked their way through the crowded field. By the Buttonhook, the whole field was 3-4 cars wide in turns that could barely take 2 cars. Karen knew that TC would be doing everything in his power to snake underneath and use traffic to his advantage. So about halfway through the Buttonhook, she decided it was time to switch line and pick off a few more of the CMC guys, with the idea of getting a few more cars between them as he group sped into Cotton Corners. Well, her strategy worked, and for the remaining 30-minute race, the three picked their way through traffic and battled for position in the field. Karen continued to extend her lead, and at the checkered flag, it was Karen for the win, followed by TC in second place, and Mike taking the third podium spot.

Challenge Series racers participated in the Saturday night pizza party hosted by NASA prior to spending the evening at the 3 Hour night enduro, in which the Prototype Development Group (PDG) competed with their fast and oh so exotic GTM-R. Pilot Chris Durbin did a great job of qualifying the GTM-R fifth overall. The Salvaggio Race Team was honored to serve as the official tow vehicle for PDG team, towing the GTM-R to grid with a full tank of fuel. Grid marshals, corner workers, and safety crew all gave the team two tumbs up as the coolest tow vehicle for the race. PDG ran a great race, battling among the leaders the whole way. Chris drove the 3 hour race solo, and did so without a single pit stop. In the end, the GTM-R crossed the line third in class and fourth overall. Great job!!! Check out additional pictures and the race report on the GTM Forum.

Sunday AM found Mike again heading out for qualifying with Karen, but with TC temporarily sidelined with a failing clutch. TC decided to sit out qualifying in an effort to save what was left of his clutch for the afternoon race. Mike again bested his time from the previous day, and secured second grid position. Karen went out and backed up her time from Saturday, and again secured pole position for the race. The grid was again packed with a very fast mixed group of CMC, AI, ST, SU and GTS racecars, and from the time the green flag fell until the checkered, it was a non-stop run for all three racers to pick their way through traffic while driving a clean, fast race. In the end, Karen took the win, with TC having made his clutch last and securing second, while Mike turned in his best time ever and taking third place. All racers had a great time, and are looking forward to joining up with their Nor Cal spec racer friends at Thunderhill (Llihrednuht) on May 30-31.

Photo's Here

--Karen Salvaggio
 

Page last updated: 06/10/2010

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