Race Day Report (2/22/20)

Exhilarating side-by-side racing closes out Spec Miata Winter Tune Up Series 

Jason Bergstrom utilizes Turn 6 to sweep a day of action throughout the field

The finale of the Winter Tune Up Series at Atlanta Motorsports Park turned into a two-man race between Jason Bergstrom and Keith Williamson in the Spec Miata class with Bergstrom just edging out the relentless Williamson to sweep Saturday’s race day.

In Race 1, it looked like Steve Kaney was going to join the party and stick with the lead pack of Bergstrom and Williamson, but his car had other ideas forcing Kaney to retire from the race after only three laps. Bergstrom controlled the race from there taking the checkered flag with a 3.313 second margin of victory over Williamson. Race 2, however, would be far more exciting.

The second race started with Williamson on the pole, but Bergstrom made short work of that going side-by-side around the carousel to complete the pass on Lap 2.

Meanwhile, there were a couple other close contests throughout the field with Tyler Klein and Scott Carlisle fighting it out for third as well as a competitive battle for eighth place between two Open class cars driven by Timothy Barker and Wesley Slimp.

The racing order stayed steady until Williamson made the pass around Bergstrom at the start/finish line to begin Lap 7. They went side-by-side into Turn 1 and remained that way all the way through Turn 6 where Bergstrom finally completed the pass to retake the lead. That pattern repeated itself for the next several laps with the two going side-by-side out of Turn 1, through the carousel and into Turn 6. That turn was the difference in the race as Bergstrom consistently gained the advantage in Turn 6 over Williamson and maintained it from there for the rest of the lap.

The racing further back in the pack also continued to heat up as the race progressed. Carlisle got into the dirt in Turn 1 on Lap 8 allowing Klein to move into third which is the order they finished with Carlisle getting back on the track to salvage fourth place.

In the battle for eighth place, Barker made contact with Slimp coming out of Turn 6 on Lap 10, but Slimp was able to hold on and maintain the advantage he gained after passing Barker on Lap 7 to finish eighth while Barker was forced to settle for ninth place despite his best efforts. Another pass occurred on Lap 11 when Paul Denton dove down into Turn 1 making it around Bill Miller to become the fifth-place finisher.

Back at the front, the side-by-side racing subsided as Bergstrom had built a car-length lead over Williamson as the white flag waved. Williamson made a charge at the finish with the checkered flags in sight, but Bergstrom beat him to the line to claim the victory.

Jon Field captures both races in the Downforce class despite tough competition

The first race of the day in the Downforce class saw the top three drivers all finishing within 1.296 seconds of each other with Jon Field taking the top spot over Sean Rayhall by 0.405 seconds followed by the pole-sitter Mark Borchetta.

Race 1 was jam-packed throughout its 20-minute runtime starting with Jon Pearson retiring his car early after going off the track in Lap 5 followed shortly after by Clint Field, the No. 2 qualifier, experiencing car troubles also having to retire early after nine laps.

Primal Racing School’s driving instructor Sean Rayhall started the race at the back in the sixth position. The experienced driver didn’t take look to get up with the lead pack of Borchetta and Jon Field with the three racers jostling for position, neither giving an inch for nearly the full duration of the race.

Jon Field took the checkers as Rayhall was weaving trying to get around him. The adrenaline from such an exhilarating finish carried over as Jon Field captured the pole for Race 2 over Borchetta.

The second race was looking like it would be a repeat of Race 1 until Rayhall’s car started acting up around Lap 4. It almost seemed like the driving instructor was toying with Jon Field and Borchetta, slowing down to let them pass then retaking the lead a couple laps later, but Rayhall officially retired his car early on Lap 12 showing that there was perhaps a legitimate issue with his SR1 Radical car.

The retirement of Rayhall gave Jon Field the clear path to victory as the Race 1 winner was out in front of Borchetta by nearly eight seconds at that time. Borchetta was able to cut that gap in half but simply ran out of time, unable to challenge Jon Field at the end. Pearson recovered from his Race 1 mishap to take third with George Cook finishing in fourth place. After retiring his car in the first race, Clint Field sat out Race 2 as the drivers prepare for the start of the summer series on March 7.

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