30 Sep Event Coverage: Ignite Race #8 Recap
The four Ignite classes continued battle on August 29th for Round 8 of the 2015 Championship Series. The track has endured the long summer and plenty of grip has been put down. Drivers and tuners are met with the challenge of tuning and driving around the elements if they want to come out on top and take home the championship.
REID SWEENY – IGNITE ROOKIE WINNER
Ignite Rookie’s Reid Sweeny has captured the previous four main event wins, helping him extend his points lead over Evan Zarbo and Nolan Baltz. Baltz would strike first in Heat 1 leading the field to the green and every lap after, claiming a narrow victory over Zarbo by 0.164 seconds. Sensel was a close third, followed by Sweeny and Hunter Pruitt. Heat 2 was a different story, as championship leader Sweeny got the hole shot, and put down laps up to 0.4 faster than the field. Sweeny would claim victory by over 8 seconds over Pruitt, who claimed his best result to date with a strong second. Sensel was able to fight off a mid-race attack from Zarbo to claim the third position. The Main Event starting grid was set, and Sweeny led the field around for their opening circuit. He would jump to the early advantage, followed closely by Baltz and Sensel. Sweeny continued to build a gap, while the first for second was a lot more condensed. Sensel made him move on Baltz on lap 5, which he would maintain until the end despite breaking the 36 second per lap barrier. Baltz would settle for third, followed by Pruitt and Zarbo. Sweeny would claim his fifth straight victory by a wide 7.148 second margin.
AUSTIN BLAIR – IGNITE SENIOR WINNER
Ignite Senior was next up, and the championship race is much closer. Nick Todtenhaupt currently leads the way over Colten Dudici by a mere 102 points before drops. Ryan Bettenhausen sits a close third, but has been heating up late in the season. Heat 1 was a thrilling one, as Nick Todtenhaupt gave up his first lap lead after contact, dropping him back to fifth and promoting Jeff Dolian to the point. By lap 3, Todtenhaupt had already carved his way back to the point, where he would remain until the checkered flag. Dolian was able to hold on for second, followed by Rod Scharf, Dudici and Austin Blair. Bettenhausen would lead the field around for Heat 2, claiming the top spot early over Todtenhaupt, Dolian and Scharf. Bettenhausen was able to lay down consistent laps, and edge out the championship leader by 1.372 seconds. Scharf would settle for third, ahead of Austin Blair and Dudici who had the fastest lap of the race with a 35.195. The lap times are all close, and the Main Event was sure to be an exciting race. Todtenhaupt would grab the point early, followed closely by Dudici. Dudici achieved a killer start, moving up from fifth to second on the opening circuit, forcing Bettenhausen, Scharf and Dolian backwards. Bettenhausen made the move to second on lap 4 and set his sights on Todtenhaupt. Bettenhausen and Dudici worked their way up to Nick, and after some contact were able to move past. Todtenhaupt was forced to slow, and would rejoin the group in sixth position on lap 12. Blair had remained silent, but knew the laps were winding down. From the third position on lap 12, he made his move around Dudici on lap 13, and around Bettenhausen on lap 14. Dudici would take the fight to Bettenhausen, allowing Blair to break away for another victory. Dudici won the battle for second, followed by Bettenhausen, Shcarf and Todtenhaupt.
EVAN STAMER – IGNITE JUNIOR WINNER
Ignite Junior championship leader Evan Stamer has won 5 of 7 races so far this year and enjoys a comfortable points lead over Hailey Todtenhaupt. Hailey mounted her charge, grabbing the lead in the early laps of Heat 1, with Stamer in tow. Trevor Lovatto, who started sixth, was already on Stamer’s bumper by lap 3 and made the pass on lap 5. Lovatto played his cards right, and took control of the point on lap 7. Todtenhaupt was able to hang on for second, followed by Davis Worley, Gage Rucker and Grant Palmer. Heat 2 was a different race, but same result as Lovatto was able to assume the point early and keep if until the end of the race. Stamer would improve over Heat 1, ending up in the second spot. Worley finished third again, followed by Palmer and Rucker. Todtenhaupt jumped to the early lead for the Main Event, followed by Worley and Palmer. Lovatto found trouble early and held the fourth position, two ahead of Stamer in sixth. Hailey would remain up front, while Stamer carved his way into second position by lap 4 moving Lovatto to third. The trio remained intact until lap 11 when Lovatto took over control of second. Contact a lap later with Todtenhaupt for the lead forced Lovatto to retire, and handed the point to Stamer, who cruised to victory by a 0.882 second margin. Worley captured the final podium position, followed by Palmer and Lovatto.
JON VERNIER – IGNITE MASTERS WINNER
Rounding out the evening was the Masters class, where the championship battle is all but decided. Mike Lebrun leads the drivers, ahead of Jean Roux and Robert Davis. Many other drivers are still within striking distance for the podium this season. Heat 1 got underway under way when Mark Hudspeth took over control from the pole position. Jon Vernier slotted in behind, followed by Davis and Lebrun. The race remained fairly uneventful, with the only pass being made on lap 6 when Royce Payton took control of fifth from Jean Roux. Heat 2 was a different story, as drivers started to loosen up and get aggressive. Roux assumed the point early, followed by Vernier and Payton. By lap 4, Roux had handed the lead to Vernier. Hudspeth made the move on Lebrun as well, positioning himself into the top five. The race remained close for the top six, but Vernier crossed the line first, only 1.097 seconds. The entire field was covered by only 3.336 seconds, helping make sure the Main Event was one to watch. Vernier grabbed the lead from pole position with Hudspeth in tow. Roux slotted into third followed by Davis and Lebrun. No driver was able to gain advantage, and the 5 remained single file for 14 laps. Davis tried to make a move on Roux on the final lap but contact allowed Lebrun to navigate through. Vernier claimed a narrow victory over Hudspeth, followed by Lebrun, Roux and Davis.