2015 NASA Eastern States Championships presented by Toyo Tires Takes the Green Flag at VIR
NASA Eastern States Championships presented by Toyo Tires Takes the Green Flag at VIR
Qualifying races underway
ALTON, Va. (Sept. 4, 2015) – The second annual NASA Eastern States Championships presented by Toyo Tires is underway at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR).
Over 300 competitors have filled the paddock and are busy setting up their cars and running qualifying races around the 3.27 mile, 17-turn VIR circuit.
In the first qualifying race of the day, Randy Mueller drove his No. 0 Epic BMW M3 to the GTS class overall win. Mueller a four-time NASA Champion is poised for a fifth.
“It was a good run for us,” Mueller said. “I started from the pole. I was able to get a nice clean start. Then I just put my head down and focused on running some clean laps. Once I opened up the gap I focused on keeping the BMW off of the curbs. It’s all about having a car ready for Sunday.”
HPD Honda Challenge witnessed some tight racing. David Isbell drove his No. 7 Acura Integra from the back of the field to post an impressive qualifying race win.
“I had a pretty good race,” Isbell said. “I had to start at the back of the grid because we had a problem with the car this morning. I got a good start. I came up to the Oak Tree Turn and a couple of cars went off so that helped. From there I went from seventh to third. I was driving a clean race then a couple more cars slid off and I assumed the lead. My Toyo tires helped me get to the checker. A good start.”
As the high-horsepower car hit the track the clouds opened up and rain came, catching the competitors on dry tires in a downpour of rain. After lap one a full course caution flew and then the NASA officials black flagged the race. Soon after the officials put out the checker with No. 9 Dodge Challenger driven by Jeff Hinkle listed as the top finisher based upon his fast qualifying time from the morning.
As the rain continued, 39 Spec Miata race cars took to the track. From the drop of the green flag the No. 39 of Danny Steyn was the early class leader. On lap a sudden downpour in Turn 1 sent the top two cars off the track resulting in a black flag. The No. 6 Blake Clements declared the winner of qualifying race one.
“It was pretty wild,” Clements said. “I originally started in seventh. I didn’t have a great qualifying effort. We put the Toyo rain tires on and went out for the qualifying race. I was able to get a couple of positions in the first lap. I was in third on the second lap and was biding my time, I knew I was in a good spot. On the fifth lap when we crossed the start finish line it really began to pour. I could barely see going into Turn 1. I let out of it and rolled into one. The two cars in front of me were off in the grass. I then went off a little into Turn 3, brought it back on and then the race went yellow and ended. I want to be consistent the rest of the weekend and see what happens on Sunday.”
The 30 car Spec E30 class took to the track with the rain still coming down. As a testament to the driving ability of the one the largest fields of the weekend, the race went caution free with Sandro Espinosa driving his No. 32 BMW to the win.
“It was a lot of fun out there in the rain,” Espinosa said. “I started from sixth place, which is tough in the rain. Everyone behaved at the start. We are all friends, so we know and take care of each other. I was passing one car, by one car very safely. Sean Curran and I were able to pull away a little. I figured out that at the Oak Tree Turn I could get a pull from him and was able to overtake for the lead. There was surprising grip out there in the rain. Thanks to Toyo Tires and Bimmerworld for the help this weekend.”
In 944 Spec Neal Agran drove his No. 84 Porsche 944 to the win over Dan Pina. The two exchanged the lead in the rain early until Agran took the lead for good and the win.
“Fantastic,” Agran said. “Dan Pina and I race all of the time together in the mid-west and he is a great competitor. I’ve never raced with Dan Williams in the wet. Being from Colorado where it doesn’t rain much, I didn’t think he would have anything for me. He was all over me like a cheap suit. I really won through consistency. I was just clicking laps off at the same pace, one after the other. That is what it took today.”
In Spec 3 Justin Taylor took the qualifying race win in his No. 36 BMW. Taylor took the lead from the second position on the grid and never looked back.
“I qualified second,” Taylor said. “Starting in the front row helped, I was able to jump out the lead and get a good pace going in the rain. I was able to build up a little gap and just focused on being consistent, not slide around too much and finish the race.”
In PTD-F it was Brett Westcott in his No. 58 Nissan that was the class of the field. He was able to overtake the No. 47 Mazda Miata of Kopitski for the class win.
“It was really wet out there,” Westcottl said. “This is my first time at VIR. I am surprised I did as well. My BFGoodrich tires were hooked-up, the KDWR shocks were working great. My car was handling good in the rain. The only problem was a fogged up windshield. Everything else was great.”
VIRginia International Raceway’s 3.27 miles encompasses nearly every kind of turn. The fast uphill esses that lead into the signature Oak Tree Turn are known throughout the racing community. The long laps will reward a good race car set-up and require the competitors to display their driving skills as well as race craft.
About Toyo Tires
Founded in 1945, Toyo Tires has stood for innovation, quality, performance, and excellent service around the world for over 65 years. The company offers a complete line of premium replacement tires for nearly all makes and models, including high-performance cars, luxury vehicles, light trucks and SUVs as well as commercial trucks.
The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) was formed in 1991 with the premise of delivering high-quality motorsports events to enthusiasts at major racing venues throughout the nation. NASA has created programs that allow owners of both racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full performance capabilities of their cars in a controlled professionally managed environment. NASA offers many different programs that will allow you to enjoy motorsports on a number of different levels, including our High Performance Driving Events (HPDE), Rally Sport, Time Trial, NASA-X and Competition Racing programs.
NASA members are entitled to enter and participate in any NASA event across the country, and membership includes an array of benefits, including vendor discounts and a subscription to the organizations online newsletter the NASA Speed News. Members will also receive a colorful membership hard card that will identify them as part of the organization and a welcome packet that includes more information on the many benefits and programs available to NASA members. While participating at events, all NASA members are covered by an extensive insurance policy, which includes General Liability, Accidental Death and Dismemberment, and Excess Medical coverage. Best of all, membership is only $45. Refer to www.nasaproracing.com for member information.
NASA Thanks Our Partners
NASA would like to thank its National sponsors for their continued support: Toyo Tires, Mazda, Hawk Performance, Winding Road Racing, and GoPro. We also want to thank MAZDASPEED, Honda Performance Development (HPD), Nissan, and Ford Motor Company for supporting our members. We greatly appreciate those companies that offer our racers contingency support, including Toyo Tires, AIM Sports, AST Suspension, BFGoodrich, Ford Racing, Maxxis Tires, Traqmate, Hawk Performance, Honda Performance Development (HPD), Hoosier Racing Tire, MAZDASPEED, Nissan, Jongbloed Racing Wheels, Bimmerworld, Frozen Rotors, Optic Armor, Neo Motorsports, Spec Clutches, Driven Racing Oil, Altronics Inc., ANZE Suspension, GT Radial Tire, Tilton, Racefab Inc., Sampson Racing Communications and Yokohama. NASA competitors can also get discounts from Mazda, Maxxis Tires, Racing Fire Systems, Ford Performance Racing School,Fuel Safe, Vehiport, APR Performance, Avis, Cruise America, Eibach Springs, Exedy, Fastbrakes, Konig, The Mid-Ohio School, Konig, Molecule, Red Line Oil, Winding Road Racing, Torco, TPIS, Porterfield and Monster Clutch.
NASA at a Glance
NASA was founded in 1991 on the premise of providing motorsport competition programs that allow owners of both racecars and high-performance street-driven vehicles to enjoy the full-performance capabilities of their cars in a safe and controlled environment.
NASA has over 14,000 members in 16 regions.
Key events include the NASA Western Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, July 31 - Aug. 2; the Eastern Championships at Virginia International Raceway Sept. 4-6 and the season culminating NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Dec. 5-6.
The NASA National Championships will run 36 race classes and nine Time-Trial classes during the event.
NASA runs over 150 events each year encompassing over 250 races, including the association's Rally Sport and Time-Trial program.
Manufacturer partners include MAZDASPEED, Honda Performance Development (HPD), Nissan and Ford Racing.
NASA Management: Jerry Kunzman, Executive Director; Ryan Flaherty, National Chairman; Jeremy Croiset, Director of Business Development; Dave Ho, Business Operations Manager, Will Faules, National Event Manager.
Facebook: National Auto Sport Association